Enter your number to get our free mobile app

The 2020 spring sports season in New Jersey has officially been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means the top athletes in the state won't have a chance to show off their skills and compete for their schools at all this spring. Amateur sports is a big part of the culture in Monmouth and Ocean Counties and the current shutdown of competition represents a major change for the athletes who compete, the coaches who coach them and the people who follow them on a day-to-day basis.

Baseball is particularly big at the Shore and the 2020 season would have featured some big-time talent to boot. There will be no 2020 All-Shore team to recognize the top players, but we at Shore Sports Network want to take a tour through the conference to recognize the very best players at each position on the field. With that being said, SSN Baseball Editor Matt Manley has compiled lists of the top players at each position on the field with some input from coaches in the area. The goal is to recognize the players who have been the best during their careers and had some momentum coming into this year as well. There are also plenty of players who would have been debuting at the varsity level this season but this feature is designed for the players who have already established track records.

The term "outfielder" can be a broad one in baseball discussion: outfielders come in all shapes and sizes, with some out there because they are legitimately good a tracking down fly balls, some because of a great arm, while others are out there to get a good bat in the lineup while minimizing the defensive damage.

Any way you slice it, 10 spots are not enough to get a good grasp on the best outfielders in the Shore Conference, so this will be the first of two positional countdowns that start from No. 20. Defense definitely counts, but the offensive standards are high among outfielders. Two, in particular, stand head-and-shoulders above the rest but there is still plenty of talent to go around.

 

20. Ben Settino, Sr., CF, CBA

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)53162101112.302.449.3775

Having Settino hitting in the No. 7 spot for most of the year was like having a second leadoff hitter in the lineup for CBA. During his junior season, Settino posted the second-best on-base percentage on the Colts and the best among the players back at CBA for the 2020 season. He also brings a quality glove to centerfield and has the athleticism to cause problems on the basepaths – perhaps even more than last year, when he stole five bases.

Coach’s Insight: “He is a coach’s delight. He does anything you want him to do, and he’ll do everything. You tell him once and he gets it done. He’s a kid who gets the most out of his ability. He is a super-hard worker and somebody we were going to depend on a lot.” – Marty Kenny Jr., CBA head coach

 

19. Evan Scala, Sr., OF, Manchester

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)6216300611.258.370.3063
2018 (So.)55238212111.418.536.6916

 

Despite some struggles in 2019, Scala is two years removed from a huge sophomore season, in which he slammed 11 extra-base hits in 55 at-bats and finished top-25 in the Shore Conference in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Even in battling a slump for most of his junior year, Scala still put up a respectable .370 on-base percentage in a Class B South division that was nothing if not pitching-heavy. Over the past two seasons, the cumulative line was still impressive: .333/.451/.487. For context, the No. 6 player on this list put up a similar .329/.457/.477 line in 2019 alone.

Coach’s Insight: “We brought him up for a couple at-bats as a freshman and we were really impressed by the way he saw pitches and just had good at-bats. Sophomore year, he goes out hits over .400 and it was a high-level .400. Last year, it was one of those battles within the game: he was struggling and he knew it, then you start thinking about it. He started to hit the ball harder but there were still a lot of hard outs in there. The thing you like is as he turned the corner in the slump, he was still getting on base. As a coaching staff, we just had this expectation he was just going to be back with a vengeance. This was going to be the culmination to his career that he deserves.” – Dave Beauchemin, Manchester head coach

 

18. Robert Jeans, Sr., OF, Toms River North

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)79276001017.342.369.4181
2018 (So.)5721300157.368.403.4212

Jeans entered 2019 with the goal of turning from role player on a championship 2018 team into a leader on a Mariners team that sought to surprise Ocean County and, to some extent, did. Early in the year, Jeans swung a hot bat (.438/.472/.521 in April) and was also the team’s most dependable pitcher for the first month of the season before some nagging injuries caught up with him. Even with a forgettable May at the plate, Jeans has a career average of .353 while playing in a challenging Class A South.

