Ballplayers Highlight 2012 MLB Draft

Posted in: Success Stories

There are no shortcuts to becoming a great athlete.  Evident in every one is the passion, charisma, determination, focus, and love of competition that drives them to perform at their very best. At any time, you can find elite level athletes perfecting their craft in the weight room, pushing themselves to get better. The same can be said for several TITUS Sports Academy baseball players, Jesse Winker, Walker Wieckel, Connor Lien, Alexis Rivera, Rob Whalen, Hayden Hurst, and Mallex Smith. They saw their hard work pay off when they were selected in this years’ Major League Baseball draft. A dream for all, being drafted to Major League Baseball is a testimony to the sacrifices made and obstacles overcome along the way. Out of the 40 rounds and 1200 picks in the 2012 MLB draft, they did not have to wait long to hear their names. Their talent, training schedule and perseverance has paid off undeniably. “I am extremely excited. This is actually the first step to a dream come true. I have a lot more work to do to keep the dream coming.” – Mallex Smith

TITUS Athletes Selected in the 2012 MLB Draft:

Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds:  A sandwich pick (1.5 round), going at #49, Winker played for Olympia High in Windermere, FL where they were ranked #1 on the ESPN High School FAB 50 list. Currently, he is hitting .365 in 23 games with 7 doubles and 13 RBI in the Rookie Pioneer League in Montana.


Walker Wieckel, San Diego Padres: A sandwich pick, #55. Childhood friend of Winker, Wieckel was also on the team at Olmypia High when ranked on ESPN’s HS FAB50 list. At 6’6, this right-hander’s fastball sits at 91-94 mph. Wieckel is currently playing in the Arizona Rookie League.


(Left to Right: Titus Trainer-Michael Bunton, Walker Wieckel, Jesse Winker, Connor Lien, Titus Trainer- Ross Hilman)

Connor Lien, Atlanta Braves: Originally committed to UCF, Lien was drafted in the 12th round saying he, “just decided to start [his] career.” Having a good combination of speed and power, he is batting .245 in 20 games with 5 RBI, while also stealing 6 bases in the Rookie Gulf Coast League.

Alexis Rivera, Kansas City Royals: Drafted in the 10th round. Born in Puerto Rico and standing at 6’2 220lbs, Rivera became a power hitter at Montverde Academy in Kissimmee, FL.  In his Perfect Game scouting report, he was considered “one of best power bats in [the] country.” Rivera is currently playing in the Arizona Rookie League where he is hitting .447 in 19 games with 1HR, 13 RBI, and 6 stolen bases.

Rob Whalen, New York Mets: Selected in the 12th round. Originally from Pennsylvania, Whalen moved to Haines City, Florida where he developed into and intimidating force on the mound, “I wanted to play pro baseball ever since I can remember. I didn’t know about college until I moved down here, and then it became a real possibility for me.” Whalen is pitching for the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League in the Class A short season.

Hayden Hurst, Pittsburgh Pirates: After recovering from Tommy John surgery in the eighth grade, the right- hander Hurst went on to be the winning pitcher in the State Championship game for the Bolles School as a freshman. In 2009, he was a member of the World Champion 16U TeamUSA. Hurst was named an Under Armour All-American and a Perfect Game Underclass First-Team All-American.


Mallex Smith, San Diego Padres: Drafted in the 5th round with the 165th overall pick. This past  year, the outfielder hit .380 in his first season at Santa Fe Community College after being drafted in the 13th round during the 2011 MLB Draft to the Milwaukee Brewers. Smith believes what helped separate him as a player was his time spent at junior college, where he accelerated his development.  TITUS trainer, Michael Bunton, credited Smith’s work ethic for his success,   ”Mallex is a hard worker that recognizes the fact that performance training is just as important as learning the skills of baseball.”–2012206050313


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