Scouting Top 2021, 2022, 2023 Prospects From The Northeast
Many of the top 2021 high school prospects from the northeast played in a series of games in New England over the past 10 days, with two of the top players in the country from the 2022 and 2023 classes there as well.
The northeast Area Code scout team played games in Brockton and Lynn, Mass. against teams in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League and a game in Hartford against the mid-Atlantic scout team, with some of the mid-Atlantic players included in the writeups below. Scouts from major league clubs pick the team, so many of the top players in the region were here, including multiple players with the potential to go on the first day of the 2021 draft.
Before we get to the reports and videos on the standout prospects, context is always important when evaluating players, especially in short looks like these. That's particularly true right now, when we're looking at players from the northeast who had no spring season. We're also in a pandemic, so I know many players haven't been able to lift weights or train like they normally would. So to evaluate players like it's a normal summer would not be sensible. I say that not to make excuses for players; I say it because I want to be correct and make sure we're seeing the bigger picture in our player analysis.
These were some of the standout prospects from the games. OF/1B Carlos Pena (New York), OF David Jefferson (Maryland) and OF Elijah Lambros (Virginia) were also here and are 2021 BA 500 candidates, though they each only played one game in Hartford, so we will write them up later on.
Daniel Corona, SS, New York (Baylor HS, Chattanooga)
Corona only played the first day in Brockton, where rain washed out batting practice and infield, but he made a strong impression in one game. A Wake Forest commit and the No. 47 high school prospect in the country, Corona turns 17 today, so he's also extremely young for the 2021 class. Corona went 1-for-4 with a walk, a strikeout and a deep fly out to the right field fence. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Corona uses his hands well in a sweet lefthanded stroke that's compact with good swing path, helping him manipulate the barrel efficiently. Corona fielded his position well, particularly when he made a nice backhand pick at third base. A below-average runner, Corona's body type and range might lead him to third base long term, with a strong arm that fits on the left side of the diamond.
Joshua Baez, OF, Massachusetts (Dexter Southfield HS, Brookline, Mass.)
Baez, the No. 86 player in the 2021 high school class and a Vanderbilt commit, was the most exciting player here, with impressive physicality, athleticism and tools across the board, looking like a potential day one draft pick. That's even more intriguing considering that Baez just turned 17 less than a month ago. Baez is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and showed plus raw power during batting practice, hitting several deep blasts to his pull side and one off the batter's eye in center field in Hartford. That power translated in games with a home run in a 6-for-14 performance, including one loud out on a fly ball to the right-center field warning track. Baez did strike out five times and didn't walk, showing some swing-and-miss tendencies, though for the most part he wasn't out of control at the plate. Baez is an above-average runner who showed good reads and routes in center field. He's built like a corner outfielder, but he has the speed, athleticism and instincts to be a power center fielder, along with one of the strongest outfield arms in the class.
Baez is primarily a position player, but he also pitched one inning in Lynn against North Shore on Monday. He was wild to start, walking the first three hitters he faced with two strikes in 14 pitches. After a mound visit, he settled in, striking out the next three hitters with 9 strikes in 14 pitches, running his fastball up to 95 mph and flashing a sharp, downer breaking ball. Baez is a better prospect as a center fielder, but he would be a legitimate prospect on the mound as well.
Peter Heubeck, RHP, Maryland (Gilman HS, Baltimore)
Heubeck, a Wake Forest commit who turns 18 today, stood out for his combination of present stuff and physical projection. His lively fastball ranged from 90-95 mph, and at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Heubeck has room to add more weight and grow his fastball to eventually reach the upper-90s. Heubeck's secondary pitches (mostly changeups with a curveball mixed in) were inconsistent, but his low-80s changeup flashed above-average potential with good separation off his fastball and late tumble at its best. He faced 11 hitters and finished with four strikeouts, one walk and a hit by pitch.
Anthony Solometo, LHP, New Jersey (Bishop Eustace Prep, Pennsauken Township, N.J.)
Solometo, ranked No. 75 in the 2021 high school class, had a quick, one-inning outing, facing four batters with two strikeouts, one walk and a hit batsman, with the third out coming on a caught stealing. A 17-year-old North Carolina commit, Solometo is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and offers hitters an unconventional look from a funky delivery with a big leg kick and a long arm swing. It's a lot of long, moving parts going in different directions, but it's a strong fastball from the left side, sitting at 90-93 with tailing life and touching 94 once. His fastball was his most effective pitch, ahead of a short-breaking slider.
Shane Panzini, RHP, New Jersey (Red Bank Catholic HS)
Panzini is on the older side for the 2021 class, already 18 and turning 19 in October. A Virginia commit, he has a strong build (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), a simple delivery and threw 91-94 mph with scattered strikes, mixing in an upper-70s curveball that flashed fringe-average. He struck out three of the eight batters he faced and walked one.
