Shawnee Mission East's Wentz Commits to Virginia



By Sean McCann
Prep Baseball Report

LEAWOOD, KS — Following an intense recruiting battle among major colleges across the country Shawnee Mission East class of 2016 LHP/1B Joey Wentz has announced his commitment to the University of Virginia, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and 2014 National Runner-up at the College World Series in Omaha.

Wentz is regarded by many as one of the top two-way players in the country in the class of 2016. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound left-handed pitcher/first baseman was a driving force in Shawnee Mission East's state tournament run this past spring. He went 6-3 on the mound with a 1.57 ERA, striking out 69 batters in 53 innings.

At the plate he launched six home runs, more than the rest of the Lancers squad combined, and led all Kansas 6A hitters in round trippers facing some of the top arms in Kansas in the highly competitive Sunflower League.

The projectable lefty carried his spring success into a strong summer playing for the KC Barnstormers organization, capturing the attention of college coaches as they traveled across the country.

Wentz, according to many observers in attendance, put in the top performance of any player at the Prep Baseball Report Future Games in Indianapolis in August, an event loaded with the top uncommitted 2016 prospects from 10 states.

He broke a Future Games record dialing in a 101 exit velocity during the hitting evaluations and followed that up with a round of batting practice in which he showed an advanced approach with power consistently driving the ball deep into the gaps. In the three games he collected five hits, making consistent hard contact against upper 80's arms including a line drive opposite field triple that one-hopped the fence, perhaps the hardest hit ball of the entire event.

For good measure, the tall left-hander also toed the mound for two scoreless innings at the Future Games, striking out four batters along the way. His fastball ranged from 85-87 mph, holding his velocity well with every fastball registering 85 or higher.

Later in August, Wentz brought his talents to the Get Hits 4 Education All-Star Game in Kansas City where he, once again, impressed all in attendance with his opposite field power driving a ball over the left-centerfield bullpen in batting practice then duplicating the feat in the game with a line drive home run over the left field fence - doing so with a wood bat in his hands. Behind home plate MLB scouts were throwing around names like Sean Green and John Olerud for comparisons sake.

Wentz closed out the recruiting process selecting Virginia this weekend. He is the third Kansas class of 2016 prospect to name his school, all within the last week, joining LHP Blake Lillis (St. Thomas Aquinas) who committed to Arkansas and LHP/OF Will Brennan (Blue Valley) who chose Kansas State. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, all three are left-handed.

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