DANVILLE, Va.—Braves lefthander Joey Wentz’s first start with Rookie-level Danville could have gone better. After dominating in high school, being selected by the Braves in the supplemental first round of this year’s draft—No. 40 overall—and then posting 12 scoreless innings in the Gulf Coast League, things were looking breezy for Prarie Mission, Kan., product.
The Princeton Rays, however, hadn’t read Wentz’s resume. On July 22, they trounced one of Atlanta’s newest prospects for six runs on seven hits and a walk in just 2 2/3 innings.
The onslaught was ignited, in part, thanks to an aggressive approach throughout their lineup, which was peppered with veteran college hitters from the leadoff man into the nine hole.
“He was throwing strikes. They were aggressive on him in his first outing of the year,” Danville manager Robinson Cancel said. “Playing an aggressive team like that—they’re hitting .300 as a team—it’s a tough day for him, obviously, but we saw good things out of him. He can throw strikes, he can spin the ball and he can throw a changeup.
“He got a rough first inning and came back with a shutdown inning after that. I think we’ve got a pretty good arm in there, and hopefully he’ll come back in his next start and learn from this one.”
Indeed, there were plenty of positive signs for Wentz despite the gory numbers. As Cancel alluded to, he came back and looked much better in his second after getting ambushed in the first.
Of the eight outs he got, five were on strikeouts. Combined with his GCL output, Wentz has whiffed 26 in 18 2/3 innings.
He utilized a traditional three-pitch arsenal that included a lively low-90s fastball that peaked at 92, an inconsistent, downer curveball in the mid-70s, and a developing low-80s changeup with fade. He got swings-and-misses on all three pitches throughout the course of the evening.
“He’s going to be really, really good,” Princeton manager Danny Sheaffer said. “He’s got an outstanding curveball, he’s got a good changeup and good angle to his fastball and our club just ambushed him a little bit today and got a lead. But he’s got some really good stuff.”