The childhood dream of being drafted to play professional baseball became a reality for Red Bank Catholic High School pitcher Shane Panzini on July 12 during the fourth round of the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft.
Panzini heard his name called during a live telecast being presented by MLB.com as the 108th pick in the draft by the Kansas City Royals.
“It’s really exciting,” Panzini said this week. “I have been working for this all my life and to achieve this goal is really cool. Now I have to go out and execute.”
As a fourth round selection, Panzini became RBC’s highest draft pick. Former Casey Ryan Kalish was drafted in the ninth round of the 2006 MLB Draft.
Panzini said he will fly to Surprise, Ariz., where the Royals’ spring training complex is located, on July 20 to take a physical and will “likely” sign a contract with the organization.
Panzini said he informed the teams that had expressed interest in him that he would only sign a contract if he got the deal he wanted. He has the option of playing for the University of Virginia and re-entering the draft in two years.
“I wasn’t going to sell myself short,” said Panzini, who is a resident of Spring Lake.
Pick No. 100 was the starting point of the fourth round of the draft. On pick No. 108, Panzini heard his named called as the Royals’ selection. He said hearing his name announced was “really cool.”
Panzini did not disclose the signing bonus amount he is asking for, but said the Royals are expected to give him what he wants when he signs.
He said the team had scouts at most of his games during the spring and had shown interest in him throughout the draft process.
“I’m happy,” Panzini said about being drafted by the Royals. “They do a great job developing pitchers coming out of high school. I’m excited to get started.”
Panzini began playing T-ball at the age of 5 and said he knew baseball was the sport he wanted to play during his life.
“I wanted to play every day,” he said.
His older brother, Blaise, currently plays baseball at Seton Hall University, and Panzini decided to attend RBC and play for Coach Buddy Hausmann.
Hausmann said he enjoyed watching Panzini develop into an pro prospect.
“It was nice to see how much better he got each year,” the Caseys’ coach said. “He is a good kid. He has put a lot of work in. He deserves this.”
Panzini helped lead RBC to Shore Conference championships during his sophomore and senior campaigns. His junior season (2020) was lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a sophomore, Panzini went 7-2 with a 0.66 earned run average (ERA), with 73 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched.
As a senior, Panzini went 9-0 with a 0.91 ERA, with 115 strikeouts in 61⅔ innings pitched.
In seven of his nine starts in 2021, Panzini recorded 10 or more strikeouts. His fastball averaged 94 to 95 MPH and reached as high as 97 MPH. His repertoire also includes a curve, a slider and a changeup.
“He really showed the younger kids how to play the game the right way,” Hausmann said. “It went a long way for them to see how he went about his work to help the team win.”
Panzini racked up 12 strikeouts in six innings against Middletown South in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game on May 31. The Caseys defeated the Eagles, 7-0.
In an NJSIAA Non-Public A, South Jersey tournament semifinal on June 7, Panzini was the driving force in helping RBC knock off unbeaten Bishop Eustance. He struck out 12 batters and went the distance in the Caseys’ 6-1 win.
On June 16 in his final start, Panzini had 14 strikeouts against Christian Brothers Academy as the Caseys beat the Colts, 3-1, to advance to the championship game of the Monmouth County Tournament.
RBC finished the 2021 season with a 24-5-1 record and won the Shore Conference A Central Division crown.
“It was awesome,” Panzini said of the 2021 season. “I’m happy with how the year went. We won (two) Shore Conference championships. It’s a lot of fun when you win a lot of games.”
Panzini said he enjoyed his time at RBC and said he he will always try to be there for the program to show his appreciation for the help the coaches and the school gave him during his high school career.
During the past week, Panzini volunteered at the RBC Green & Gold baseball camp for children between the ages of 7 and 15. His teammates and coaches took time to congratulate him on the day after he was drafted by the Royals.
Panzini attended the RBC camp as a youngster and said watching the campers play brought him back to the time when he was attending the camp to now being on the verge of becoming a professional baseball player.
Panzini’s initial move could be to start training in Arizona as he prepares to play in a fall instructional league that will begin in September.
“When I sign my name it will be a different feeling than when I got drafted,” Panzini said. “It’s the beginning of my job. I have a lot of work to do.”