Josh Wolf, a Houston-area prep right-handed pitcher, is generating buzz among professional scouts this spring.
The hurler has displayed an improvement in velocity, after touching 88-91 mph during the summer showcase circuit last year. He consistently has sat in the mid-90s this spring.
The uptick in velocity has caused him to rise up MLB draft boards. He is a projected early-round pick and has the potential to move into the first round of June’s draft with a strong finish to his high school season.
“It’s cool to have people in the stands who want to watch you pitch,” Wolf said. “For me, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of staying focused and worrying about the now.”
Over the last two years, Wolf has worked with respected pitching coach David Evans, who has instructed other well-regarded draft prospects in the past.
Evans originally helped Wolf increase his fastball velocity by about 7 mph before last summer.
Wolf added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame and cleaned up his mechanics in the offseason. He shortened his arm path so it wouldn’t go too far behind his head and fixed his back leg from “collapsing” in order to generate more power in the lower half of his delivery, he said.
The adjustments have allowed Wolf to throw his fastball in the mid-90s consistently.
“My old pitching coach didn’t have the same thought process as Dave does,” Wolf said. “He was very by the book and Dave was kind of outside the box. He would do all these weird drills, but it works for me.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty throws a fastball, changeup, curveball and slider from a three-quarter arm slot.
Wolf heavily relies on his fastball and curveball. His curveball is his second-best pitch and typically shows 12-to-6 break. At times, Wolf throws his curveball harder to generate a late, sharp break, he said.
He has a feel for his low-80s changeup but rarely throws it against high school hitters.
This spring, Wolf is trying to develop a better feel and more consistency with his slider. In the offseason, Evans worked with Wolf on his arm action to prevent him from bringing his arm too far back. When his mechanics are off, Wolf’s slider resembles more of a two-seam fastball instead of the desired slider movement.
Besides his fastball velocity, his control and command also have been noteworthy this spring. He pitches to both sides of the plate and isn’t afraid to attack hitters inside.
“The biggest strength is my game right now, in my opinion, is my command with all the pitches I throw,” Wolf said. “I have been really good at commanding both sides of the plate this year with the fastball.”
Although Wolf could embark on a professional career straight out of high school, he also is a Texas A&M commit and could elect to play college baseball.
Texas A&M has a history of recruiting the top prep arms from the state of Texas. Prep right-handed pitchers J.J. Goss and Matthew Thompson also are potential first-round picks in this year’s draft and Texas A&M commits.
“The biggest thing about Texas A&M for me was the tradition of the program,” Wolf said. “You go to a game and the atmosphere is just really cool. Coach (Rob) Childress’ track record with pitchers is pretty good. I feel like because of that it was a really good fit for me.”
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.