As is customary, the baseball program has not released any info on the 2020 recruiting class that will enroll at UVA when classes resume. In order to fill that void, we’ll continue our practice of profiling the newest crop of Wahoo baseball players.
The 2020 class is a bit atypical as far as baseball recruiting classes go.
First year pitcher Nate Savino was originally going to be part of this class. However, he elected to accelerate his baseball career by graduating from high school in December 2019 so that he could enroll at UVA in January 2020. That removed Nate from this recruiting class.
Instead, Pennsylvania phenom Nate Bitsko filled the elite pitching prospect void left by Savino’s early enrollment. Bitsko was to graduate from high school in 2021. However, he reclassed into the 2020 baseball recruiting class. That made him eligible to enroll at UVA this year or pursue professional baseball a year sooner than originally possible.
Unfortunately for the Hoos, Bitsko was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays 24th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft in June. Bitsko quickly agreed to terms with the Rays, securing a $3 million bonus from the club. Thus, he’ll never suit up for the Hoos.
Finally, as the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic knocked the college sports world off its axis, it quickly became apparent that business as usual would not exist in the near-term future. The NCAA responded by granting all spring sports athletes an extra year of eligibility (essentially a do over for the 2020 season). In baseball, seniors could return without an impact to scholarship money limitations as long as they did not receive more than their 2020 season allotment.
Further, the Division 1 Committee for Legislative Relief made sweeping changes for the 2021 college baseball season.
BREAKING: The @NCAA Division I Committee for Legislative Relief has given D1 Baseball relief. Includes (for the 2020-21 academic year):
* 35-man roster cap lifted. No limitation.
* Annual counter has increased from 27 to 32
* The 25% scholarship minimum eliminated for a year.
— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) June 10, 2020
Baseball programs are left to make roster management decisions amidst possibly severe budgetary restrictions. It may be prudent for programs to take a conservative approach to roster management despite the eligibility waivers and monetary waivers instituted.
It appears that the Hoos are taking that approach. Five players have transferred (Griffin Agee, Jayson Hoopes, Walker Jenkins, Kyle Petri, and Evan Sleight). And redshirt senior Chesdin Harrington announced that he and pitcher Evan Sperling would not return for a 6th season. The Hoos have lost one member of their recruiting class in the interim too. Catcher Blake Badman from Maryland, who had signed with UVA out of DeMatha, will now attend Maryland instead.
As the dust settles, the Hoos are left with an 11-player recruiting class set to enroll when the University reopens. Perfect Game ranks the class 18th in the country. It features one Gatorade Player of the Year award winner for their state in New Jersey’s Kyle Teel.
— Virginia Recruiting (@VirginiaRecruit) May 27, 2020
Lets meet those players now.
Jake Berry (LHP – Great Falls, VA):
Berry may be the recruit I’m looking forward to seeing the most. He’s a towering LHP prospect at 6-10 and 230 pounds per his profile at Perfect Game. For comparison, Randy Johnson was listed at 6-10 and 225 pounds during his career per Baseball Reference. Now, Berry isn’t expected to be Randy Johnson while at UVA, but the Bishop O’Connell product is a quality prospect, nonetheless.
— Bishop O'Connell HS (@OConnellHS) November 13, 2019
Perfect Game ranks Berry as the top player in Virginia and the 63rd overall player in the 2020 class.
It’s typical that UVA targets multi-sport athletes for the baseball program. And Berry is no different. Once a potential basketball recruit as well, Berry earned a write up on Maryland’s 247 Sports site InsideMDSports back in June 2018 along with high school teammate Charlie Weber. And while it appeared that Weber was the better hoops prospect, the article’s comments about Berry showcase a plus athlete for his size. The author, Terps site poster JLK33, noted that Berry had range out to the three-point line, can get to the rim off the dribble, rebound, and protect the rim. Jake’s toughness on the court was also noted.
Injuries and illness have slowed down Berry’s development over the years. His basketball career required that he get operations to repair the MPFL (Medial Patellofemoral Ligament) in each knee. The MPFL holds the kneecap in place in the thighbone groove that it sits. When one bends their knee, the MPFL provides stabilization for the kneecap. MPFL injuries, especially tears, increase the odds of a kneecap dislocation. Manny Machado is likely the most famous baseball player to have this injury in recent memory.