Coach’s Insight: “He got hurt at the end of last year and it kind of slowed him down. He is healthy and ready to go and we were expecting big things from him. He has been a key guy for us for three years and he had something to prove.” – Andy Pagano, Toms River North head coach

 

17. Sean Nocera, Sr., OF, Wall

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUG
2019 (Jr.)74274001717.365.489.419
2018 (So.)241000003.417.500.417

Nocera got his start behind the plate and his varsity debut came under unusual circumstances: starter Dave Howarth was injured in a game at Jackson Liberty and after he picked up a hit in the jayvee game, Nocera rushed to the varsity field to catch and came up with a go-ahead RBI single in a showdown between two top-10 teams. Last year, it didn’t take long for Nocera to catch on as an outfielder and his bat played well at that spot, as he finished second on the team in batting average and on-base percentage.

Coach’s Insight: “Last year, he wasn’t playing and we weren’t getting a lot of offense from the corner outfield spots. I called him over one day and said, ‘You’re too good of a bat to be sitting on the bench’ and I asked him to play the outfield. He just hits line drives and drives in runs, so wherever you have to play him in the field, you put him out there and let him hit.” – Jim Rochford, Wall head coach

 

16. Joe Mazza, Jr., OF/LHP, Manalapan

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (So.)321101128.344.382.5000

Manalapan was one of the Shore’s deeper teams, with options abound both in the pitching staff and in the lineup and a roster heavy on seniors and juniors. That made cracking the lineup for a sophomore like Mazza a challenge, but as the season progressed, he gave coach Brian Boyce no choice but to pencil him into the lineup. His homer was part of a wild seventh inning in a 9-8 loss at Bayonne and his triple drove in three runs in the first inning of a 5-3 win over Wall in the SCT – a game in which he also won on the mound.

Coach’s Insight: “Offensively, I think he has proven himself. He got some at-bats last year and was one of our hotter hitters at the end of the year. He’s a good-sized kid, he’s got a good arm, he’s a pretty good athlete. He’ll be our right fielder when he’s not pitching, so we’ll have at least one guy who has starting experience out there.” – Brian Boyce, Manalapan head coach

 

15. Jarrett Urban, Sr., OF/RHP, Freehold Twp.

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)411211268.293.311.51213

 

Urban showed what he could do at the end of last season as a significant contributor in Freehold Township’s NJSIAA Central Group IV win at Monroe. On top of showing extra-base-hit prowess with four in 41 at-bats – including two homers – he also flashed his speed with 13 stolen bases and standout outfield defense. Urban either would have been a standout centerfielder or the best defensive corner outfielder at the Shore with junior teammate Zach Gorman playing centerfield.

Coach’s Insight: “Jarrett is a year older, a year more mature and he really took on a leadership role over the offseason. He was a phenomenal athlete last year and this year, he looked like he was going to be extremely good baseball player. He has the power, the speed, the arm and the overall strength to do everything there is to do.” – Todd Smith, Freehold Township head coach

 

14. Thomas Elgrim, Jr., CF, Rumson-Fair Haven

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (So.)64204121114.313.371.5005
2018 (Fr.)511220095.235.344.2759

 

Rumson was one of the Shore’s youngest teams and the Bulldogs endured some inconsistency as a result. The offense turned in some big performances and near the top of the list of 2019 stars was Elgrim – an all-division outfielder who molded himself into a standout varsity hitter after showing some speed during a lighter-hitting freshman season. On top of his speed and defense, Elgrim was one of 18 Shore Conference outfielders to post a slugging percentage of .500 or better in at last 50 plate appearances.

Coach’s Insight: “He came back ready to go. We got in an intra-squad game and he smashed 2 balls off the wall, he was stealing bases, stealing signs – he looked awesome. He’s a great athlete. He’s a track and cross-country kid. He is like a lot of the guys on the team in that a lot of them play multiple sports. Those kinds of guys can handle anything you throw at them.” – Owen Stewart, Rumson-Fair Haven head coach

 

13. Julian Buchman, So., CF, Marlboro

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Fr.)3711402910.297.381.5681

 

Marlboro coach Craig Helfgott took things as slow as he could with Buchman in 2019 while riding with the experience in the outfield, but the talented freshman could not be held out of the lineup. Buchman showed off his sky-high potential in 37 freshman at-bats, with six of his 11 hits going for extra bases and one of his homers coming on a grand slam vs. Red Bank Catholic. He was set to start in centerfield this season and will assume those duties for Marlboro when high school baseball returns.

