Today is our first college baseball installment of “Views From the Field.” FH Freeway will go over some of our takeaways from the St. John’s baseball team during the fall baseball season.
St. John’s Baseball
The St. John’s Red Storm will look very different as they enter the 2020 season. After two consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in 2017 and 2018, the Red Storm failed to make it back last season. It was a bit surprising that the Johnnies failed to make the tourney, considering they were the preseason Big East favorite (according to the conference’s coaches), as well as having three solid juniors in their rotation. But a tough start to the season, along with a 9-9 conference record played a big role in why the Red Storm, who went 31-23 in 2019, didn’t make it to the tournament last season.
After the 2019 season, the Johnnies saw four of their players get drafted, as RHP Gavin Hollowell (6th round-Rockies), RHP Sean Mooney (12th-Twins), LHP Joe LaSorsa (18th-Rays), LHP Jeff Belge (18th-Dodgers) all went to the pro level. The Red Storm also took a big hit to their 2020 team last week, as longtime manager Ed Blankmeyer was named the new manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones. St. John’s Assistant Manager Mike Hampton will now assume the role of interim manager for the 2020 season.
Before the managerial change, we got to see the Red Storm in action this past fall during their annual intrasquad games. Let’s go over some of our notes on the St. John’s Red Storm:
Lefthander Nick Mondak started last season out of the pen, but became the team’s weekday starter in April after healing up from an injury. It’s been a tough college career for Mondak, as injuries only allowed him to pitch three innings over his first two seasons at St. John’s (all were in his freshman season). The Connecticut native moved into the weekday rotation late in the 2019 season, and it’s expected he’ll be their Friday starter in 2020.
When we saw Mondak in November, the lefty’s fastball was sitting in the range of 86-90 MPH. The pitch isn’t a particularly overpowering pitch, but it’s decent enough to get him through Big East lineups. However, it’s still a far cry from when he was high school, as reportedly was able to crank it up to the mid-90’s with his heater. Clearly, the Connecticut native has not yet regained the velocity he had prior to his injuries. Mondak’s best pitch is a slow curve (70-73 MPH) with good break and movement. Mondak’s curve has above-average potential (we gave it a future grade of 50), and is a breaking ball that can beat hitters consistently. The senior also utilizes a change and a cutter, but both of those pitches aren’t as refined as his breaking ball.
Mondak will be on a lot of teams’ radar entering 2020, considering that he’s a senior who could be a great pickup on Day 2. However, his injury history, along with his diminished stuff makes Mondak a tough prediction.
St. John’s 2019 high school recruiting class featured two players that were drafted in June, with one of them being Marcus Lee Sang, an outfielder from Maryland who signed with the Phillies after being selected in the 11th round. The other was Vincent Bianchi, a wiry middle infielder/pitcher who was drafted in the 35th round by the Angels. Bianchi didn’t sign, and St. John’s now has the New Jersey native on their team. Bianchi was a DH in the game we saw, so we didn’t get to see him in the field. We did, however get to see Bianchi on the mound, as he three two scoreless innings in relief.
Throwing from a low 3/4 slot, the 6’3” righty used a fastball in the 86-90 MPH range, which he threw effortlessly, along with a nice slider in the high 70’s. Bianchi’s projectable frame gives him a bit more room to add some strength, but how much strength he adds will depend on where he’ll play long-term. At the plate, Bianchi look quite poised, lacing a long triple during the game and was comfortable batting. During Bianchi’s high school days in New Jersey, he played at the six position and he may very well be the starting shortstop for St. John’s come Opening Day.
Bianchi should be a very fun two-player to watch in 2020, and is an interesting name for the MLB Draft Class of 2022.
- Ethan Routzahn (RHP) – A redshirt junior from Northwest Florida JC, Routzahn is a sidearm right-hander who utilizes a sinker (90-91 MPH) and a slider (80-81 MPH). Routzahn’s slider has a bit of bite to it, and the Illinois’ native’s delivery can make it hard to pick it up. However, he displays a lot of effort in his delivery, and has had a lot of control issues in the past. In 2019, the 6’4” righty walked 14, hit three, and had three wild pitches in 12 innings with the Johnnies. This upcoming spring will be a pivotal one for Routzahn’s pro aspirations.
- Mike Antico (OF) – Antico may not look like an MLB Draft prospect, but he certainly plays like one. Voted by Big East coaches as the Conference Preseason Player of the Year, Antico batted .386 in 2019 (22nd in NCAA) and slugged .598. It was a breakthrough season for Antico, and it put him on the MLB Draft radar for 2020. He doesn’t get it done with a pretty swing, but Antico’s produced at the college level, and his solid plate discipline should play up at the pro level. The Colts Neck, NJ native has fourth outfield potential, and will be an interesting name to watch come Day 2 of the MLB Draft.
We’ll have more reports on high school and college players come the spring, so be sure to keep checking the FH Freeway site for more.