The state of Wisconsin has produced quality MLB draft talent over the last five years. Not all those players have panned out like most envisioned but some have thrived on the diamond since joining the professional ranks.
Here are the three best prospects with Wisconsin ties who could be impact players at the MLB level in the future:
The Dodgers called up Gavin Lux, a 21-year-old second baseman/shortstop from Kenosha, on Sept. 1 and put him in the starting lineup the next day. He’s appeared in three games for the Dodgers and is hitting .231 with three hits, including one double, in 13 at-bats.
Lux was the 20th overall pick in the 2016 draft. He quickly rose up the ranks over the last two years after a mediocre season at Class A Great Lakes in 2017.
The left-handed hitter displayed tremendous plate discipline in the minor leagues this season. He hit .313 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 64 games at Class AA Tulsa. After playing in July’s MLB Futures Game, Lux earned a promotion to Class AAA Oklahoma City where he posted a .392 batting average with 13 home runs and 39 RBIs in 49 games.
Daulton Varsho is the son of former major leaguer Gary Varsho. Varsho has quickly made a name for himself since being a second-round pick in the 2017 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks after three successful seasons at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The left-handed hitting catcher has thrived since embarking on a pro career, owning a career .301 batting average in three seasons. This year, the 22-year-old from Marshfield is hitting .301 with 18 home runs, 58 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 108 games. He’s displayed notable plate discipline, drawing 42 walks compared to 63 strikeouts.
Varsho could make his MLB debut as soon as next season. Although he’s improved his skills behind the plate, Varsho also could end up as an everyday utility player. Besides catcher, he has played second base, third base and the outfield in pro ball.
The New York Mets drafted Jarred Kelenic with the sixth overall pick in last year’s MLB draft. Kelenic’s stay in the Mets’ organization was brief. They dealt him in the offseason to the Seattle Mariners in a deal for veterans Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
Kelenic, a 20-year-old outfield prospect from Waukesha, has played at three different levels in the Mariners’ organization this season. He currently is at Class AA Arkansas and has appeared in 21 games for the team. He’s nearly five years younger than the league’s average and is hitting .253 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 83 at-bats.
In Kelenic’s two pro seasons, he has a .290 average with 29 home runs and 110 RBIs in 663 at-bats. The left-handed hitter has struck out 161 times compared to 76 walks in that span.
Kelenic will play in this year’s Arizona Fall League. He has five-tool potential and is on track to make his MLB debut in 2021, if he continues to excel in the minor leagues.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 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.