MLB Draft Notes: Updates On Top Northeast Hitters For 2021, 2022, 2023
With an incredible year for draft prospects in the Northeast, high-ranking scouts and general managers have been camping out in the area lately bearing down on a slew of potential high picks.
After going over some of the pitchers I saw from a recent road trip in our last notebook, here's a look at some of the top hitters from the 2021, 2022 and 2023 classes I saw this month. Reports are based on seeing these players in person and talking to scouts who have seen them throughout the year.
Lonnie White Jr., OF, Pennsylvania
Massachusetts outfielder Joshua Baez has more raw power and a better arm. Pennsylvania outfielder Benny Montgomery is a faster runner with a more ideal center field frame. But between the three talented Northeast prep outfielders, some scouts think White is the best all-around player. And it's not like White lacks for explosion or athleticism himself, as he's a two-sport commit to Penn State for baseball and to play wide receiver for the football team. He's 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and the ball carries well off his bat to drive the ball with impact, including a home run to center field in the second of three games I saw to bring his season line to .383/.528/.691 with five home runs in 108 plate appearances. There is some swing and miss to White's game, but he has performed at a high level going back to last year, including an MVP showing at the Perfect Game 17U National Championship in July, a huge home run off a 94 mph fastball at the Area Code Games and another strong showing at the World Wood Bat Association Championship in October. White has the body type of a corner outfielder, but he's a plus runner who moves around well in center field with good instincts and arm strength.
Benny Montgomery, OF, Pennsylvania
Montgomery fits into the family of physical, tooled-up, premium athlete prep outfielders like Bubba Starling, Lewis Brinson, Bubba Thompson and Donavan Tate—all first-rounders and some of them top 10 overall picks—who come with risk on their pure hitting ability. Based on the volume of scouts at Montgomery's recent games and the fact that high-level decision makers have been in those crowds, he seems ticketed to follow their path as a first-round pick. Montgomery is 6-foot-4, 195 pounds with raw tools that grade out among the best in the class. He's a burner with at least plus-plus speed and a strong arm in center field. He's a potential power/speed threat with above-average raw power, and between his outstanding bat speed and space on his long, sleek frame to add more weight, that power grade should climb as he gets stronger. Montgomery has cleaned up parts of his swing from where it was last summer, when he would drift forward and open his hips early, but his swing still has a hitch with length and balance issues against live pitching. That's the risk with Montgomery, but his tools and athleticism will rank among the best in any organization as soon as he signs.
Joshua Baez, OF, Massachusetts
At 17 until the end of June, Baez is one of the youngest players in the class. He's a baseball rat who is one of the most explosive athletes in the class, his outfield arm is at least a 70 tool (he was up to 98 mph on the mound multiple times on May 7) and his raw power is among the best for a 2021 high school player. But his upside also comes with swing-and-miss tendencies. He did a good job mitigating and managing his at-bats well early in the year, but he had more trouble being in sync and on time as his season closed. His May 7 game drew a heavy scouting contingent, (including Padres general manager A.J. Preller) as he faced The Winchendon School righthander Nick Remy, who threw 88-93 mph, with Baez walking, striking out and fouling out to first base against Remy.
In Dexter Southfield's season finale on May 19, Baez took 10 swings and missed six times. Having seen nearly every game Baez has played this year and a lot going back to the fall and last summer, that was the most I've seen him swing and miss, and it happened to come in front of a packed crowd of scouts with several national-level evaluators. A team that loves Baez could still take him in the back of the first round—there won't be many players with his tools and explosiveness still available in that range—but decision-makers who saw his last game are going to have some more reservations. The one area of Baez's game that hasn't slumped all year is his defense in center field. He's not a pure burner and he's built like a corner outfielder at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, but he's a power runner with good defensive instincts, breaking well off the bat with good routes to all angles. That gives him a chance to start in center field, though if he outgrows the position he has the attributes to develop into a plus defender in right field.
Chris Moore, SS, New York
Playing for Suffield Academy in Connecticut, Moore played well on both sides of the ball in a May 8 game that drew 15-20 scouts in a matchup against another New York City native, outfielder Michael Sirota, playing for The Frederick Gunn School. Moore drove the ball well to all fields during batting practice, especially the opposite way. He's strong and athletic, though his swing path cuts in and out of the hitting zone quickly and he showed vulnerabilities last summer against breaking stuff, so some scouts have concerns about his ability to make consistent contact against better pitching, but he smashed a pitch up in the zone for a triple in this game. He's 6 feet, 210 pounds with good actions and a strong arm, though some scouts think he might eventually slow down and outgrow the position to slide over to third base.
Michael Sirota, OF, New York
Playing against Moore, Sirota showed well for himself at the plate and in center field, going 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a strikeout. He got fooled on a first-pitch breaking ball that he swung through, but otherwise showed a patient hitting approach and laid off close pitches outside the zone, working his way back from an 0-2 count for one of those walks. Sirota wasn't at major national events last summer like the Area Code Games or East Coast Pro, but the Northeastern commit has emerged as an intriguing sleeper for some scouts. He's young for the class (he turns 18 in June), has more room to add strength to his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame and is a plus runner who showed good defensive instincts in center field in this look.
Cole Young, SS, Pennsylvania
Major League Baseball held its PDP Northeast workout on May 8 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, none of the infielders took infield, and instead of a game, they had pitchers throw live BP to hitters. Obviously it's hard to evaluate an infielder without being able to see him play the infield. But Young's BP and live at-bats were impressive, and given the way he hit last summer, he looks like a Day 1 candidate for the 2022 draft. He has a loose, easy swing from the left side and the ball carries well off his bat from a compact, direct stroke. The Duke commit controlled his at-bats well and drove the ball for hard contact against a lefty and a righthander in both of his live at-bats.
Vincent Fattore, OF, Pennsylvania
Another Duke commit, Fattore took the best at-bat of the workout in Philadelphia, smoking a 91 mph fastball from 2021 righthander Jacob Steinmetz deep over the center fielder's head for what would have been a double in a game. He walked in his other trip to the plate in live BP and didn't swing through any pitches either time. Fattore packs a good amount of strength into his 5-foot-11 frame, driving the ball well in the air consistently in BP both to his pull side and to right-center field. He also showed a strong arm throwing from the outfield.
Kevin McGonigle, SS, Pennsylvania
While watching Lonnie White Jr. on May 15, McGonigle jumped out on the other side playing for Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High in Pennsylvania. In his first at-bat, the lefty-hitting McGonigle did a good job of staying inside the ball and going with the pitch to drive it in the air the opposite way, but the left fielder ran it down for the out. He followed it up later with a home run, showing a compact swing with good rhythm and balance. An Auburn commit, McGonigle also showed advanced aptitude and instincts for the game on both sides of the ball with good defensive actions at shortstop.