Prep Baseball Report

Spring Scout Blog: 1st Edition

TJ Hunt
Director, PBR New Jersey

Our boots-on-the-ground coverage of the high school season is back underway after a long hiatus. Here are some standouts from the first two weeks of the baseball season:

Week 3

+ Zach Crotchfelt, LHP, Jackson Memorial HS, NJ 2022
Auburn commit. Broad shouldered, athletic at 6-foot-2 190-pounds with some room to fill out. Fastball sat 88-91 with armside run. Flashed a break with big, gradual 2/8 bite at 71-74. Works extremely quick. The game he threw in versus Justin Szestowicki was in the 5th inning in 45 minutes. Up tempo, clean, repeatable mechanics.

+ Justin Szestowicki, RHP, Kingsway HS, NJ 2021
North Carolina commit. Broad shouldered, athletic at 5-foot-10 180-pounds. Possesses a fast arm and works quickly - 91-93 touching 95 and flashing a slurvy breaking ball at 73-76 with 11/5 depth. 

+ Caden Dana, RHP, Don Bosco Prep HS, NJ 2022
Kentucky commit. Lean, athletic frame at 6-foot-4 200-pounds. Peppered strikes early on at 92-94 touching 95 from a high-3/4 slot. Featured a big 11/5 curveball for some swings and misses at 74-77 with tight spin. Electric arm action, clean mechanics. Fastball plays up. Still some polishing left, but look for Dana to be a monster contributor for the rest of the spring, and expect him draft buzz this summer.

+ Gavin Soares, RHP, Northern Highlands HS, NJ 2024
Uncommitted. Soares has a wiry, athletic frame at 6-foot-2 190-pounds. Fastball sat 83-86 on a very windy day at Northern Highlands. Mixed in a curveball at 72-76 with downer 12/6 bite. Primarily out of the stretch. Compact, athletic arm action high-3/4 slot and showcases some whip to the arm action. Soares is on of the top overall prospects in the 2024 class in NJ.

Week 2

Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace HS, NJ 2021
North Carolina commit. In the second week in a row seeing him, Solometo did not disappoint. In this outing he was up a tick from the first one, sitting 92-95 with heavy armside run and sink on the fastball. His slider is borderline wipeout at 80-83 and wrinkled one changeup in as well. It was a dominating 5 inning no hitter, where he stuck out 11 batters. Only one Don Bosco player reached base, a hit by pitch early on in the game. That hit by pitch would end up being the only time Solometo would pitch out of the stretch. The 6-foot-5 215-pounder was spotting up with multiple 95's on this day.

Week 1

In the first week of the season, we were itching to get out - and even saw a scrimmage and a college game. Starting with Fordham's talented lefty, Matt Mikulski who has skyrocketed up MLB Draft Boards this spring with elite swing and miss stuff. Then it was on to see Naz Mulé from Passaic County Tech throw some heat to round out the scrimmages. The first game was at Verona to see Florida commit 2021 LHP Pierce Coppola pumping 95 mph early on. See some of the videos below:

+ Virginia commit 2022 RHP Kevin Jaxel (Don Bosco Prep HS, NJ) was outstanding versus Holy Spirit in a complete game shut out effort, also launching a go ahead homerun to break a scoreless tie. His fastball sat in the upper 80s touching 90 multiple times. He wrinkled in a breaker with big 11/5 spin when thrown at its best, and also featured a changeup at 80-83.

+ Boston College commit, 2021 RHP Sean Hard (St. Joseph's Montvale HS, NJ) has risen up some draft boards heading into the spring and has been an interesting follow so far. Versus Pope John, Hard was 92-94 touching 95 early on. Maintained 90-92 in the later innings as well. Flashed a big 11/5 breaker at 74-75, a harder, smaller slider at 82-83 and a straight changeup at 85. Rhythmic, up tempo, whip to the arm action, high-3/4 slot with some effort on finish.

+ Florida commit Pierce Coppola (Verona HS, NJ) is the No. 3 ranked 2021 in New Jersey and one of the top draft prospects in the Garden State this spring. Lanky, athletic 6-foot-8 230-pound frame, the lefty was 92-94 touching 95 once in his opening outing of the year. Flashed a swing-and-miss slider at 80-83 with sweeping action to it. Tough slot to pick up, high-3/4, athetlcism and repeatability are advanced for size and age. Clean, effortless. Could be a top draft choice should he choose professional ball over Gainesville.