Coach’s Insight: “He has a chance to be really special. He is a confident kid who knows his ability and he eats, sleeps and lives baseball. When you looked at him as a freshman last year, you wouldn’t think you were looking at a freshman. He has good size and we were really looking forward to seeing more of his speed this year, especially on the bases.”

 

12. Charlie Chropuvka, Jr., CF, Ranney

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (So.)563113002224.554.662.78618
2018 (Fr.)65307402325.462.561.692

 

Through two varsity seasons, Chropuvka was authoring a special high-school career for a Ranney program that could be on the verge of taking off. He, Jackson Memorial senior second baseman Christian Pellone and Jackson Liberty senior shortstop Shane Hickey are the only three players in the Shore Conference returning off back-to-back 30-hit seasons and Chropuvka did it as a freshman and a sophomore. Moreover, the left-handed-swinging outfielder is also one of only three returning Shore players (Hickey and Wall senior Teddy Sharkey) to put up at least 20 runs scored and 20 RBI in each of the past two seasons. He is currently hitting .504 as a high-school player and his 24 extra-base hits match Sharkey for the most in the conference over the past two seasons by returning players.

Coach’s Insight: “I know most people look at us and a hitter like Charlie and think he benefits from the weaker competition and that’s probably true. With that said, he handled high-level pitching well. He was all over (Dante) Ciaramella from Monmouth, all over Gill St. Bernard. He showed he knows what he’s doing. Charlie handles the velocity, he handles the offspeed stuff and when he plays the travel circuit in the summer, he’s still a .400 hitter. If Charlie played for me at Monroe, he would still be a No. 3 hitter on most of the teams I had there. He is a legit player, without a doubt.” – Pat Geroni, Ranney head coach

 

11. James Johns, Sr., CF/LHP, Manchester

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)7124501207.338.420.4517
2018 (So.)67263012111.388.487.47813
2017 (Fr.)6821220119.309.390.39710

 

Johns would have entered the 2020 season 29 hits away from 100 for his career and there is plenty of reason to believe he would have hit the milestone number playing a normal schedule as a senior. The Roanoke College commit made an immediate impact as a freshman and was an ideal leadoff man during both his sophomore and junior campaigns. When most of the Manchester team struggled offensively in 2019, Johns still checked in with an average over .330, an on-base percentage over .400 and scored 20 runs.

Coach’s Insight: “When I first took the job, all I kept hearing about was this sixth grader who started at shortstop on the middle school team. When he got to high school, you could see he had the live arm, he was so twitchy, so athletic. We put him out there and he struggled (in the field), but he was raking. We wound up putting him in right field so he could keep hitting. We saw him out there and we knew we had something. He moves so natural and we knew he was taking over in centerfield the next year. He’s the rare breed of model citizen and a great player to build a program around. They don’t make them better than him.” – Dave Beauchemin, Manchester head coach

 

10. Lukas Torres, Sr., CF/LHP, Barnegat

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)7324520234.329.432.4529
2018 (So.)6523411237.354.506.4927
2017 (Fr.)67171111010.254.367.34313

 

Torres and Johns have had very similar careers as Class B South players graduating in 2020. Johns has the better career average and more hits while Torres has outdone his counterpart when it comes to extra-base hits and drawing walks, but the overall numbers and the year-by-year are about as close as two players can be. Both are also two-way players with strong arms and in Torres’s case, he is currently topping out in the high-80’s to give the Bengals a pitcher who can go after hitters and a centerfielder who can impact the game with his arm as well. Torres is heading to Wagner in the fall and was hoping to propel Barnegat back toward the top of B South this spring.

Coach’s Insight: “He had a lot of personal accomplishments to reach this year. He had a shot to become Barnegat’s all-time hits leader. He’s a team guy first. He ran track and one of the track coaches said if he was a full-time track kid, he could go to college and run track. He got bigger in the winter, worked on speed and he should be able to go to Wagner and play right away. We have a good sophomore class and I really wanted them to get in the same dugout with Lukas.” – Dan McCoy, Barnegat head coach

 

9. Sam Young, Sr., OF/RHP, Point Boro

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)79263041821.329.439.5193
2018 (So.)53164001614.302.457.3775

During his breakout junior season, as the weather heated up, so did Young. May 11 marked the semifinals of the Ocean County Tournament and from that date through the last day of the high-school season in N.J., Young hit .407 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 41 plate appearances – including a game-winning, walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh of the Central Jersey Group II title game vs. Robbinsville. He was a tough at-bat down the stretch in more ways than one: he was hit by 12 pitches, including eight times in that final stretch of 41 plate appearances.

