Just 13, Trapani turning heads on baseball diamond

Right-hander can already hit 87 mph with his fastball

posted Aug. 28, 2016 12:00 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Ron Buckli

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    - Vince Trapani, an eighth-grader at South Middle School, is already throwing 85 mph at just 13 years old.

If you haven’t heard the name Vince Trapani yet, you’re likely to in the near future.

It is a name well-recognized throughout U.S. youth baseball ranks and is also known in faraway Italy.

Trapani is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound right-hander. His fastball has been clocked as high as 87 mph. He has a curve and change to go with it.

The amazing part? The Eau Claire Little League product is just 13 years old.

OK, he is mature for his age. But with an estimated three years of growth left, he could reach 6-foot-2 with a fastball on the upside of 95 mph.

The scouts are very aware of him — and drooling.

“He is an outstanding player and throws regularly in the low-to-mid-80s,” said James Wombach, who coaches Trapani in the Thundercats traveling baseball program out of Lake Mills. “For his age, he’s the best prospect I’ve seen.”

Earlier this month, he played on a United States Specialty Sports Association team that was selected last summer to play in the 15-and-under Mondial Hit International Invitational in Italy and threw against Italy in the semifinals.

In six innings, he struck out 13, allowed three hits and one earned run. He left after the sixth holding a 3-2 lead, but the team lost in extra innings. Italy went on to win the tournament.

“It was a memorable trip for our family,” said Mark Trapani, Vince’s father. “Everyone got to make the trip and got to see Vince pitch.”

Besides Mark, who ironically never played baseball, and wife Shawna and younger son Roman, grandparents Carl and Barbara Trapani and Shawna’s mother Julie Oman and fiance Dan Verbrick were in the stands cheering Vince.

Vince is an eighth-grader at South Middle School and will enter Memorial High School next year. He has already worked with Old Abes pitching coach Jeff Janot at Momentum Baseball Academy.

To limit his appearances and not burn out his arm, Mark said that Vince pitches only in championship games and has been held to just 30 innings this summer with the Thundercats team that plays weekends throughout the Midwest.

While he has the ability to pop catcher’s mitts, Vince never shows any emotion, according to Mark, who says you’d never know if he just struck out the side or allowed a home run.

“He’s an outstanding kid, very mature,” said Wombach, who played professional ball for  six years in the Chicago White Sox organization. “He doesn’t need the spotlight and isn’t interested in being the star.”

Vince also plays shortstop and excels as a hitter with an average around .500. And his talents are not only confined to baseball. He’s also a cool and accomplished point guard in basketball and has already caught the eye of coaches in that sport.

Giving him some stiff family competition is Roman, 11, quite a player himself. He plays in the city’s American Little League and holds the distinction of hitting a home run in the Little League park adjacent to Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Vince’s season continued this weekend in Cary, N.C., as he was one of 50 youths in the nation selected to tryout for 20 spots on the U.S. 15U team for next year. He is with the Great Lakes Region team that is playing against the other regions.

And he will play five weekends starting in September in the Fall League at Mauston along with other youngsters heading for Memorial.

Mark said he would probably get only 10 innings of mound work. The idea is to save as many as possible. It looks like there could be a lot of innings in the future.