Berry will also join Billy Price as another cancer survivor in the program. Berry beat cancer during his time in high school as well.
It’s clear that the Hoos have a resilient player joining the program here.
Unlike most of his peers in high school baseball, Berry did get one outing in the 2020 season before COVID-19 put an end to the season. He pitched in Bishop O’Connell’s season opening win over Gonzaga College High School. In front of approximately 20 scouts, Berry tossed 3.2 innings and struck out five batters. He also threw in front of about 40 scouts during a preseason scrimmage.
‘20 Jake Berry (VA) looks sharp to open up, sitting 87-89/90. Missing bats with the FB, generating excellent extension around ~7.5 feet; CB has good shape @ 73 & showed a little CT for a K @ 81. #UVA commit. #mlbdraft pic.twitter.com/S3b9lJo5es
— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) October 10, 2019
According to Perfect Game, Berry’s listed height it legit. They note that Berry throws with a high 3/4 arm slot. At their 2019 National Showcase, Berry’s fastball topped out at 91 MPH. Perfect Game noted that the pitch plays faster, however, because of Berry’s length and extension due to his height. They also noted that the pitch has some late run on it. They described his curveball as big and sweeping. And noted that his changeup had “nice fading action”. Their overall assessment of Berry was that he was a great developmental prospect but needed some time to add strength and physical maturation.
Berry was featured in ProspectsLive.com’s December 2019 review of the top 2020 draft prospects in the Mid-Atlantic region. Berry was one of four players covered in the Virginia/DC section. The site called Berry physically imposing and an uncomfortable at bat. They applauded him for “fairly sound” mechanics that were repeatable. They echoed Perfect Game’s thoughts about Berry’s fastball playing faster due to the natural extension created by his height. It was also their belief that Berry’s curveball would be his featured secondary pitch. They noted that his changeup likely required further development.
Alex Greene (OF – Edgewater, MD):
The DeMatha product committed to the Hoos back in November 2016. He finally made it official when he signed with UVA in November 2019.
— Alex Greene (@_agreene1) November 13, 2019
Listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds, Greene is listed as an OF/MIF/RHP by Perfect Game. He projects mostly to the outfield at UVA, but there’s the potential too to see some time on the mound. Perfect Game ranks Greene as the top OF in Maryland in the 2020 class. They also rank him as the 105th overall recruit nationally in the 2020 class. In a normal draft cycle, Greene is a player the Hoos would likely need to sweat about getting on Grounds. Instead, the truncated 2020 MLB Draft landed another talented player in Brian O’Connor’s program.
A shoulder injury cut short Greene’s junior season in 2019. He squeezed in 17 plate appearances and just 8 innings pitched before the shoulder injury ended his junior campaign.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic ended his senior year prematurely as well. Greene did manage to get in some work as a senior, however. The Stags played four games in Vero Beach, Florida before getting in one regular season game back in Maryland on March 10. In that game at Archbishop Spalding, Greene started for the Stags and worked 3.0 innings. He struck out six and allowed 2 runs in the first inning. He also gave up 4 hits and walked 4 in the outing. At the plate, Greene went 1 for 4 on the day with a double, an RBI off of a sac fly, and scored a run.
Prep Baseball Report was at the game and provided a scouting report on Greene that mirrors what you typically find online.
In typical UVA recruit fashion, Greene is described as athletic, projectable, and having a strong body. At the plate, he was reported to use the entire field well while possessing power to the alleys. ProspectsLive.com described Greene as a twitchy athlete who features a gap to gap approach that delivers hard line drives. They also think he could be a more intriguing prospect as a pitcher.
As a pitcher it was noted that Greene delivers from a high 3/4 arm slot. He throws with short arm action which creates quick arm action through his release. Greene features a high leg kick and athletic follow finish. His fastball ranged 88 to 92 MPH. He also featured a 72 to 75 MPH breaking ball and 79 to 80 MPH changeup. ProspectsLive noted that Greene’s fastball possessed natural sink. They called out both a slider and curveball. The curveball was more advanced and appears to be Greene’s out pitch.
