Petey Halpin was in the midst of his first season at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California. But after five games, the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Halpin, who spent his first three years at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California, was left to work on his baseball skills on his own in what is one of the most important years of his baseball career.
The senior outfielder is one of the top prep players in the country. He’s committed to the University of Texas at Austin and is projected by professional scouts to be an early-round pick in this year’s MLB draft.
“The draft for me is a little bonus,” Halpin said. “Getting drafted and becoming a professional baseball player is obviously my main goal and a dream of mine. The senior season would have helped with that.
“But at the same time, I wouldn’t be happier if I go to college and getting to the national championship with the Texas Longhorns. For me, what happens, happens, and I’m going to be stoked either.”
Halpin has an impressive set of tools. The left-handed hitter makes consistent, hard contact to all fields. Although he’s more of a gap-to-gap hitter right now, he’s shown power potential and believes he will add more power as he matures physically.
He has above-average speed, which he featured at last summer’s PDP League when he went 6 for 6 on stolen-base attempts. He also uses that speed in center field. He covers a lot of ground in the outfield and has a very strong arm.
“I think my ability to get on base and just be consistent,” said Halpin on his strengths. “Getting on base and putting pressure on the defense are the best parts of my game right now.”
Entering last summer, Halpin was more of a slap hitter who leaned on his front foot with little power. But after his three weeks competing in the inaugural PDP League, which is an invite-only developmental event that features 80 of the top prep players in the country, Halpin was a different hitter.
He altered his technique at the plate and realized he needed to add strength to the frame. He estimates he’s added “about 30 pounds since the PDP League” to increase his weight to 191 pounds, he said.
He displayed his new approach and improved power at the Angels Elite showcase that consisted of six games at Angels Stadium last fall. Last year that same event allowed Keoni Cavaco to enhance his stock and propel him to be a first-round pick in the 2019 draft.
“There are always a ton of things I can improve on, but I think I need to improve on hitting with more power a little more consistently,” Halpin said. “I think my power will come as I just get older add more strength to my frame. I think it’s also having a certain swing type that will help.”
If Halpin doesn’t embark on a pro career this summer, he will enroll at Texas in the fall. He originally was committed to UCLA but changed his collegiate plans last summer. He committed to Texas in September, citing a better fit with the coaches’ philosophies.
“(UCLA) coach John Savage was nothing but great to me throughout my commitment,” Halpin said. “It had a lot to do with PDP and learning what kind of player I am and what my strengths are and what they aren’t. I feel like I fit into the offense at Texas a little better. A huge thing for me too is I wanted to get outside of California and experience something new.”
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.