Virginia baseball lost three top prospects — LHP Joey Wentz (Atlanta Braves), 3B Nolan Jones (Chicago Cubs), and RHP Max Kranick (Pittsburgh Pirates) — from last year’s recruiting haul to the pros. Coach Brian O’Connor and company figure to endure some more anxious moments when the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft rolls around this June 12-14.
Baseball America’s Hudson Belinsky has put three Cavalier 2017 Class recruits — New Jersey shortstop Andrew Papantonis (no. 74), Charlottesville middle infielder Tanner Morris (no. 78), and New Jersey right-handed pitcher/shortstop Devin Ortiz (no. 93) — in his ranking of the Top 100 high school prospects for the 2017 MLB Draft. PerfectGame.org credits the Hoos with 11 recruits in the class of 2017, 10 of whom have made the website’s ranking of the top 500 high school senior prospects in the nation.
Ortiz, who hails from St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, New Jersey, received some positive press following his performance in the Rivalry Classic, which is described as a Northeast Scouting event held at Fenway Park in Boston.
Ortiz “showed well at Fenway, going 1-for-2 with a strikeout and two walks,” Belinsky wrote in an article for Baseball America. Click here to view the entire piece. “Ortiz has a wiry build with room to add strength as he matures physically. He has a slightly open stance and a toe tap before his hips fire, but he showed the ability to turn his hips and keep his kinetic chain in sync. Ortiz has a hand raise and slight back elbow lift to load his hands, but showed the ability to drive the ball with backspin, sending a line drive back up the middle. The righthanded hitter also showed some strike zone awareness.
“Defensively, Ortiz showed loose, fluid actions and plenty of arm strength for the left side of the infield,” Belinsky continued. “How his body projects may determine his long term defensive future, but his showing at Fenway certainly elevated his stock, and he is worth following up on in the spring.”
A positive sign with respect to Papantonis is his enthusiasm towards being a Cavalier, which you can see just by checking out his Twitter account. Back in November, the Garden State standout took to Twitter to try and help recruit UVA football top target Mekhi Becton.
@MekhiBecton_ come be apart of the UVA family. All us athletes are a family for real. Baseball gottchya back bro
— Andrew Papantonis (@Apaps_1) November 20, 2016
This class is a talented one that, as mentioned, includes 10 prospects ranked in Perfect Game’s Top 500. In-state RHP Hunter Perdue (no. 181), RHP Griff McGarry (no. 259), and LHP Robb Adams (no. 281) are ranked among Perfect Game’s Top 300 prospects. All of these situations bear watching when draft time comes around.
Lefty pitcher Andrew Abbott, a senior at Halifax County (South Boston, VA), told Joe Chandler of the Gazette-Virginian this past November that he is “undecided on what I’m going to do” should he get drafted.
“As of right now, I am going to UVA,” Abbott said in the report, which you can read by clicking here. Abbott is ranked as the no. 366 overall prospect in the nation in his class by Perfect Game.
UVA BASEBALL’S 2017 CLASS
ANDREW ABBOTT, Left-Handed Pitcher, Halifax County (South Boston, VA)
— Gazette-Virginian (@SoBoGazette) November 21, 2016
ROBB ADAMS, Left-Handed Pitcher/Outfielder, Desoto County (Arcadia, FL)
Congrats Robb Adams! It’s official, he’s a Cavalier! pic.twitter.com/xiym8v5RV7
— swfl baseball (@SWFLBaseball1) November 17, 2016
GRIFF McGARRY, Right-Handed Pitcher, Menlo (Portola Valley, CA)
Griff is a pitcher and middle infielder at Menlo, which captured a Central Coast Section championship in 2016. McGarry then competed in a prestigious showcase event at Long Beach State last August, which you can read about by clicking here.
Older brother, Matt, plays baseball for Vanderbilt.
TANNER MORRIS, Right-Handed Pitcher/Shortstop/Second Baseman, Miller School (Crozet, VA)
Courtesy of 2080baseball.com, check out highlights of the highly regarded Morris in action at the WWBA World Championship last fall. Earlier in 2016, he earned VISAA Division II first-team all-state honors his junior season performance at Charlottesville’s Miller School.
DEVIN ORTIZ, Right-Handed Pitcher/Shortstop, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.)
Perfect Game writes that Ortiz can throw in the “easy upper 90s and can really pitch as well. Swings the bat very well.”
ANDREW PAPANTONIS, Shortstop, Delbarton (Morristown, N.J.)
Papantonis pledged to Virginia the summer following his sophomore season. The 6’0”, 180-pound prospect made it official last November, signing a letter of intent with the Cavaliers. A football player as well, Papantonis has suffered several injuries the past two years, including a torn ACL in his left knee last fall. He had surgery last October and is expected to miss some of this year’s baseball season as a result (read more on Papantonis’ path to Virginia in this Daily Record piece posted last November).
Papantonis is a first-team Under Armour All-American.
HUNTER PERDUE, Right-Handed Pitcher, Grassfield (Chesapeake, VA)
In an article posted by Brian Parsons of Wavy.com last May, the 6’3” Perdue demonstrated his swagger, saying: “I like to compete, doesn’t matter who I’m facing. I believe I’m better than them, that’s my mentality every time I step on the mound.”
The article with highlights is linked here.
BRENDAN RIVOLI, Catcher, Daniel Boone Area (Douglassville, PA)
Click here to read the Reading Eagle’s article on Rivoli’s commitment to UVA. At the time of his pledge the left-handed hitting catcher chose the Cavaliers over offers from Penn State and Rutgers.
Like Papantonis, Rivoli is also trying to lure football recruit Becton to Charlottesville.
— Brendan Rivoli (@bren_andbutter) November 21, 2016
BLAKE ROHM, Outfielder, Broomfield (Superior, CO)
The 6’5” Rohm, a BoCoPreps.com honorable mention all-region selection in 2015, signed with the Hoos this past November.
ALEXANDER TAPPEN, Third Baseman, Wissahickon (Ambler, PA)
U.S. Elite Baseball Director Mark Helsel described Tappen as “the complete package” in this article posted on U.S. Elite shortly after the prospect’s commitment.
Helsel continued: “His academics are off the charts. He his mature way beyond his age and his athleticism is that of a D1 athlete. He has consistently gotten better and that is a direct result of his outstanding work ethic. For him to get an opportunity to play at one of the top programs in the country is a true testament to the kind of person Alex is. The UVA coaches really like the way he plays the game. He is a leader. He plays with great energy and he is a great teammate. Those are the kinds of kids UVA really goes after. Alex makes everyone around him better. That’s what great players do”.
2080baseball.com called Tappen “a key member of Virginia’s 2017 recruiting class” following the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Florida. The site writes that Tappen “totaled four hits overall, including a double and a triple, and made line drive contact to all fields for Tri-State Arsenal Prime. Starting at third base against the Houston Banditos, Tappen showed a strong arm and quick hands, as well as solid first-step actions.”
Click here for the full report, which includes highlights.
KYLE WHITTEN, Right-Handed Pitcher, Osbourn Park (Manassas, VA)
Whitten competed with top AAU-type baseball program, the EvoShield Canes, last summer. Read more about his experience from Inside Nova by clicking here.