Greene, who was on Prep Baseball Report’s 2020 Preseason All-PBR Maryland First Team as pitcher, was also named to the publication’s list of breakout candidates at their 2020 Super 60 Showcase from February 2020. It was noted that Greene was known for his speed and especially his strong arm in the outfield.
— Prep Baseball Report (@prepbaseball) February 2, 2020
Kyle Teel (C/SS – Upper Saddle River, NJ):
— Mahwah High School (@MahwahHS) November 14, 2019
Teel, who won Gatorade Player of the Year honors in New Jersey for 2020, ended all the drama when he announced on April 23 that he was withdrawing from MLB draft consideration as he was set on enrolling at UVA.
Kyle Teel, one of the top high school catchers in the 2020 draft class, told teams he will forgo the draft and enroll at Virginia in the fall, per @JonathanMayo.
Teel ranked No. 91 in our BA 400.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 23, 2020
Had Teel elected to remain in the draft, there’s an excellent chance a team would have selected him in one of the five rounds. There was gathering buzz in the MLB draft community that Teel could go as high as the third round. Instead, UVA gets Perfect Game’s top player, and top catcher, in New Jersey to school. Perfect Game ranks Teel 141st in the 2020 recruiting class. Based on that ranking, it feels as if Teel is underrated. In an interview with George A. King III of the New York Post, Teel cited the value of an education from UVA and the chance to play in the College World Series as major factors in his decision to enroll.
Listed at 6-1 and 187 pounds by Baseball Prospect Journal, Teel comes to UVA from a baseball family. His father, Garett, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 12th round of the 1989 MLB Draft. He played five seasons in the minors where he finished with a career OPS of .493 per Baseball Reference. After playing professionally and then coaching in the Dodgers organization, Garett Teel founded Teels Baseball and Softball Training Center, a baseball and softball training and performance center in New Jersey. He runs the center with another baseball Teel, Kyle’s cousin Steven. Steven played collegiately at New Jersey City College. And if you continue to watch this site, you’ll find Kyle’s younger brother Aidan covered in the intro to UVA’s 2023 baseball recruiting class in a few years.
Teel missed his entire senior season because of the pandemic. Instead, he’s used his time off to train and catch bullpen sessions for brother Aidan. This summer, Teel, a lefty at the plate (throws from the right side) played for the Wisconsin Rapid Rafters of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin (say that quickly three times) in the Northwoods League. Teel put up superlative numbers during his high school junior season. He batted .575 (35 for 61), had an on base percentage of .678, and posted a slugging percentage of 1.164. The OBP and slugging combine for an unbelievable OPS of 1.842. In just 61 at bats, Teel also posted some ridiculous counting stats: 8 HR, 21 walks, 31 RBI, and just 2 strikeouts.
Despite those gaudy numbers, Teel told Dan Zielinski III of Baseball Prospect Journal that he planned on using the offseason between his junior and senior seasons to improve and refine his offensive abilities. Teel wanted to improve his mechanics and consistency as the power game isn’t his calling card. He’s more of a line drive hitter. Naturally, that will play well at UVA. Teel does believe he’ll add power as he matures physically.
My little cousin @KyleTeel9 pounding a triple at Fenway today. Proud of this guy. He works as hard as anyone at his craft. He’s a great teammate, great person and just a guy that you want to be around. Can’t wait to give you a big hug next time I see you! pic.twitter.com/to0v4qt13l
— Steven Teel (@SteveTeel17) August 25, 2019
Teel is a plus athlete evidenced by the fact that he played half of his junior season games at shortstop. And despite his plus bat, some scouts believe that his defensive abilities as a catcher are his best traits. In Baseball Prospect Journal, scouts pointed to his athleticism, above average arm, and strong receiving skills.
Also, and this is fun, Teel was the starting QB for Mahwah High School. He has a bit of a Thorterback vibe going on. With this sort of grit and toughness, it’s probably only a matter of time before Teel is a fan favorite and leader in the baseball program.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly. Because if you follow UVA or ACC baseball, you’re going to hear this a ton over the next three years.
