Joseph Charles received his first collegiate baseball offer from the University of Pittsburgh in the summer following his eighth grade year in 2015. It caught the right-handed pitcher from Celebration, Florida off guard, but it marked the start of a busy recruiting process.
Charles committed to the University of North Carolina about two years after obtaining the offer from Pittsburgh. His baseball skills have continued to progress, and he enters his senior season of high school baseball as one of the top prep players in the country.
Baseball America ranks Charles as the 33rd-best prep prospect in the 2019 MLB draft class.
Charles, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound hurler, isn’t immune to the draft process. Throughout his prep career, he’s played for the Central Florida Gators, a travel baseball team in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Last year, he suited up with five first-round picks – Carter Stewart, Nolan Gorman, Mason Denaburg, Gunnar Hogland and Matthew Liberatore.
“I held my own with them,” Charles said. “It helps you realize where you stand at. Also, if I ever need any advice about the draft or if I want to go to college or not, they went through this entire process a year before I did, so they’ve been able to give me advice.”
Charles has a fast delivery with a short-arm action. He throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, 12-6 curveball, slider and changeup.
His fastballs sit in the mid-90s with his two-seamer featuring late life and sink. He sets up his two breaking pitches with his fastballs. His slider has displayed swing-and-miss potential and has late break.
Charles calls his changeup his “best pitch when it’s on.”
This offseason, he’s added 10-15 pounds of muscle to his frame. He also hopes to refine his command and become more consistent with his breaking pitches.
“I’ve been working on this offseason is just command and repeating my mechanics as much as I can,” he said. “I’ve been just cleaning up my mechanics this offseason and going back to being athletic.”
Over the summer, Charles competed in the Area Code Games, East Coast Pro, Perfect Game National Showcase and Perfect Game All-American Classic.
Despite playing in those showcase events, Charles didn’t take a break from throwing this offseason.
“I’ve thrown less, but I’ve kept a baseball in my hands this entire time because I like to keep the feel and keep on moving,” he said. “I honestly think it feels better that way.”
Charles won’t be playing for his high school team, The First Academy, this spring. Instead, he’s competing with The Next Level Academy in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Hylan Hall, a well-regraded prep outfielder, also plays for the same team.
TNXL Academy relocated closer to his home and is a place he’s trained at since he was in seventh grade. The opportunity to play against NCAA Division II and junior college teams was an added bonus for Charles as he prepares for college or professional baseball.
Charles said his experience playing in front of a plethora of scouts at showcase events will aid him as he deals with draft attention this spring.
“You are used to it at this point,” Charles said. “All you have to focus on is going out there and throwing to the glove, which is all that really matters.”
(Photo courtesy of Joseph Charles)
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, Bleacher Report and MLB Trade Rumors, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.”