Texas Rangers Hall of Fame third baseman Michael Young surprised top-ranked high school baseball player Bobby Witt Jr. with the 2018-19 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award on Wednesday at Colleyville Heritage.
Other finalists included Corbin Carroll (Seattle) and Riley Greene (Oviedo, FL).
Young, who had 2,230 hits in 13 seasons with the Rangers, came into the gym where the baseball team was being recognized for its playoff run and awarded Witt with the trophy.
“Truly a blessing to get this opportunity and to be named with all these guys on the trophy. Really excited and just want to thank the whole community, my teammates and my coaches for what they’ve done for me, especially my mom and dad for helping me to get here,” Witt said. “Didn’t really expect it. Kind of surprising when you see Michael Young walk into your school. I thought it was just graduation practice and it ended up being this so this was the best graduation practice I’ve ever been to.”
Last summer’s high school home run derby champion, Witt is batting .515 with 15 home runs, 15 doubles, eight triples and 54 RBIs. He has a .579 on-base percentage and is slugging 1.117. He also has 24 walks and 17 stolen bases.
“It’s pretty cool. I have a good relationship with Witt Sr. and he asked me to be apart of this. It really was an incredible honor to share this with the Witt family, with junior and to get to know everybody,” said Young, who hit .301 with 177 home runs and 984 RBIs in 1,823 career games with Texas. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2016.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award is the most prestigious award in high school sports. It recognizes the nation’s most elite high school student-athletes, choosing winners in 12 different sports. Student-athletes are evaluated not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year has awarded a distinguished list of athletes including Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Karl-Anthony Towns, Derek Jeter and many other sports icons.
“It’s always been my goal to pretty much win every award and try to be the best I can be on and off the field,” Witt said.
The Panthers are playing in the 5A Region I final for the second time in three years, where they take on Lubbock Monterey (28-13-1) in a three-game series starting Friday at Abilene Christian University.
Witt signed his letter of intent with OU, but is projected as a top-5 MLB draft pick in June. ESPN’s Keith Law has him going No. 2 overall to Kansas City in his latest mock draft.
Witt is a two-time Under Armour All-American Game selection, earning 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.
The Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year, hit a grand slam during Game 1 of Heritage’s sweep of Amarillo in the regional semis. Witt, who homered at Globe Life Park against Burleson in the area round, 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.
“It’s an incredible time; his baseball team is still rolling, he’s about to graduate high school, has a scholarship in hand and the draft is around the corner,” Young said. “ Life is good for that young man right now.”