Vincent Trapani has always held himself to a high standard on the baseball field. The right-handed pitcher has aspired to play baseball at the collegiate and professional levels for as long as he can remember. He knew he needed to commit himself to the sport at a young age if he wanted to accomplish his aspirations.
Trapani joined GRB Academy, a highly-regarded baseball academy in Windsor, Wisconsin, when he was 13 or 14 years old, he said. He travels about 2½ hours from his home in Eau Claire on weekends and occasionally on Wednesday nights to train at the facility.
Trapani is thankful he joined GRB about four years ago. He has worked with experienced coaches that have helped him develop into one of the top prep players in the country.
He credits GRB founder Greg Reinhard and GRB trainer Zach Ransom for his development over the last four years.
“They have played a big role with where I am today from a pitching standpoint and as a person,” Trapani said. “They have really helped with college connections and things like that. GBR has played a huge role in my career up until this point.”
Trapani, a senior at Memorial High in Eau Claire, is the top prep pitcher in Wisconsin and is garnering interest from pro scouts for the 2021 MLB draft.
Wisconsin hasn’t had a prep pitcher selected in the first five rounds of the draft in over a decade. The Seattle Mariners drafted left-handed pitcher Tony Butler out of Oak Creek High School in the third round in 2006.
Now 15 years later, Trapani likely will end that drought. Scouts project the right-hander as an early-round pick in July’s draft due to his present skills and intriguing potential.
Trapani excelled throughout the summer, most notably in the Perfect Game National Showcase and Area Code Games, to enhance his value. His success has brought increased attention from scouts, he said.
“It has been a really cool process,” Trapani said. “As a kid, you always want to get drafted and play in the major leagues. Just to have the opportunity to be considered for the draft and to have people reaching out about the draft itself is crazy. It is unbelievable to me. I am just kind of enjoying it right now.”
Trapani is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound righty who is a power pitcher with true starter potential. He throws from a vertical arm slot and uses a unique delivery. In his delivery, he sinks into his back hip and tilts his spine towards second base. He then drives downhill towards the plate.
Trapani throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, and changeup. He also occasionally mixes in a two-seamer. His fastball sits 92-94 mph and tops out at 95 mph. His curveball is his outpitch and shows 11-to-5 movement.
He consistently attacks the zone and locates his pitches well.
“My best pitch is my fastball,” Trapani said. “It has good movement on it vertically. I attack guys with that. Overall, my mental game is something I’ve really improved on. That is one of my strongest points. I just love going out there and competing and challenging hitters.”
Trapani throws a firm changeup that features late-breaking action. He has made strides with the pitch throughout high school. He previously struggled to throw it at a consistent speed, but now the velocity sits about 10 mph less than his fastball.
This offseason, Trapani hopes to add strength to his frame and refine his secondary pitches in preparation for his senior season.
“I am focused on doing some mobility stuff and staying strong this offseason,” Trapani said. “I want to move well on the mound. This spring, I am looking forward to going into the high school season with just a good mindset and being physically prepared.”
Besides being a top draft prospect, Trapani is an Arkansas commit. He committed to the Razorbacks during his sophomore year. The program’s successful track record and proven ability developing talent for pro ball stood out to Trapani.
Trapani’s performance this spring will likely dictate the next step in his career, whether that’s Arkansas in the fall or a pro career out of high school.
In recent years, Wisconsin has produced numerous early-round draft prospects and a plethora of NCAA Division I baseball players.
Former Kenosha Indian Trail High shortstop Gavin Lux was the 20th overall pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016. Former Waukesha West outfielder Jarred Kelenic was the sixth overall pick by the New York Mets in 2018.
Kyle Cody, a right-handed pitcher and Chippewa Falls native, attended the University of Kentucky before being a sixth-round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2016. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee catcher Daulton Varsho of Marshfield was a second-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017. Cody and Varsho made their MLB debuts in 2020.
Trapani likely will follow in the footsteps of other former top Wisconsin players who heard their names called early in the draft over the last five years.
“It has been cool looking at prior years for me because it shows me that guys from Wisconsin can get to the highest level,” Trapani said. “That has really provided me with excitement knowing that guys from Wisconsin can have that chance to play in the major leagues.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com 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.