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Indians prospect Josh Wolf is learning the ropes in Cleveland’s farm system after being traded as part of the Francisco Lindor deal.
With every young arm making their way to Major League Baseball, there are speed bumps of injuries, trades and even maturity issues along the way to the bigs. Being a former high school prospect turned second-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft can heighten those issues, but for Cleveland Indians’ prospect Josh Wolf, there was so much more to it.
As the tenth-ranked prospect in the Indians’ farm system, the right-hander might be a name you should remember. Wolf clearly built up a reputation in the New York Mets farm system, as he was traded to Cleveland as part of the Francisco Lindor deal this past offseason.
Wolf has come a long way at only 20-years-old. With his first spring training taking place right before the COVID-19 pandemic, the major league experience has been different than most for a prospect looking to make an early impact.
Josh Wolf discusses what it was like to be traded for Francisco Lindor and more
Wolf spoke with FanSided’s Kenny Van Doren about being drafted out of high school, his status in the Indians’ farm system and being a part of history.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
What was it like being drafted right out of high school?
Josh Wolf: “So at first, you know, you’re excited. And you’re like, on the highest of highest, because, you know, I just got drafted, went to New York, signed, and then they ship me to the GCL, which is the Gulf Coast League; rookie ball short season and you play on the backfields. And your games are at 10 and 12 in the morning, so it’s pretty brutal and hot, and in my opinion, I didn’t really feel like I was playing professional baseball. And that was pretty tough for me. I wasn’t playing the best, but stats wise, I think I was fine.”
What was the process of going from an 18-year-old high school player to a professional athlete?
JW: “I graduated, and then a month later, I got drafted and was on my own. I had to quickly mature and at the same time, now I have to be professional, and it wasn’t that easy. But eventually, just because I was with a lot of older players, and I started becoming friends with some of the guys it started happening. I was distancing myself from my family, as they always wanted to help, which is good. My dad would want to come a lot to just check on me, and I’m looking to mature, but I’m doing good and appreciate it.”
How did the process with COVID-19 go down?
JW: “I went home for that first offseason, grinded, worked real hard to get myself in a good spot for spring training. I went to spring training for the Mets and I got there, was killing it and did really well. I was there for three weeks, I had one outing, BP went real well, and the next day, we got sent home because of COVID.”
While working out during quarantine, what did you do to stay in shape?
JW: “It’s tough because you don’t want to overdo it. You don’t want to not do enough to where they call you if there’s a season then you’re not ready. I kept my arm in shape and then lifted too, and then I didn’t get called for the alternate training site. That was kind of when I was like, okay, I can take a step back. I still threw, still worked out, but I didn’t really need to worry about anything happening for this season.”
What went through your mind when you were traded to Cleveland?
JW: “The last thing in my mind is I’m getting traded. I’ve played four games with the Mets, I threw eight innings in the GCL. They didn’t put me in a full season yet. In my mind, they still had a lot to see from me. I got that call in January, and I was pretty shocked because I did not expect that. From everyone I’ve talked to, they said that’s a really good thing to be traded because obviously, like, that team that traded for me wants me a lot, and to be put in a trade for someone like Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, it’s a big deal, At first I was a little shook, but then after a little bit, I kind of realized that this is a really good thing for me.”
How has the process of going to the Indians and the difference in coaching gone?
JW: “Organizational wise, it’s so different because it’s a lot more structured. I’m not trying to call out the Mets, but they’re very structured towards you having something to do every single minute that you are at the facility. It’s a very chill environment which is really good for a person like me. I got here last Wednesday, and it’s been much smoother. I expected to go in there and just kind of be a little confused and just not know what to do or where to go. Right away, I felt part of the Indians’ family.”
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
JW: “If I pitch 120 innings, I’d like to keep it under 30 walks, maybe even less than that. Then my ERA, it’s hard because you don’t throw as many innings, but I’d like to keep it under 2.50 as a starter. Velocity wise, I’d like to be like, mid to upper 90s this season. The goal is eventually the Major Leagues, and I want to make it to the big league before I turned 22. I need to have a good season, but this year, if I could end up in high A possibly at the end of the season, I think I got a good shot. Because as long as I can get there next year, when you’re in AA you’re a call away, so that’s the goal for that.”
Wolf was assigned to rookie ball out of spring training. He’s expected to be a rapid riser in the Indians’ system.