Amidst the new class of undrafted free agents, the Chicago Cubs have signed a high schooler who received buzz from many major league teams.
It has been a strange year for baseball on all fronts. The ping pong match that has ultimately resulted from strained negotiations with the club owners and the Players Association stacked on top of a national pandemic has kept the sport from starting and capped all teams, including the Cubs, to five rounds in this year’s draft.
Those guys who did not receive the call could choose to sign with interested clubs for a maximum amount of $20,000. It has resulted in a slew of signings over the past couple of days.
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Theo Epstein and the front office has been busy with connecting with both collegiate players and high school in bringing in guys who can hopefully contribute to the teams’ future. The latest addition to the ranks is a former prep outfielder from a small town in Maryland who will live out his dream to play professional baseball.
Chicago Cubs: A two-way star
Jacob Wetzel starred for four years at Walkersville High School, a school with a student population of just over 1,000. As a junior on the varsity football team, Wetzel rushed for 899 yards, averaging 8.9 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. The baseball diamond, however, was where the stocky 5’11” kid was meant to be.
As a sophomore, Wetzel batted .484 in nine games with six extra-base hits. Taking the next year off to pursue football, Wetzel returned to the diamond as a senior, batting .451 with six home runs. During his time at Old Dominion University, Wetzel trained with the baseball team over a month and a half.
Billy Swoope, the Cubs’ area scout, first took note of Wetzel during his time at ODU. Wetzel disenrolled from ODU during his first semester to be closer to family and enroll at Frederick Community College to continue pursuing his professional baseball dream.
Chicago Cubs: Starring on a smaller scale
In Wetzel’s first season at FCC, the kid from Maryland tore the cover off the ball. He set a single-season record, hitting .377, six home runs, 55 RBI, and 11 triples. Before the coronavirus struck his season short this year, Wetzel was batting .333 with 13 extra-base hits in seven games.
Multiple scouts caught wind of Wetzel’s performance. However, after Swoope saw Wetzel’s production this past year, he chose to pursue Wetzel’s talents. In talking about his feelings with the Cubs’ pursuit, Wetzel gave his thoughts.
“The Cubs’ staff made me really feel like it wasn’t just a business thing. They seemed really interested in me and made me feel like they really cared about me.”
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Wetzel was a career .464 hitter in high school and propelled his abilities to the collegiate stage, albeit on a smaller scale. Still, his path has not kept him from his dream, and it is paying off. As things begin to open back up, Wetzel expects himself to report to Mesa in early fall for the Fall Instructional League and hopefully continue building on his already impressive resume.