BIG BOARD! Top College Players

This is a list of the best draft-eligible college players we’ve seen on the island. The limitations are that a) we have not seen every player and b) we have not seen every player multiple times. Nevertheless, this is based on our best resources and unbiased opinions.

February 1, 2018

John Rooney-Junior, Hofstra


Rooney is just a freshman but is already the most pro-ready player on Long Island. He is a lefty that throws 88-91 and touches 94 with his fastball. He is fearless on the mound. He made his collegiate debut at Texas A & M in relief but shortly there after forced his way into being named a conference starter, which paid off when he defeated the College of Charleston. Rooney has incredibly smooth and fluid mechanics and has easy velocity. His delivery resembles that of former Major Leaguer Jeff Francis. He didn’t throw any change ups in high school due to the level of competition he played in but he quickly developed a plus change and throws a quality breaking ball. He maintains his velocity deep into games. He will get drafted as a junior, in my opinion.

Reiss Knehr, Junior, Fordham

Knehr is a 2015 graduate of St. Dominic HS–that’s right he and Kyle Young were on the same staff. That was prior to Kyle Young’s breakthrough season, and Knehr was the ace of that staff. He burst onto the scene in the summer of 2016 while pitching in the Hamptons League All-Star Game at Baseball Heaven. He hit 96 MPH and showcased a devastated slider (in video above) that was eye-opening. He’s certainly held his own at Fordham through two years. He’s actually been a two-way player, he got 93 at bats last year playing second base but he’s fair more advanced as a pitcher. He compiled a 3.91 ERA over 73.2 IP with 86 K and 38 BB. He held opposing batters to a .231 AVG.The only time I’ve watched him in a game was at the All-Star Game, but I anticipate a huge season for him this year. With his combination of size (6’3? 220 lb), velocity and experience working deep into games, I think he’s a safe bet to get drafted.

Vito Friscia, Junior, Hofstra


I’m high on Friscia because of his unique skill set. He’s always had the power, that was clear since his legendary performance in the Power Showcase which you can watch here. Regardless of what bat you’re using, 471 feet is absurd for a high school senior. At 6’3? 225 lb, he can definitely bring the power. I watched him play in Texas A & M and I was pretty impressed with his ability to compete with an SEC team that had 13 players drafted in that MLB Draft. He had a couple of miscues defensively, but you can’t teach what he does bring to the table. As a freshman, we named him to our All-Long Island team in large part to his .415 OBP. He improved vastly as a sophomore, his power numbers and overall offensive production really jumped. His home runs increased from two to eight and his SLG jumped to .532. In another game I watched last year, he smacked a HR to right-center field so he is definitely capable of putting it out of any part of the park. The question is will he play catcher or first? As a first baseman I think he will need to put up double-digit HR to go with that .400 OBP. As a catcher, the barometer will be slightly lower and his current production probably warrants a selection. It will be interesting, but I wouldn’t bet against this kid and it seems a lot of people are high on him.

Ed Baram, RHP Adelphi

Adelphi has had terrific success getting their top talent to the professional level over the past decade. Baram could be the next in a long line of great power right-handed pitchers. The streak began with Bobby Lanigan in 2008, continued with Keith Coach, Robert Nixon, Dillon McNamara, Jonathon Mulford and then T.J. Santiago last year. That stretch is remarkable for a Division-II program in the northeast. Baram is a 6’3? power-pitcher that touches 91 MPH and has a potential plus-pitch in his splitter. He compiled a 2.70 ERA over 60.0 as a sophomore. He allowed one hit per inning, and 3.45 BB/9 IP. I would like to see both numbers drop a bit in that conference that tends to favor pitchers. Baram, to me, is a professional pitcher regardless. He looks the part, he has the command and the tenacity of all the previous Adelphi pitchers that have gotten drafted. The only thing he is missing is that lights-out season that Mulford had in 2015 and Santiago had in 2017 that will propel him. I think that’s coming this year.

Rob Andreoli, OF LIU Post

It’s tough to find anyone that doesn’t love Andreoli. As most players from the Levittown area, he is a baseball player through and through. Unlike most of those players, he has the size and has already put up the numbers to justify drafting him. We named him the 2017 Axcess Baseball MVP for his tremendous season. He was the primary reason the Pioneers were able to make the jump and win the East Coast Conference. He batted .346 with 73 hits, scored 42 runs, smacked 5 HR and drove in 44 runs. He also stole 22 bases in 26 attempts. He is a senior and will have the protection of Anthony Vaglica and Zach Fritz behind him. It could be an even better season for the MacArthur grad.

Teddy Cilis, LHP Hofstra

Cilis is a very interesting player. A 6’2? left-handed batter and thrower, he plays right field and pitches. He transferred from UNC-Wilmington following the 2015 season. Over the past two seasons, he has smacked 15 HR. Over 75.0 IP he struck out 96 batters (including 30 over a two start stretch against Elon and James Madison). That alone should probably warrant some attention from scouts. The issue is that he has struck out 91 times and walked only 25 times at the plate and allowed 100 hits on the mound. For a left-handed pitcher with his 90-91 MPH velocity, it is hard to believe that batters have routinely squared him up. The velocity is impressive though. For that reason he is on the list.