Coach’s Insight: “Sammy’s a tremendous athlete. He’s got great size and a tremendous arm. He struggled early (last) year and at the end, he was great. He just got big hit after big hit against some great pitchers. By the end of the year, he was the guy I’d want up in crucial situation.” – Dave Drew, Point Boro head coach

 

8. Jay Kalieta, Sr., CF, Matawan

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)7223500189.319.451.3898
2018 (So.)65283102313.431.532.50815

 

Kalieta is another outfielder similar to both Torres and Johns, both in skillset and corresponding statistics. The other two outfielders have Kalieta beat on extra-base hits and in making it to the varsity starting lineup as freshmen, but Kalieta has some other resume bullet points working for him. His .431 batting average during his sophomore year was 22nd in the Shore Conference and that same number would have put him tied for 12th last year. The George Washington commit also plays in a home park with a cavernous centerfield, meaning he has to cover more ground on defense while dealing with extra-base-hit-killing dimensions on offense.

Coach’s Insight: “He has been working out like madman in the gym. He had the green light for the year: we told him to just get on base and do what you do. The single-season hit record is 36 and we were looking at him having a chance to break that. We have a really big park so if you just miss (the ball), it’s an out and that hurt him a little last year. He added 10 pounds of muscle, he put a lot of work in and I was really looking forward to see how the work would translate.” Bobby Carnovsky, Matawan head coach

 

7. Danny Minze, Sr., RF/RHP, Middletown South

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)6727300218.403.488.4484
2018 (So.)50173101012.340.431.4404

 

As a bright spot on a Middletown South team that struggled in 2018, Minze showed he could be a real two-way threat as a pitcher, hitter and versatile defender who could play the outfield and second base. Last year, the University of Delaware commit took a step forward on both sides of his game and moved to right field full-time when he was not pitching. At the plate, he went from a solid piece in a lineup to one of the best top-of-the-order threats at the Shore. His .403 average in 2019 was 21st in the Shore Conference and was the No. 1 mark among Class A North players, leading to him being recognized as the Class A North co-hitter of the year by the division coaches.

Coach’s Insight: “He came into high school as a second baseman and has made a major adjustment to play the outfield. He made the transition seamless. He gets a good read on ball and he has a really strong arm. He is one of those kids who puts pressure on you. He’s a great contact hitter and when you see him run, you can just picture him being a menace on the bases.” – Chris LeMore, Middletown South head coach

 

6. Tommy Talbot, Sr., CF, Howell

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)76302002314.395.489.42114
2018 (So.)61200011411.328.369.3775
2017 (Fr.)5100001.200.200.2000

 

On the heels of collecting 50 hits over the past two seasons and being named the Class A North co-hitter of the year by the coaches, Talbot was set to enter his final high-school season 13 stolen bases away from the career record at Howell. He was also intent on realizing a power spike after homering once as a sophomore and smacking a pair of doubles as a junior. His .489 on-base percentage was the best mark in the pitching-loaded A North, so added power or not, he was still one of the Shore’s best offensive weapons on top of being a stellar defensive centerfielder.

Coach’s Insight: “Tommy puts his bat on the ball. He is really good at going the other way and up the middle. He is so fast, those slow grounders usually turn into hits. He is not that big power guy but he will beat an outfielder every now and again. He put on some muscle and was looking to add to the power numbers a little more this year.” – Eric Johnson, Howell head coach

 

5. Chris Lotito, Sr., CF/RHP, Middletown South

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)65215111415.323.457.4777
2018 (So.)28410182.143.273.2861

 

Middletown South’s athletic outfield duo appears within two spots of one another on the outfield countdown, with Lotito bringing a little bit less contact and a little more speed and power to the table – as a hitter, pitcher and defender – than his classmate, Minze. The Seton Hall commit could very well be the best pure athlete set to play baseball at the Shore in 2020 and it showed in every way in 2019, when he was a Shore Sports Network Second Team All-Shore selection.

