LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Braves camp, it was Atlanta's No. 10 prospect, Joey Wentz.The Braves selected Wentz with the No. 40 overall pick
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Braves camp, it was Atlanta's No. 10 prospect, Joey Wentz.
The Braves selected Wentz with the No. 40 overall pick in the 2016 Draft and signed him for $3.05 million. The 6-foot-5 left-hander excelled in his first full season, garnering Class A South Atlantic League Most Outstanding Pitcher honors after ranking among the circuit leaders with 152 strikeouts (second) and a 2.60 ERA (fourth) -- the second- and third-best marks, respectively, among Braves farmhands -- while limiting opposing hitters to a .209 average and four home runs in 131 2/3 innings.
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MLB Pipeline: You garnered attention in scouting circles as a prep for your pitching but also for your left-handed power. Do you miss hitting at all?
Wentz: I don't really miss it, but hopefully as my career goes on, and playing in the National League, I can get back into it. I actually took batting practice this morning -- and it was not good. I love pitching and doing my job, which is my focus right now. Hopefully one day I get back to hitting.
MLB Pipeline: You were headed to the University of Virginia before ultimately signing with Atlanta as the 40th overall pick. Did you give any thought to honoring your commitment?
Wentz: When my senior year of high school started, I was really convinced that I would end up there, and UVA's coaches were great to me throughout the whole process. But once I was drafted, it was a pretty easy decision for me to start my pro career, especially with the Braves. I knew that it was a good system to be a pitcher in.
MLB Pipeline: What were you doing and what was your reaction when you learned you were drafted by the Braves?
Wentz: I was at my house with family and friends, just hanging out. Hearing your name called like that is something every athlete dreams of, so it was very cool. I just put my head down and gave my mom a hug -- it was fun and a special moment I got to share with others, and I'll never forget.
MLB Pipeline: What do you believe allowed you to make such a successful transition to full-season ball in 2017?
Wentz: A few things. Like with any job, if you enjoy the people you work with, it makes it a lot easier. Our coaching staff and our pitching coaches are great, and there's a lot to learn from all of them. Also, I had a really good offseason because I wanted to come into camp here strong and trust myself, and fortunately that was worked out.
MLB Pipeline: What were your biggest takeaways from your first full season?
Wentz: The biggest thing I wanted to show was that I could log quality innings and manage a workload, which I think I did a pretty good job. And with the quality of competition in professional baseball every night, there are no easy games and nothing is given to you. So understanding that mindset, I just went out there and tried to give our team the best chance to win and ended up having a pretty good season.
MLB Pipeline: Is there anything specific you're working on right now in camp ahead of the regular season? What are some goals that you have for yourself?
Wentz: I'm working on all my pitches to lefties, righties. Nothing too specific or mechanical changes, but just working on my craft, working on throwing pitchers where I want to, when I want to. My goal every season is to manage a workload and stay healthy, and I think that if I do that, then the results will take care of themselves. I'm a day-by-day guy, so if I get better every day, I'll be able to look back at the end of this season and view it as a success.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.