There’s no debating that Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School shortstop and pitcher Bobby Witt Jr., who received the Gatorade National High School Baseball Player of the Year award Wednesday, is one of the top MLB high school prospects in years. What can be debated is just how strong his potential is historically, particularly among high school shortstops.
Luckily, Jim Callis is perfectly suited to adjudicate just such a debate. The MLB.com senior writer behind the MLB Pipeline service, Callis was previously the Executive Editor of Baseball America. He’s been at the forefront of the MLB prospect world for 30 years between his years at Baseball America and now MLB.com. And in all his years, Callis — and others he’s surveyed — think Witt Jr. may be the second best shortstop prospect since the MLB Draft moved to its modern unified format in 1987.
The one shortstop Callis and the scouts might have taken ahead of Witt Jr.? You can probably guess who it is:
“Alex Rodriguez is the best shortstop prospect I’ve seen, but Bobby Witt Jr. certainly belongs right up there,” a longtime scout currently with a NL club told Callis. “He can match up with guys toolswise and what he also has is a high baseball IQ. People lose sight of it because the tools are so strong, but he’s a really good player to go with it.”
As for Witt Jr., his impending selection — he’s widely expected to go No. 2 overall to the Kansas City Royals — comes with a full novel worth of subplots. His father, former MLB pitcher and World Series champ Bobby Witt, was once the No. 3 overall draft pick. The son will soon be expected to achieve even more than his famous father, and will almost certainly be the higher draft pick.
Obviously, just because Witt Jr. is expected to be such a high draft pick doesn’t mean he’ll deliver on that promise. Still, the list of the other top-10 shortstop prospects can provide comfort for fans of whichever team does pick the Colleyville slugger; among the players ranked behind Witt Jr. on Callis’ list are Chipper Jones, Manny Machado, both the Upton brothers, Derek Jeter and Carlos Correa. Not bad company to be in.