It won’t be easy. In June, the 18-year-old has to choose between a baseball scholarship at NCAA Division I University of California, Los Angeles, and a Major League Baseball career.
Major-league scouts have tracked Wesely — a 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound left-handed pitcher — for the past two years during the high school seasons and at showcase tournaments.
He had a 0.95 earned run average at Tracy High last year and a has a 1.09 ERA this year.
The scrutiny became more intense as the 2013 spring season got started, with the Major League Baseball draft approaching June 6 to 8.
“It’s definitely the most stressful part of my life so far,” Wesely said Friday, March 29, after a game against Lodi on Tracy’s home field at Monte Vista Middle School.
“It’s really exciting to think you’re an 18-year-old kid and you’ve got major-league baseball teams coming out to Monte Vista Middle School to watch you pitch,” he said. “At the same time, it’s pretty humbling and makes you want to work harder to reach your potential.”
Tracy High coach Vic Alkire said he had known for a couple of years that Wesely would be a hot draft prospect.
It became more obvious at the start of the 2013 season, when about 20 scouts equipped with radar guns showed up at the Dougherty Valley Tournament in Brentwood in late February.
Alkire said scouts call each week to find out when Wesely will pitch next. Three scouts showed up to the Bulldogs’ latest home game Friday, though it was an off day for Wesely, who left the game early because of a sore groin muscle.
Dave Blume, a scout for the Baltimore Orioles, said Wesely is known among major-league teams.
“These guys knew who he was for a couple years,” Blume said. “They’ve seen him pitch somewhere.”
Scouts saw Wesely at showcase tournaments, such as the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association National Championships in Jupiter, Fla., in October; the Perfect Game All American Classic in San Diego in August; and the Area Code Games, also in August, in Long Beach.
Blume saw Wesely at the WWBA tournament in Florida and visited Tracy to get another look at Wesely’s fastball, which reaches 95 mph.
“I’m sure he’s going to get drafted,” Blume said. “Where, I don’t know. He’s got a good arm and throws a breaking ball. He’s got stuff.”
Emmett Lee, Wesely’s grandfather and his pitching coach since he started pitching in Tracy Little League at the age of 8, said the pro teams noticed Wesely during his sophomore year.
“You don’t always see them, until now,” Lee said. “They’re very obvious when they have all the JUGS (radar) guns.”
Lee added that the pressure comes from knowing that a Major League Baseball paycheck is at stake.
“He’s had 16 home visits. They were out there for about two hours each,” Lee said. “They want to find out everything they can about him if they’re going to invest that kind of money.”
Jonah’s father, Stephen Wesely, said that having a major-league prospect in the house has been exciting.
“He knows people are watching, but he’s got big shoulders and takes it in stride and has showed maturity,” Stephen Wesely said.
Ultimately, his son’s decision to pitch for the UCLA Bruins or go pro will depend on the offer he gets following the draft.
“He’s definitely interested in being drafted,” his father said. “If he’s not drafted high enough, he will go to UCLA.”
Alkire said the presence of pro scouts hasn’t changed Wesely’s role on the Bulldogs. He and fellow senior John Jaeger alternate as starting pitchers and first basemen, and Wesely is batting .297 so far this year.
The coach added that the team dynamic is the same as before, even with the added attention.
“The reason it doesn’t change anything we do is because of how well Jonah handles it,” Alkire said. “If it was a kid different than Jonah who wanted to talk about it all the time, it would affect the team.”
Wesely said his focus is to stay healthy and continue playing baseball one pitch at a time.
“I always try to stay within myself and play my game, whether there’s one scout or 100 scouts in the stands.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.