PBR’s MLB Draft Preview boasts 5 Jersey boys in Top 200

By Bob Behre | July 8, 2021

Delbarton grad Jack Leiter is expected to be a top five MLB Draft pick on Sunday.

Prep Baseball Report has done another bang up job in analyzing the talent stocking Major League Baseball’s First-Year Players Draft next week.

The 2021 MLB Draft will take place July 11-13. The draft begins at 7 p.m. on Sunday and consists of the first round and Competitive Balance Round A, a total of 36 picks.

The second round-through-10th round is set for Monday, July 12, starting at 1 p.m. The 11th-through-20th rounds will conclude the three-day event on Tuesday, July 13, beginning at Noon.

PBR has provided a synopsis on its Top 200 prospective draftees. It is PBR’s draftee ranking, not necessarily the predicted order of the draft. Five players from New Jersey made the PBR Top 200, including Vanderbilt righthander Jack Leiter, a 2019 Delbarton grad who many prognosticators have going in one of the top five spots in the draft.

Also ranked in the Top 200 are New Jersey’s Chase Petty (22-Mainland High School), Anthony Solometo (49-Bishop Eustace Prep), Pierce Coppola (108-Verona High School), and Shane Panzini (128-Red Bank Catholic).

Here are the synopsis on each, provided by Prep Baseball Report.

(Ranking, Name, Pos, School)

2-Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

Leiter had first-round potential as a high school prospect and pitched well in the shortened 2020 season, but he took the college game by storm this year by tossing 20.2 no-hit innings over three starts. One of those was a no-hitter, Vanderbilt’s first regular season one since 1971, and he followed it up with seven no-hit innings in his next start. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has a complete arsenal, but can simply dominate with a virtually unhittable fastball. His combination of velocity, release point, location and riding life make the pitch play extremely well. He sits around 94 mph and can reach back for 96-97 at any point. His secondary stuff fluctuated throughout the season, but his usual go-to pitch is a 78-81 curveball with sharp break and depth. He can also mix in a low-80s slider that is plus at times and hitters have a hard time recognizing it out of his hand.

Chase Petty of Mainland has touched 100 mph with his fastball. (Courtesy of the Petty Family)

22-Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland High School

A Florida recruit, Petty is an excellent athlete with an electric arm. He touched 100 at the Area Code Games last summer and again early this spring, routinely sitting 95-98. He works from a 3/4 slot with heavy arm-side life on his fastball, then rips off hard, wipeout sliders in the mid 80s with late bite. He also mixes in a mid-80s changeup that has at least average potential. His arm action is long and he pitches with some effort that affects his command and may call his ability to start long term into question, but he’s a fierce competitor with excellent makeup.

49-Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep

Solometo, a North Carolina recruit, stands at an imposing and athletic 6-foot-5, 215 pounds with some room to still fill out. He draws comparisons to Madison Bumgarner and MacKenzie Gore due to his arm action and funk in his delivery. His fastball sits in the low-90s with above-average arm-side action and can bump into the mid 90s. The arm is long and loose through a 3/4 slot that presents a tough angle for hitters. His slider has swing-and-miss potential with late 1/7 action in the low 80s.

108-Pierce Coppola, LHP, Verona High School

Coppola, a Florida recruit, stands at a lanky 6-foot-8, 230 pounds with room to still fill out his frame. He has a long, repeatable arm action that comes through a high-3/4 slot and produces a 91-93 fastball that touches 94-95. His breaking ball is a swing-and-miss pitch with late downer action at 80-83. He is a sneaky athlete and is able to repeat his mechanics well given his size and length.

128-Shane Panzini, RHP, Red Bank Catholic

A Virginia recruit, Panzini stands at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds with broad shoulders. In a two-inning stint at the MLB Draft Combine, he was 91-94, but consistently showed mid-90s gas this spring, sitting 94-97 in the state tournament. His breaking ball is above-average to plus with tight spin and late, wipeout break. He pitches with little effort, commands his arsenal and the ball jumps out of his hands with a shorter arm stroke.

Keep an eye on

Righthander Sean Hard of St. Joseph of Montvale and Roxbury lefthander Jack Findlay are coming off superlative statistical seasons this spring and could see their names called in the later rounds. Former Diamond Jack and current Stetson University first baseman Brandon Hylton had a big redshirt sophomore season and hopes to be drafted a second time.

Hard, a 6-5, 210-pound righthander, has committed to Boston College but put up the kind of dominant performances that turn heads. He went 8-0 with a 0.14 ERA, striking out 87 and walking 14 in 50.1 innings. He allowed just 29 hits and 3 runs, 2 of which were earned. He made a living with a fastball that sits 92-94 and has topped out at 95. He capped his season by pitching his team to the NJSIAA Non-Public A state championship.

Findlay, a 6-3, 200-pound lefty, has committed to Notre Dame but is attractive also with a fastall that sits at 89-91. He went 6-1 for the Gaels, striking out 83 and walking just nine in 44.1 innings.  He permitted 9 runs but just 5 were earned for an ERA of 0.40.

Hylton is a 6-7, 230-pound specimen with even more room for muscle. Despite it being Brandon’s first full college season, he batted .267 with 52 hits, including 12 doubles, three triples and five home runs, and drove in 35 runs in his 43 games. He also scored 33 runs. His left-handed stroke has exhibited lethal power. Hylton was selected by Milwaukee in the 33rd round of the 2018 Draft out of Ridge High School in Basking Ridge. Brandon, however, opted for Stetson.

Hylton lost his freshman season in 2019 to an injury and the 2020 campaign to the pandemic. 

More Jersey players to come

You can certainly figure on more players with New Jersey roots to be drafted, particularly from the college ranks, which is always fertile territory from which MLB teams frequently pluck.

According to Baseball America, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey are four-star (out of five) states in terms of draft talent. The publication lists 27 New Jersey players who could be drafted. It lists 26 Pennsylvania players as draft-possibilities.

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