Jonah Wesely. He just turned 19 in December. Tracy, California, roughly 50 miles away from the San Francisco Bay, is where Jonah calls home. This young man, and we say man because of the way he conducts himself, was going to go to college, and probably study for exams, have midnight snack runs, and of course, chase girls... but Jonah has a talent that put him in a tough situation of choosing between school and career. A change of plans landed him as a professional baseball player with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Yes, Jonah Wesely is a prospect with the Angels. He was taken in the 11th round of the 2013 Draft, where he decided to sign with the Angels instead of honor his commitment to UCLA, and went from the little town of Tracy to the big world of professional baseball. He's a left-handed pitcher with a high 80's to low 90's fastball with promise of picking up some velocity. He has a pair of off-speed pitches, a changeup, and a; devastating, filthy, nasty, outstanding, whatever else good you'd like to call it, slider.
At Tracy High School, Wesely had some of the best statistics in all of high school baseball. His statistics over four years included: a 1.12 earned run average, 21-5 win/loss record, nine complete games, three shutouts, three saves, .876 WHIP, and .119 against batting average. Something that was absolutely off the charts was his strikeout ability. Wesely struck out 295 batters in 162 innings of work (16.3 per nine). To add to that astonishing number, he struck out 45.6% of the batters he faced (295/647), ain't that something?
Wesely was sent to the AZL Angels where he pitched one inning of scoreless baseball. "One inning? you may ask. Well, Jonah tells us why he only pitched in one inning of Rookie Ball this past season, and why 2014 will be a bigger one, where he will make a name for himself and possibly, be one of the better prospects in the Angels system.
Wesely is not only an outstanding baseball player, but he has outstanding character off the field as well. From the moment I talked to him, I could tell he had a smile on his face and was just enjoying his time getting to yoga class early (explained in interview). Wesely has the charisma that it takes to be a professional in the baseball world, and is someone I personally enjoy talking to. Luckily, Wesely dealt with the struggles that came with this interview (busted phone lines, interviewer fighting off the flu bug, dog barking outside the office window), and he did it all with a contagious laughter.
Without further delay, here it is, InsideTheHalos.com Publisher, Taylor Ward, sits down with Angels prospect, Jonah Wesely in a one-on-one interview about the past, present, and future of his career.
Ward : Let's start from the beginning, let's hear about your draft experience.
Wesely : The draft was a very interesting couple of days. When I was drafted, I was with my immediate family and a few of my close friends. The thing about going in the 11th round is that it made it a very hard decision. The consensus was that I could go to UCLA for three years and then be drafted much higher. But, having a professional opportunity in front of you was definitely a very privilege decision to have to make and at the end of the day I decided to not honor my commitment to the Bruins, and start my professional career now. It was a good experience all-in-all, and I'm happy to be a part of the Angels organization.
Ward : What has your first off-season been like so far?
Wesely : Well you know, when I got back from Instructional League, I took about a week off and then after that, I started getting antsy to get back at it. I'm working with a trainer on strength and agility and I'm also doing a lot of arm strengthening stuff, like our shoulder program. A lot of resistant banding and also, doing a lot of Bikram Yoga. It's a 90-minute yoga class and it's in a compressed, 105-degree room, so that has really helped out my flexibility, balance, and core strength.
Ward : What did pitching coaches work on with you as soon as you touched ground in Tempe?
Wesely : During high school I had a very aggressive delivery, and I used my legs a lot. It kinda caused a slight groin strain which had me out part of the summer, so when I was healthy again, they worked on coming off the mound easier and a lot of stuff with my glove side, as well. They'd just try to get me to throw more strike, stay on line, and be in control the whole time.
Ward : You only had one inning of work in 2013 due to injuries. Can you take us through that inning, your debut, and your plans for 2014?
Wesely : You know, it was a one inning start versus the Royals, and it was actually a lot of fun having my professional debut. It was a scoreless inning, I think I walked one, gave up one hit, but I got out of it. Unfortunately, that was all I got to do for my official stat-line for the year.
I'm looking forward to next year. I'm just looking to come in to camp in the best shape possible. Wherever the Angels decide to put me, I'm gonna go there and try to do as well as I can, and try to move up as fast as I can.
Ward : Scouts' have raved about your slider and when I was saw it, I was pretty blown away as well. Can you tell us a little bit about your approach and your slider?
Wesely : Yeah, my slider is definitely my put away pitch. I like to get ahead with the fastball and then try to throw the slider in there to put batters away. I'm hoping my changeup is a big part of my minor league development so I can have that third pitch to potentially put batters away with, and that can help me out in the future.
Ward : Social media such as Twitter and Instagram has been a big part of bringing in a fan base, do you thrive on that, and how has it helped you build a relationship with Angels fans?
Wesely : It's always fun to feel some love from all the Angels fans. One thing I feel like I should note is that the Angels have been around since 196 and they only have one American League Championship and one World Series in 2002, as well all know. I feel like this fan base is very hungry for another pennant and another World Series. They have a ton of players at the top, Pujols, Hamilton, Trout, and a lot of good players in the farm system. Being a California kid, that would be such a dream come true for me and everyone in my home town to be a part of a World Series, and for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim some day.
I'd like to thank Jonah Wesely for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us, and give us a preview in to the future, as well as a look at his past. He is a special young man, with loads of talent. If you haven't already, give Jonah a follow on Twitter (@JonahWesely), and show him your love and support.
For more updates and interviews with Angels prospects and the entire Los Angeles Angels organization, follow @ScoutAngels, and our Publisher, @TaylorBlakeWard on Twitter, and stay posted here at InsideTheHalos.com for more prospect news.