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Mainland's Chase Petty's big summer expected to pay off in MLB Draft
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Mainland's Chase Petty's big summer expected to pay off in MLB Draft

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Chase Petty would probably earn an “A” on the traditional first day of school essay that asks students what they did on their summer vacations.

The Mainland Regional High School senior traveled the country playing baseball, threw a handful of 100 mph pitches and made himself a potential big-league, first-round draft choice, which could lead to a multimillion-dollar signing bonus.

“It’s crazy,” Petty said. “It’s a dream come true. A lot of my friends call me Mr. 100.”

Petty pitched in showcase events in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Connecticut and New Jersey.

He faced some pressure. This was the last summer he could pitch on the national circuit before next June’s First Year Major League Player Draft.

In between appearances on the mound, Petty ate plenty of chocolate chip pancakes at Waffle House restaurants and built friendships with players from all over the country.

He capped the summer by pitching a scoreless inning in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in Oklahoma City on Sept. 4. The game featured 50 of the nation’s top high school seniors.

“If you make that (game),” Petty said, “you’re the best of the best.”

Velocity — referred to as velo in the baseball world — is the No. 1 attribute big league scouts look for in pitchers today.

“You can’t teach velocity,” Petty said. “You can teach accuracy. You can teach placing with your pitches. Velo is a big thing because you can’t teach it.”

The 100 mph mark is one of baseball’s magic numbers. It takes a 100 mph fastball roughly 375-400 milliseconds to travel the 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitching mound to home plate. The blink of an eye takes between 300-400 milliseconds.

Petty first threw 100 at a showcase event in Marietta, Georgia, on July 17.

The temperature was in the mid-90s — about 10 degrees above normal — as Petty warmed up in the bullpen. Despite the hot weather, Petty didn’t feel his best.

“I felt like my velo was going to be down that day,” he said.

Petty stepped to the mound, threw nothing but fastballs and struck out the side on nine pitches in the first inning. The 100 mph fastball came on an 0-2 pitch to the second hitter.

“I just had thrown two fastballs that were 98,” Petty said. “I put a little bit more (on the third fastball). It felt the same almost, but everything else felt so much smoother.”

There was no radar gun visible or scoreboard that showed pitch speed. Petty returned to the dugout after the inning, and one of his coaches signaled “100” to him with his fingers.

Petty’s mom, Bonnie, was at the game. They celebrated the 100 mph pitch later that day with dinner at Yard House near the Atlanta Braves stadium.

Petty has verbally committed to attend the University of Florida on an NCAA Division I baseball scholarship, but as is common with top prospects, he has also enlisted agent George Iskenderian of MVP Sports Group as an adviser.

With his summer efforts, Petty went from being someone who would have probably been drafted in the first five rounds to being a potential first-round selection. The rise in Petty’s draft stock could mean an increase of millions of dollars in his potential signing bonus.

Last year, a first-round pick could see a signing bonus of between $8.1 million and $2.4 million. The range is based on when you are picked in the first round — the first overall pick receives the highest, and the bonuses decrease with each pick.

Players selected in the fifth round last year received signing bonuses between $426,600 and $336,600.

“It’s a win-win,” Petty said of being both a top recruit and a potential high draft choice. “You can’t go wrong.”

Petty’s fastball ranges from 95-99 mph. He combines that with a change-up near 90 mph and a slider/curve in the mid-to-low 80s. The difference in speed between the three pitches keeps hitters off balance.

“There’s an extreme arm talent there and a God-given ability to throw a baseball,” said Mike Adams, co-owner of the Baseball Performance Center in Pleasantville. “I think he has the best set of mechanics one can have.”

Petty plans to give his arm a bit of a break this winter. He will continue to throw, but his focus will be on getting bigger and stronger. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Petty has gained about 40 pounds since he was a freshman.

He often trains at the Baseball Performance Center. The facility is filled with talented high school and minor league players. But whenever Petty does something, his peers often stop their workouts to watch.

But for all his accomplishments and skills, most South Jersey high school baseball fans have only heard about him and have not seen Petty pitch. Through no fault of his own, the Somers Point resident has thrown about 30 career innings for the Mustangs.

A knee injury cost Petty much of his sophomore season.

The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out his spring and junior season.

“The rest of South Jersey and New Jersey has kind of read the rankings, but they haven’t gotten a chance to see him in person like we have,” Mainland head coach Billy Kern said this year.

The next time he takes the mound will hopefully be for Mainland this spring.

Petty comes from a baseball family. His father, Robert, is a longtime youth coach.

His older brothers, Bailey Fieger, 24, and Logan Petty, 19, also played baseball. Logan graduated from Mainland last season and plans to continue his baseball career next spring at Rowan College at Gloucester County.

On the inside of Petty’s right forearm is a tattoo that reads “Don’t pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

“It’s a family tattoo,” Petty said. “Growing up, it was really a struggle. It was kind of everything. It’s a personal subject, but every time you look down, I know where I came from and don’t forget it.”

Contact: 609-272-7209 MMcGarry@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

Contact: 609-272-7046

nhuba@pressofac.com

Twitter @acpresshuba​

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