Football is a little different with the recruiting calendar, but other sports including men’s basketball and wrestling have already had their commits discussed. Baseball head man Joe Litterio announced his program's 2018 class at the end of last week.
“Our coaching staff has worked hard to find the type of players we know can come in and compete in our program,” Litterio said. “We wish them the best of luck finishing up their high school careers and look forward to having them become a part of the family next fall.”
#RBaseball is excited to announce its eight-member recruiting class! The group includes six student-athletes from New Jersey, one from New York & one from Illinois.— Rutgers Baseball (@BaseballRU) November 16, 2017
Release: https://t.co/zTgxTVmYnx@JoeLitterioRU @PhilCundari13 @JimDuffy24 pic.twitter.com/4Ko6HN0vuZ
Garrett French - RHP, Middletown North, Red Bank, NJ
Some our the avid readers of OTB may need to reconsider their use of the word, “French” for the next four years. Garrett French is a lanky right-hander, (6’1, 175) who has played three years of varsity ball at Middletown already. On the mound you want to see pitchers dominate at the high school level, which he did as a junior, 7-2 with a 1.10 ERA.
Jacob Newman - RHP, Glenbrook South, Glenview, IL
Hello Newman! Jacob does not share the same build as the Seinfeld character luckily (6’2, 193) and is the only member of the class from outside the tri-state area. It’s unclear so far what the connection is to New Jersey. Jacob looks like a pitcher, which sounds cliche, but those who watch a lot of baseball know what I mean. He stands tall and has a good follow through. His weight seems to be in his legs, so he should be able to generate some good leg drive and reduce the stress on his arm.
Parker Scott - RHP, Ridgewood, Ridgewood, NJ
Scott is the biggest of the righthanders at 6’2, 200. What jumps out in the press notes from RU’s Jimmy Gill is that he plans to major in mechanical/aerospace engineering. On the field, he had good stats, (7-1, 1.31 ERA and 60 K in 48 IP) but more encouraging is he profiles as a ground-ball pitcher. Parker really gets on top of the ball and appears to have some heavy movement down in the zone. This is a nice change of pace as RU starters in 2017 for the most part relied on movement up in the zone.
Jared Bellissimo - LHP, Toms River North, Toms River, NJ
Bellissimo is the biggest name to come out of Toms River baseball ever ... just kidding. Jared hopes to follow the likes of many Toms River ballplayers including, but not limited to, Al Leiter, Jeff Frazier, Todd Frazier, and others. which Jared has to the tune of a 1.78 ERA and 11-2 record over his last two high school campaigns including a no-hitter last year. Don’t be deceived by his position as a pitcher, the 6’1, 200 lb hit over .400 also from the right side of the plate. As a tall lefty, he could end up at first base or in the outfield at some point.
Andy Axelson - C, Roxbury, Roxbury, NJ
Cue the Night at the Roxbury jokes. He’s an extra base hitting machine, hitting close to .500 last year with four jacks and 12 doubles. He has a catcher build at 5’11, 190 and looks to be a natural receiver. His throwing arm is accurate, though he needs more consistency in his throwing mechanics. His batting mechanics seem pretty consistent.
Peter Serruto - C, Millburn, Short Hills, NJ
Peter comes from an athletic family, the name “Serruto” may sound familiar because his brother plays college baseball, his father played college baseball at Virginia, an uncle wrestled at Maryland, and he even has a cousin who played football at Oklahoma. Peter has excelled in all three sports not only a first team all-selection in baseball, but setting the Millburn career record for passing yards and being an all-conference wrestler for good measure. Peter played in a lot of big games already in his career, including two group IV state championship wins. With good size (6’2, 195) he may project as a position other than catcher as he gets even bigger and stronger.
Chris Brito - INF, Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy, NJ
No relation to Knights hurler Serafino, but he is the son of former Major Leaguer Tilson Brito. Chris earned three varsity letters already and comes in with good size at 6’2, 195. Brito is a known commodity in Middlesex County as he burst on the scene as a freshman leading the county in hits. He has a good enough stick that if the infield doesn’t work out for him, outfield or DH could.
David Soto - INF, Brentwood, Brentwood, NY
The lone representative from the Empire State, Soto is an infielder whose athleticism has also been on display in the swimming pool. He’s been a leader on and off the field dating back to when he joined the high school baseball program as an 8th grader. Rutgers showed a willingness to play a true freshman in the middle infield last year with Kevin Welsh being their best option, could Soto join him up the middle in 2018?
Abundant: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching, Defense, Pitching, Pitching, Defense, Hitting. Before anyone even thought about picking up a bat in my high school program, everyone had to be a pitcher, catcher, or at the very least a middle infielder. A similar philosophy was held by the more experienced coaching staff Rutgers boasts heading into the 2018 season. For an eight player class, this is the template with four pitchers, two catchers, and two infielders. Two of these pitchers will likely get a look in the outfield and over time any position player could seemingly end up out there shagging flies.
Lacking: Lefthanded hitting is absent in this class. Even Bellissimo who throws lefty, hits righty a la Madison Bumgarner. I’d rather take good righties than gamble on a lefthanded bat, but it would have been nice to secure one in the group. That said, when you are going after infielders and catchers, they are all righthanded throwers and more likely to hit from that side. A slugging lefthanded first baseman is probably a target for the 2019 class.