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Fordham's Reiss Knehr Ranks No. 1 In Hamptons League

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Reiss Knehr Reiss Knehr's fastball topped out at 96 mph for Westhampton (Photo courtesy Hamptons League)[/caption]
Hamptons League Top Prospects
Reiss Knehr, rhp, Westhampton (So., Fordham)
John Rooney, lhp, Southampton (So., Hofstra)
Richie Palacios, ss, North Fork (So., Towson)
Bradley Case, rhp, Montauk (So., Rollins (Fla.)
Josiah Gray, 3b/rhp, Southampton (So., Le Moyne (N.Y.)
Matt Dunlevy, of, Westhampton (Jr., Virginia Military Institute)
Jordan McCrum, if/rhp, Westhampton (So., Monmouth)
Max Smith, of, North Fork (So., Nevada-Las Vegas)
Jamie Galazin, of/rhp, Montauk (Jr., St. John’s)
Frank Valentino, rhp, Riverhead (Sr., New York Tech)
SEE ALSO: Summer College League Top Prospects Postseason Recap: After tying the HCBL record for regular season wins (27), the Westhampton Aviators carried that momentum through to their third league championship. The Aviators swept Riverhead in the semifinal round before being pushed to a decisive third game in the championship series against the Montauk Mustangs. Westhampton took the drama out early in the final game though, scoring four runs in the first inning and cruising to an 8-2 win. All nine Aviators starters reached base at least once, while staff ace Reiss Knehr (Fordham) delivered seven strong innings on the mound.
1. Reiss Knehr, rhp, Westhampton (So., Fordham) Knehr followed up a tremendous spring at Fordham with a summer season that garnered Hamptons League pitcher of the year honors. The sophomore has a highly projectable body at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and features a low to mid-90s fastball that topped out at 96 mph at the league's all-star game. He shows quality feel for his slider/cutter, and both it and his changeup have movement in the zone. Knehr struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings to help him go 4-1, 1.15 in the regular season. He’s a guy that wants the ball in a big spot as well, and he backed it up with his performance in the championship series.
2. John Rooney, lhp, Southampton (So., Hofstra) The 6-foot-5 Rooney took big step forward in Southampton, posting a 2.52 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 25 innings. Rooney lives in the low 90s, climbing as high as 95 over the summer. His fastball has some running action, and he complements his heat with a solid slider. Rooney’s changeup is a work in progress and he only sprinkled it in, relying mainly on his first two pitches. He also controls the running game well with a good pickoff move. Rooney focused on pitching inside over the summer, and although erratic to start, his command improved as the season wore on.
3. Richie Palacios, ss, North Fork (So., Towson) Palacios excels as both a table setter and a run producer, and he did both for the Ospreys in earning in the league’s player of the year award. He gets good extension on his swing, showing the potential to hit for some power to go with his average—he hit .330 in the spring for Towson and .347 for North Fork. Palacios has plenty of foot speed and tremendous hands, although his arm may limit him to second base or the outfield at the pro level. The younger brother of former Auburn outfielder Josh Palacios, a fourth-round pick this June, Palacios shows solid baseball acumen, reading pitchers and picking his spots on the bases. He went 25-for-28 stealing bases this summer.
4. Bradley Case, rhp, Montauk (So., Rollins (Fla.) Case’s 6-foot-7 frame allows him to pitch downhill with a low 90s fastball, a frisbee slider and a changeup that he began to develop this summer. Case racked up a league-best 51 strikeouts in just 37.2 innings, and he punctuated his summer with a seven-inning, nine-strike out gem in Montauk’s semifinal opener against North Fork, both season bests. Case does a good job of staying in the strike zone as well, allowing 34 hits and 16 walks over the summer. Continuing to work on his secondary pitches and improved control of the running game will be keys to his progression toward the pro game.
5. Josiah Gray, 3b/rhp, Southampton (So., Le Moyne (N.Y.) Gray played both ways for Le Moyne in the spring but established himself as a lights out reliever for Southampton. His fastball got up to 95 mph to go with a quality slider and changeup, all of which he can throw for strikes consistently. Gray struck out 25 batters over 16.1 innings and walked just two. His velocity dipped to 89-92 late in the year, and Gray would benefit from getting into a pitcher’s routine full-time. With his relative inexperience, Gray is more of a thrower at this stage but grew over the summer, going on to a stint with Danbury of the NECBL after the conclusion of the Hamptons season.
6. Matt Dunlevy, of, Westhampton (Jr., Virginia Military Institute) In the middle of seemingly every Westhampton rally, there was Dunlevy, who led the league in hitting at .372 and finished in the top five in hits, runs and doubles. The rising junior has four usable tools, with a loose, athletic swing from the left side to hit for contact and gap-to-gap power. He also showed improved plate discipline in the summer, walking more than he struck out. Dunlevy showed above-average speed, registering 12 steals, and played quality defense in right field, although his throwing arm could preclude him from playing there at higher levels.
7. Jordan McCrum, if/rhp, Westhampton (So., Monmouth) McCrum was another player that came to the league as a two-way talent but established himself as a shut down arm out of the bullpen. He isn’t physically imposing at 5-foot-11 but his stuff is lively, sitting in the low 90s and touching 95 mph. He didn’t give up an earned run in the regular season and struck out 18 in 11.2 innings on his way to nine saves. With a loose, athletic arm, he complements his fastball with a tough slider, a swing-and-miss pitch with late, hard action. His changeup is a work-in-progress, but his need for a third pitch won’t be too great as long as he stays in a relief role.
8. Max Smith, of, North Fork (So., Nevada-Las Vegas) Smith has a quality swing from the left side and used it to lead the HCBL in RBIs (42) and finished second in doubles (12). Smith has quality power—20 of his 46 hits went for extra bases, including seven homers—and an advanced approach at the plate. He only got 56 at-bats in the spring for UNLV and took time to pick up steam for North Fork, hitting .250 for the first three weeks before raising his average nearly 70 points to .319. Smith is solid in the outfield and has a strong, accurate arm. He also runs well for a player his size at 6-foot, 205 pounds.
9. Jamie Galazin, of/rhp, Montauk (Jr., St. John’s) Galazin has plenty of athleticism and just needs to put it together. The rising junior covers tremendous ground in center field and exhibits an arm that keeps the opposition from taking an extra base. He batted .323 in the regular season and .458 in the playoffs, homering off two of the league’s best pitching prospects in Reiss Knehr and Jordan McCrum. Galazin is aggressive on the base paths, tying for the league lead in steals with 25 and getting caught only once. On the mound, he worked in the low 90s with a slurvy breaking ball, putting up 15 strikeouts in 10.2 innings with a 5.06 ERA.
10. Frank Valentino, rhp, Riverhead (Sr., New York Tech)

Preseason Top 25 Capsules: No. 25 St. John's

Team capsule for the No. 25 team in the nation.

Valentino has had pitched all around Long Island—first at Suffolk County (N.Y.) CC, then at New York Tech and finally this summer in the Hamptons. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound righthander is a big-time competitor, and he went 5-1, 2.63 this summer, striking out 48 over 41 innings. Opponents had trouble squaring up his heavy fastball in the high 80s to low 90s, which he complements with a usable curveball and changeup.

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