Prospects In Person: NJIT

March 30, 2024

If you’re heading into a UMass Lowell-NJIT game expecting to be blown away by what you’re about to see, you’re probably doing it wrong.

On the flip side of that, however, if you’re walking through the doors expecting to see nothing at all…it’s time to open your eyes. Saturday’s America East Conference matchup at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, NJ — the semi-renovated former home of the New Jersey Jackals — featured a handful of intriguing players in the home dugout, with starter Brandon Peterson perhaps leading the charge.

Peterson came up on the prep scene as a primary infielder, and the six-foot, 190-pounder went to NJIT as a two-way player during his freshman year. Despite an intriguing profile as a left-handed bat with some versatility in the field, he struggled at the plate, and seems to have shifted his focus mostly to the mound this year.

A Utica native, Peterson does still look to be a bit more of a thrower than pure pitcher right now from a mechanical standpoint, but showed some upside on Saturday despite very inconsistent command. Using a three-pitch mix that heavily featured a fastball that sat between 88-90 and touched 92, Peterson filled up his line in the box score, allowing little in the way of hard contact on just four hits through five-plus innings of work, but also allowed two runs on five walks and a hit by pitch while striking out seven. He’s walked 45 compared to 50 whiffs in 57 1/3 NCAA innings, so this was not an anomaly. Very fast tempo worker.

If the mechanics, and likely command as a result, can be refined, and if there’s some room to add the right way in a more physical frame than his measurements would indicate, then there’s a lot of upside here and room to develop in advance of the 2025 MLB Draft.

Past Peterson, there were a few others worthy of mention, however…as is the case with a lot of games in what we’ll say are some of the lesser conferences in D1 ball, it’s a bit harder to evaluate some of the bats against lower velo; UMass-Lowell didn’t have an arm over the high 80’s on Saturday afternoon.

Senior shortstop Ray Ortiz likely popped the most out of anyone in the lineup, hitting the game’s lone home run in a ballpark whose dimensions are a bit on the smaller size, but the Georgetown transfer showed a strong eye at the plate (two walks in five PA’s, plus two hits) and good coverage of the zone for the most part, and showed enough at short to where there wouldn’t be concerns about him needing to move off the middle of the infield. Good instincts defensively.

Six foot-one, 185-pound frame from the right side with a profile led by the hit tool…could serve as the prototypical utility man at the next level with the potential for more if he’s able to hit his way there. Could be a UDFA look for someone with a need for some depth up the middle.

Cade Ladehoff is also certainly worth talking about. A freshman catcher out of IMG Academy, he’s the type of player the program is referring to when they say they believe they’re on the way up. One of the more sought-after backstops in his class out of Florida, Ladehoff has mostly played first base for NJIT, and was not tested behind the dish on Saturday; he was, at worst, an average receiver, but I don’t put a ton of stock into throws made between innings, and wouldn’t want to put a pop time on him unless it’s in-game. With that said, he recorded sub 1.9’s in his prep days.

At five-foot-ten and 200 pounds, Ladehoff has something of a stocky frame from the right side at the plate, but has retained his athleticism to date and is having one of the best freshman campaigns in program history already. He delivered two hits and a walk on Saturday, and would be someone to keep an eye on as a potential riser for the 2026 MLB Draft.

Others deserving of a mention? Albert Choi is a grad student OF who reached base four times, Michael Doyle is a junior infielder who was looking to do damage every time at the plate and drove in three runs, and Kevin Putsky is another grad student OF who performed well and provides an interesting look from the left side of the box.

Mike Ashmore
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