Chase Petty has been named to USA Baseball’s 17U National Team Development Program.
Petty, 16, of Somers Point, pitches and plays shortstop for Mainland Regional High School, and the announcement last week of his spot on the team came at the end of a six-month selection process.
It began with a 40-pitch private evaluation in early March that lead to a second tryout. He missed that because of a torn meniscus, but after surgery and five weeks of recovery, he was able to do another 35- or 40-pitch bullpen session for evaluation.
That lead to a third tryout in New York, where he showcased as a two-way player pitching and working out at shortstop. That performance put him on USA Baseball’s Northeast Regional Team, good for a trip to Cary, North Carolina.
Petty played four games there, pitching in two and spending time at shortstop. In Cary, 250 kids were winnowed to 32. Petty was one of these.
Normally, there’s one more tryout to select the final 12, but it was rained out and he had to wait until Sept. 10 to learn if he made the team via live stream at Charlie’s restaurant on Shore Road in Somers Point.
“That whole day, I was stressing out,” Petty said. “I was unsure, but when they finally announced my name ... it felt amazing.”
Petty, a Mainland junior, has been involved in baseball his whole life.
“I was at a baseball game my first day out,” he said.
His father, Robert Petty, coached the Northfield Redbirds then, and his newborn son went from the hospital to a game.
He started playing when he was 4. Petty played local ball in Millville, where he lived for 14 years, and joined a travel team when he was 9.
He’s lived in Somers Point for two years and trains at and travels with the Baseball Performance Center in Pleasantville.
“My favorite part of the game is the competition,” Petty said. “As a pitcher, you have to work every player like they’re one through four in the lineup. Going pitch by pitch for every batter, my mind just clears, it’s like a getaway for me.”
Baseball already has led to travel for Petty. He’s been to California twice, when he was 13 and again this summer when he played games in San Diego and Compton.
Petty continues to train and looks forward to the 2020 season at Mainland. “I’m trying to build up muscle, trying to lift more, trying to get stronger,” he said.
“Right now, I can’t wait for the high school season,” Petty said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to for baseball. Then, in late July or early August, we start (at USA Baseball).”
Petty will be one of 40 players on the 17U roster that will split into two teams to practice and scrimmage around the country.
Ultimately, the 17U development team serves as a tryout for the 18U National Team that travels around the world. This year’s 18U team will play in South Korea, Taiwan and California.
Petty wouldn’t be the first to represent New Jersey on the National Team. Anthony Volpe and Jack Leiter, both of whom were MLB draft picks this year out of Delbarton School in Morristown, Morris County, were on the 2018 team.
Mainland coach Billy Kern said, “It’s a testament that he’s made it this far. He’s an extremely hard worker, and we’re proud of him. We’re looking forward to a successful season.”
The Mustangs were 17-6 last year. Petty missed the first month with his rotator-cuff injury but still managed to bat .409, strike out 30 and give up one earned run in 19 innings. He pitched a no-hitter against Holy Spirit.
“I would like to play baseball, I guess, until probably about 40,” Petty said. “As long as it takes me.”