Coach’s Insight: “I saw a few South football games and I watched what that kid did on the football field and I couldn’t wait to see what he does on a baseball field. I could just see him tracking down balls all over centerfield. He’s just a freak athletically and he that all translates to what he does on the baseball field. And he does everything on a baseball field.” – Chris LeMore, Middletown South head coach

 

4. John Foreman, Sr., CF, Manasquan

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)70296011719.414.494.5435

Other outfielders residing in this part of the list have longer track records than Foreman but that is not really his fault. He lost his sophomore season to two separate ailments – one an illness and another injury. He came back as a junior and showed what Manasquan had been missing by hitting over .400 while grabbing hold of the centerfield job in one of the more spacious outfields in the conference. His average was second-best among returning outfielders behind Ranney’s Charlie Chropuvka, his on-base percentage was third and slugging percentage fifth within that same group.

Coach’s Insight: “We knew he had talent, but he also missed the year. He was basically seeing a curveball for the first time he had to adjust. I knew he would be good, but I didn’t know he would be as good as he has become. The ball jumps off his bat at the plate, he covers a lot of ground in the outfield and he’s just a hard-working kid.” – Brenan Gordon, Manasquan head coach

 

3. Ramon Fontanes, Sr., RF, Marlboro

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)74255221624.338.419.5414
2018 (So.)5722511816.386.470.5619
2017 (Fr.)11200043.182.250.182

 

A browse through the list of outfielders reveals that it is pretty rare to put up robust numbers in Class A North and Fontanes has managed to put up All-Shore-caliber numbers in each of his past two seasons. He started off his junior year scorching, driving in 11 runs in Marlboro’s first three games and then finished with a flurry as well. Marlboro won two games in the Central Jersey Group IV Playoffs and Fontanes drove in three runs in those games, including two on two doubles in a quarterfinal win over Hightstown. He has also been a quality defender in centerfield and was making the move to right in 2020 to accommodate Buchman.

Coach’s Insight: “Ramon plays anywhere in the outfield, he’s great to coach, a great leader. The first three or four games last year, he had 10 or 11 RBI and was just carrying us early. He hit a little bit of a slump in the middle of the season, but every day, you know you can plug him in and get the same effort defensively. He goes and gets it. We were expecting major things for him. He decided not to play at the next level so he wanted to go out with a big year.” – Craig Helfgott, Marlboro head coach

 

2. Teddy Sharkey, Sr., CF/RHP, Wall

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)873411212422.391.542.5985
2018 (So.)81247032124.296.426.4945
2017 (Fr.)6721312159.313.382.4783

 

There are two serious contenders for the No. 1 spot among Shore Conference outfielders and picking between them is splitting hairs. Sharkey earned the First Team All-Shore spot over the No. 1 player on this list because the offensive numbers were comparable and he was also a First-Team caliber pitcher. Just taking hitting and defense into account, Sharkey has been one of the Shore’s top players since he debuted as a freshman. He made an impact right away, slugging two homers in his first varsity season and turned in his best year as a junior by finishing eighth at the Shore in on-base percentage. Ready to continue his career at Coastal Carolina, Sharkey closes his career at Wall with 79 hits, a three-year batting line of .336/.456/.528 and a 2019 Group III championship ring.

Coach’s Insight: “His arm strength and ability to hit was obvious right away and he earned starting spot through that. It’s tough because he had all the ability in the world as freshman and I think people now start to look at him as a sophomore and he is now expected to do it all. In reality, he was still mentally a sophomore. He still had a good year but last year, he simplified things a little bit more and ended up going from hitting around .300 to hitting around .400 last year. Not a lot of guys start for four years, especially not here, so he has put together a great career.” – Jim Rochford, Wall head coach

 

1. Ryan Lasko, Sr., CF, Jackson Memorial

SeasonABH2B3BHRRRBIAVGOBPSLUGSB
2019 (Jr.)79308072433.380.423.74714
2018 (So.)94237001815.245.308.3198

 

There were glimpses of Lasko’s raw talent sprinkled throughout an up-and-down sophomore season and as a junior, he unveiled the full menu. The Rutgers commit led all outfielders with seven home runs, which was also the fourth-highest total at the Shore last season and tied for the most of any player back for 2020. His slugging percentage was ninth in the conference and behind only Ranney’s Charlie Chropuvka among outfielders, while his 33 RBI tied for the most among Shore Conference players back in 2020. Last year might only have been a warm-up act for Lasko, who worked out for multiple Major League scouts prior to the shutdown in early March.

