High School | General | 1/5/2018

Finest in the Field: 2021 Class

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game

2017 PG/Rawlings Finest in the Field: 2018
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2017 Perfect Game/Rawlings Finest in the Field, Class of 2021

Pitcher: Nick Bitsko (Doylestown, Pa.)
One of the earlier commits in the 2021 class, Nick Bitsko committed to the University of Virginia as a two-way talent, which isn’t uncommon given his age and current abilities on the diamond. Since he has committed however Bitsko has continued to transform physically as he currently stands 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and is thriving on the mound, already running his fastball up to 92 mph in Jupiter at the WWBA World Championship with plenty more on the way. Despite his size and strength Bitsko remains loose and agile both off the mound and anywhere in the infield dirt (particularly the left side) with athletic actions and obvious arm strength across. That athleticism will bode well on the mound in terms of repeating his mechanics as well as fielding his position.

Catcher: Ian Moller (Dubuque, Iowa)
Already committed to Louisiana State, Moller certainly possesses talent on the diamond and he’s capable of impacting a game from either side of the ball. Moller is strongly built at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds but that doesn’t take away from his flexibility behind the plate as he shows loose actions and strong hands out front receiving. What is perhaps Moller’s strongest trait defensively however are his catch-and-throw skills, an area of his game that highlights his already strong throwing arm. The combination of his athleticism and arm strength were put on display during the PG Select Festival in one play as the future Tiger slid to his right and from a knee still managed to deliver a one-hop strike down to second base.

Right there with Moller in terms of skills behind the dish is Jayden Melendez, the younger brother of M.J. Melendez and son of Florida International head coach Mervyl Melendez. The youngest Melendez shows all the traits you want out of a young backstop, including receiving skills, the ability to present the pitch on either half, leadership skills and a strong IQ for the game.

First Base: Blaze Jordan (Southaven, Miss.)
What Jordan is capable of doing with the bat is far from a secret, despite having yet to play a high school inning, but already home runs come regularly on the circuit season. After all, the young Mississippi State commit did hit a home run at every level of the WWBA National Championships, from the 14u all the way up to 18u as well as in Jupiter on amateur baseball’s biggest stage. For as promising as his offensive reputation is, Jordan also shows promising defensive skills at first base. He moves well both around the bag and coming off it, showing soft hands and solid hand-eye coordination, frequently picking balls out of the dirt with success.

Middle Infield: Isaac Rodriguez (Murrieta, Calif.)
A single pick and tag at the second base bag during the PG Select Festival encompassed everything the young Southern California commit brings to a defense up the middle. Rodriguez is listed as a primary shortstop and he’s only going to grow stronger moving forward, though that won’t inhibit what he can do up the middle with incredibly soft hands and sound footwork. Rodriguez plays at an up-tempo pace but remains balanced even on the move while showing strength on his throws across. In terms of defensive chops, Rodriguez ranks among the best at this early juncture and he’s certainly a young prospect we’ll continue to monitor moving forward.

Middle Infield: Jordan Lawlar (Irving, Texas)
Already a solid runner down the line who posted a 6.78 60-yard dash time at the 14u National Showcase, Lawlar does a nice job of incorporating that straightline speed into his defensive actions up the middle, allowing for range and plenty of ground to be covered. His smoothness up the middle and softness to his hands stand out as much as any of his other tools, which play well when making the difficult play on the move look rather routine. At 6-foot, 150-pounds there’s plenty of physical projection remaining for Lawlar who will only see his game continue to improve while in high school.

Infield: Luke Leto (Portage, Mich.)
If you put Luke Leto out on a field and tell people he was a senior there wouldn’t be much rebuttal given his athletic and loose 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame and overall abilities on the field. However, Leto has just begun his high school career, and while he’s already well built, it’s his athleticism and ability to move around the diamond, even at his size, that helps him to be mentioned here. His hands are plenty soft up the middle and there’s no doubting his arm strength, as he’s also been up to 91 mph on the mound, just adding to the repertoire of tools that currently have him ranked among the best at his age.

The depth of the infield at this age group has already asserted itself and a pair of Texas middle infielders are more than worth mentioning in Izaac Pacheco and Hunter Teplansky. The same is true for Noah Smith, Brady House, Dorian Gonzalez and Davis Diaz, as all six players bring athleticism and are capable of playing anywhere in the dirt with soft hands and plenty of arm strength.

Outfield: Roc Riggio (Simi Valley, Calif.)
Full of quick-twitch muscle, Roc Riggio plays the game at the highest level, oozing energy and athleticism in everything he does on the diamond. He’s a lefthanded hitter who showed the ability to drive the ball out of the yard, and his abilities in the outfield helped earn him a spot here. Able to play any of the three outfield spots with comfort, Riggio uses his speed to cover ample ground and he shows one of the stronger throwing arms in the class. He’s plenty athletic and can make the acrobatic play look like second nature.

Outfield: Justin Quintana (Miramar, Fla.)
Justin Quintana was a staple in the outfield for the Elite Squad throughout the summer, patrolling center field before earning a spot on the East squad for the PG Select Festival. A consistent threat in the batter’s box, the young Florida International recruit has been a presence in the outfield where he shows the foot speed and athleticism that allow him to cover the gaps with sound reads off the bat. On top of his range Quintana also shows a strong arm which plays as an additional tool given his center field profile.

Outfield: Erick Pena (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
Pena added an international flare not only to the Select Festival, but also to this list as the young 6-foot-3, 180-pound athlete calls the Dominican Republic home which means he’ll be eligible to sign on July 2 upon turning 16 years old. The big tool for Pena, aside from his lefthanded bat, is his right arm that produced the biggest velocity from the outfield that Perfect Game recorded at a showcase for the 14u level, peaking at 90 mph, with his top throw coming at the 14u National Showcase. Nott only does he possess big arm strength but it translates well with big carry and accuracy, showing sound footwork and overall athleticism in the process.

Like the infield, you could certain build a quality second team with this crop of outfielders as the class offers plenty of athleticism and looseness to their defensive actions. Bryant Colon, Daylen Lile, Tyree Reed and Christian Smith all show the beginning tools for center field while Kyle Tako showed one of the bigger outfield arms during the Perfect Game showcase season.

Utility: Christian Moore (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
A shortstop by trade who shows a gifted arm on the mound which helps offer two-way potential at the next level, there’s no doubting Moore’s athleticism or his abilities on the diamond. A young Tennessee commit, Moore is listed as a primary shortstop per his Perfect Game profile and there are obvious tools there in watching him take ground balls while also fielding his position on the mound. On top of his hands and overall actions, Moore offers big arm strength across the diamond as evidenced by his heater which has already been up to 90 mph.

The 14u level is perhaps the most difficult to pick a utility position as so many of these young talents are still figuring out where their future may lay on the diamond. Such is the case with New Yorker Daniel Corona, who shows excellent skills at shortstop as well as on the bump, as well as Cole Wagner, who was considered for both the pitching and first base positions on this list due to his abilities and overall feel for the game.

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