Gavin Kilen is the top MLB draft prospect in Wisconsin this year. Despite receiving attention from professional scouts, Kilen kept a team-first mentality this spring.
Kilen, who transferred to Milton High School after his sophomore year at Janesville Craig High School, aspired to win a state title in his final prep season. That goal came to fruition as Milton won the Wisconsin baseball Division 1 state championship.
“It was special,” Kilen said. “It was with the guys I grew up playing with since I was 7, 8, 9 years old. The amount of support the community had for us was incredible.”
With his first goal accomplished, Kilen can turn his focus to the MLB draft, which occurs July 17-19. Scouts project Kilen as a potential early-round pick in the draft due to his contact-oriented approach and skills to remain at shortstop in the future.
“I have not paid attention to a lot of the draft stuff,” Kilen said. “I try to keep away from it. I’m not on social media a lot because I don’t want to see it. I’m just trying to live in the moment. I wanted to win the state tournament. The draft will take care of itself.”
Kilen is a 5-foot-11, 185-pound shortstop with a notable toolset from the left side of the plate. He is a mature hitter with a balanced setup and uses a quick swing to drive the ball to all fields.
He’s a line-drive hitter with a notable feel for the strike zone. He likely will increase his power potential as he matures physically in the future.
Besides his advanced offensive skills, Kilen also is a respectable defensive player. The prep shortstop possesses above-average arm strength and the instincts, hands, and range to play the position at a high level. Scouts believe he will remain at shortstop long term.
Kilen will know the next step of his baseball career relatively soon. Besides his status as a draft prospect, Kilen is a University of Louisville signee. Kilen is attending summer school at Louisville starting Thursday. He wants to pursue a major in Kinesiology if he attends Louisville past the summer.
“The whole thing is such a surreal feeling,” Kilen said. “I was a little kid who dreamed of having these opportunities. Watching them unfold and being so close is special. The draft is not in my hands anymore. We will have to see what happens on July 17. The only thing guaranteed right now is college.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.