Playing baseball in the Northeast region of the United States presents challenges for young, up-and-coming players due to the weather and talent level. Michael Limoncelli, a prep right-handed pitcher from New York, embraces the situation and has developed into one of the top high school players in the country despite the obstacles.
Baseball America ranks the 6-foot-2, 180-pound prep hurler as the 31st-best prep prospect in the 2019 MLB draft class.
“It’s hard but I think it’s always given me a chip on my shoulder because a lot of people underestimate the Northeast guys,” he said. “I think if anything, it’s given me motivation and helped my game.”
He credits his success to his father, Jeff, who’s his head coach at Horseheads High and played in the minor leagues with the Boston Red Sox, and his brother, Nico, who plays at Polk State College, a premier junior college program in Florida.
Limoncelli throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, circle changeup and curveball from an easy delivery and high three-quarter arm slot. His fastballs sit in the low- to mid-90s, and he uses his two-seamer to attack left-handed batters inside.
His mid-70s curveball features devastating break and is his outpitch.
“I love throwing my curveball,” Limoncelli said. “I’ll throw it anytime I want. It doesn’t really matter. I just try to out think the hitter really and throw it when I feel like he’s not thinking curveball.”
Limoncelli’s changeup is a developing offering. He rarely throws it at the high school level due to the lack of competition, but used it during the East Coast Pro showcase event in the summer.
He’s hoping to show more consistency with his arm slot during his senior season this spring. He believes an improvement in that area would translate to better command.
“I’d like to come off stronger with my command,” he said. “Towards the end of the year, I got really good with my command. But I want to start off the season with strong command.”
Although he’s in the midst of basketball season, Limoncelli has carved out time to prepare for his senior season of baseball.
Limoncelli used J-Bands five times a week throughout November before picking up a baseball on Dec. 1. He’s been playing catch at distances up to 100 feet to build his arm strength and will begin bullpen sessions on Jan. 1, he said.
Limoncelli will likely have to deal with a plethora of professional scouts this spring in preparation for June’s draft. Limoncelli, a Coastal Carolina commit, embraces the attention and is eager for the future.
“It’s a humbling experience,” Limoncelli said. “I thank God every day for giving me the strength and ability to stay healthy to play the best game in the world. I’m thankful. I have to keep working harder every single day.”
(Photo courtesy of Michael Limoncelli)
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, Bleacher Report and MLB Trade Rumors, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stationsas a “MLB draft expert.”