Jackson Wentworth spent the offseason working with eight-year major-league pitcher Dan Jennings. The former pro pitcher works as the pitching director of the Iowa Sticks high school program and helps athletes with weight training through D1 Des Moines at Sportsplex.
The ability to work with a former major-league pitcher has helped Wentworth’s development. It also has allowed the right-handed prep pitcher from Waukee High in Iowa to gain insight on what it takes to thrive in the pro ranks.
Wentworth is a well-regarded prep pitcher who scouts project as a potential top-five-round pick in July’s MLB draft.
“It has been a little different having this attention for a high schooler,” Wentworth said. “I have gotten used to it and the additional pressure of having to perform well. It just really helps me perform better knowing I have something to strive for and work towards.”
Wentworth is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-handed pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and a recently-developed cutter from a high three-quarters arm slot. He uses a low-effort delivery that he repeats well.
His fastball sits 93-94 mph with about 2,500 rpm. He tunnels his curveball well off his fastball. He has feel for the pitch, which features good depth and about 2,500 rpm.
Wentworth’s changeup features sinking action and fades in on right-handed hitters. He started throwing a cutter over the last month due to his desire to have a pitch that moves away from right-handed hitters. Jennings felt it would be a solid pitch for Wentworth, who already has confidence in throwing it against live batters.
“My ability to locate my pitches really well,” said Wentworth on his biggest strength. “Throwing my curveball in any count and just being comfortable with all my pitches are strengths of mine. I also take pride in going deep into games.”
This spring, Wentworth wants to maintain his fastball velocity deep into his starts while developing his cutter into a quality pitch.
“I want to hold my velocity above 93, 94 mph the whole game,” Wentworth said. “I also really want to improve the cutter so that I can master that pitch. That would allow me to have a full arsenal of pitches.”
Iowa remains the only state in the United States that plays summer baseball. With Wentworth’s status as a draft prospect, he won’t be playing high school baseball this year. Instead, he is playing in the Perfect Game spring league.
This summer, Wentworth will have to decide between starting a pro career or honoring his commitment to Kansas State. He committed to Kansas State due to its coaches and commitment to developing talent for the pro ranks.
“I really felt comfortable with the coaches. They also said once I get there as a freshman that I’d be a starting pitcher in their rotation,” Wentworth said. “I just really love how the university is close together and putting money into the baseball program.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three 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.