Aries Samek, SS, New Jersey (Teaneck HS)
Samek went just 1-for-9 with a walk, a hit by pitch and five strikeouts, but the 17-year-old Clemson commit did flash intriguing raw tools. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Samek moves well underway for a physical shortstop, showed a plus arm and flashed impressive raw power for the position, knocking three balls over the fence in four rounds of BP at Hartford.
How MLB Scouting Departments Grade The 2021 Draft Class
BA surveyed major league scouting departments and asked teams to grade the class on a 20-80 scale in a number of different categories.
Mike Bello, OF, New Jersey (Pope John XXIII HS, Sparta, N.J.)
An Auburn commit who played for USA Baseball's 17U National Team Development program last year, Bello went 4-for-9 with a double and a strikeout. He's 18 and will be 19 at the draft, so he's on the older end of the class, but he's one of the better position prospects for 2021 in the northeast. He's a 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefty who flashed average raw power in BP, though in games it wasn't as loud with a tendency to open his hips early. With below-average speed and arm strength, his defensive tools profile best in left field.
Oren Abbott, 1B/LHP, New Jersey (Millburn HS)
This was a quick, one-game look at Abbott, but he showed off his power both in BP and in the game. Still 16, Abbott is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty who drove an 86-mph fastball into the second deck in right field for a home run, going 1-for-2 with a hit by pitch and a strikeout in Hartford. Abbott had more trouble catching up to better velocity, and he's going to have to hit a lot with his defense probably restricted to first base, but the youth and power were intriguing. He also pitched for an inning, throwing 88-91 mph with a solid changeup that's ahead of his curveball. He's a Duke commit.
Nazier Mule, SS/RHP, New Jersey (Passaic County Tech, Wayne, N.J.)
Mule is one of the top 2022 players in the country and a legitimate two-way talent. He's also still 15, so he's one of the youngest players in the 2022 class and will be 17 on draft day. Mule is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and threw 90-95 mph, reaching 95 multiple times. There are only a handful of pitchers that age anywhere in the world who can reach 95, and while Mule is relatively physical mature for 15, he should be throwing even harder over the next few years. He throws from a lower arm slot, pairing his fastball with a slider that was inconsistent but flashed promising lateral break. In the field, Mule showed a plus arm from a lower arm angle at shortstop and made a leaping catch there on a line drive in Brockton. Later in the game, he moved to right field, where in a tie game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, he jumped at the wall to rob a home run. Mule did struggle offensively—understandable for a 15-year-old at this event—but he showed a sound swing and drove the ball well for his age in BP. Mule is the same age as the July 2, 2021 international prospects, with a skill set that would typically command a seven-figure bonus as either a pitcher or a shortstop.
Thomas White, LHP, Massachusetts (Philips Academy, Andover, Mass.)
Of all the players at these games, the player who might end up being the highest draft pick is White, a 15-year-old in the 2023 class who looks like a potential top 10 overall pick. He is 6-foot-4, 190 pounds with about as smooth, easy and low-effort of a delivery that you can find at at age, with a fastball that was already sitting at 90-93 mph and touched 94 on Monday. White paired his fastball with a tight-spinning curveball in the low-70s that looks like a future plus pitch. He showed poise and feel for pitching well beyond his years—he struck out the first three batters and overall struck out five of the nine batters he faced with no walks and one hit by pitch. All of that came from a pitcher who just finished his freshman year (and didn't get to pitch because of the coronavirus shutdown) against a summer collegiate lineup of mostly Division 1 hitters. Given White's physical projection, arm speed and free-and-easy operation on the mound, his already impressive stuff should continue to spike higher over the next few years, with a chance we're talking about him in the same category as Padres lefthander MacKenzie Gore (the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft) was his senior year by the time 2023 arrives.
Matthew Maloney, C, New Hampshire (Central Catholic HS, Lawrence, Mass.)
Maloney is a 17-year-old Dayton commit in the 2021 class who probably ends up going to college, but he showed some promising attributes once he's able to layer some strength on over the next few years. He's a slender 6 feet, 150 pounds, but generates sneaky pop with impressive torque, rotating his hips well and incorporating his lower half into his lefthanded swing efficiently with good finish in BP to drive the ball into the second deck of seats in right field in Hartford. He also showed the ability to stay through the ball to drive it well to left-center and center field in BP, though the game results were quieter (0-for-4 with three walks, one strikeout and three groundouts). He's agile and flexible behind the plate, with slightly below-average pop times that could improve with strength gains.