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High School | Rankings | 2/22/2021

Regional HS Preview: Northeast

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Benny Montgomery (Perfect Game)
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2021 High School Baseball Preview

Regional Previews: Florida | Pacific Southeast | Texahoma | Southwest | Midwest | Mid-Atlantic

Only one region in the country has four players among the top-12 prospects in the 2021 class and it’s not the Southeast, Florida or the Pacific Coast; it’s the Northeast Region. Outfielders Joshua Baez (6th) and Benny Montgomery (8th) lead with way, with right-handed pitchers Chase Petty (10th) and Shane Panzini (12th) following close behind. And the region is deep in high-level talent, with every player in the starting lineup ranking at least 75th or better in either the 2021 or 2022 classes.
 
Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) is the highest ranked team nationally in the region, starting the season in the 14th slot. Don Bosco doesn’t feature any All-Region players but has nine Division-I commits on their roster. Phillips Academy (Mass.), led by two-way standout Jonathan Santucci, begins the season ranked 25th, while Bergen Catholic gives New Jersey two Top-50 teams, checking in 36th in the country.
 
C – Joe Mack (Sr., Williamsville East HS, N.Y.)
Some national baseball prospect fans might be surprised that Mack hails from New York, as he has played his entire travel ball career for the East Cobb Astros and is signed with Clemson. A 2017 PG 14U Festival and 2020 PG All-American Classic veteran, Mack has made his reputation with his left-handed bat and is a career .375-11-113 hitter in 134 PG tournament games. He’s been named to 20 all-tournament teams and played for eight PG East Cobb Astros tournament champions.

1B – Carlos Pena (Sr., Salisbury HS, N.Y.)
Pena is a primary outfielder but has played first base in the past and profiles well at that position despite an outstanding arm that has reached 92 mph from the right side. A left-handed hitter, Pena has big bat speed with natural lift in his swing and hit .420-4-21 in 21 PG tournament games in 2020. A Missouri signee, he is currently ranked 52nd in the 2021 class rankings.

MIF – Cole Young (Jr., North Allegheny HS, Pa.)
Young is the eighth-ranked player in the 2022 class nationally and the third-ranked shortstop. While he’s received most of his attention for his left-handed hitting ability, Young has a strong chance to stay at shortstop in the future with his athleticism and arm strength. He’s also an elite-level student who has committed to Duke.

MIF – Christian Moore (Sr., Suffield Academy, N.Y.)
Moore has a big and strong 6-foot-1, 200-pound build for a middle infielder but is light on his feet for his size moving laterally and also has 6.55 speed in the sixty to go with a low-90s arm off the mound. He dominated the PG travel circuit offensively last summer, hitting .377-8-51 in 53 PG tournament games while being named to six all-tournament teams. He is signed with Tennessee.

3B – Casey Saucke II (Sr., Athena HS, N.Y.)
Saucke was one of the big surprises at the 2020 PG National Showcase, standing out on both sides of the ball and earning an invitation to the PG All-American Classic, where he followed up by showing lots more raw power than he’d previously shown. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Virginia signee is a right-handed hitter with 6.8 speed and middle-of-the-field athleticism and also throws 93 mph with good command on the mound.
 
OF – Joshua Baez (Sr., Dexter Southfield HS, Mass.)
Baez is a physical presence on the baseball field, with a 6-foot-3, 220-pound build that appears even bigger and an outstanding combination of raw power and impressive speed and athleticism. His 97 mph arm from the mound is almost an afterthought. The sixth-ranked player in the 2021 class, Baez is signed with Vanderbilt.
 
OF – Paxton Kling (Jr., Central HS, Pa.)
A rangy 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete with lots of physical projectability, Kling is a 6.4 runner in the sixty with impressive present bat speed at the plate. He’s a .444-4-32 hitter in 42 career PG tournament games with 40 stolen bases and 50 runs scored. A Louisiana State commit, Kling is a pure center fielder on defense.

OF – Benny Montgomery (Sr., Red Land HS, Pa.)
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Montgomery is the unicorn athlete in the 2021 class, with 6.32 speed in the sixty, a 97 mph throwing arm from the outfield and elite level power and raw bat speed. A Virginia commit, Montgomery is ranked seventh in the 2021 class rankings.

P – Roman Kimball (Sr., P27 Academy, N.Y.)
Kimball was dominant all summer pitching mostly for the East Coast Lumberjacks, going 5-0 with 57 strikeouts in 33 innings, capped off with a three-inning, eight-strikeout outing at the WWBA World Championships while pitching for Canes Baseball. Kimball, who is signed with Notre Dame, works in the 90-94 mph range with his fastball and throws both a curveball and slider.
 
P – Anthony Solometo (Sr., Bishop Eustace Prep, N.J.)
Solometo has an outstanding combination of a lively fastball that will touch 94 mph to go with one of the best sliders in the class. His deceptive delivery makes him one of the most uncomfortable at-bats in the high school ranks and Solometo has struck out 81 hitters in 44 career PG tournament innings while allowing only 18 hits. The 50th-ranked player in the class, he is signed with North Carolina.

