John Wittleman...

...this week-end, I went to the Rockwall-Smithson Valley semifinal matchup and as I was walking into the stadium, a few of the Kingwood players were standing by the entrance.  Without having to check, I picked out Wittleman before verifying my intuition with the back of his jersey.  And, immediately, you can understand why some scouts jumped out of their shoes for this guy.  It's not that he's a huge guy...Wittleman simply looks like a ballplayer.  I'm not going to use the borderline homosexual adjectives used by Baseball America to describe special athletes, but it's safe to say he fits most of them.

Kicking myself for missing the first game, I went to the Rockwall-Kingwood title game, partly to watch Wittleman and partly b/c my friend knew most of the Rockwall team.  Wittleman played SS in the title game, so I paid special attention to the infield session.  Once again, his smoothness in the field stood out among his teammates and everything looked effortless. All the footwork looked good, but he lacks the range to play SS at a higher level.  He's quick, but it's more of a QB-quick instead of an explosive first-step quickness.  As for his arm, he made the throws to 1B, but, once again, it was smoother rather than explosive.  I'm not even sure he had a stronger arm than the Rockwall SS.  Judging from the infield session and watching him run the bases, he could possibly handle CF and definitely handle 3B and the corner OF spots.

Leading off for Kingwood, Wittleman hits left-handed and robotically stroked a first-pitch fastball on the outer half of the plate into LF.  The second AB, he waited on a curve ball and hammered it into the LF gap for a double.  Wittleman showed a little bit of an uppercut, but he made an adjustment and smoked it about 10 feet over the SS's head.  His final trip to the plate was a 400-foot moonshot into right-center that one-hopped the wall.  He thought it was gone, the runner on first thought it might be caught, with the end result a sure-fire triple being reduced to a double.  Wittleman's swing is a little more violent than the traditional lefty hitter, but I can't argue with the results.  Each of his three AB's exacted a nearly-perfect result.  

Bottom line, he's a phenomenal athlete in the sense of presence more than physical tools. I can absolutely see how a scout could fall in love with how he plays the game.  Was it a reach?  Perhaps, but he's the only 2nd-round draft pick I watched this entire season outside of J. Brent Cox. From my limited perspective, I think he's a more versatile athlete, but still comparable, to the KC Herren pick from last season.