Philadelphia-area prospects prepare for MLB draft as part of talented Northeast group – Phillies Nation
The MLB draft begins on Sunday. (Photo by Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire)
This story was written by Ty Daubert and Hunter Doyle.
The first round of the Major League Baseball Draft is fast approaching, and the Philadelphia prospects are preparing for the chance to have their names announced as a potential top pick.
Seven players from the Greater Philadelphia region were selected in the 2021 draft by Benny Montgomery of Red Land High School (15th in the latest MLB Pipeline Draft Prospect ranking), Anthony Solometo of Bishop Eustace (17th), Mainland Chase Petty (27), Lonnie White Jr. of Malvern Prep (No. 72), Mason Black of Lehigh University (No. 154), Luke Holman of Wilson High School (No. 172), and Gordon Graceffo of Villanova University (No. 204).
That’s a good bunch of likely high draft picks for an area that isn’t particularly known for producing baseball talent. In locations with warm weather all year round, more players will generally be successful in the draft. This draft class was a little different in both the Philadelphia metropolitan area and the northeastern United States as a whole.
“This year in particular, I’ve spent more time from Maryland all the way up to the Northeast,” said Brian Barber, amateur scouting director for the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday. “The amount of talent that is here is at an unprecedented level of what it normally is. Whether in Pennsylvania, in Maryland, or even further up the coast, I’ve spent a lot more time here than ever, and every Boy Scout division did too.
“Why? I’m not 100% sure. But it’s a great year in terms of talent. They’re athletes. They’re good baseball players. They’re positional players. It’s just very talented. I hope it continues up here, because if so, then it was just as talented in the northeast as it was in Florida or Texas or California this year. “
The players also recognize talent from the area and it is an important honor for some to show great local perspectives.
“I’ve lived in the Northeast all my life and I’m very proud to have come from there,” Graceffo told Phillies Nation last month. “A lot of great athletes come from there – not just baseball players. It’s great to show up for the Philadelphia area. There are a lot of teams that have a long history in this field and it’s just great to represent an area that has so much history. “
Montgomery, an outfielder in Virginia, Solometo, a left-handed pitcher in North Carolina, Petty, a right-handed pitcher in Florida, White, an outfielder in Penn State for baseball and wide receivers in football, and Holman, an Alabama-based right-hander -Krug, are all high school prospects.
These high school students had to cancel last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but were able to participate in a few showcases again last summer and play a school season in preparation for the draft this year.
“I was lucky enough to have many summer tournaments ahead of me [in 2020] Loving Area Code, East Coast Pro, and the Future Star Series on Program 15 at Fenway, and it was all just amazing, ”Solometo said on the Philly Insider Podcast this week.
Black and Graceffo, both right-handed pitchers, are the group’s college players. In the run-up to the draft, Graceffo appeared in the Cape Cod League, a wooden club summer league for college players, for the Bourne Braves. Black played for Brewster Whitecaps after his 2019 freshman season.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity to play with some great guys on my team with great competition,” said Graceffo of his decision to play in the Cape Cod League. “I will definitely use it as an opportunity to increase my draft stock. A lot of the blows came on me – the Big East is great competition, but it’s not Power Five. People say it’s not the same competition as Power Five and this is a good chance to prove myself. “
With Graceffo playing for Villanova in the Big East and Black playing for Lehigh in the Patriot League, they don’t come from baseball powerhouses. However, both were successful in the Cape Cod League. Graceffo had an ERA of 0.69 in three starts this season, and Black had an ERA of 1.47 in eight pitching appearances in 2019.
The two were both juniors in college this year and could return for another NCAA season if they don’t sign, but there’s a good chance each will get into professional baseball based on their prospective location.
“My goal right now is definitely to sign and go to the minors,” Graceffo said in June, “but I definitely weigh the pros and cons of each one. But right now I think I’ll sign. “
For those interested in high school, the draft – which starts with the first round on Sunday evening and continues with the remaining 19 rounds on Monday and Tuesday – will put the talent and commitment of the players in the spotlight, regardless of their choice of professional ball or play collegially.
“The Sunday opportunity, whether I’m going to college or going to draft, is a great opportunity, and it’s great to see I’m being recognized for all of the hard work I put in all the time. “Said Solometo.
For each of these players, whether high school or college, the upcoming draft will mark the beginning of a new chapter in their careers.
“This is the key to unlock the door and finally see my dream of being called up,” said Solometo. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, thank God, I have time to relax now.’ This is the opportunity. “
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