(Photo via Jake Wong’s Twitter, seen here)
When junior right-handed pitcher Jake Wong went six scoreless innings against Baseball America’s number seven ranked Texas Christian University (TCU), it wasn’t a surprise to Grand Canyon University (GCU) Pitching Coach Rich Dorman. Coach Dorman has been working with Wong since his freshman year, and Wong has built on his pitching arsenal each season.
Though Wong is best known for his fastball, which regularly hits 93mph, in Coach Dorman’s words, “He’s not a one-trick pony.” Improving on his fastball, including learning how to sink and elevate it, was Wong’s focus for his first two years, but this offseason, which included a stint in the Cape Cod League, Wong developed a curveball and a changeup that allow him to say he’s a guy with secondary stuff.
Playing in the Cape Cod League helped with that development. Part of the reason Wong was unphased by TCU’s Luken Baker, another top prospect, is that Wong got to play against some of the best in college ball this summer. Getting the chance to develop alongside the best hitters in the game is something not every pitcher gets the chance to do.
His time in the Cape Cod League this summer also pushed Wong towards developing what Coach Dorman sees as the biggest goal for his future development (aside from developing his breaking ball): figuring out how to read swings and develop his pitching mind.
According to Coach Dorman, “Figuring out how to use the weapons he’s developed and putting them in sequence to get outs,” is what will distinguish Wong from other pitchers who have similar stuff. Additionally, as Coach Dorman put it, coaches don’t call pitches for you in the majors, so starting now is vital if Wong desires future success. It won’t be easy, but Wong has got what it takes to get there.
“That’s the one thing about Jake is he’s not afraid to learn and he has aptitude,” said Coach Dorman. A lot of that aptitude comes from the fact that Wong hasn’t logged as many innings as a lot of his counterparts skill-wise.
Wong is considered a late-bloomer, only coming into his own towards the end of his freshman year, most of which he spent as a bullpen guy. Wong has proved, in just one full season as a starter, that he has the skills, and it’s only just the beginning of his development as a starter.
As for the plan for this season, Wong is going to compete every game, let the scouts do their thing, and continue to shut down fellow draft prospects pitch after pitch.