Meet USF Baseball’s 2022 True Freshmen

Brewin’ Features – Freshmen

Want to support your Bulls? Check out the fundraiser golf tournament, donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, or come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Santino Rao – 1B – LHB

Frank Micallef – C – RHB

Jackson Mayo – OF – LHB

Marcus Brodil – OF – LHB

Bobby Boser – SS – RHB

Joey Volini – LHP

Austin Grause – RHP

Jack Cebert – RHP

Tyler Dietz – RHP

Jake Feffer – LHP

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Marcus Brodil – OF/1B
Dunedin HS (Dunedin, FL)
6’0” 175lbs – LHB

Marcus Brodil arrives on campus this fall after a very successful baseball career at local Dunedin High School. We always love to see local players coming to USF! #StayInTheBay

As this first wave of players we’re covering are true freshman, the only info we have to go off of is performances in high school and travel baseball.

When you look at that for Marcus, you see a lot of good achievements. In his sophomore year with Dunedin, they made the FHSAA state finals. In his senior year, they made the FHSAA final 4.

As a senior, he was right at the heart of the team’s success. In the state final 4 game, he batted 2nd and played center field while going 3 for 5 with an RBI (see video) and a run. He also was the only guy on his team to steal a base that game.

I was able to watch film on YouTube and Twitter and I see a fluid swing (lefty) with a contact oriented approach. Given that he’s stealing bases, playing center field, and taking a mature approach at the plate hitting to all fields, I think he can be a top of the lineup (batting 1st or 2nd) player for the Bulls one day.

Of course our roster is deep this year as we return most of the starters from a Super-Regional team, but Marcus Brodil is definitely a name for USF fans to know. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an impact on the ‘22 squad. I definitely see him playing big roles in ‘23 and beyond.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Frank Micallef – C
Wharton HS (Tampa, FL)
6’1” 205lbs – RHB

Frank Micallef is on campus. He was one of the later additions to the 2021 recruiting class, announcing his commitment back in January of this year. In his announcement post on Instagram, he shared a picture of himself decked out in USF gear when he was just a small kid. That’s really cool to see.

Frank attended local Wharton high school which is just 15 minutes north of USF’s Tampa campus. #StayInTheBay. In his senior year at Wharton, he helped them win their first district championship since 2017. He played catcher and batted at the top of the order for the talented local high school team.

This past summer, he was one of only 2 incoming USF freshmen that participated in summer collegiate wood bat baseball. He played for the Leesburg Thunder of the Florida Futures League and did really well. He was selected for the league’s All Star Team after leading the entire league in doubles for the summer.

Based off of the scouting reports I was able to find, Frank also plays solid defense at the catcher position and exhibits leadership. These are important traits when playing catcher, as we saw from last year’s captain, Jake Sullivan.

When I watch film of his swing (see video), I see a very efficient and simple movement. He gets his foot down on time and goes straight to the ball, looking to hit line drives into the gaps. As he spends more time training with Coach Roberts, that gap power can evolve into homerun power.

Frank definitely brings the whole package at the catcher position. It will be exciting to watch him compete this fall and develop over the next few years as a Bull.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Jack Cebert – RHP
Calvary Christian HS (Clearwater, FL)
6’3” 185lbs

Jack Cebert is 1 of the 3 Calvary Christian (Clearwater) Alum that have arrived at USF this school year. Calvary is located 30 minutes southwest of USF’s Tampa campus. It’s so great to see not just local players, but top-tier local players choosing USF. They’ll have an opportunity to compete for conference, regional, and national championships for their hometown team.

Jack brings a lot of upside to USF’s pitching rotation. When he was just a sophomore in high school, he recorded the final out (via strikeout) to seal Calvary’s 2019 state championship. As a senior, he shouldered a big workload for the team appearing in 23 games, making 9 starts, and holding his opponents to a .194 batting average across 50.2 innings.

During his senior campaign this past spring, he pitched 2 complete games, one of them being a perfect game. The perfect game came against Berkeley Prep, one of the top high school teams in the area. This really shows that he can handle good competition and bodes well for his chances of making an impact early in his USF career.

