Josh Wolf, a Houston prep right-handed pitcher, wasn’t highly regarded by professional scouts entering his senior season. That quickly changed, though, as he hit 97 mph in a February scrimmage with a plethora of evaluators in attendance.
The scouts were there to watch well-regarded prep righty Connor Phillips, the opposing team’s top pitcher, but they came away impressed with Wolf.
The attention remained consistent for Wolf throughout the spring and caused him to move up MLB draft boards. Wolf will be an early-round selection in this year’s draft, which begins June 3.
“I think I did a good job of not letting myself get too caught up in that, though,” Wolf said. “I knew it was there, as there was 20-plus scouts at every single outing. But I knew the biggest thing for me was to worry about every start and performance on the mound.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty throws a fastball, changeup and curveball from a three-quarters arm slot.
Wolf relies on his fastball and curveball, as both are above-average offerings. 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 threw it against high school hitters this spring.
Wolf credits the spike in fastball velocity to the work he did in the offseason.
Wolf added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame and cleaned up his mechanics prior to the season. 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 allowed Wolf to throw his fastball in the mid-90s consistently this spring.
Despite the increase of velocity, Wolf maintained solid control and command of his pitches.
“In the summer when I was throwing 88-92 at these big showcases, I had to learn how to pitch and be a pitcher because I couldn’t blow my fastball by the top hitters in my class,” he said. “I think that helped when I got my velo up into the mid-90s that I could use that, but I also still know how to pitch.”
Wolf’s high school season ended May 16. He took a few days off before returning to lifting weights and throwing on a daily basis in preparation for the next step in his career.
If Wolf opts to bypass pro ball, he is a Texas A&M commit. Wolf hopes to gain a better feel for his changeup, especially if he embarks on a pro career.
“The season really flew by,” Wolf said. “The draft is now less than two weeks away. It’s good that soon I will see. I’ve put myself in that position where I have that option, which is all I could ask for.”
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.