MILLBURN, NJ - Peter Serruto, who just completed his senior season at Millburn High School, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22d round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft on Wednesday.
Serruto was the 649th pick overall.
"The last three days have been the most hectic days of my life," Serruto told TAPinto Millburn/Short Hills. "We thought we had a good shot of going in Day 2. Although that didn't work out, I was able to come home from school today and sit with my family in the TV room waiting for the call. When I got the phone call that the Reds had decided to pick me, it was the best news I think I've ever received in my life."
The 6-foot, 190-pound right-handed batter has been a defensive standout since he first suited up in a Millburn uniform as a freshman.
"Defensively, he's just off the charts, to the point where there's not even anyone I could compare him to that I have either coached or coached against," Millburn coach Brian Chapman said. "Especially his throwing."
This season, only 18 baserunners even attempted to steal a base against Serruto in 28 games. Eight were successful, meaning Serruto threw out 55.6 percent of would-be base stealers. In 2017, Serruto caught 13 of 20 base-stealers (65 percent).
"I credit my family and my coaches," Serruto said "My sophomore year, (assistant) coach (Chris) Drechsel brought me into the office and said 'We want to see you grow and develop.' At that time, I was about 6-0, 140 pounds, and after that I lifted in the weight room every day at 6 a.m. and put on muscle. The commitment to the weight room helped me develop power and strength. I credit coach Chapman, coach Drechsel and (Joey) Kropa, our batting and outfield coach."
A member of two Group 4 state championship teams at Millburn, Serruto has also been noted for his handling of pitchers and his defensive skills and blocking and framing pitches. But his arm strength in particular attracted pro scouts.
"He had a stretch in March and April where we actually had to monitor his throwing," Chapman said, "because his arm was sore from all the times he threw when scouts had radar guns on him."
At bat, Serruto hit .337 this season with four home runs, 26 RBI (both team highs) and 10 extra-base hits.
"Offensively, he really upped his game," Chapman said. "He drove the ball and hit with a lot more power this season than he had before."
Serruto is already committed to Rutgers University, which is where he would continue his baseball career if he opts not to sign a contract with the Reds organization.
"They (Reds) haven’t come out and offered a signing bonus yet," Serruto said. "It's gonna be a tough decision either way, because I am also very excited to represent New Jersey in the Big 10 at Rutgers. They're both good choices."