Inside the Clubhouse: Will Gasparino

Brian Alvarado

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LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - Standing at 6’6” and 215 pounds, outfielder Will Gasparino of Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) is hard to miss any time he takes the field. 

"Everyone asks where I get my height from. Most of my family is just average height, so it just came out of nowhere,” Gasparino said.

Ranked as the third outfielder in the 2023 class in California, and seventh nationally by Prep Baseball Report, Gasparino is one of the more intriguing prospects in the upcoming MLB Draft not only due to his towering size, but also because of the plus athleticism that comes with it. Some have even described the fluidity of his movements similar to that of a gazelle.

Gasparino routinely turns in sub-7 second 60-yard dashes. His most recent 60-yard dash time this past offseason came in at 6.40 seconds. His vertical might even be more impressive, as it's been measured up to 35 inches.

While the physical aspects are present, Gasparino can also get it done on both sides of the ball. The senior offers lots of versatility at the plate to keep the defense on their toes. One at bat, he could be driving the ball out of the park, while the next, you’ll see him laying down a bunt down the third base line. His immense speed wreaks havoc on the base paths, also giving him a significant advantage in the outfield when it comes to covering ground.

“I don't know if I've seen anyone with as much raw power as him,” said Harvard-Westlake Head Coach Jared Halpert. “It's an impressive thing to see, his reads, his skillset, his kinesthetic feel of the glove, in comparison to some of the previous athletes we've had. The leverage that he creates via the length in his body, his feet, his strength—he's kind of a freak.”

You might also recognize Will’s father, Billy Gasparino. Billy, who is currently the vice president of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, also points to Will’s distinctive physical traits as something many are paying attention to.

“He's pretty unique with his height, his athletic ability and some of the things he can do on the field,” Billy said. “The run tool and the centerfield ability makes him different and creates more value because of his defense position. As he continues to develop his hit skill, I think it's a big upside. I think that's what everyone sees."

Last season, the Texas signee hit .395, smacking three homers and knocking in 20 RBIs. His 2022 campaign helped the Harvard-Westlake Wolverines capture a share of the Mission League championship and a spot in the CIF Southern Section (SS) D1 quarterfinals.

Growing up, Gasparino always enjoyed being active. He was never the type to be a “videogame kid.” He played multiple sports including basketball, football and soccer. At one point in his life, it had looked like soccer was going to be his main focus.

Billy recalled a moment where Will had stepped up in a soccer game at such an early age. That moment exemplified Will’s character.

"He was on a serious 9U travel soccer team and they made it to the state finals. It was in OT and they went to penalty kicks. The goalie got nervous and didn't want to participate, so Will got up, grabbed the goalie gloves, put on the jersey and jumped in goal,” Billy said. “He made the winning save in the PK situation at 9 years old. As a parent, just to see the joy and the fearlessness—that'll always be one of my favorite memories of him."

Up until about 14 years old, Will had taken the more traditional route of a multi-sport athlete, playing each sport season-to-season with nothing year round just yet. Billy remembered the day Will decided it was time to commit to baseball.

“I really wanted him to play something else besides baseball. At the time, I was pushing soccer. Will loved it and I think it brought out his strengths of being a good athlete,” Billy said. “I remember at age 14, he finally said to me, 'hey, I really think that soccer isn't an American sport. Baseball is what I want to do.’ I laughed at first thinking that wasn’t true. He made some sense the more I thought about it."

Although Will had a keen interest in other sports, it was always baseball that he’d been drawn to. His experiences being immersed in the game because of his father’s work as a scout helped him figure out what he wanted to focus on.

“I grew up in a baseball family. It's what my dad does, and being around the clubhouse at such a young age got me ready for that. I'm thankful my dad never really pushed it on me. Eventually, it just worked out and I fell in love with baseball myself,” Will said. “He was bringing me to Area Code games every summer, and eventually I was playing in them. It’s kind of crazy.”

Around that same time, one of Will’s natural gifts had suddenly become an obstacle for him. Will had grown six inches going into his freshman year, and stood 6’4”. However, he was having a bit of trouble getting acclimated with his growth.

“I was just dangly and all over the place,” Will said. “I was this lengthy kid in the outfield, and I couldn't control my body. It was also the year we switched from -5 to -3, so it made it even worse."

But when the pandemic hit, Will capitalized on the time away from the field, got in the weight room and was able to put on a solid 20 pounds going into his sophomore year. 

This past offseason, Will, once again, made it his goal to pack on weight. He linked up with Dodgers Vice President of Player Performance Brandon McDaniel to help add mass to his lengthy frame. After eight weeks of weightlifting and a dedicated nutrition program that had him consuming  3,000 to 4,000 calories a day, Will came out of the offseason 15 pounds heavier.

“I'd say the last 12 to 18 months, the turn that he's made in his overall athleticism is insane,” Halpert said. “Credit to him and his commitment to his physicality and getting in the weightroom.”

Aside from the improvement in his body, Will has also grown as a person. Billy says part of that personality growth is due to the environment at Harvard-Westlake.

"He's matured a lot in the last year and Harvard-Westlake is very well-known, both academically and with the baseball program,” Billy said. “It's hard-nosed and it takes a lot of work just to even survive in school there. Coach Halpert has really high standards and I think it's really helped Will. It's not a place where, if you don't meet their standards, you can survive.”

On top of the rigorous expectations set at Harvard-Westlake, sometimes the pressure of having attention from scouts and social media could be too much for a teenager in today’s age. Throw in being the son of somebody who’s already involved in the game, and it could spell disaster. 

But for Will, he looks at pressure in a positive manner. Rather than letting it get under his skin, he views that type of adversity as nothing more than routine. 

"I feel like pressure is a privilege. I'm used to it. The expectation at Harvard-Westlake is so high and it's just a normal thing nowadays,” Will said.

Halpert has watched Will take the reins in a mentorship and leadership role as well. Specifically, Will has taken the newcomers to the outfield core, including notable freshman James Tronstein, under his wing.

“It’s been a blessing to watch him hold those guys accountable and teach them some of the things that were given to him from previous teammates,” Halpert said. “He’s looking outside of himself, especially in a situation where being selfish would be totally understandable.”

With his final season at Harvard-Westlake coming up, Will and his teammates are looking to eclipse last year’s trip to the quarterfinals, where they fell short to JSerra. As a sophomore, Will was part of the 2021 Harvard-Westlake squad that won the CIF SS D1 title against—you guessed it—JSerra.

Up to this point, that CIF title is Will’s most memorable moment in high school.

"Winning CIF my sophomore year was probably one of the coolest moments that I'll never forget,” Will said. “Going into the year after COVID, not knowing if we're playing or not, not knowing what kind of team we had, lacking some components and having younger guys step up and help us out was for sure cool.”

But the Wolverines are coming back with a chip on their shoulders for 2023, as Will hopes to one-up his sophomore season with another championship plaque.

“Our goal is, once we hit those Trinity League teams, to beat them and win the CIF finals,” Will said. "Losing last year made us even hungrier and I think everyone knows the expectation. Everyone wants to beat us and you've just got to be ready at all times.”

Although a bright future lies ahead of him in Austin as a Texas Longhorn or potentially in professional baseball, Will is zeroed in on accomplishing the mission of winning a CIF title at Harvard-Westlake one last time. But whether it’s performing under pressure or passing on knowledge to the younger guys, one thing that’s for sure, is the impact he’ll be leaving once his high school career is through.


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