When I watch film of him pitching, a few things stand out. First, he has command of his fastball (86-89) and is able to throw it for strikes on both sides of the plate. The FB has good arm side run too. The fastball sets up his devastating 12 to 6 breaking ball that generates swing and miss. He’s also known to work in a change-up with good feel, giving him a potential 3 pitch mix.

Jack definitely already has the tools to get batters out at the D1 level. Given the quality of our pitching coaching and strength and conditioning programs, he has the chance to develop into a star for the Bulls. It will be fun to watch.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Tyler Dietz – RHP
Calvary Christian HS (Clearwater, FL)
6’2” 185lbs

We are picking up where we left off last week as today’s feature is about another player from Clearwater’s Calvary Christian. Yes, that’s right, USF is importing two freshman pitchers from the storied local high school baseball program. Today we’ll be talking about Tyler Dietz, a right handed pitcher that is oozing with potential.

Tyler’s arrival on the USF campus has been anticipated for a while. He announced his commitment to the program back in December of 2018, when he was just a sophomore in high school.

Tyler was on Calvary’s varsity team that following spring (2019) as a sophomore, but his role expanded as a junior (2020) and senior (2021). He finished his varsity pitching career with an impressive 59 strikeouts in 46.2 IP (11.4 K/9).

The real story with Tyler though is not necessarily what he did in high school, but more about his potential as a college player and professional. For his age, his pitch repertoire is very advanced and includes a fastball with arm side run that gets up to 94, a power slider sitting 84-86, and a wipeout splitter sitting 84-86 as well.

Watching his film, you can see that he doesn’t try to do anything fancy with his delivery. He just focuses on producing velocity and movement to keep hitters at bay. The 3 pitches complement each other well as the fastball and slider move in opposite directions and the splitter goes straight down. This will help him be effective vs lefties and righties both.

There is a lot to be excited about with Tyler Dietz. Like his counterpart Jack Cebert, he already has the physical tools to get D1 players out. The X-factor for Tyler I think will be mastering his command. If he does that, and forces hitters to have to deal with his impressive pitch arsenal, he’s going to have a lot of success as a Bull and beyond.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Bobby Boser – IF
Wiregrass Ranch HS (Wesley Chapel, FL)
6’1” 190lbs

We are really covering all areas of Tampa Bay with these freshmen previews. So far, we’ve had 3 players from Pinellas County, 1 from Hillsborough County and today we have a player from Pasco County. Not only are these kids local, they are highly talented and really could have gone anywhere. We’re glad they chose USF.

Today’s player is Bobby Boser, an athletic infield prospect from Wiregrass Ranch HS, a school just 12 miles north of USF’s Tampa campus. Bobby announced his commitment to USF back in July of 2019, the summer before his junior year of high school.

At Wiregrass, Bobby was a 4 year starter on varsity who primarily played shortstop and pitched. Although his role at USF will most likely be as an infielder, he was a really good high school pitcher. He regularly sat in the low 90s with his fastball and had a strong arsenal of secondary pitches. This arm strength bodes well for his chances of sticking long term at either 3B or SS.

In addition to playing with Wiregrass, Bobby also played for the FTB 2021 travel baseball team. During the August 2020 FTB tryouts, Bobby was one of the 5 players from the team that scouting service Diamond Prospect Media called a “standout player”. They said that he “Really can swing it with a present feel for the barrel from the right side as he peppered the gaps with hard hit line drives during batting practice.”

In addition to a strong arm and solid bat, Bobby also has above average speed for someone his size. He’s been measured at a 6.95 60 yard dash according to Prospect Select. Defensively, the scouting reports are positive and what I’m able to see on film backs that up.

Bobby has all the makings of a potential superstar for the Bulls. He has a chance to develop into a legitimate 5-tool (arm, defense, contact, power, speed) prospect if he can add the element of power hitting to his game too. Given the 6’1” frame and training resources available at USF, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Jackson Mayo – OF
The Bolles School
(Jacksonville, FL)
6’2” 185lbs

Today’s Brewin’ Feature is about a player from across the state of Florida. Jackson Mayo arrives on USF’s Tampa campus fresh off of a successful prep career with The Bolles School (Jacksonville, FL). He bats/throws left-handed and plays outfield. If recruiting left-handed power hitting outfielders from Jacksonville is going to become a trend, I’m here for it. Daniel Cantu is working out pretty well 😉 .