Rece Ritchey has a high school teammate named Jackson Ritchey. They’re both 2020 baseball recruits. And they’re first cousins. Rece signed with UVA. And Jackson signed with Virginia Tech.
It’s official! @ritchey_jackson and @rece_ritchey signed their NLI’s this afternoon. Congratulations boys! A sincere “thank you” to everyone that helped make this day happen. @HAHSbaseball @FloodCityElite @HokiesBaseball @UVABaseball #Ritcheyboys pic.twitter.com/mnYJB0d4k9
— Robb Ritchey (@RobbRitchey) November 13, 2019
Rece is a 6-4 170 pound LHP. He plays the OF as well, but he’ll certainly join the Wahoos’ pitching staff. Perfect Game ranks Rece as the top LHP in Pennsylvania in the 2020 class as well as the number 157 recruit in the country.
Like most Virginia pitchers, he’ll arrive in Charlottesville tall and lanky. The seemingly ubiquitous adjective used to describe UVA pitchers, projectable, is attached to Ritchey as well. And like most UVA baseball recruits, Ritchey is a natural athlete as well. He teamed with cousin Jackson on the basketball court as well. Their Huntingdon Area High School hoops team made it to the second round of the Pennsylvania PIAA Class 4 playoffs before being eliminated.
On the mound, Ritchey features a fastball that tops out at 92 MPH while sitting between 88 and 92. Ritchey uses a deceptive delivery from the left side to improve his stuff as well. Perfect Game describes his delivery as funky. Throwing from a 3/4 arm slot, Ritchey’s delivery makes it very difficult to pick up his fastball making it seem a bit faster than the radar gun shows. That deception also works well for his breaking ball which can be rather difficult to pick up. Perfect Game describes the pitch as more of a slurve instead of a traditional curve or slider. Prep Baseball Report pegs Ritchey’s breaking pitch in the mid-70s. He also features a changeup that sits in the upper 70s. Both his fastball and breaking pitch result in a lot of swing-and-miss action. And his fastball is notoriously difficult on left-handed batters. Scouting reports note that Ritchey does have a habit of missing high on his arm side.
He’ll need to work on that as well as building strength to fill out his frame at UVA. It’s expected that Ritchey will add velocity to his fastball as he ramps up his strength work in college.
Penn Live ranked Ritchey third overall in the 2020 Class Top 25 for Pennsylvania.
Rece Ritchey (2020 PA) is committed to Virginia and is extremely projectable. He worked 88-92 mph with the fastball showing good angle and life from a lower slot while mixing in a power slider along with a loose and fast arm that projects for additional velocity. #PGNational pic.twitter.com/kZ0H8wYo1S
— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) June 15, 2019
Jake Gelof (IF/OF/RHP – Rehoboth Beach, DE):
Keeping the family theme going, we transition from the Ritchey family to the Gelof family. Wahoo baseball fans know the Gelof name well. Jake, a flip from a William & Mary commitment in August 2019, is the younger brother of UVA 3B Zack Gelof. We had Zack pegged for the hot corner prior to his arrival in Charlottesville, but it’s not as clear where Jake will play initially. He offers a good deal of versatility as Perfect Game lists him as a SS/RHP/Utility player.
— Jake Gelof (@JakeGelof) November 13, 2019
When Jake arrives on Grounds, he and Zack will the first set of brothers to play for Brian O’Connor at UVA at the same time. Jeff White does an excellent job covering the family connection and more in this must read profile at VirginiaSports.com.
Unlike Zack, who played his entire high school career at Cape Henlopen High School in their native Delaware, Jake played his final two high school seasons at the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Had Jake stayed at home in Delaware, he would have been the top ranked high school player in the state per Perfect Game. Ultimately, the site ranks Gelof as the number 313 recruit in the 2020 class. For comparison, Zack was only ranked 500th in the 2018 class, a clear miss by the PG evaluations.
