Owen Paino develops into a top prep player

New York isn’t the ideal place for aspiring professional baseball players due to the long and harsh winters. The challenges aren’t a secret, but it hasn’t prevented high school baseball players from developing into premium MLB draft prospects.

Four New York high school players have been selected in the first or second round of the MLB draft since 2020. This year, shortstop Owen Paino of Wappingers Falls, New York, is the latest prominent high school player from New York.

Paino, an Ole Miss commit, is one of the top players in the 2024 prep class. He also is a potential first-round pick in July’s draft.

“The Northeast has produced a bunch of guys recently who have gone on to be college stars or in the draft,” Paino said. “Being amongst those players, as far as talent, means a lot. We don’t get the best here. We start later than everyone, and it’s harder with the winters.”

Paino is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-handed hitting shortstop with a well-rounded and polished toolset.

Offensively, Paino uses a smooth and quick swing to make consistent contact and to drive the ball to all parts of the field. He shows power potential and displays an overall mature approach at the plate.

Paino wants to continue to improve his approach and refine his overall skills at the plate this offseason. He has worked with Garett Teel of Teels Baseball in New Jersey since his sophomore year and plans on traveling to the facility about four times a week this offseason for training.

“Hitting is the toughest thing you can do,” Paino said. “So, I just want to keep the right mindset. I think I do a good job of letting at-bats go and moving on and not being stuck on past at-bats. Mentally on the hitting side, I feel like I am very mature for my age. That is something I take pride in is my mentality on the plate.”

Defensively, Paino has quality arm strength and athleticism that allows him to move well and make the necessary plays at shortstop. He also has a quality baseball IQ.

Despite his size, Paino believes he has the skills and potential to remain at shortstop in pro ball.

“I honestly think the biggest strength in my game is my defensive side,” Paino said. “Both can use tremendous work, and I won’t stop working at both. But defensively, I think that is where my game is the strongest right now. I take pride in my defense, and hopefully, I can get my offense where I currently think my defense is.”

Besides his draft prospect status, Paino is also an Ole Miss commit. He verbally committed to Ole Miss as a freshman in November 2020 due to the relationship with the coaching staff and the program’s track record of developing talent for the next level.

In fall 2020, Paino participated in an event in Georgia with Canes Baseball. Paino received seven calls from college programs as he and his parents drove back to New York from the event. It was the start of his recruiting process and eventually led to him committing to Ole Miss.

“Ole Miss was the last school to reach out to me,” Paino said. “I was set on another school that I won’t name, but I was really confident in going there. But I asked (2023 Ole Miss signee) Campbell Smithwick about Ole Miss, and he liked everything.

“I reached out to Ole Miss, and in my first call with the coaches, I fell in love with them right away. They made it feel like a family, and I knew I would get better there.”

Video of Owen Paino courtesy Kyler Peterson.

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for nine years. He has interviewed 518 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski IIIhttp://BaseballProspectJournal.com
Dan Zielinski III is the creator of the Baseball Prospect Journal and has covered the MLB draft since 2015. His draft work originally appeared on The3rdManIn.com, a sports website he started in December 2011. He also covered the Milwaukee Brewers as a member of the credentialed media for four years. Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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