P – Chase Petty (Sr., Mainland Regional HS, N.J.)
Petty has a middle infielder’s 6-foot-1, 185-pound build but is perhaps the premier power pitcher in the 2021 class, with a fastball that reached 100 mph at the 2020 WWBA 17U National Championships, a first-time achievement for a PG event, and a record 99 mph at the PG All-American Classic. Petty also throws an upper-80s slider and changeup and has surprisingly good command for a young power pitcher, having walked only one hitter per three innings in his PG career.

P – Shane Panzini (Sr., Red Bank Catholic HS, N.J.)
Panzini has “workhorse middle-of-the-rotation starter” written all over his baseball scouting report. He’s 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and looks bigger on the mound, with an easy delivery and advanced command of a full four-pitch arsenal, including a fastball that tops out at 95 mph. The 12th-ranked player and third-ranked right-handed pitcher in the 2021 class, Panzini is signed with Virginia.

P – Dennis Colleran (Sr., North Attleboro HS, Mass.)
Colleran was the biggest surprise at the 2020 WWBA World Championships, a previously unranked pitcher with a ride to Northeastern who ended up winning the Most Valuable Pitcher trophy for the champion GBG team. Colleran struck out 12 hitters in six scoreless innings over three outings, topping out at 96 mph to go with a darting low-80s slider.

UT – Nazier Mule (Jr., Passaic County Tech, N.J.)
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Mule is still a primary shortstop, where his combination of light-footed athleticism at his size and a strong right-handed bat make him a high ceiling talent. But Mule has also been up to 96 mph on the mound with a swing-and-miss slider and many evaluators see his future as a right-handed pitcher. He is the 19th-ranked player in the 2022 class.

Northeast Region Top Tools

Best Hitter for Average: Cole Young (Jr., North Allegheny HS, Pa.)
Young has hit .443-8-76 in his 88 game Perfect Game tournament career and that might even understate his hitting ability. He has the ability to square up almost everything and is a rare young hitter who is just as comfortable driving a ball to the opposite field gap as he is turning on the ball with intent. 
 
Best Hitter for Power: Joshua Baez (Sr., Dexter Southfield HS, Mass.)
There are a number of hitters in the Northeast Region with both present and projected future plus power but Baez clearly stands out, especially given that he is very young for the class and won’t turn 18 until this summer. 

Best Baserunner: Paxton Kling (Jr., Central HS, Pa.)
Kling has the requisite speed to both steal bases and take the extra base but really impresses with his instincts, even as a junior. He’s got some pop in his bat with more to come but his base running ability will likely always keep him at or near the top of the lineup.

Best Defensive Catcher: Joe Mack (Sr., Williamsville East HS, N.Y.)
Mack is best known as a left-handed hitter but he has really improved his defensive skills behind the plate in the last year, especially in his receiving abilities. He already had one of the top arms in the class, reaching 85 mph during catching drills, and has plenty of lower half athleticism.

Best Defensive Infielder: Tommy Tavarez (Sr., Grand Street Campus HS, N.Y.)
Tavarez has all the tools and skills to play shortstop up to the highest levels of the game. He has outstanding lower-half actions, balance and quickness to go with an arm that reaches 94 mph in drills. Tavarez also plays defense with a confident flair that many top defenders seem to have. He is signed with Pittsburgh.

Best Defensive Outfielder: Benny Montgomery (Sr., Red Land HS, Pa.)
When you have 6.32 speed, a 97 mph arm and the length that comes with being 6-foot-4, the defensive ceiling is extremely high. All Montgomery needs is more repetitions and experience so that his skills catch up to his tools.

Best Defensive Arm: Jonathan Santucci (Sr., Phillips Academy, Mass.)
Santucci’s arm strength matches Montgomery’s and he has more sound fundamental footwork through his throws, giving him better present accuracy. His outfield drill at the 2021 World Showcase last month was one of the best this scout has ever evaluated.

Best Fastball: Chase Petty (Sr., Mainland Regional HS, N.J.)
Petty has rock star status in the 2021 class for his 100 mph fastball that will sit 95-97 comfortably. Woe be it, though, to the hitter who gears up for the fastball, as one almost has to, and gets a slider instead.

Best Off-Speed Stuff: Roman Kimball (Sr., P27 Academy, N.Y.)
Anthony Solometo’s slider might be the best single breaking ball in the region in his slider but Kimball throws both a mid-80s slider and a hard downer curveball as two distinct potential plus pitches, a rarity in a prep pitcher.

Best Pitchability: Shane Panzini (Sr., Red Bank Catholic HS, N.J.)
Panzini’s changeup is one of the best such pitches in the high school ranks and he has well-deserved confidence in it. He also has feel for changing the shape and velocity of his two breaking balls, although scouts feel he’ll eventually prioritize a harder, true slider. Combined with his fastball command, that’s a potential first round combination.

Best Multi-Sport Athlete: Lonnie White (Sr., Malvern Prep, Pa.)
White is a four-star wide receiver who is committed to play both football and baseball at Penn State should he make it past the professional baseball draft. The MVP of the 2020 WWBA 17U National Championships, he was also recruited as a quarterback and a safety by other Power 5 schools and also is a standout on the basketball court.

 

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