Jake spent his summer as a member of the Brockton Rox of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. Gelof is listed as a shortstop on the Rox roster. Most recently at IMG, Jake was taking after older brother Zack while playing third. With a deep roster across the board, and very few open positions on the 2021 team, Gelof’s versatility will be the key for his contributions as a first-year player for the Hoos. His ability to play just about anywhere, including as a pitcher, will give the coaching staff options should his number be called.
Scouting reports on the younger Gelof always seem to coalesce around three common themes. First, his frame is always mentioned. The most recent height and weight on his Perfect Game profile are 6-1 and 193 pounds. It’s not uncommon to see Jake mentioned as having a projectable build due to his wide shoulders and long legs. With his frame, it’s always noted that Gelof packs some pop with his right-handed bat. And finally, his arm strength always gets a mention. Whether it’s from the infield, outfield, or pitching mound, Gelof’s arm always gets noticed.
— PBR Florida (@PBRFlorida) February 14, 2020
As a pitcher, Gelof also throws from the right side. He’s got an upper 80s to lower 90s fastball, a curve featuring an 11 to 5 break, and a changeup in the lower 80s with a nice fade. Back in the summer of 2019, Prep Baseball Report thought that Gelof’s curve had a shot to become a swing and miss pitch.
2020 Jake Gelof (DE) has impressed as a position prospect at Junior National and now upper 80s on the mound. Uncommitted pic.twitter.com/guRK0cPeVr
— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) June 12, 2018
Channing Austin (3B/RHP – Brooklyn, NY):
Baseball history and Brooklyn go hand in hand. So, it’s fun to see the Hoos tapping into that for an addition to the program. Austin attends Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.
Congratulations to #PolyPrep's scholar-athletes, who signed letters of intent: Sydney Urban '20 (Soccer) U of Florida; Channing Austin '20 (Baseball) U of Virginia; and Bryan Padilla '20 (Baseball) U of Connecticut as family & fans cheered. @uflorida @UConn @UniversityofVirginia pic.twitter.com/aVW2vUsdFj
— Poly Prep (@polyprep) November 13, 2019
Ranked 318th in the 2020 class by Perfect Game, Austin is listed at 6-3 and 200 pounds. Perfect Game has Austin slotted at 3B and ranks him as the top player at the hot corner in New York for the 2020 class.
The Hoos, on the other hand, appear to have a different role in mind for Austin. In a recent chat with Jeff White, Coach O’Connor identified Austin as one of two incoming first year players that could be an immediate contributor. On Austin, “he’s got a great arm. He’s a really good athlete, and I think the sky’s the limit for him.” In that article, Jeff White lists Austin as an RHP instead of a 3B.
#UVA commit Channing Austin (2020, Brooklyn, NY) comes into relief for Team BEAST 2020 Gibson. Large, physical frame with stuff to match. FB up to 90. Austin is currently the #2 ranked 3B in NY @PG_Scouting @PG_Tourney #PGTourney pic.twitter.com/qzAT0AzJQR
— Perfect Game Mid Atlantic/Northeast (@PGMidAtlantic) July 12, 2019
With his build, it’s easy to see why the coaching staff is excited to have Austin join the pitching staff. Once he gets a full season of strength and conditioning under his belt, the Hoos could have a bulldog on the mound.
And as usual, UVA is adding a versatile athlete to the baseball program. Austin’s ability to play 3B while projecting as a high-level D1 pitcher speaks to that. Prep Baseball Report also lists 3B as his primary position with pitcher as the secondary option.
Congratulations to Poly Prep’s Channing Austin! The @UVABaseball commit has been named Senior First Team All- Northeast Region and High Honorable Mention All-American for baseball by @PerfectGameUSA pic.twitter.com/QiCA33EksL
— Poly Blue Devils (@PolyBlueDevils) April 20, 2020
Otherwise, Austin is a bit of a mystery man online. That Coach O’Connor called him out as an immediate contributor adds a ton of intrigue here.
Avery Mabe (RHP – Wytheville, VA):
Mabe, out of George Wythe High School in Wytheville, Virginia, is another pitcher with good size joining the program. Perfect Game, who ranks Mabe as the 392nd best recruit in the 2020 class, lists him at 6-4 and 200 pounds. Becoming a member of the baseball program at UVA is special for Mabe. His mother is an alum and Mabe is a lifelong Wahoo fan as a result.
