Image credit: Anthony Volpe (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
State List Talent Ranking: ????????
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale relative to what the state typically produces, with 1 being the weakest)
The son of former 19-year major league lefthander, Al Leiter, Jack is arguably the most polished pitcher in the 2019 prep class. Standing at just 6 feet, 191 pounds, Leiter isn’t the most physically imposing and he doesn’t have the biggest pure stuff, but he has an advanced feel for pitching with confidence in each of his offerings. A first-team Preseason All-American, scouting directors also voted Leiter as having the best command of the 2019 class with an up-tempo delivery and a starter’s arm action. Leiter uses both a four-seam and two-seam fastball, and his heater gets up into the 94-95 mph range early in outings before sitting comfortably in the low 90s. His curveball is his best offering and one of the better breaking balls in the entire high school class, as the mid-70s pitch ranges in shape from a true, 12-to-6 downer to a three-quarter breaking ball. Leiter can land the pitch, which features a spin rate in the 2,600 to 2,700 rpm range, for strikes in the zone or bury it for swings and misses as a chase pitch. He’ll also throw in a slider, which has tighter spin but less depth than his curveball, in the low 80s. The slider is more of an average offering while the curveball looks like a plus pitch. Additionally, Leiter has a low-80s changeup that is among the best in the class. Committed to Vanderbilt, Leiter is expected to be a difficult sign.
A smaller, 5-foot-11, 180-pound shortstop out of New Jersey, Volpe doesn’t overwhelm with tools or physicality, but he plays an extremely sound game both offensively and defensively. At the plate, Volpe has well below-average power from the right side, but he has a short swing with quick hands and is capable of spraying line drives to all fields. A solid-average runner during the summer showcase circuit, scouts have clocked better run times from Volpe this spring, to the point where he’s now considered an above-average runner. Volpe’s defensive ability is what sets him apart, however, as he has some of the most consistent and reliable hands in the class. He doesn’t have a huge arm or elite range, but Volpe’s instincts and overall feel for playing defense are extremely polished. He seems to make every play that comes to him—making the position look much easier than it actually is. Volpe has efficient footwork and gets around the ball well to put himself in solid positions to throw across the diamond, and he has no issues throwing from multiple angles, on the run or while turning a double play at second base. Because he is undersized and lacks a standout tool—though some scouts believe he’ll eventually be a plus hitter—Volpe could be tough to sign out of a Vanderbilt commitment. But he was arguably the highest-performing position player at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational this spring, which came in front of plenty of scouting directions and could push him into Day 1 consideration. In addition to his skills on the field, Volpe is a natural, vocal leader, and he commands his teammates well from the shortstop position. He always plays with a frenetic, high energy that endears him to scouts as well.
DeVito was named Big East pitcher of the year in 2018, posting 67 strikeouts and an 1.88 ERA in 62 innings. This season hasn’t been so easy for the junior righthander, however, as he has allowed more than one hit per inning and already surpassed his walk total from last year despite pitching just 46 innings as of early May. Standing at 6-foot-3, DeVito works from a three-quarter arm slot and features a solid three-pitch mix. His fastball tops out at 94 mph, and he flashes both a plus changeup and plus slider at times. While athletic, DeVito needs to tighten up his delivery moving forward. He receives praise from scouts for his mound presence and competitive nature on the mound, although it isn’t clear whether he will fit in the rotation or the bullpen long term.
Fall is a projectable lefthander out of Brookdale (N.J.) JC who drew some attention as an undrafted free agent following his freshman year. He has significantly improved his draft stock as a sophomore, adding at least 20 pounds to his 6-foot-6 frame while also seeing marked improvements with his pure stuff. Fall impressed over the summer with a low-90s fastball and improved breaking ball, and he’s touched as high as 95 mph this spring. His stuff faded down the stretch, however, and there have been outings where his velocity has dipped into the mid-80s. Scouts have also questioned Fall’s secondary offerings and noted that he essentially overpowered weaker competition with his fastball en route to a 1.95 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 11 walks in 60.1 innings. While his walk rate is impressive, scouts have said Fall, who is still growing into his frame, can scatter the zone at times. His changeup is below-average at this point, but the pitch could become an average offering down the line. Fall’s slider shows above-average potential at its best, but it could also use refinement. There’s not much track record to speak of with Fall, and teams will need to project on his secondaires and strike-throwing ability. Still, he’s at least an average athlete who should be able to make improvements and learn how to hold his stuff more effectively as he continues his development. Fall is committed to Arizona State.
A 6-foot-3, 177-pound righthander and outfielder, Hunt is a legitimate two-way prospect and would be able to play on both sides of the ball if he reaches campus at Mississippi State. Hunt is extremely athletic and is also a talented basketball player who likely could have played at some collegiate level on the court as well if his focus wasn’t on the baseball field. On the mound Hunt has a loose, clean arm action and good feel for throwing strikes with a fastball that’s been up into the low-90s, a curveball and a changeup. He also throws a knuckleball, and while scouts have seen plenty that are mostly just gimmick pitches in high school, Hunt’s could be a legitimate offering in the future. As a hitter, Hunt has some feel for barreling the baseball and some sneaky pop, but is likely a corner outfielder down the line. Hunt’s brother, Shooter, was a first round pick as a pitcher in 2008.
An athletic, switch-hitting catcher who’s new to the position after playing shortstop earlier in his career, Ballestero has some power potential from both sides of the dish with a loose, handsy swing. He didn’t hit well on the summer showcase circuit prior to his senior year, and he’ll need to refine his actions and defensive ability behind the plate, but he has the talent and frame to improve his stock with a few years in the ACC at Virginia.
7. Stephen Restuccio, RHP, Hammonton (N.J.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 190 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Maryland
8. Nick Maldonado, SS, Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Vanderbilt
9. Jayson Hoopes, RHP, St. Augustine Prep, Richland, N.J.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 170 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Wagner