Prep Baseball Report

Wladyka Pitcher's Showcase: Top Performers

TJ Hunt
Director, PBR New Jersey

For the 5th consecutive year, we were honored to cover the Wladyka Baseball Pitcher's Showcase in Rutherford, N.J. on Tuesday night. There were 51 total pitchers on display for college coaches in one of the first days that Division I coaches were able to get back out on the recruiting trail. 30+ coaches and pro scouts were stacked into the Wladyka Baseball facility to watch 47 uncommitted arms as well as 4 committed, high-end hurlers prepping for their seasons. Below is a look at the top performers from the event.

To view a sortable list of the velocities, CLICK HERE.

Right off the bat, Virginia recruit 2021 LHP Pierce Coppola (Verona HS, NJ) stood out from his lanky, athletic frame at 6-foot-7 frame. Consistently sat 86-88 touching 89 at his best at the knees in the zone. He ripped off a couple curveballs at 70-72 with late 1/7 break and flashed a true swing-and-miss splitter at 74-75. Tough angle from a high-3/4 slot. Long, athletic limbs with repeatable motion. Coppola will be a high riser in the 2021 rankings update.

2020 LHP Jacob Gomez (Rutherford HS, NJ) is an Old Dominion recruit and was one of the top pitchers in the state last spring. Gomez rolled in from a double overtime basketball game and pounded the bottom half of the strike zone at 85-88 mph and flashed a sharp 1/7 breaker for strikes at 67-69 mph with tight spin. Showcased a changeup with fade at 67-69 with fastball arm speed. Athletic frame at 5-foot-10 165-pounds.

Uncommitted 2022 RHP Zach Stichweh (Seton Hall Prep HS, NJ) was a top performer at the Future Games Trials in mid-February, and continued that momentum into Tuesday night. Athletically built at 6-foot 190-pounds - Stichweh's fastball had some late life at 86-89 with tailing action on finish. He mixed in a hard straight changup at 85 mph and a smaller, tighter slider at 75-78. Stichweh will be another high riser in the upcoming rankings cleanup.

2020 RHP Mike Ruggieri (Northern Highlands HS, NJ) is an Army recruit - and has a durable 6-foot-6 265-pounds. High-3/4 slot with a quick arm, Ruggieri peppered the bottom half of the zone at 86-88. Curveball showed 11/5 break at 74-75 and mixed in a slider at 78-80 with smaller, more lateral movement. Located a straight changeup at 75-77.

2021 RHP Nicholas Semon (Don Bosco Prep HS, NJ) was arguably one of the most impressive arms from the event. Uncommited - Semon has a lean, athletic frame at 6-foot 180-pounds. Quick high-3/4 arm, Semon sat 85-87 with late, heavy life. Separated himself from the pack with a big breaking 12/6 curveball with sharp, late bite at 70-72 and feel for a true, hard biting slider at 76-80. 

Uncommitted 2022 RHP Casey Knuckles (St. Joseph's Montvale HS, NJ) really burst on to the scene at this event. Strong, athletic frame at 6-foot-1 175-pounds, Knuckles sat 82-86 with his fastball and ripped off a couple late 11/5 sliders at 76-78. Spin plays up for the sophomore. Definite follow this spring.

Another Army recruit, 2022 RHP Collin Kratzer (Colts Neck HS, NJ) has an effortless delivery at 84-86 from a true-3/4 slot. True drop and drive type pitcher, uses his backside to propel him down the mound. Showed feel for a curveball at 65-67 and a slider at 73-74. 

2021 LHP John Hacker (Saddle Brook HS, NJ) put on some strength since we last got a look at him in 2019. Broad-shouldered at 6-foot-3 204-pounds, Hacker showed a clean arm at 82-85. Flashed a 1/7 breaker that backed up on him at times and a 74-76 changeup with armside fade. Hacker will be a high riser in the rankings as well. Durability and quick, athletic lefty arm really stood out on this night.

2022 RHP Christian Pareja (Passaic Tech HS, NJ) continues to get better every time I see him. Athletic frame at 5-foot-10 168-pounds - more of a high-3/4 slot with an easy, athletic arm. Fastball sat 82-85. Showed feel for spin at 74-75 (slider) - with smaller, later action. Pareja is going to be one of the top underclass pitchers on a staff that already has No. 1 NJ 2022 Nazier Mule.

2023 RHP Steven Echavarria (Millburn HS, NJ) was easily the top freshman of the event. Loved the look of the slot - a true-3/4 with long, easy arm action. Still room to fill out at 5-foot-11 143-pounds, Echavarria ran his fastball up to 84 mph and sat mostly 80-84 at the event. Spun a slider with 11/5 tilt at 66-68 and flashed a changeup with heavy armside fade at 70-73. High follow prospect.

Another 2021 that really stood out was RHP Kyle McCaffrey (Verona HS, NJ). McCaffrey is known as a strike thrower, and at 82-84 certainly showed off his strength. Spun a curveball with big 11/5 bite at 68-70 and flashed a straight changeup at 70-72. Wiry, athletic frame at 5-foot-11 155-pounds with room to fill out. The 1-2 punch of McCaffrey and the aforementioned Coppola at Verona will be tough to beat in Essex County this year.

2021 RHP Doug Somers (Glen Rock HS, NJ) has the frame of a prototypical pitcher at 6-foot-2 170-pounds with long, wiry limbs. Clean high-3/4 arm - ball jumped out at 80-82 mph. Somers showed an 11/5 breaker at 61-63 and a slider at 65-66. Projection is there for more velocity to follow.

Other Names to Watch This Spring

+ 2021 RHP Ryan Lill (Cladwell HS, NJ) - FB 81-84
+ 2021 RHP Zachary Hochheiser (Suffern HS, NY) - FB 81-84
+ 2022 RHP Clayton Poliey (Don Bosco Prep HS, NJ) - FB 81-83
+ 2022 RHP Ryan Rzepinski (St. Peter's Prep HS, NJ) - FB 80-83
+ 2022 RHP Walter Schwartz (St. Joseph's Metuchen HS, NJ) - FB 80-82
+ 2021 RHP Ben Weber (Pope John XXIII HS, NJ) - FB 80-82
+ 2021 LHP Liam Lombardi (North Rockland HS, NY) - FB 79-81