Avery Mabe with his family members at today’s signing! Avery will become a member of the Cavalier Baseball team this fall as he plans to continue his academic and athletic career at UVA! pic.twitter.com/1NTxbYRruf
— Dante Lee (@danteleegoherd) November 13, 2019
Like most newcomers to the Virginia program, Mabe is an outstanding student and multi-sport athlete. Late into the 2020 school year, Mabe was reported to have a GPA in excess of 4.0. And he’s excelled in competition off the diamond and out of the classroom as well. Mabe played three seasons of hoops at George Wythe. Mabe was a starter for the Maroons who were state runners up once. And as a member of George Wythe’s golf team, Mabe was a state champion in the fall 2019 season.
While Mabe plays the other sports to hone his competitive nature, it’s baseball that’s his true passion. Baseball came naturally to Mabe who excelled at the sport very early in life. In fact, he skipped the rec league experience entirely playing exclusively travel baseball once the baseballs were no longer resting on a tee.
And like most of his peers in the 2020 class, Mabe did not get a senior season of high school baseball. If his junior stats are any indication, Mabe was well on his way to having a monster senior year. As a junior, Mabe posted a .429 average with 1 homer and 14 RBI. On the mound, Mabe finished with a 1.04 ERA and 101 strikeouts in just 54 innings.
In 2018, Mabe was a member of the 17-U National Development Team Program for USA Baseball. In fact, on Ebay, you could find his autographed baseball card in a USA Baseball uniform for sale.
His last competitive baseball action was last fall for his travel team, the Royals Scout Team. Since then, and especially since his senior season was not to be, Mabe has been using a workout program provided by the Hoos’ coaching staff.
Virginia commit Avery Mabe (2020 Wytheville, VA) is filling up the zone with a mid to upper 80s FB touching 90 a couple times and a really effective straight change around 78-80 mph. #WWBA17U pic.twitter.com/fS3CW1Cbsd
— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) June 30, 2019
As a member of Prep Baseball Report’s 2020 All Virginia-DC Preseason 3rd Team, Mabe features a fastball that’s topped out at 91 MPH per Perfect Game. And Prep Baseball Report shows Mabe as primarily a three-pitch pitcher at this point in his career. Besides the fastball that now sits in the upper 80s, Mabe also features a curveball and changeup. Perfect Game notes that the changeup has good fading action in the lower 80s. And they indicate he’s also developing a slider that possesses good bite while sitting in the mid to upper 70s. In his player profile at Prep Baseball Report, Mabe’s curveball is pegged to sit 71 to 74 MPH.
Let’s get this out of the way now because you’re going to hear it a ton during Addie’s time at UVA. He has a famous cousin that plays football – Heisman Trophy Winner, national champion, #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Yes, that guy – Joe Burrow.
But Addie, listed at 6-1 and 185, is worthy of recognition on his own merits as well.
— Addie Burrow (@addieburrow) November 15, 2019
Burrow, who announced his commitment to the Hoos on May 31, 2019, was a late addition to this class. Like most players this year, Burrow was robbed of his senior season by the pandemic. But his high school junior numbers show a talented player. It’s no surprise that he eventually earned the opportunity to play in the orange and blue.
As a junior, Burrow batted .338 and sported a 1.000 fielding percentage as an outfielder. Burrow hit one homer and drove in thirteen while going a perfect fourteen of fourteen in stolen base attempts. To round out his stats, Burrow scored twenty-nine runs while hitting seven doubles and five triples (tied for a school record). For his career, Burrow hit .349 with nine triples, nine doubles, and scored fifty runs while driving in thirty. He also finished nineteen for twenty in stolen bases. The school record at Addie’s high school, Courtland, was twenty-eight. His biggest personal goal as a senior was to break that record.
