Wes Kath was a relatively under-the-radar prospect in the minds of professional scouts entering last summer.
But the prep infielder from Desert Mountain (Ariz.) High School showed notable ability and consistency offensively on the summer showcase circuit.
His success in the Area Code Games and World Wood Bat Association World Championship gave him confidence. It also caused him to emerge as the top high school position player in Arizona.
Scouts project Kath as a potential early-round pick in July’s MLB draft after his showcase circuit performance. This spring season will be critical for Kath as he tries to solidify his draft status and prove to scouts that his summer success wasn’t a fluke.
“It has been super exciting,” said Kath on the draft attention. “This is all new information for my family and me. It is pretty cool to learn about the process and go through it.”
Kath is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound left-handed hitting infielder whose best traits are his skills at the plate.
At times, he struggled to hit premium pitching early last summer. He started the summer with a wide stance at the plate but shortened it up as the summer progressed. The change caused him to stand more upright, which improved his timing and made it easier to read the spin on the baseball, Kath said. It also allowed him to experience better results.
Kath currently is more of a contact over power hitter who possesses quick hands and some natural loft in his swing. He has the size and fundamentals to develop more power at the plate as he matures.
“I think my biggest strength is probably my bat,” Kath said. “My development has been a culmination of a couple things. I think it has mainly been an approach thing with just refining my approach. Just the hard work and talent that I have has helped me too.”
The biggest question mark scouts have about Kath is his future defensive position. He plays shortstop for his high school team but projects better at third base in pro ball. He has good hands, arm strength and throwing accuracy to play third base.
Kath already possesses athleticism but hopes to display improved speed throughout his senior season this spring.
“I am just excited to see how my speed keeps improving and see how it translates to the field,” Kath said. “This offseason, I am doing speed work two times a week right now with my trainer. I have seen big jumps. It has been going pretty good.”
Kath hopes he can remain at shortstop in the future after working on his defensive skills, especially his mobility, this offseason.
“I think I can defend with the best of them,” Kath said. “Just playing shortstop or third base, I don’t really have a preference. I think I can play both of them equally well, and I enjoy playing both of them as well. I think with the way my speed is trending and just my athleticism, I think I can handle shortstop at the next level.”
Besides being a top prospect for the 2021 draft, Kath also is an Arizona State commit. Kath grew up close to the ASU campus and liked the idea of attending a quality university with a highly-regarded baseball program close to home.
Regardless of what Kath’s future holds, he’s eager for the next step in his career.
“I always wanted to be close to home,” Kath said. “ASU is about a 20-, 25-minute drive for me. It was pretty ideal in that sense. I was talking to the University of Arizona too. I just clicked with the coaching staff at ASU pretty early on, and I love the facilities. Their field is super nice, and I like the business school as well.”
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.