Angelo Navetta, 1B Molloy

The Staten Island native was our 2016 Most Valuable Player for his terrific season for the Lions. He batted .372 with 74 hits, 34 RBI and .492 SLG. Just as impressively, he posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at first base in 523 chances. From my experience watching him, he is probably the best defensive first baseman I’ve ever seen at the college level. He handles every tough throw from infielders–which does wonders for their confidence and the pitching staff knowing that they will most likely have their ground balls converted into outs. He is exceptional at charging bunts and his release is lightning quick and his throws are accurate with some carry across the infield. At the plate, he has a smooth stroke. He can hit the ball to all fields and is very difficult to pitch to. His only flaw is not his own fault and that’s his height. He is listed at 6’0? but is probably closer to 5’10”. It’s tough to project a player with that height. If he was 6’3? I think he would’ve gotten drafted last year, he brings so much to the table.

Lou Doria, OF St. Joseph’s

Lou is a power-hitter in the truest sense. The 6’4? slugger was getting some looks coming out of Wantagh HS in 2014, but didn’t truly blossom until after he transferred from LIU Post to St. Joseph’s where he went from being one of the guys to THE guy in the lineup. I watched him in 2016 smoke two long home runs at Dowling, which was notoriously pitcher friendly. He cleared the fence with no problem. After watching him the past year, there is no secret that he has elite power. He also hit two HR in a postseason game last year and missed a third by just a few feet. Doria hit 9 of the team’s 14 home runs last season. He slugged .722 while the team’s overall SLG % was .444. He’s several deviation points ahead of the average player in that conference. While the skepticism remains that a player of his ilk SHOULD be dominating in that conference, he can only face the pitcher’s on his team’s schedule. I don’t like to hold that against a player, judging by his skill set he’s a Div-I player. Additionally, he has the rare plus-plus makeup. Genuinely one of the nicest people you will meet. I think he will duplicate last season’s home run total, but he will also put on a show in the conference tournament. What could be interesting is that if Maritime winds up with the No. 1 seed and they host the Skyline Conference tournament, he could have a chance to put on a clinic with the short porch in right field.

Greg Marino, RHP Stony Brook

 Marino is a graduate of my alma mater, Centereach HS. He is the type of player that slipped through the cracks coming from a small school. With his height (6’6?), his clean mechanics, humble demeanor and advanced work ethic, I think he could’ve gone to a power 5 conference. It’s not as if he’s a secret, either, his brother was a three-time All-Conference player at Stony Brook and played five years of pro ball in the Frontier League. Marino sat out his freshman year and got a red-shirt. Last year, he compiled 60.0 IP and struck out 58 batters which landed him on the All-Rookie team of the America East. In the summer, he pitched extremely well in the Perfect Game league upstate. Marino opened eyes at Stony Brook’s scout day back in October with an 89-90 MPH fastball that he commanded. He also throws a 78 MPH change up and 81 MPH slider that was a bit inconsistent on Scout Day. What’s separating him from being a prospect, in my opinion, is command of those pitches. He still has three more seasons but is draft eligible because he will be 21-years-old by draft day. A step forward from last season would put him on the radar of a lot of teams.

 

Aaron Pinto, RHP Stony Brook

The California native had a great season last year, and he wound up as their de-facto ace by the end of the season. He struck out 48 over 40 IP with a 2.88 ERA. He is an undersized RHP (6’0?) but really maximizes his velocity by using his lower half and with a very quick arm action. He was 88-90 MPH with the fastball but has touched 91 MPH in the past. He throws a change up at 80 MPH with incredible deceptiveness and downward vertical drop from the same arm speed. Borderline MLB Draft pick, but with a great season as the workhorse of the team he could be a late-rounder. I’ve only watched him pitch in one live game outside of Scout Day, but it is clear he has no nerves on the mound.

Brett Malm, SS Adelphi

The first time I saw Malm he put on a pretty good clinic. It was the Suffolk Class AA playoffs and he smacked a long two-run HR against Brian Herrmann of Northport (2017 Axcess Baseball Rookie of the Year) and then made an incredible diving play to rob a hit up the middle. He was playing second base that game since Pat-Med had Brown-commit Richie Ciufo at shortstop. Since then, he has continued to raise his stock by making the transition to short and performing extremely well in the Northeast-10 for Adelphi. After batting .257 as a freshman, he improved that average to .330 last season with 59 hits, 5 HR and 32 RBI. The only critique of his numbers was the low SB success rate (3-for-7) and poor plate discipline (32 K against 8 BB). Nevertheless, he handles the bat extremely well for a middle infielder, has great power and plays a stellar SS–specifically moving towards the bag. I think he improves on his flaws and gets to the next level.

Jesse Russo, 2B Old Westbury

Russo is coming off two amazing seasons in which he batted exactly .399 both years. He will be the biggest threat in the lineup for the Panthers as they attempt to return to the promised land for the first time since 2015. Russo has played outfield and 2B for them, but will play 2B this season. He has incredible hand-eye coordination and 6.3 speed. He transferred from Hofstra following his freshman season, so he was highly-regarded coming out of Clarke HS. I think he’s the type of player that will play professional ball regardless of if he is drafted or not. He is of the mindset that his baseball career is not over and is willing to work tirelessly to get there. I think with an exceptional season, though, he could get drafted.

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