Bobby Witt Jr., a prep shortstop from Colleyville, Texas, entered the spring as the top high school player in the country. Even with the enormous expectations and attention from professional scouts in preparation for Monday’s MLB draft, Witt controlled his emotions and exceeded the hype.
Witt and Colleyville Heritage are in the midst of a postseason run. They are one win away from advancing to the Texas state baseball tournament. Witt’s success has fueled Colleyville Heritage this spring.
He’s hitting .500 with 15 doubles, eight triples, 15 home runs and 54 RBIs. He has a .571 on-base percentage and 1.103 slugging percentage. He’s stolen 17 bases and drawn 24 walks compared to 11 strikeouts.
Witt’s absurd numbers earned him the Gatorade National Player of the Year award.
“It’s something I will cherish forever,” said Witt, an Oklahoma commit. “It’s truly a blessing getting the opportunity to get that trophy and to see the names on that trophy. It’s like a ‘wow’ moment. It’s been a fun past few years.”
Scouts have been familiar with Witt for years. He’s a generational-type player and has strong bloodlines. His father Bobby was the third overall pick in the 1985 draft and played 16 years in the major leagues.
Thirty-four years after Witt Sr. heard his name called by the Texas Rangers, Witt Jr. likely will surpass his father’s draft spot. He’s considered the top prep player in this year’s draft class and likely will be a top-two pick when the draft begins Monday.
If the Baltimore Orioles, who hired Witt Jr.’s uncle Doug Witt as a scout eight months ago, pass on the five-tool prep shortstop, the Kansas City Royals likely will select him at No. 2. The Royals are obsessed with Witt Jr. and have been in attendance at each one of his games this season.
Witt was invited to attend the MLB draft at MLB Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, New Jersey. He declined the invitation, though, opting to remain at home to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime experience with family and friends.
“Oh yeah, definitely (it’s surreal),” said Witt on the draft being days away. “(My dad) has been with me throughout the whole process. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Witt Sr. understands the pressure associated with being a top pick. After being selected third overall, the right-handed pitcher worked his way through the minor leagues and won 142 games in his major-league career. He capped his career with a World Series title with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.
Now, Witt Sr. works as an agent for Octagon Baseball and is representing his son. It’s created a unique dynamic and helped Witt Jr. throughout his process as a top draft prospect.
“It’s been a great resource to have,” Witt Jr. said. “He’s just there for me no matter what it is, whether it’s me asking him a question about baseball or asking him a question about life in general. He’s always there for me.
“It’s like him being my best friend or like him being a teammate for me. He’s always throwing me batting practice. It’s like a cheat sheet to have him.”
Witt is an advanced prep prospect. The 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed hitter drives the ball to all fields and has a solid understanding of the strike zone. His power and speed are above-average skills and will allow him to thrive in the pro ranks.
Defensively, Witt will remain at shortstop long term. He has elite hands, quick feet and above-average arm strength. He has solid range and throwing accuracy.
His skills have caused scouts to rave about his five-tool potential.
“I really think they are all evened out,” Witt said. “Each and every day I am just trying to get better with all five tools. I really thank God for giving me some of the talent, whether that’s speed or arm strength, and just worked on the other things. And then the hard work has just paid off to receive that name of five-tool player around me.”
Witt has a strong work ethic, admitting that he has to refine each of his skills for the next level, and a rich passion for the game. He has a positive, team-first mentality and a quiet confidence when it comes to his ability on the baseball field.
His makeup has allowed him to not be phased by the draft attention he’s received over the last couple years.
“I kind of like the pressure and take it in,” Witt said. “I’m not big on the pressure. I think I thrive off of that stuff. I just go out there and do my thing because I know baseball is a game that I love. Whenever I’m doing it, it just feels right that I’m playing the game.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 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.