Tomah High School senior and University of Alabama recruit Connor Prielipp knows he will have to make one of the most important decisions of his life come June 3-5.
That’s when the top-ranked Wisconsin high school prospect and left-handed pitcher will more than likely be selected in the first-year MLB player’s draft, meaning the 18-year-old will have to pick between pro baseball or the Crimson Tide, for whom he would have to play at least three seasons before being allowed to enter the draft a second time.
Prielipp says he’s committed to Alabama, but knows things could change.
“Right now, I fully plan on going to Alabama,” Prielipp said. “Whatever happens on June 3 happens, and then I will make my decision from there.”
Prielipp has seen his stock skyrocket over the past year thanks to a spike in velocity with his fastball that touched 92 mph over the summer, according to Prep Baseball Report, and a curveball that registers off-the-chart spin rates.
It’s why MLB scouts pack the stands whenever he is on the mound.
Prielipp isn’t sure where he will go in the draft, but he is listed as one of the top 300 prospects according Perfect Game USA and is one of Alabama’s prized recruits in the 2019 class. That class is ranked 10th in the country according to Baseball America. Prielipp acknowledged the fact that his decision gets more difficult if he gets selected in the higher rounds.
“Oh yeah (I’ll consider it),” Prielipp said. “The higher up I go, the harder the decision is going to be, but right now I have full commitment to going to Alabama.”
Prielipp is just trying to enjoy the rest of a stellar season that, when measured statistically, looks more like a performance on a video game. After striking out 19 batters in seven no-hit innings against Aquinas on Thursday, Prielipp now has 118 strikeouts to just five walks, an ERA of 0.85 and a WHIP of 0.52 in 49⅓ innings.
But Prielipp is also relishing his last chance to play in the field and to hit.
He has even pleaded with Timberwolves coach Ryan Brookman to play him at shortstop and center field at times, but the last thing Brookman wants is for Prielipp “to be burdened with a sore arm all year.” They normally settle on being the designated hitter or right field.
“He loves to hit,” Brookman said. “I just want him to have fun. This is probably really the last time he his going to hit. If he makes it high enough at different levels he will hit, but it’s more, ‘Hey, get this bunt down.’ But my goal is not to wear him out. We will only play him when he’s ready, relaxed. He knows that.”
For Prielipp, the chance to hit — and play baseball with his friends for possibly the last time — makes this season special.
“It’s truly been a blessing to be able to play with my friends and in my hometown,” Prielipp said. “I might never get the chance to play (with them) again, and I get to do it with a bunch of more people now in the stands.
“It’s just a blast to play with my friends and kids from my hometown.”