At Bolles, Jackson had a lot of impressive achievements. During the team’s run this past spring to the FHSAA 3A state semi-finals, Jackson hit the winning homerun in their quarterfinal victory on the road at Pensacola Catholic. It’s impressive enough to be hitting home runs in high school baseball, but even more so in a high pressure playoff game.

Jackson played centerfield and batted leadoff for Bolles, the same program that produced Hall-of-Famer Chipper Jones and current SF Giants outfielder Austin Slater.

There’s a few other elements of Jackson’s game that could really serve him well in his career at USF and beyond. The first thing that stands out to me is his plate discipline. He walked an astounding 72 times in 305 career varsity plate appearances (24%). That’s a very high walk rate and is especially useful when hitting at the top of the batting order.

Speaking of hitting at the top of the batting order, that’s a real possibility for Jackson considering he has speed in addition to on-base ability. According to Perfect Game, he ran a 6.56 in the 60 yard dash which ranks him in the 99th percentile nationally in his graduating class.

It’s exciting enough to think of a player with high on-base ability and speed, but Jackson brings a lot of power hitting potential to the Bulls as well. He had 6 home runs (check out the video to see one) in his varsity career which is a lot in high school baseball.

Looking at his film, you can see the bat speed and athleticism in his swing. Given the potent combination of plate discipline, speed, and power, the sky really is the limit for Jackson at USF and beyond.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Jake Feffer – LHP
Bishop O’Connell High School (Arlington, VA)
6’0” 190lbs

Today we’re covering the only out of state high school player from USF’s ‘21 recruiting class. Jake Feffer arrives at USF after overcoming some challenging circumstances in high school.

Last year, on October 6th, 2020, Jake underwent Tommy John Surgery on his left arm (throwing arm). Now, here we are about 11 months removed from that day and Jake is back to throwing off a mound. As a matter of fact, he shared a video on his Instagram back in July of him throwing off a mound which was 9 months post operation.

Because he had his surgery in October of 2020, Jake missed his entire senior year of high school baseball. Also, most of his junior year of high school baseball was wiped out due to COVID.

In order to get some background on who he is as a pitcher, you have to go back to his sophomore year in high school. In Jake’s sophomore year, he was pitching at St. John’s High School in Washington, D.C, one of the top high school baseball programs in the country.
According to MaxPreps, St. John’s finished the 2019 season 30-3 and was ranked #29 in the country when Jake was a sophomore on their team.

During that sophomore campaign, Jake went 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA and 25 K’s in 18.1 IP (@NVBaseballMag). That’s a very impressive contribution for a sophomore on one of the top high school teams in the country. That season, Jake was teammates with fellow class of ‘21 player James Wood, who was recently selected in the 2nd round of the MLB Draft by the Padres.

According to Perfect Game’s scouting report, Jake is known for having cutting action on his fastball (towards RHB, away from LHB). I’ve also watched some of his film where he flashes a wicked curve and good feel for a change up.

The main thing with Jake is we want to see that he’s healthy and fully recovered from his operation. This will allow his natural left handed arm talent to shine through. We’re excited to see him bounce back from these challenges and return to the form that allowed him to dominate on one of the top high school teams in the country.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Santino Rao – 1B
Bishop Moore High School (Orlando, FL)
6’2” 228lbs

Today we’re taking a trip across I-4 to feature a player that has arrived at USF by way of Orlando. Santino “Sonny” Rao was a successful dual-sport athlete at Bishop Moore High School where he played baseball and football.

As a football player, Sonny was a senior captain and linebacker for a Bishop Moore team that went to the FHSAA 5A football round of 16. Being a team captain on a successful team indicates strong leadership skills, a trait that was prevalent in many players on last year’s championship USF baseball team.

As a baseball player, I think the main story with Sonny is present power and the potential for more power. He bats left-handed and is an imposing presence in the box at 6’2”, 228lbs.

When Sonny attended a Perfect Game showcase in 2019 (the summer before junior year), he registered an exit velocity on a batted ball of 94mph. That put him in the 99th percentile nationally of all players in his graduating class at that time.

