Name: Josh Wolf
Weight: 170 lbs.
Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft, 2nd Round (St. Thomas High School)
2019 Season: 5 G (5 GS), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER (3.38 ERA), 1 BB, 12 K, .450 BABIP (Rookie-GCL)
A right-handed pitcher out of St. Thomas Catholic High School in Houston, Texas, Josh Wolf has experienced as much draft helium as anyone in the past year or two. On the periphery of scouts’ radars, Wolf worked with former professional pitcher and freelance pitching coach David Evans to increase his fastball velocity, increase his stamina, and improve his mechanics over the last few years, and the results were been tangible. In his junior year, he posted a 1.06 ERA in 39.0 innings, striking out 53. This past season, his senior year, he posted a 1.52 ERA in 69.0, striking out 126. As good as he was in the regular season, he was absolutely dominant in the playoffs, throwing a no-hitter against Austin St. Dominic Savio High School in the TAPPS Division-I state playoff opener and then throwing a two-hit shutout against Tomball Concordia Lutheran High School in the semi-finals. The Mets selected Wolf in the 2nd round of the 2019 MLB Draft, the 53rd player selected overall. He had a commitment to Texas A&M but forewent it after agreeing to a $2.15 million signing bonus with the Mets, $780,000 above the assigned slot value of $1.37 million. He was assigned to the GCL Mets and posted a 3.38 ERA in 8.0 innings, allowing 9 hits, walking 1, and striking out 12.
At 6’3”, 170-pounds, Wolf has a tall, lean frame that suggests he may continue filling in. The right-hander throws from a low three-quarters arm slot with a loose, lightning quick arm. His mechanics are a bit rough and may contain an injury red flags in the elbow lift behind his back, but he works through it quickly. Because of his rough mechanics, Wolf sometimes is unable to repeat his release point, leading to control issues or batters being able to pick up his pitches.
The right-hander has presence on the mound. He does not shy away from pitching inside and goes after hitter, pounding the zone. His fastball sits in the low-90s, topping out as high as 97 MPH with life this. He uses the entire strike zone with it, moving the ball around to throw off hitters’ eye levels. He complements his fastball with a full assortment of pitches. His slider sits in the high-70s and features two plane slice. His curveball sits in the high-70s-to-low-80s and features hard 12-6 break. He tunnels his slider and curveball well, making them play up especially well when batters cannot recognize their spin. His changeup sits in the low-80s, and while it is very much still a work in progress, Wolf is able to give the pitch enough fade and tumble for it to project fringe-average-to-average.
Twenty-nineteen second-round draftee Joshua Wolf is, in some ways, a newer version of twenty-eighteen second-round draftee Simeon Woods Richardson. Both are from Texas, both were seemingly higher on the Mets’ draft board than others, both have impressive fastballs for kids their age, and both have even more impressive curveballs for kids their age. Woods Richardson might be the better player now, but Wolf might have a little more projection left in him, as the current Blue Jays prospect is almost physically maxed out whereas Wolf isn’t. As has been the case with so many of the players on this list, Wolf is very young and there are a lot of ways his career might play out, but he has some loud tools to start with.
A prep-arm that didn’t pitch post-draft who saw his velocity pop in his senior year of high school- I thought the Mets just traded this dude for Marcus Stroman? Oh, it’s a different one, got it. The draft-time comp between Wolf and Simeon Woods-Richardson is very clear, and the same risk/reward tradeoffs can be transposed here. Wolf has extremely reliever-y mechanics and a long path to travel before he reaches the majors during which a whole lot can go wrong. For the moment, he’s just another lottery ticket on the mound, one that leaves me daydreaming about the Mets snagging Noah Song with their second-round pick instead…
The Mets selected Wolf in the second round of the 2019 draft, and while he may not be the best pitching prospect they selected in the draft, Wolf certainly brings plenty of upside with him into the system. Armed with a fastball that reportedly sits in the low to mid-90s, and occasionally touches higher, Wolf is among the most projectable arms in the system. His rail thin 6’3”, 170 pound frame suggests that there is plenty of room for Wolf to fill out and add strength as he gets older. He also throws a relatively advanced curveball, and has mixed in a changeup that is very much a work in progress at present. He performed generally pretty well against complex league hitters after the draft, posting a 3.38 ERA with 12 strikeouts and one walk in 8.0 innings pitched in the GCL in 2019. While Wolf does have the beginnings of a starter’s repertoire, there are reasons to think his future may be in the bullpen. His mechanics are generally pretty high effort, and he uses a very long arm action to generate arm speed as he drives towards the plate. For now, Wolf should remain a starter as he looks to tackle his first full season of professional baseball in 2019, and even if he ends up having to move to the bullpen down the line, his fastball and curveball could help him grow into a deadly high-leverage reliever someday.
Wolf was the Mets’ second round pick in 2019, a part of a trio made up of himself, Baty and Allan that will, ostensibly, make or break the draft class. Wolf had a good debut in professional ball, posting a 3.38 ERA in five starts (8 innings) in the Gulf Coast League. Perhaps the most impressive thing about his start is his 12/1 strikeout to walk ratio, which is impressive no matter where you are. Wolf is not the perfect prospect – he has rough mechanics that give me extreme Addison Reed vibes, so I personally predict he ends up in the bullpen rather than as a starter, but he has big stuff, including a plus fastball, that is worth paying attention to.