Coach’s Insight: “There’s so much emotion in him. He has put in as much work as anybody. Last year, he worked hard on the outer part of the plate. He got to understand the plate a lot better – what he could do and couldn’t do with certain pitches. He showed signs as a sophomore but that’s what you are getting from a sophomore who doesn’t have that experience. Last year was him putting it all together and this year was going to be a culmination of all of it.” – Frank Malta, Jackson Memorial head coach

 

Other Notable Seniors

Jett Tinik, Sr., OF, Neptune – A three-sport athlete at Neptune (soccer, basketball), Tinik is a major source for energy on any team of which he is a part. He is also a good overall baseball player, which is evident in his junior season numbers: .329 average, .420 on-base percentage, three doubles and 24 runs scored.

Kevin Shanes, Sr., RF/LHP, Rumson-Fair Haven – While the vast majority of Rumson’s young core will be back in 2021, Shanes was likely to be the team’s most influential player in 2020. On top of being the ace of the pitching staff, Shanes is coming off a junior season in which he hit .293 with three doubles and a triple in 52 plate appearances.

Max Stamer, Sr., CF/LHP, Red Bank – Like Shanes, Stamer is a senior on a team that has a lot of important pieces due back in 2021 but still would have been one of its most important players in a 2020 season. In addition to serving as the likely No. 2 starter in the rotation, Stamer is also a top-of-the-order hitter after hitting .318 with two doubles, 12 runs scored and eight stolen bases in 2019.

Ryan Rozinski, Sr., CF/RHP, Middletown North – The Lions went with a young lineup last year in coach Ryan McCabe’s first season and Rozinski helped ease the transition. He made a major impact by hitting two home runs in his first varsity game as a freshman and put it all together in 2019 as a centerfielder, middle-of-the-order bat and No. 2 pitcher.

Oscar Scott, Sr., OF/RHP, Point Boro – Scott got a quick look on the varsity squad as a sophomore at Shore Regional, then did not play high-school baseball last year despite opening eyes on the travel circuit. He was expected to be an impact addition to Point Boro this season as a centerfielder, middle-of-the-order bat and hard-throwing pitcher.

Kevin D’Auria, Sr., OF, Ocean – On first glance, D’Auria's 2019 season might be easy to gloss over because of his .241 batting average. On the other hand, he still managed to score 27 runs, drive in 13 and swipe 15 bases. A little more contact and another year to physically mature could have meant a big year for the Spartans’ speedy outfielder.

Liam Leonard, Sr., OF/1B, Donovan Catholic – Donovan Catholic’s best returning hitter, Leonard hit .286 with a team-best eight extra-base hits (including a homer), 15 runs and 15 RBI as a junior in 2019.

Dan Fiore, Sr., OF, Raritan – A starter on Raritan’s Group II runner-up team in 2018, Fiore was set to be a driving force on this year’s Rockets team as a senior captain. Fiore hit .300 in each of the past two seasons and put up 11 runs and 11 RBI in 2019 after going for 20 and 15 in a deeper lineup the year prior. He has also combined to steal 29 bases over the past two seasons.

Sean Wodell, Sr., CF, Freehold Boro – Freehold Boro's top returning hitter is also a good defensive outfielder, a reliable pitching option and a leader for the Colonials.

Will Baranello, Sr., OF, Point Beach – The Point Beach ace on the mound also has some chops at the plate, which he showed by hitting .250 with four doubles, a triple, 16 runs and 12 RBI in 2019.

Domenic Cerniglia, Sr., INF/OF, St. John Vianney – A versatile player who would likely have settled into one of the starting outfield spots, Cerniglia hit .314 with a .429 on-base percentage as a reliable junior utilityman in 2019.