As a senior for Bishop Moore’s baseball team, Sonny hit 3 homeruns (per MaxPreps) and had a .359 batting average. He helped lead the team to the FHSAA 3A baseball elite 8 this past spring. The trend of being on successful teams is promising and indicates that he knows how to win.

Proof of that is his performance in a game earlier this year against Bolles. The video clip I’ve added is a homerun to center field that Sonny hit to tie up the game. He then later hit a walk off single to lead Bishop Moore to a win.

This is the last freshman position player in our series of Brewin’ features. As you can tell, there is a lot of hitting and fielding talent amongst all of these guys and Sonny has a chance to be a leader in this group. It’s going to be fun to see them push each other to get better as this season gets going.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Austin Grause – RHP
Gaither High School (Tampa, FL)
6’2” 190lbs

Here it is. The final Brewin’ Feature for true freshmen on the 2022 USF Baseball team. Today’s player came to USF via Gaither High School, a public school right here in Tampa. Austin Grause is a right handed pitcher that brings a long track record of success to USF Baseball.

Austin was one of the rare high school baseball players that found success at the varsity level as a freshman. In that freshman season back in 2018, Austin threw 37 innings and registered a dominant 2.27 ERA. He also made an impact at the plate, posting a .367 OBP and playing 1st base on his non-pitching days.

I think the fact that he was able to succeed that quickly in high school bodes well for his chances to make an early impact at USF. He certainly has the physical tools to make that happen.

In a start during the summer of 2020 for his travel team, the Hit Factory, Perfect Game reported that Austin was running his fastball up to 93 mph. In 4.2 scoreless innings of work that day, he struck out 8 batters. His fastball was complemented by a mid-70s curveball with good depth.

That type of velocity (93mph) in high school makes you think he can eventually live in the mid to upper 90s at USF and in the pros.

Austin’s profile reminds me of USF’s closer from last season, Orion Kerkering. Orion has a fastball in the mid 90s and a devastating breaking ball. That 2 pitch mix helped him secure one of the biggest saves in USF history in the AAC championship win over UCF.

Orion is back in 2022 but he is converting to starting pitcher. Can Austin fill the void left behind and become a closer for the Bulls? Then, as his career progresses he can become a starting pitcher. That’s just me speculating, but it would be cool to see.

However it ends up working out, Austin has the tools and successful track record to help this 2022 USF Baseball team right away. It will be fun to see how it plays out.

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Freshmen)
Joseph “Joey” Volini – LHP
Jesuit High School (Tampa, FL)
6’4” 230lbs

Today we’ll be talking about Joey Volini, a left handed pitcher out of Jesuit High School.

We have 12 freshmen in this class for the 2022 USF baseball team and if I had to dub 1 of them as a “sleeper”, I’d say it’s Joey. At first glance, you might look at his senior year high school stats and think, “Wait, he only pitched 8 innings?”. But, there’s more to the story.

Joey’s high school team, Jesuit, was ranked #1 pre-season in the entire nation by MaxPreps for the 2021 season. Long story short, that team was stacked. As a baseball player, you don’t control your playing time, but you do control how you perform when you get your opportunities.

Joey definitely made the most of his opportunities. In those 8 innings pitched, he did not allow any runs, he struck out 13, and only walked 2. That dominant performance was just a continuation of the good form he started to find in the summer of 2020.

Playing with Hit Factory Baseball, one of Tampa’s top travel teams, Joey had an outing in July of 2020 where he went 5 innings, struck out 12, and led his team to a 5-1 victory. He also had an outing in September of 2020 where he went 2 innings and recorded all 6 outs via strikeout.

Joey trains at KineticPro Performance in Tampa with Casey Mulholland, a former USF baseball pitcher. With his own hard work and top notch coaching, he’s been able to develop a lively 87-90 fastball and a knee buckling 1 to 7 curveball. He also works in a change-up at times.

The curveball is unique because there is some horizontal movement but it has as much drop as a true 12 to 6. Check out the video to see for yourself.

Although he might have flown slightly under the radar in this class, Joey is definitely not someone you want to sleep on.