— Dynamic Baseball (@DynamicBaseball) May 19, 2019
But it may be Burrow’s leadership talents that project the best for the lefty that’s ranked the 440th overall recruit in the 2020 class by Perfect Game. In this thread on Twitter, Addie’s high school stated:
“Those who know him understand that though he is quiet – he is thoughtful. Though he is confident – he is NEVER arrogant. Addie has never taken one second of his time for granted, nor one ounce of talent and ability. Addie you are humble, kind, driven, highly competitive, sincere, and genuine. You have helped me more than you know, through your honesty and willingness to speak up to grow more as a coach than I have in many years. I wish I had one more opportunity to not only see you suit up, but to give you the very best of me. I’m sad I won’t get that opportunity. Many young men with your talent write off those who challenge them or shun the teachings of people who push them or make them uncomfortable – but you never did. I truly value you as a baseball player, but more so as a man.”
— Scout Games Baseball (@ScoutGamesBSB) July 5, 2019
David Coppedge (SS – North Chesterfield, VA):
The infield prospect out of Clover Hill High School has high level experience at both shortstop and third base. Coppedge joins the Hoos as the 500th ranked recruit in the 2020 class by Perfect Game. The site lists him at 6-1 and 175 pounds.
— david coppedge (@coppedge_david) November 14, 2019
Prep Baseball Report, who last scouted Coppedge in May 2019, notes that his defensive abilities are currently ahead of his offense. They had previously scouted him at shortstop but were seeing him at third in this event. They indicated “Coppedge looked really comfortable at third. Works low and has a quick reaction with nice lateral range and a solid first step. Nice fluid defensive movements with a strong arm short arm action and is accurate on throws.” On offense they noted pull side power but were looking for more consistency.
Perfect Game saw Coppedge in July 2019 and came away more impressed with his abilities at the plate than Prep Baseball Report did. At the 2019 17U WWBA National Championship event, Coppedge, playing second base for the Virginia Cardinals, was 3 for 3 on the day with a homer, two singles, an RBI, and three runs scored. Perfect Game noted Coppedge’s bat speed and swing leverage project for average power in the future. He displays fairly typical batting mechanics as well. They saw him again in October 2019 and came away with essentially the same impression.
Like most Virginia players, Coppedge is a good athlete. Perfect Game called out his movement on the basepaths and range in the field defensively. They were impressed with his fundamentals and think he projects well at shortstop. Perfect Game also made note to call out his confidence and emphasized that Coppedge plays the game the right way.
2020 MIF David Coppedge (RBA Southies 2020) a Clover Hill product shows discipline and patients at the dish, taking what he was given. Does a good job of staying on pitch away. + hit tool here. @UVABaseball commit #DynamicLU @rbasouth pic.twitter.com/IQwncWNIci
— Dynamic Baseball (@DynamicBaseball) June 15, 2018
Connor Hincks (SS – Western Springs, IL):
The Hoos took a swing through the Midwest to sign another infield prospect in Connor Hincks from Illinois. Despite hailing from the same state as UVA pitching coach Drew Dickinson, Hincks was committed to the Hoos long prior to Dickinson arriving on the scene in Charlottesville. Hincks, who bats lefty while throwing from the right side, committed to the Hoos out of Benet Academy in Lisle, IL in October 2018. Listed at 6-2 and 170 by Perfect Game, he’s ranked the 500th overall rated recruit in the class by the site. Prep Baseball Report ranks Hincks 404th in the 2020 class.
— Connor Hincks (@CHincks_9) November 14, 2019
Hincks is routinely described as a smooth, rangy defender with soft hands. He’s capable of handling shortstop for the Hoos if that’s where UVA slots him. But he’s versatile enough to play around the infield as well. Growing up near Chicago, he patterned his defensive game after former White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez
He’s also a plus runner. With his build, athleticism, and skills, Hincks appears to be another UVA player cloned from the typical Wahoo template.
Where Hincks gets really interesting is from the plate. While he excels on defense, it’s clear that Hincks takes the most pride in his ability with the bat. In April, he told Patrick McGavin of the Chicago Tribune “I love to hit. That is my biggest strength, especially my ability to hit for contact. I could hit for power, but I think my focus is on singles and doubles and getting the ball between the gaps.” With that approach, it seems as if Hincks is tailor made to hit at Davenport Field.