Hayden Kunz, Sr., OF/RHP, Manasquan – Kunz would have been a key player on a Manasquan team ranked in the top 10 to open the season following a 2019 season in which he hit .277 with 12 runs and 11 RBI.

Cole Young, Sr., OF, Point Boro – A returning starter on a top-five team at the Shore and the defending Ocean County Tournament champions, Young scored 21 runs, stole seven bases and ripped a pair of doubles in 2019.

Mike Bateman, Sr., OF, Monmouth – In his first year as a starter, Bateman ran a .387 on-base percentage and scored 11 runs for the Falcons in 2019.

 

2021 Watch List

Shane Panzini, Jr., LF/1B/RHP, Red Bank Catholic – Panzini’s bat is worthy of the top 20, perhaps even the top 10 after slugging three homers and driving in 21 as a sophomore. The players ahead of him on the list bring more to the table defensively but you would be hard-pressed to find a better pitcher anywhere in the state, much less on this list.

Mark Capell, Jr., RF, Marlboro – Another talented Marlboro player from the Class of 2021, Capell was solid across the board in 2019, hitting .281 with seven doubles and a .453 on-base percentage.

Nick Callano, Jr., CF/RHP, Ocean – The Spartans junior checks all the boxes when it comes to tools for a high-school player. He hit .290 with four extra-base hits and 10 steals as a sophomore while also finishing third on the team in innings on the mound.

Antonio Gatti, Jr., RF, Howell – The Rebels may have their ready-made replacement for Talbot as a high-average outfielder but it would have been nice for Howell to have both this year. Gatti hit .357 with two doubles and 10 runs in his varsity debut as a sophomore.

Evan Agrapides, Jr., CF, Central – After a slow start to the regular season, Agrapides showed what he could do down the stretch and finished hitting .273 with a home run and four total extra-base hits.

Dan Keenan, So., CF/RHP, Jackson Liberty – Whatever holes Jackson Liberty needed to fill last year, Keenan helped fill them as a freshman. He became a reliable relief pitcher and also the regular DH, hitting .319 with four doubles, 17 runs and 16 RBI.

Kevin Cooney, Jr., CF, Southern – The Rams relied a lot on the Class of 2019 and 2021 and Cooney had one of the steadier seasons at the plate for Southern, hitting .295 with three doubles and six steals.

Luke Ohea, Jr., OF, Raritan – The Rockets have had to replace some heavy-hitters over the last two years and Ohea was a player who could have done a lot of the heavy lifting off a solid sophomore showing. He hit .295 with four doubles and 11 RBI as a sophomore and was also a varsity contributor on the 2018 Group II runner-up team.

Anthony Boriello, Jr., OF Red Bank Catholic – As a dynamic quarterback on the football team, Boriello brings a lot of athleticism to the outfield and the lineup. He was also a dependable hitter, hitting .321 with a pair of doubles and 12 runs score in 35 plate appearances.

Aidan Keale, Jr., OF, Red Bank – The Bucs will feel good about their 2021 chances thanks to what will be a balanced senior class, with Keale playing a key spot in the outfield. Last year, he hit put up a .409 on-base percentage with two doubles and 12 runs scored.

Donnie Kirk, Jr., OF, Lacey – Another team with a quality group of juniors heading into the year, Kirk was to be Lacey’s top returning hitter after hitting .300 with four doubles and 10 runs scored in 2019.

Zach Gorman, Jr., OF, Freehold Twp. – Gorman is already one of the Shore’s better pitchers and all signs point to him becoming a threat on his non-pitching days by hitting .296 with 18 runs and 16 stolen bases as a sophomore.

Shane McLaughlin, Jr., OF, Shore – McLaughlin held his own at the plate as a sophomore by hitting .266 with three extra-base hits and 13 RBI and he speed played particularly well in the form of 17 runs scored and 13 RBI.

Sam Gates, Jr., CF, Donovan Catholic – Speed is the operative word when breaking down Gates’s game. He is a standout defender in centerfield and contributed four doubles and 10 stolen bases as a sophomore.

Joe Ussery, Jr., OF, Toms River East – Although he hit under .200, Ussery showed considerable pop and speed as a sophomore by slugging six doubles and a home run to go with 17 runs scored and eight stolen bases.