After learning teammate Jawuan Harris was selected Tuesday, Rutgers baseball catcher Nick Matera was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 34th round. It marks the first time in eight years that multiple Scarlet Knights heard their names called in the MLB draft. In addition, Matera’s presumed replacement, commit Peter Serruto had already been drafted in the 22nd round by the Cincinnati Reds.
Matera was the team’s best slugger in 2018, leading the team in doubles, home runs, and RBIs. He was clutch as well, registering 17 of those runs batted in with two outs. The team’s lack of power around him allowed pitcher’s to be careful with the Roxbury native, resulting in a batting average that was not as good as his breakout 2017 campaign when he was named third team All-Big Ten. Nick has one year of eligibility remaining if he makes the tough decision to come back for a shot at being selected higher next season.
A Millburn product, Serruto is a multi-sport athlete who was extremely difficult to steal on behind the plate this year. Throwing out 56% of base stealers in 2018 was somehow a drop off from his absurd 65% figure in 2017. Peter also hit .337 with 26 RBI as a senior, so he has passed the eye test along with two-way statistical measures. He has not yet made a choice if he will sign with Cincinnati or enroll at Rutgers.
If neither Matera nor Serruto is on the banks next season, Rutgers will have huge holes to fill at the catcher position. With Matera, redshirt senior AJ Gallagher, and junior Tyler McNamara, the team shifted senior Chris Folinusz to first base full-time this past year. Of the group only McNamara, who served as Harry Rutkowski’s personal catcher, will surely be on the roster in 2019. In addition, Serruto was joined in the recruiting class by another Roxbury backstop, Andy Axelson, who may be pressed into duty as a true freshman.
More to come on these players and the impact to the program moving forward!