10 Draft Prospects Who Boosted Their Stock At Perfect Game's 2019 WWBA
As the major league scouting community traveled to Jupiter, Fla., for the 2019 edition of the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) World Championship, many of the best players in the 2020 draft class sat it out.
It’s typical to have some of the elite members of the current draft class—particularly pitchers—sit out the biggest travel ball tournament in the country, as they’ve typically established their draft stock at this point in the season. But this year many evaluators noted that there were fewer top-end prospects than usual, perhaps because of added events like the PDP League, which could have worn out hitters and pitchers alike. Just one player currently ranked in the top 10 of the 2020 high school class—Mississippi infielder Blaze Jordan—played at the event.
While initially that seems disappointing, it simply offers more looks at players further down the rankings. And with a 2020 draft class that’s shaping up to be quite deep, it might even be beneficial. Here are top players who increased their draft stock following impressive WWBA performances. Keep in mind that this isn’t a ranking of the top prospects at the event, but rather a look at 10 players who are moving in the right direction.
1. Masyn Winn | RHP/SS | Kingwood (Texas) HS
Scouts were in awe of Winn’s performance on the third day of Jupiter, with several saying it was the best performance they had ever seen at the event. Listed at just 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Winn doesn’t jump off the field when looking at him, but he makes up for a lack of physicality with tools as both a hitter and pitcher.
Winn pitched in a short, three-inning outing and showed a 70-grade fastball that sat in the 95 mph range and touched 98 mph. He also flashed two 60-grade secondaries in a curveball and changeup. During the game he pitched, Winn also went 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run, triple and single. Each of the hits came off his bat at 95 mph or greater, and while Winn is a legitimate two-way pro prospect—with quick footwork and sure hands up the middle in addition to obviously plus arm strength—the stuff he showed on the mound proves his tremendous upside as a pitcher.
“It’s electric stuff, and he knows it,” said one American League scout. “Premium fastball that destroys hitters. His breaking ball was tight and had power. Then he flashed a plus changeup at its best. While he mostly pitched up in the zone, he showed good feel for power stuff.”
0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 0 H, 5 K, 1 BB, 0.00 WHIP
.462/.563/.846, 6 H, 1 3B, 1 HR (5 Games)
2. Chase Davis | OF | Franklin HS, Elk Grove, Calif.
Davis entered WWBA as the 29th-ranked prospect in the 2020 high school class and one of just two Northern California prospects among the top 50—joining catcher Tyler Soderstrom. A 6-foot-1, 210-pound outfielder, Davis is physical and toolsy, though scouts wondered about the refinement in his game.
He impressed with the bat in Jupiter—hitting a double, two triples and a home run in six games—and showed his ability to hit for average and impact. He has standout bat speed—some scouts referred to it as 70-grade bat speed—and a barrel that stays in the zone for a long time. With plus arm strength and power potential, Davis likely profiles best as a corner outfielder.
.429/.526/.1.000, 6 H, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR (6 Games)
3. Trey Gibson | RHP | Grafton HS, Yorktown, Va.
Gibson was relatively unknown to the national scouting community before making his lone start in Jupiter. Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Gibson has a strong pitcher’s frame and a fair delivery, but scouts flocked to his field once word started getting around about the stuff and pitching ability that he was showing.
Gibson utilized a legitimate four-pitch mix and struck out 12 batters while walking two over six innings, showcasing a 90-93 mph fastball, a firm, mid-80s slider, a two-plane curveball and an 82-85 mph changeup with tremendous depth and sink. Gibson’s curveball and changeup looked like above-average offerings in this outing, and he should be able to add more velocity as he adds strength to his frame and cleans up a delivery that has some crossfire and stiffness.
“Big, physical kid with a below-average operation but repeated his delivery, threw strikes and showed a solid four-pitch mix,” said one American League scout. “(Having the) chance to start is the biggest question that needs answering.”
1.20 ERA, 6 IP, 5 H, 12 K, 2 BB, 1.17 WHIP
4. Mario Zabala | OF | International Baseball Academy, Ceiba, P.R.
Committed: Florida International
Like Davis, Zabala was known as something of a toolshed with questionable baseball polish entering Jupiter. The muscle-bound Puerto Rican outfielder entered the tournament as the No. 47 prospect in the class, but he elevated his profile after showing consistent bat-to-ball skills in all six games, going 8-for-13 with a double and a triple.
Zabala has a case for being the toolsiest player in the class, as he’s a plus runner with plus arm strength and plus raw power. He’s shown significant swing-and-miss tendencies, however, and generally needs to add more polish to his game. Scouts received a taste of his upside in Jupiter, where Zabala frequently hit the ball with authority and also walked four times in six games.
