Tommy Specht usually played high school baseball in the summer months. But this year, the Iowa prep outfielder played travel baseball for the first time, suiting up for the East Coast Sox.
Besides playing against quality competition, Specht also was coached by Mark Willoughby, a 20-year MLB scout. Specht started receiving MLB draft interest this summer and having a coach with scouting experience benefited him. Willoughby gave Specht advice on interacting with scouts and professional ball.
Specht, a senior at Wahlert High, appreciates the relationship and the advice he’s received from Willoughby. The information will assist him over the next eight months as he prepares for the 2022 draft. Scouts project Specht as a potential first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft.
“Being able to pick his brain on scouting and what he looks for in players has been super helpful,” Specht said. “Sometimes it goes past the stat line and how you perform, and it’s how you prepare yourself. The big thing I took from him was that the No. 1 thing that will take guys to the big leagues is their makeup.”
Specht always dreamed of playing professional baseball, but it wasn’t until this past summer that he truly realized his potential. He excelled in front of scouts on the showcase circuit, causing his status as a prospect to improve.
“It is a dream come true,” Specht said. “Looking back five or six years ago, this was only a position I dreamed of being in. It didn’t seem real at the time. But now that it is starting to come together, it is really feeling real. Being a professional baseball player has been a dream of mine. I know there is work that still needs to be done.”
Specht is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound outfielder who hits from the left side of the plate. He has a smooth and easy left-handed swing and consistently barrels the ball to produce hard line drives. Specht generates loft in his swing and will likely add more power as he matures physically.
Defensively, Specht will stay in center field long-term due to his speed and strong and accurate arm. He has the tools to play all three outfield positions.
Overall, Specht is an impressive all-around athlete who has the potential to be a five-tool player in pro ball.
“I feel like I am a five-tool player,” Specht said. “I work on all of my tools equally. Being a five-tool player helps so much on the field and allows me to do anything. My overall biggest strength is my hand-eye coordination and ability to put the ball in play.”
This spring, Specht plans on playing in the Perfect Game Spring League. He hopes to refine his approach and show continued growth at the plate, he said.
“I want to work on my overall approach at the plate and plate discipline,” Specht said. “My goal is to hone in and have a consistent approach at the plate. I have power in my swing and know that will come out if I am selective and swing at the pitches I know I can drive out of the park.”
After he graduates high school, Specht will decide between attending the University of Kentucky or embarking on a pro career. Although he is a well-regarded draft prospect, Specht also is intrigued by the option to play at Kentucky and in the Southeastern Conference.
Specht committed to Kentucky on Sept. 29, 2020, over offers from North Carolina and South Carolina. Kentucky’s coaching staff stood out to Specht during the recruiting process.
“It just felt right at home,” Specht said. “The coaches were so welcoming. It was an easy choice. I was considering a few others. But I feel like the whole time that they were in the lead and where I was most interested in attending. I am super blessed to have the opportunity.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four 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.