By: Burke Granger
Joey Wentz – LHP – Shawnee Mission East (Kan.). Bats: L. Throws: L. 6’5″ 220. College Commitment: Virginia.
Scouted: Prep Baseball Report’s Super 60, McCook (Ill.). February 7, 2016.
Not traditionally known as a hotbed for high school pitching prospects, Kansas has produced one prep pitcher who was selected in the first round over the past 10 years. That particular draftee was Collin Wiles whom the Texas Rangers selected 53rd overall. This year, the Sunflower State could produce two first round hurlers in fireballer Riley Pint of St. Thomas Aquinas, and Shawnee Mission East’s Joey Wentz.
Wentz committed to Virginia as a 16 year old and has been a two way threat for much of his prep career. Suffering from a bout of dead arm, Wentz didn’t pitch on the showcase circuit last summer but made a big impression with his bat. At the High School Select Home Run Derby in Cincinnati on All-Star Weekend, Wentz belted 8 home runs.
Because of the hiatus from the mound, there was palpable anticipation to see Wentz throw at Prep Baseball Report’s Super 60 in Chicago this February and he didn’t disappoint.
2015 Statistics: 4-1, 1.01 ERA. .434 Average.
Fastball: Wentz’ fastball sat 91-92 mph (touching 93) when I saw him and has reportedly been up to 96 this spring. Coming from a downhill plane with arm side run, this has the makings of an above average pitch, and should be a solid foundation from which to build the remainder of his repertoire.
Curveball: At 75-76 mph with good depth, Wentz can spin a curveball. Featuring a 1-7 break, this is Wentz’ most advanced secondary offering.
Changeup: At 79-82 mph, the changeup is more of a work in progress. Wentz will need to refine the consistency of his of this pitch to neutralize right-handed hitters. When right, it shows fade, and I can see this developing into a potentially average pitch.
DELIVERY: A good athlete, Wentz displays balance and control in his delivery that is unmatched from even the college pitchers I’ve seen this spring who are 6’5″ and taller. Leveraging his height with a high 3/4 release point, Wentz has clean arm action and repeatability in the delivery.
FUTURE: Wentz has been climbing up draft lists this spring, and having gotten one of the first looks at him of the year, I’m not surprised. There’s some projection left in his frame and MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis recently stated on a podcast that Wentz has a chance to go in top 10-15 overall picks. I view his ceiling every bit as high as Florida’s A.J. Puk, though he’s a higher risk to reach that potential. That’s no knock on Wentz but rather a testament to what three years of elite college experience can do for your development.
DISCLAIMER: It’s important to note that I’m not a scout. I don’t have the training or expertise that they do. I do however actually go to see these guys play live, which is more than you’ll get from many online “Scouting Reports”. I also talk to scouts when I’m there. While scouts reserve their reports for their employer, I can share my thoughts with you, the reader.