Graduation ceremonies at Coppell High School are less than a week old and while most graduates at the Texas school have not even begun to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives, three former Cowboy baseball players could have their fate decided by Wednesday.
Chad Kettler, Jonathan Walsh and Jacob Morris, three members of the Coppell Cowboy baseball team, are all expected to go in the first three to five rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft, which will be held June 9 and 10. No other high school in the country is expected to have three players chosen so high in the draft.
The Cowboys are not new to the draft process. Trey Watten was tabbed last year in the seventh round by Milwaukee while Seth Garrison was chosen in the 23rd round last year by Boston. In 2007, San Diego chose Cory Kluber in the fourth round and Kansas City chose Brett Amyx in the 30th. However it should be noted that all four were drafted after playing at the collegiate level.
Only one Coppell player, Jason Stokes in the second round in 2000 by Florida, has ever been chosen in the first three rounds. That could all change Wednesday.
Jonathan Walsh, a catcher, could be the first to go. Regarded throughout most of the season as one of the top five high school backstops in the country, Walsh, who has committed to Texas, shows great speed and athleticism behind the plate. He led Coppell in home runs this year with four and RBI with 26.
“Jonathan is the most athletic high school catcher I have ever seen,” Coppell coach Don English said. “We do not run for him. He is much too quick to make that mistake. He can certainly play third base or any outfield position when necessary. There are not too many switch-hitting catchers at any level who have power to all fields from both sides of the plate. If a few exist, I’m not sure they have Jonathan’s defensive skills.”
Then there’s Morris, an all-around athlete who ranks as one of the top outfielders in the nation. Blessed with tremendous arm strength, Morris can also fly around the bases.
“In one year, Jacob has transformed himself from a special athlete to big-time baseball player with special athletic skills,” English said. “No one has more tools in high school baseball than this guy. I have never had what I believed to be a five-tool guy until this year with Jacob. He really can do it all.”
While batting .337 for the Cowboys, Morris led the team in runs scored with 34 and he also led the squad in stolen bases with 30. He also hit a team best 10 doubles and swatted three home runs.
“On and off the field, he has demonstrated his willingness to be a team guy,” English added. “Not all highly-gifted kids are mature enough to put his team ahead of his own desires.”
Kettler, meanwhile, has been the Cowboys’ starting shortstop for the past four seasons. He stepped in as a freshman and batted .260 and has been in the starting lineup ever since, according to English.
“Chad has what scouts call ‘great makeup,’” English said. “He is mentally strong and determined to be an excellent player and person. No one works harder and is more selfless than Chad. He provides tremendous leadership and he has a great passion for the game and winning baseball.”
The team captain, Kettler led the team in batting average at .372. He also had nine doubles and was second on the team in RBI with 20.
Kettler, who has signed with the University of Oklahoma, says that he’s not worried about the upcoming draft.
“It would be a great honor and an amazing opportunity to play pro ball,” he said. “As of right now, I am not worried about whether I will play college ball or play professional baseball.”
Mock drafts charting the first few rounds of this week’s MLB draft have Walsh going somewhere near the end of the second round. Morris is likely to go somewhere in the third with Kettler getting the nod in the fourth or fifth rounds.
“If Chad had Jacob’s wheels, he would be a top draft pick,” English said. “Ultimately he will be a third baseman or a catcher where speed is not a huge factor. He will hit at any level from both sides of the plate and field it and throw it with anyone.”
Both Kettler and Walsh played on the Texas Rangers team in the Area Code Games in Long Beach (Calif.) in August, helping the Rangers to a first-place finish in the week-long event. Kettler played nearly every game at shortstop and was one of the team’s top hitters. Walsh split his time between the Area Code Games and the Aflac All-American Game, which was held the same week at Dodger Stadium.
The Cowboy trio helped lead Coppell to a District 6-5A crown this year with a 13-2 district record and a 20-10-1 overall mark. The Cowboys were upset in the first round by Grapevine 5-0 in the first round of the Texas 5A state playoffs.