.615/.706/.846, 8 H, 1 2B, 1 3B (6 Games)
5. Patrick Reilly | RHP | Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, N.J.
It’s a relatively quiet year for the Northeast, although Reilly did his best to add some intrigue. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound righthander sat in the 91-93 mph range over 6.1 innings of work and touched 95-96 mph while also spinning a solid breaking ball.
Scouts were familiar with Reilly, in the sense that they were aware of him, but he was a radically different pitcher in Jupiter than he had been previously. He was one of several pop-up players who will receive much more attention next spring because of his recent performance.
“He pretty much immediately became one of the best three arms in the area,” one area scout said. “I was aware of his existence, but it wasn’t remotely like, ‘This guy is a draft guy.’ Now, not only is he a draft guy but a really interesting one.”
1.10 ERA, 6.1 IP, 3 H, 9 K, 3 BB, 0.95 WHIP
6. Nate Wohlgemuth | RHP | Owasso (Okla.) HS
Wohlgemuth entered Jupiter as a well-known arm, though he ranked outside of Baseball America’s Top 50 high school rankings due to erratic control and reliever questions that come with a two-pitch mix and a 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame.
Wohlgemuth raised eyebrows after having one of the most dominant starts of the entire tournament, throwing a seven-inning no-hitter that included 14 strikeouts and two walks. Wohlgemuth threw a fastball that sat in the 93-95 mph range during his first several innings and touched 97 mph. He also used a 72-78 mph curveball that showed hard bite and depth.
The righthander’s command was still lacking in this outing, but his fastball-breaking ball combination was completely overwhelming for the competition and led to numerous whiffs at pitches out of the zone.
His pure stuff is impressive, though he’ll need to improve a below-average changeup and throw strikes more consistently for scouts to have confidence that he could handle a starting role in the future.
0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 0 H, 14 K, 2 BB, 0.29 WHIP
2019 Perfect Game WWBA: Day 3 Notebook
The headliner from Day 3 was a two-way performance from a Texas prospect that will be talked about years from now.
7. Markevian Hence | RHP | Watson Chapel HS, Pine Bluff, Ark.
Hence has made a bit of a name for himself during the fall, first by impressing at the Future Stars Series at Fenway Park in September and again with a five-inning outing in Jupiter. A young pitcher for the class, Hence will be 17 years old on draft day. He brings electric arm speed and a fastball that explodes out of his hand.
The Arkansas commit pitched in the 93-95 mph range early in his outing and touched 96 mph with impressive sinking life. He paired that pitch with a swing-and-miss slider that ranged from 78-81 mph.
0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 3 H, 8 K, 3 BB, 1.20 WHIP
8. Carlos Rodriguez | RHP | Miami Christian HS
Rodriguez turned some heads during the summer at the East Coast Pro showcase, but he showed better stuff during a two-inning outing in Jupiter, where he got his fastball up to 95 mph and sat in the low 90s. The pitch had solid life and angle that made it tough for batters to square up, and he also showed impressive feel for a low-80s changeup that had arm-side, fading life and sinking action out of the zone.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound righthander also showed flashes with a breaking ball with 11-to-5 shape, but the pitch will need to be tightened up and throw more consistently to match his first two offerings.
0.00 ERA, 2 IP, 1 H, 5 K, 1 BB, 1.00 WHIP
9. Jackson Miller | C | Mitchell HS, New Port Richey, Fla.
Committed: Wake Forest
Miller entered WWBA at No. 42 on Baseball America’s Top 50 high school rankings as a versatile backstop who can get on the mound, but he is safely a catching prospect at the next level.
Miller has soft, quiet hands behind the dish and is a strong receiver who has a smooth, quick transfer and average arm strength. He started to tap into his strength and potential as a hitter throughout the summer, and in Jupiter, he showed a consistent feel to hit. He tallied multiple hits in five of the six games he played, although all of his hits were singles.
High school catchers are always risky, but Miller is one of the top backstops in a 2020 prep class that has a handful of intriguing options after a down year for the position in 2019.
.526/.526/.526, 10 H (6 Games)
10. Dylan Lesko | RHP | Buford (Ga.) HS
Committed: Uncommitted (Class of 2022)
Lesko still has two years before he is draft-eligible, but he’s already the top-ranked player in the 2022 class and showed exactly why during multiple outings at the WWBA.
Lesko struck out 13 batters in six innings during last year’s WWBA, and this year he struck out 16 hitters in two outings over 7.1 innings. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Georgia product checks most of the boxes you want from an amateur arm.
He has an easy operation with long levers and a projectable frame, a fastball that touched 94 mph and was regularly in the low 90s with life, a changeup that he spotted well and a curveball with two-plane break and sharp, late-biting action.
On top of all of that, Lesko showed maturity beyond his years in regards to strike-throwing ability and effectively mixing up his arsenal. He’ll absolutely be a name to know in several years.
0.00 ERA, 7.2 IP, 4 H, 16 K, 2 BB, 0.78 WHIP