Early last week, Major League Baseball wrapped up its 2022 freshman draft and four Shore Conference alumni were selected — all in rounds four through seven.
The Shore has maintained a presence in the draft, whether supplying Big League teams with talent from the college ranks or straight out of high school. In 2023, not only is this trend expected to continue, but it could be a banner year for the Shore Conference. The Shore had two players drafted in the first round of 2016 (Jay Groome of Barnegat and Jackson Memorial alum Matt Thaiss of Virginia) and next year has the potential for another first round that includes Shore Conference talent – all two out of college ranks.
Beyond this duo, there’s a collection of players to watch over the next calendar year leading up to the 2023 Draft in Seattle next July. Here are a few names already on the radar, with more to come.
Ryan Lasko, DE, Rutgers (Jackson Memorial)
Fueled by a major breakout in 2022, Lasko was a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given to college baseball’s top player. He reduced .359 / .431 / .643 with 16 home runs, 81 runs, 52 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts while playing center field. With his impressive numbers, athleticism and potential to add strength, Lasko should be one of the best college outfielders available and another solid season with the Scarlet Knights could land him in the first round.
Pat Reilly, RHP, Vanderbilt (ABC)
Reilly has yet to have the big statistical breakout season that Lasko had last spring, but he showed first-round skills and was competitive as one of Vanderbilt’s best arms while throwing in the SEC. Last season, Vanderbilt used Reilly primarily in relief, although the 6-foot-4 right-hander was fourth on the team with 52 1/3 innings and third on the team with 65 strikeouts. From this point on, Reilly may not be on 30 first-round boards, but he’s probably on a few and every scouting department will be watching him closely, ready to move him forward.
Teddy Sharkey, RHP, Coastal Carolina (Wall)
Results have been mixed for Sharkey out of the Chanticleers bullpen in his two college years, but the former Wall standout has an impressive 2021 freshman season on his resume and eye-catching speed and athleticism on the mound. Two former Shore students (Noah Dean and Liam Simon) were drafted last week with reliever profiles, but both have certain advantages – Simon his starting record and Dean his southpaw – over Sharkey that suggest Sharkey would be better off. ‘a third day consideration at this point with a chance to increase.
Ron Cole, RHP, Old Dominion (Neptune)
After starting his college career in Kentucky, Cole went to Alvin Community College in Texas this season and got back on track after missing out on 2021, as well as a spot at Old Dominion for 2023. Cole is working with a 95 mph fastball and his size and athleticism give him the potential for a few more ticks.
Chris Sparber, C, Red Bank Catholic (Virginia Tech)
Sparber bet on himself taking a roster spot at Louisburg College — a junior college in North Carolina — and turned in two dominant seasons as the team’s catcher. The huge numbers (.429/.516/.843 with 26 home runs and 104 RBIs in 266 board appearances over two seasons) weren’t enough to get him drafted this season, but he’ll only be out of the league for three more seasons. high school when he arrives at Virginia Tech in the fall, when he will have the opportunity to be the starting receiver for the Hokies.
High school hopefuls
AJ Gracia, OF/LHP, Ranney
Gracia is widely considered New Jersey’s top high school player for the Class of 2023 and among the top players in the Northeast. He projects himself as a legit talent both ways if he ends up at Duke and next season will give MLB teams a chance to determine if they see him as a five-tool outfielder or if his throwing ability progresses at point that he becomes an in-demand left-handed starting pitcher prospect.
Ben Schild, RHP, Middletown South
Schild put together a stellar high school resume in two years in Middletown South and increased his speed to 93 miles per hour in his freshman year. He’s committed to pitching at UConn, which had a first-round pick this year (outfielder Reggie Crawford) and a top rookie drafted No. 7 overall and dropped out of high school (Frank Mozzicato) the last year. With another dominant season and a few more ticks on the radar gun, Schild could be a top-four pick, but he could also become a potential first-rounder with three years at UConn.
Charlie Meglio, SS, Jackson Memorial
With one of New Jersey’s best returning bats, Meglio has already caught the eye of scouts tracking 2022 teammate Zach Crotchfelt. Meglio can go from shortstop to third base shortly after leaving Jackson Memorial, but he has the makings of a good outfielder at third base or in the outfield. He’s committed to playing Campbell, a rising program that just had a shortstop (Zach Neto) drafted No. 13 overall in the first round of 2022.
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