DN Friday Notebook: DJack All-Americans, read ‘Baseball 100’

By Bob Behre | January 21, 2022

Former DJack Pete Cosentino of Montclair State is a Second Team Preseason All-American

It’s time to clear all of the notes off the desk and head into the weekend with a clean slate for next week here at Diamond Nation.

This is the time of year we expend much of our writing capital on our Diamond Jacks who’ve committed to colleges around the country. Their individual stories of hard work, perseverance and joy for the game are inspiring. We love bringing those stories to you.

But we also have a staggering amount of Diamond Jacks playing at a high level at the collegiate and professional level. We try to keep up with their individual performances. It certainly reinforces that we are doing the right thing at Diamond Nation when it comes to helping to mold young men through the great game of baseball.

Recently we’ve learned that Nick Maldonado, a junior at Vanderbilt, was named a Perfect Game Third Team Preseason All-American. Maldonado, a longtime Diamond Jack, played an integral part out of the bullpen in Vanderbilt’s run to the College World Series championship series last spring.

Maldonado logged the most innings, 50.2, out of the Vanderbilt bullpen as he registered nine saves and an ERA of 2.31. He was used in various roles out of the Commodores’ pen and his outstanding pitch repertoire has him ranked No. 74 in D1Baseball’s 2022 Top 100 MLB Draft Prospects. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Nick slide into the Vanderbilt starting rotation this spring.

The Diamond Jacks also landed two alums on the D3Baseball.com 2022 Preseason Division 3 All-American team. Pete Cosentino, a senior first baseman at Montclair State University, was tabbed as a Second Team selection and Dan Johnson, a junior righthander at Scranton University, was selected to the Third Team.

Former DJack Dan Johnson of Scranton is a Division 3 Pre-Season Third Team All-American.

Cosentino, a 2018 Hunterdon Central grad, put up absolutely staggering numbers as a junior in 2021. He batted .426 with 49 hits, including 13 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HR and drove in 32 runs. He reached base at a stunning .538 pace and slugged at a .809 clip to post an eye-popping 1.347 OPS. Equally impressive, Cosentino had fewer strikeouts, 16, than walks, 25.

Pete batted in the middle of a deep Hunterdon Central lineup in 2018 as the Red Devils stormed to the NJSIAA Group 4 championship.

Johnson, a 2019 Immaculata grad, was terrific for the Royals, posting a 5-0 record and a Scranton University single-season record low ERA of 0.99 over 45.2 innings. He struck out 43 and walked 13 while allowing just 30 hits. Dan had a 22-inning scoreless streak over three-plus mid-season starts. He also pitched seven scoreless innings against Elizabethtown in the Landmark Conference championship series won by E’Town in three games.

Baseball 100

At Diamond Nation, we always encourage our players to educate themselves on the intricacies of the game. We would also love them to be true fans of the game and to be as knowledgeable as possible on the history of the greatest game in the world.

Along those lines, we would strongly encourage all of our players and families to read Joe Posnanski’s outstanding compilation of the Top 100 Baseball Players of All-Time in his remarkable book “Baseball 100.”

Posnanski takes a deep dive into the very best players of all-time and smartly includes all of the great Negro League and international players on his heavily researched list. It’s a Top 100 that begins with the great Ichiro Suzuki at No. 100 and works its way to the top of the list where – we won’t give away the No. 1 – where we find some very familiar and some unfamiliar names.

Posnanski dedicates a chapter to each of the Top 100 players, but this is not a statistical analysis alone. He truly digs deep to unearth the true stories, when possible, behind each player and tries to bring to us what exactly makes each of them tick. This book truly is a gift to the fans.

Posnanski’s research is staggering in its depth and accuracy, but we must correct some of the references in the chapter on the great New Jersey legend Mike Trout. He spots Trout at No. 27, to match the number on his back, and we have no issue with that, especially considering Trout is only about halfway through his career.

Trout, you will remember, played one summer for NJ Super 17 out of Jack Cust Baseball Academy, which preceded Diamond Nation. He then proceeded to hit a New Jersey single-season record 18 home runs his senior season at Millville High School.

Posnanski digs up details on the 2009 MLB Draft when Trout was selected 25th by the Los Angeles Angels. No one expected Trout to go high in the first round, but it is comical to read the thoughts of teams like the Oakland A’s, who passed over Trout for a college shortstop named Grant Green. The Angels took Randal Grichuk with the No. 24 pick before selecting Trout at No. 25.

David Forst, the Oakland assistant general manager in 2009, told Posnanski he saw Trout play in high school. “He hit two home runs. Then he came in to pitch and I saw him throw 95 miles per hour to close out the game.” Forst then told Posnanski he believed the A’s probably leaned too heavily on their objective data on that one. “We probably didn’t put enough art into that decision,” said Forst.

Former NJ Super 17 player Mike Trout slotted at No. 27 on Joe Posnanski’s ‘Baseball 100’ book.

In fairness, no scout saw Trout becoming the second coming of Mickey Mantle, many even viewing him as a fourth outfielder in the major leagues. Posnanski, too, comes to the scouts’ defense, here, but his references are a little off.

Posnanski said New Jersey had not produced any big league hitters in a long time. That was true. “Who was the last great one to come out of New Jersey? Goose Goslin? Ducky Medwick? Eric Karros?

He’s right about Goslin (Salem) and Medwick (Carteret). Both are MLB Hall of Famers from the Garden State. Eric Karros, though, never as much as swung a wiffle ball bat in New Jersey. He was born in Hackensack but grew up in California. Just like Derek Jeter, who Posnanski doesn’t mention in this scenario, was born in Pequannock and grew up in Michigan. Both Karros and Jeter spent five minutes in New Jersey and should never be claimed by fans here as homegrown talent.

Posnanski could have also closed the gap between Goslin and Medwick with impressive New Jersey hitters like Hall of Famer Monte Irvin (Orange), who he had at No. 69 on his list but mistakenly from East Orange, Hall of Famer Larry Doby (Paterson), Richie Zisk (Parsippany) and Jack Cust (Flemington).

But Posnanski’s ‘Baseball 100’ remains a must read for all baseball fans. It’s already a New York Times bestseller, so he doesn’t need this writer’s help to sell books. More importantly it’s a book every baseball fan should have in his or her library if they plan to be at the forefront in conversations about the all-time greats in the game.

Enjoy your weekend.

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