Top-10 Stories of 2021: J.D. Dix emerges as the latest star prep shortstop from Wisconsin

By Andy Sroka & Diego Solares
Wisconsin Staff

At the end of each calendar year, our staff reflects on the most interesting stories of the past year. Through the end of the month, we’ll be counting down some of the most impactful headlines that affected Wisconsin’s baseball community, ending with our No. 1 story of 2021 revealed on New Year’s Day.

Over the last few years, Wisconsin has seemingly transformed itself into a hotbed for high level, up-the-middle talent on a national scale. It started back in 2016, when SS Gavin Lux (Indian Trail) was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round and C Ben Rortvedt (Verona Area) followed him up in the second, taken No. 56 overall by the Minnesota Twins – both of whom made their MLB debuts recently.

Gavin Lux (2016)

OF Jeren Kendall (Holmen) was another first round pick by those same Dodgers in 2017 out of Vanderbilt as a Wisconsin native; OF Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West), was the sixth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, jumping to the big leagues this year as a near everyday player down the stretch for the Seattle Mariners. Illinois State star INF Owen Miller (Ozaukee) also went in the same year, drafted by the San Diego Padres in the third round and should figure to get consistent at-bats with the Cleveland Guardians in 2022.

Jarred Kelenic (2018)

Recently, OF A.J. Vukovich (East Troy) went in the fourth round to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the shortened 2020 draft, starting his professional career off on a high note this year. INF Noah Miller (Ozaukee), the younger brother of aforementioned Owen, is the latest Wisconsin native to jump into the first round, nabbed at 36th overall in this most recent draft by the Minnesota Twins. Wisconsin’s 2022 class features another top shelf, up-the-middle name, as INF Gavin Kilen (Milton; Louisville) is the No. 60-ranked prospect on our national board, and he figures to garner plenty of draft buzz leading up to July.

Noah Miller (2021)

Wisconsin's pipeline reaches deep into the state’s age groups, however, as a name in the current 2024 class checks similar boxes to his predecessors: INF J.D. Dix (Whitefish Bay). A recent Alabama commit, Dix is currently the top prospect in the state’s sophomore class and he’s highly ranked on our national board as well, slotted at No. 57 overall in our most recent winter update.

Our best look at the Whitefish Bay infielder this year came in March at the South Milwaukee Preseason ID where one of our scouts had this to say about his performance that day: “In his PBR debut, freshman J.D. Dix (Whitefish Bay) made a strong case for himself as the top prospect in the class. Dix is a high-ceiling, switch-hitting infielder at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds – and he looks every bit of the part from both sides of the plate, with a well-sequenced swing that works a middle-of-the-field approach. He brings similar upside on the infield where his hands work well, and he moves athletically to both sides, all while running a 7.17 in the 60.”

From then on out, Dix thoroughly caught our attention multiple times across both the summer and fall circuit. He impressed the PBR Missouri Scouting Director Kevin Moulder across an entire weekend at the Super 15 tournament last July, held at our Creekside Sports Complex. 

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound switch-hitter drew positive reviews from PBR National Crosschecker Shooter Hunt after stringing together a handful of quality at-bats at the PBR Midwest Fall Championships in September. Here’s a quick nugget on him from that event as well:

Dix is the youngest feature in this offensive piece. This switch-hitting youngster has already begun growing into some pop. Although his opportunities at Grand Park provided a lot of topped batted balls, we’ve been seeing balls off the wall in competition, and balls leaving the yard in the practice setting off a three wheel. Both sides of the box offer athleticism, size, and enough bat speed to project big things may arrive. In the right-handed box, Dix offers a very rotational attack with high degrees of intent. When hitting left-handed, he looks to present a more directional barrel path through impact, with bat-to-ball feel, and a tick less intent. If the juice in the box follows the juice in the arm, this’ll be a name to know the rest of the way.”

The top prospects in Wisconsin’s 2019 and 2020 classes, LHP Connor Prielipp (Tomah) and Noah Miller (Ozaukee), were also Alabama commits, like Dix. The upside he possesses on both sides of the ball are noteworthy and with a few off-seasons to go until his draft year, Dix could certainly continue to climb up the national scale if things continue to click for him. He’ll be an excellent get for the Crimson Tide should he make it to campus, but the history and track record of those before him suggest he’ll definitely be a high-follow MLB Draft name as he continues to develop.