Our area has produced its share of great baseball draft stories.
Twenty-four teams, for example, passed on Millville High School’s Mike Trout before he was taken 25th overall by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2009 draft.
Mike Piazza, as a favor to Los Angeles Dodgers manager and fellow Norristown native Tommy Lasorda, was taken in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, 1,390th overall, and became the most unlikely Hall of Famer of all time.
Souderton’s Jamie Moyer was picked in the sixth round of the 1984 draft by the Chicago Cubs, and he just kept pitching and pitching and pitching until the age of 49. He won 105 games after the age of 40. Only Hall of Famer Phil Niekro (121) won more.
This year’s draft story is the heavy talent load from our area, including three high school players who are ranked among the top 31 draft prospects by Baseball America.
The local headliners are pitchers Anthony Solometo, from Bishop Eustace Prep, and Chase Petty, from Mainland High School; and center fielder Lonnie White Jr., from Malvern Prep.
Here’s what a couple of high-ranking scouts working for major-league teams thought about those players a few days ahead of Sunday night’s first-round draft selections in Denver. We also asked our two scouts about Benny Montgomery, an outfielder from Red Land High School in York County, Pa. He is projected as the 13th overall pick, by the Phillies, in Baseball America’s most recent mock draft.
Anthony Solometo, 6-5, 220-pound lefthander
Scout one: “I was impressed with the command he had with all of his pitches. When you factor in his control, command, and poise, he was ahead of the game for a high school pitcher. He pitched like a college guy, and that was really refreshing to see. He does have a different arm action, and we talked a lot about that. But guys like Dontrelle Willis and Madison Bumgarner had different ways of doing it, and sometimes you have to look away from how they do it and just think about the results, and his results were pretty good.
“If there’s a knock on him, it’s the arm action, and some guys talk about his stature because he’s a little bit of a thicker guy.”
Scout two: “It’s a very unique arm action, but it works for him. He’s a physical kid who throws strikes. If there’s a red flag, it’s the arm action that he’ll have to learn how to sync up every five days. That will be something he’ll have to master. But I really liked him a lot.”
Chase Petty, 6-1, 185-pound righthander
Scout one: “He’s a very good athlete with a live arm and a live body, and he is a great competitor. The stuff coming out of his arm the day I watched him was electric. He just dominated, and he dominated offensively, too. He hit a home run, and you could just see his athleticism. His top out velocity the day we saw him was 97 to 98, and he sat mostly around 95. We interviewed him on a Zoom call, and what a tremendous kid.
“I think if there is any concern, it will be that some teams will look at him and say he’s a 6-foot righthander, and sometimes his breaking ball is a little inconsistent. Those are two concerns that will be discussed in many draft rooms.”
Scout two: “He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s a really good competitor. His breaking ball can come and go sometimes, but he was definitely one of the best high school pitchers I saw in the country. He cruised the day I saw him. It is not a classic arm action, and I think he will have to learn to get things on line a little bit more. But he has a great foundation for a tool package as far as his arm speed and his athletic ability.
Lonnie White Jr., 6-3, 205-pound center fielder
Scout one: Did not see White play.
Scout two: “I know he played center field, but to me he profiles as a corner [outfield] bat. Hopefully he will hit and hit for power because that’s what you need your corner outfielders to do. He’s obviously a big, physical kid with a lot of strength. I thought he ended up getting a little thicker this year, and maybe that’s because he is also training to play football.”
Benny Montgomery, 6-4, 200-pound center fielder
Scout one: “From talking to a few of the Phillies’ guys, it seems like they are kind of enamored with him. He has a world of talent. From a pure scouting standpoint, he has all the tools. There’s raw power, an above average arm, and tremendous speed.”
Scout two: “He had as much raw power as any high school kid I saw. He definitely has the tools needed to be a first-round pick, and there’s a real upside to what kind of player he can become. He’s a good makeup kid, and I could definitely see him going in the 13 to 18 [selection] range.”
Where will Solometo and Petty be selected?
Scout one: “I think Petty and Solometo will go very close to each other, and it will be a matter of what a team has an appetite for. Both have a lot of plusses and a couple negatives, but they will not go later than the compensation picks in the first round or the second round. If I was going to take one in the first round, I’d probably go with the lefthander.”
Scout two: “It’s so hard to say because I think a lot of things can happen after the first 10 or 11 picks. Some teams are going to have those guys lower on their board, but if I had to guess I would say they will go in the 30s or 40s. I think it’s more about what they are going to get [financially]. I would say it will take in the ($2 million) range to sign them because they both have offers to big schools, and that’s the going rate for those guys.”
How much will White’s football scholarship to Penn State impact where he is selected?
Scout two: “It’s going to play a factor. You want the kids you select to love baseball, and the game is so hard. You don’t want them to start thinking about college football if they go through some struggles, so you have to make sure their motivation is to play baseball. I do think it could scare some teams. I don’t know what the price tag to sign him will be, but I’m not sure that teams will want to buy him out from playing football. I think that rhetoric has changed some in recent years.”