Turns out interest in 6’5”, 195-pound, left-handed 16-year-olds who can already throw an 88 mile an hour fastball is pretty high…
Joey Wentz, the SM East student whose skill both on the mound and in the batter’s box helped propel the Lancers to the 6A state baseball tournament this spring, ended speculation surrounding his college plans by announcing Monday that he has committed to play for the University of Virginia after he graduates in 2016. Wentz selected UVA, whose team fell to Vanderbilt in this year’s College World Series finals, from among several powerhouse baseball programs that had recruited him, including KU, K-State, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisville and Oklahoma. Wentz also had a visit set with Vanderbilt in two weeks, which he will no longer be making.
“I have a ton of respect for all those schools and their coaching staffs,” he said. “I was lucky to have a lot of good options. But I went to Virginia for the visit and was just wowed. The combination of academics and baseball that has historically been great was really impressive.”
Wentz both played first base and pitched for the Lancers as a sophomore, striking out 69 batters over 53 innings and finishing with a 1.57 ERA.
Wentz informed the UVA coaching staff of his decision Sunday before making the announcement publicly yesterday. Though he’s now officially committed to play at the college level, Wentz said he has a lot he wants to accomplish in high school. He still has two full sports seasons ahead of him, and intends to play both basketball and baseball his junior and senior years at SM East. He says he hopes to bring a state baseball title to SM East.
“You know, we made it to state last year, but we didn’t do as well as we hoped,” he said. “I think we have a great shot at winning it all. We all want to go all the way.”
Wentz credited his brother Vance, who committed to play basketball at Montana State during his time as a Lancer, with giving him advice through the recruiting process.
“We talked a lot — pretty much every day,” Joey said. “I really look up to him, so he really helped me out a lot.”