Arizona Baseball

West Virginia’s JJ Wetherholt headlines top MLB prospects in Tucson Regional


For the complete list of the 200 prospects click here.

7JJ WetherholtSSWest Virginia215-10/190 LR
43Ryan JohnsonRHPDallas Baptist216-6/215SR
137Jackson KentLHPArizona216-3/219 LL
West Virginia’s JJ Wetherholt will likely be a top 10 MLB draft pick next month (West Virginia photo)

JJ Wetherholt has a chance to become the first top-10 pick in West Virginia baseball history in July’s 2024 MLB Draft. Wetherholt dazzled at Hi Corbett Field last season when the Mountaineers won two out of three games against Arizona. He tole home in the 11th inning for the winning run against Arizona. He batted .538 (7 for 13) with five runs, four RBIs, three doubles, two home runs and an impressive five stolen bases. “Coming here was a great venue, I thought. The atmosphere was very cool,” Wetherholt recalled of his performance at Hi Corbett Field. “It was a tough series. We knew they were good. It just gave me another reason to get up for it.” He entered the Tucson regional leading the Mountaineers with a .356 batting average with eight doubles, eight home runs, 30 RBIs and five stolen bases. He said of his steal of home last year at Hi Corbett: “I think I stole third and (third-base) coach (Steve) Sabins was like, ‘Be ready to steal home.’ It’s something we practiced before we got there. The time just got right where (head) coach (Randy) Mazey was like, ‘Two outs, two strikes, why not try it and make them make a play?’ I think that caught them off guard. The throw was a little bit wild. The catcher wasn’t too ready. We were able to score and that was the winning run. It was pretty cool.”


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Ryan Johnson stuck out 14 Arizona batters in Dallas Baptist’s 4-3 win over the Wildcats March 1 in the Frisco (Texas) Classic (DBU photo)

Ryan Johnson of Dallas Baptist was 11-6 with a 4.37 ERA in his first two seasons with the Patriots. He is 11-2 with a 1.98 ERA this season. He has 147 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 100 innings. He had a no-decision when Dallas Baptist beat Arizona 4-3 in the Frisco (Texas) Classic on March 1. He allowed seven hits and three earned runs with one walk and 14 strikeouts. Johnson is a fiery sort who does not hold back pumping his fist after a strikeout or following the last out of an inning. “Man, everything about RJ is just different, but that is what makes him special,” DBU coach Dan Heefner is quoted as saying by “I think that’s really cool about him. He’s very comfortable with who he is and how he does it. A lot of guys go out there and think they must go throw exactly like Max Scherzer or someone else — RJ just wants to throw like RJ.”

Arizona southpaw Jackson Kent earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors going 3-4 with a 4.08 ERA while striking out 89 and walking 27 in 86 innings (Arizona Athletics photo)

Kent has struggled of late, losing his last three starts. In the three defeats to Utah (May 10), Oregon State (May 16) and California (May 23), Kent posted an ERA of 10.29 (16 earned runs in 14 innings) with 11 strikeouts and five walks. He was the Friday pitcher when Arizona opened a Pac-12 series throughout the season. He is not starting Arizona’s first game Friday night at 6 in the Tucson Regional against Grand Canyon. Clark Candiotti, a right-hander who has pitched well all season, including of late, will start with a 7-3 with a 3.11 ERA. Kent will pitch the third game of the regional after right-hander Cam Walty takes the mound Saturday. “We have a little more time now (with Kent), two more days to work on some stuff and throw an extra bullpen,” Arizona coach Chip Hale told the “Eye on the Ball” radio show Wednesday. “We feel comfortable with him throwing the third game of the regional. You have to go with your hot hand, whether it’s your offense or your defense and we feel at this point that Clark’s our best matchup with Grand Canyon.”’s assessment of Kent: “An athletic 6-foot-3 left-hander, Jackson Kent can come at hitters with as many as five pitches. His throwing of the fastball is a tick harder these days. After averaging around 89 miles per hour last year, over the summer, he was sitting comfortably in the low 90s and touching 95 this spring. His go-to secondary pitch is his changeup, which generates both swings and misses with ground-ball contact. He has a low-80 slider and a mid-70 curve with the former missing more bats. And he also folds in a cutter which is often similar to his slider. While Kent was effective on the Cape (Cod last summer), he did struggle with consistent strike throwing. He’s improved that considerably this spring with the pressure of being Arizona’s ace (Friday-night starter).”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Hale added that the coaching staff will look at video of Kent and that “Kevin will get him back to where he was. His arm’s good. The velocity is fine. He just to execute his pitches better.”

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