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2023 Mets Draft profile: Jack Wenninger

With their sixth round selection in the 2023 draft, the 186th overall pick, the Mets selected Jack Wenninger, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Illinois.

Jack Wenninger’s grandfather, Robert Eckl Sr., and his uncle, Robert Eckl Jr., both played baseball at the University of Wisconsin, but he elected not to follow in their steps, committing to Murray State University after graduating from Cary-Grove Community High School in 2020. He appeared in 16 games for the Racers, posting a 5.26 ERA in 51.1 innings with 46 hits allowed, 27 walks, and 42 strikeouts. While his numbers on the surface were only pedestrian, Wenninger underwent a lot of growth between his senior year of high school and the end of his freshman year, adding some muscle mass, about 5 MPH to his fastball, and tightening up his secondary pitches. This led him to transfer to the University of Illinois.

In his first year with the Fighting Illini, the right-hander appeared in 15 games, posting a 5.71 ERA in 34.2 innings, allowing 30 hits, walking 21, and striking out 30. That summer, he pitched for the Wausau Woodchucks of the Northwoods League, posting a 2.54 ERA in 46.0 innings, allowing 37 hits, walking 21, and striking out 42. He returned to Illinois for the 2023 season and was a mainstay in their weekend rotation. The right-hander appeared in 15 games, starting 14 of them, and posted a 4.59 ERA in 80.1 innings, allowing 69 hits, walking 28, and striking out 76. Following the conclusion of the season, he pitched some supplementary innings with the Williamsport Crosscutters of the MLB Draft League.

The 6’4”, 215-pound Wenninger has a high-waisted frame, suggesting the potential of additional growth. The right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a simple delivery that utilizes a leg kick and a long arm action through the back. He gets good extension off the mound and keeps his upper and lower halves in sync. His arm is clean, loose, and repeatable, allowing him to consistently throw strikes.

His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, topping out at 96 MPH. On average, his fastball had 18 inches of induced vertical break and 13.5 inches of horizontal movement in 2023. His command of the pitch wavers during longer outings, as does its velocity, often dropping down into the low-90s after a few innings of work. His go-to off-speed offering is a changeup, which sits in the mid-80s and has been measured with 3.90 inches of induced vertical break and 7.21 inches of horizontal movement. The pitch tunnels well with his fastball and he uses it against left-handed batters and right-handed batters, its fade getting swings-and-misses against both. He rounds out his repertoire with a high-70s curveball and a low-80s slider but does not throw either pitch much, combining to throw his fastball-changeup combination almost 90% of the time. Both curveball and slider are get-me-over offerings, but his slider has enough depth to potentially become a fringe average offering with more usage and development.