He continued, “I just think of myself as a natural hitter – being from the left side, very fluid and smooth in my swing. I am not trying to hit home runs, just be nice and easy.”
— Chicago Scouts Assoc (@ChiScoutsAssoc) October 12, 2019
Like nearly everyone else, Hincks’s didn’t get a senior season in high school. But his junior season stats back up his own self-assessment. As a junior, Hincks batted .433 and posted a 1.084 OPS. He scored 28 runs, drove in 20, and stole 12 bases.
Prep Baseball Report pegged Hincks as a possible breakout performer at the Super 60 event on February 2, 2020. They noted that Hincks made big strides at the plate in the last year and was driving the ball to all fields with authority recently. In August 2019, while noting that Hincks was a big riser in their Illinois state rankings, Prep Baseball Report Illinois said that Hincks “hit at a high level every time we saw him this summer. The left-handed hitter has loose, quick hands, has feel for the barrel, is consistently on time and works gap-to-gap.”
— PBR Illinois (@PBRIllinois) February 2, 2020
Luke Schauer (LHP – Washington, DC):
Last, but not least, is St. John’s College High School lefty Luke Schauer. Listed at 6-2 and 205 by Perfect Game, Schauer is the third LHP in the recruiting class for the Hoos. Ranked as the top LHP in Washington DC for the 2020 class, Perfect Game ranks Schauer as the number 500 recruit in the class nationally.
Congrats to these 7 2020 SJC Baseball players who signed their National Letters of Intent on Friday! Luke Schauer/UVA, Chris Bookhultz/UMD, Dylan Winebrenner/Iona, Justin Riemer/Wright State, Xan Wojie/Wash Coll,Alex Garvey/Wash&Jeff,Tyler Brooks/Wash&Jeff @PBRVirginiaDC pic.twitter.com/EqTQa7e1h8
— St. John's Baseball (@SJC_Baseball) November 19, 2019
Schauer, who features a fastball that was topping out at 88 MPH last summer, won First Team All-WCAC honors as a junior in 2019 per NOVA Baseball Magazine.
Prep Baseball Report last updated their scouting report on Schauer in March 2019. They describe Schauer as athletic, projectable, and possessing a durable frame. He features a slow, compact build up in his wind up where he throws from nearly over the top. In video clips, it looks like Schauer does a nice job of hiding the ball from batters as he pitches. Prep Baseball Report notes that the ball jumps out of Schauer’s hand.
And while the fastball is Schauer’s primary pitch, Prep Baseball Report has praise for his breaking ball as well. They note that it’s a big breaking ball with depth and a 1 to 7 shape. They conclude their scouting report noting that Schauer has great feel for his breaking ball which he uses to get lots of swings and misses, especially to right-handed batters.
This is an interesting class because of the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s filled with quality players but may not have many instant impact members.
In a regular cycle, there are likely several players that win or push for playing time. But due to COVID-19 roster concessions stemming from the canceled 2020 season, the Hoos had very little meaningful roster turnover. Five players transferred and two grad students moved on. Of the seven departures, only Chesdin Harrington saw any significant playing time.
There simply aren’t spots up for grabs in what figures to be a loaded Wahoo baseball team.
The class headliner, catcher Kyle Teel, figures to earn a role if he lives up to the substantial hype that’s starting to build. But Coach O’Connor surprised me when he also called out pitcher Channing Austin. One reason that surprised was because the larger baseball world profiled Austin heavily as an infield prospect with pitching as the secondary option.
Where I find the most intrigue in the class is the slotting decisions on the infield prospects: Jake Gelof, David Coppedge, and Connor Hincks. It’s possible that the younger Gelof is his brother’s heir apparent at the hot corner. But it’s also possible that he spends his career as a corner outfielder and pitcher. Coppedge feels like a middle infielder for sure. Maybe second base? And Hincks seems destined to slide in somewhere on the left side of the infield.
And speaking of Hincks, he feels like one of two sleepers in this class that I’ll be watching closely. The other player on that list is outfielder Addie Burrow. Burrow oozes leadership and underrated athletic ability.
Here’s to hoping we get to watch the returning and incoming Hoos play the game they love in 2021.