High School Sports

A projected Top 5 pick, Bobby Witt Jr. named Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year

The Gatorade Company announced on Thursday that Colleyville Heritage senior shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. was named the 2018-19 Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the year, becoming the second Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year to be chosen from Heritage.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Witt as Texas’ best high school baseball player.

Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award, to be announced in May, Witt joins elite alumni, including Derek Jeter, Jon Lester, David Price, Clayton Kershaw, Rick Porcello and Kris Bryant. Other finalists included Corbin Carroll (Seattle) and Riley Greene (Oviedo, FL).

Witt, the son of former Texas Ranger Bobby Witt Sr., plays shortstop and pitches for the Panthers (33-3), who are ranked No. 2 in 5A and No. 3 in the nation according to USA Today.

Colleyville Heritage senior shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 MLB amateur draft. Mac Engel Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Panthers are playing in the regional semifinals for the third straight season, where they take on Amarillo in a three-game series starting Thursday at the University of Oklahoma.

Witt signed his letter of intent with OU, but is projected as a top-5 MLB draft pick in June.

Last summer’s high school home run derby champion, Witt is batting .519 with 14 home runs, 15 doubles, eight triples and 49 RBIs. He has a .579 on-base percentage and is slugging 1.117. He also has 22 walks and 17 stolen bases.

A two-time Under Armour All-American Game selection where he earned MVP honors in 2018, he was a member of the 2018 USA Baseball 18U National Team and is the nation’s top-ranked prep prospect by Baseball America, Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report. He’s also the first high school player ever to be a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is awarded to the top amateur player in the country.

Witt mentors grade school students with disabilities on a weekly basis for Heritage’s Peer Assistant Leadership Group. Witt is also a member of Students Stand Strong and Colleyville Heritage’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, and has volunteered by helping the homeless on behalf of Phillips Wish and by combating bullying in association with Rachel’s Challenge.

Also a youth baseball instructor and a participant in the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, he is an active member of his Good Shepherd Catholic church community.

“Bobby Witt Jr. is one of the most dynamic and exciting players in the country,” says Carlos Collazo, national writer for Baseball America, in a press release. “From a scouting perspective, he has all the tools you could ask for, with a solid understanding of the strike zone, standout base-running ability, power and defensive skills up the middle along with a strong and accurate arm. He’s also a remarkable person off of the field.”

Witt went 3 for 4 with a triple, two RBIs, three runs and a stolen base during Heritage’s 13-3 win in Game 1 against Mansfield Legacy in the regional quarterfinals, which the Panthers won in three games.

Witt, who homered at Globe Life Park against Burleson in the area round, has hit 18 home runs with 93 RBIs the previous two seasons. He was voted District MVP and first-team all-state in 2018 after hitting .472 with nine home runs, 14 doubles and 46 RBIs.

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Colleyville Heritage shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., whose father pitched for the Texas Rangers, is the No. 1 player in the class of 2019. Steve Nurenberg Special to the Star-Telegram

Heritage pitcher Alex Scherff was Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year in 2017.

Scherff was drafted by Boston in the fifth round that year.

As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Witt also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.