By Chris Carlson The Virginian-Pilot June 4, 2012 VIRGINIA BEACH Jack Wynkoop is likely the area's top high school prospect headinginto today's Major League Baseball Draft, a towering left-handedpitcher whose potential draws scouts to every outing, radar guns atthe ready. Yet the South Carolina recruit is preparing himself for lots ofpossibilities, including that he won't even get a phone call overthe next three days. "It's been a great experience all along," Wynkoop said."My attitude is I'm excited about school and South Carolina.Right now I'm set on going, but if something happens to changethat, that would be great." The Cape Henry Collegiate senior becomes draft-eligible during ayear when baseball has re-vamped its draft rules, leavinghigh-school players, as well as baseball observers and executives,uncertain about how the draft will play out. Kevin Goldstein, a prospects and draft expert from BaseballProspectus, said Wynkoop likely would have been drafted between thefourth and eighth rounds under the old rules. Nathan Rode, anexpert from Baseball America, said he would have gone in the sixthto 10th. |
Baseball's new rules, including restrictions on how much teams canpay out in signing bonuses, could make it more difficult for teamsto pay enough to persuade players to forgo college. "He could go higher, lower or not at all," Rode said."With the new rules, it's different. It makes things a lotmore interesting. No one knows what to expect." Like most prospects, Wynkoop has a dollar figure in mind.
If hedoesn't get it, he's signed to a scholarship to play for theGamecocks next season. "Whatever happens, I'm prepared for it," Wynkoop said. Wynkoop is well-versed in dealing with uncertainty, his fate in thehands of others. As a groundball pitcher, he has to be. "I tried to pitch my game which is to get ground balls, getballs off the end of the bat," Wynkoop said.
"I tried torely on my fielders." "You can't control what the radar guns say, what the scoutsthink," Cape Henry coach Tim Hummel said. "We tried tomake sure he knew that all he had to do was perform and the restwould take care of itself." Wynkoop finished the season with a 0.54 ERA and an 8-0 record in 64? innings. He earned his final two wins in the final two games ofthe VISAA Division II state tournament, pitching a complete game inthe state championship on short rest. The approach takes things out of Wynkoop's hands, but that'ssomething that's never bothered him. "He's very smart, very mature," said Greenbrier Christiancoach Gary Lavelle, who has mentored Wynkoop since he was 9."We talk a lot about the mental game - don't worry aboutthings you can't control.
He got that at a younger age thanmost." Well-hit groundballs can find either holes or fielders. In a game against public-school power Great Bridge earlier thisyear, the Wildcats found more holes than most, putting Cape Henrybehind. Wynkoop settled down and left with the lead. In the state championship final, Wynkoop found himself in a similarposition, but kept the Dolphins close until he scored the winningrun in the bottom of the seventh inning. "I think a lot of times kids just wanted to get a hit offJack," Hummel said.
"If they saw something they thoughtthey could hit, they swung at it. They weren't really going up witha plan. That didn't change what he wanted to do." While some pitchers unravel with runners on base, Wynkoop managed80 strikeouts to seven walks, proof that, even under pressure,poise won out. Wynkoop also is a 6-foot-6 left-hander, a species coveted inprofessional baseball. At 18, he throws five different pitches witha fastball that sits in the high 80s and has reached as high as 92.
The college scouts began following him during his sophomore yearand he committed early to South Carolina. The next year, the proscouts arrived. The experts from Baseball Prospectus and BaseballAmerica say he'll be drafted more for what he can become, than whathe currently is. "He's 6-foot-6 and he's left-handed," Goldstein said."He's skinny. When you think about projectable arms, oh myGod, that's what we're talking about.
When he physically matures,maybe that 92 (velocity) becomes regular. "You start dreaming on what he could be. He's not going toblow anyone away right now. He's a dream kid." Maybe the dream will come true this week.
Maybe it will have towait. Wynkoop will be fine either way. Chris Carlson, 757-446-2367, email@example.com Twitter @ccarlsonvp.
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