Nick Pratto is almost certain to hear his name called during the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft Monday night, but it won’t be the first time the Huntington Beach native has been on the national stage. Back in 2011, Pratto and his teammates with Ocean View Little League were on top of the world after beating Hamamatsu Minami Little League of Japan to win the Little League World Series. On that day, Pratto was the hero.
The championship game was tied 1-1 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth (the final regulation inning in Little League games) when Pratto stepped to the plate. The bases were loaded and the pressure was on, as his team was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position for the game. The lefty dug in to the batter’s box in the midst of a great afternoon at the dish. Pratto was 2-for-3 with two singles, raising his average at the 2011 LLWS to .400. He had six RBI for the tournament.
Pratto took the first pitch, a curveball off the plate, then watched the second sail high. He shortened up a bit with a 2-0 count, and took the next pitch, a 61 mph fastball down the middle, and drove it into center field for a hard, low line drive single. Teammate Eric Anderson raced home from third and Huntington Beach had itself a world championship.
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Nearly six years later, Pratto still possesses that sweet lefty swing, and he’s continued to have success internationally. He and former Ocean View teammate Hagan Danner — who also attends Huntington Beach High School — won a gold medal playing for the USA’s U18 national team last summer. Danner is a pitcher and catcher committed to UCLA, who should also be drafted this week.
Pratto is the star though, a USC commit who will almost certainly never see a college baseball diamond, MLB.com has him listed as the 13th-best prospect in this year’s draft class. At 6’1″ and 193 pounds he doesn’t have the typical first base profile, but he has become quite possibly the best high school hitter in this year’s draft.
With a gorgeous swing that allows him to spray balls to all fields, and developing power that took a big jump this year, Pratto’s stock has been on the rise in recent months. He’s almost certainly going to be stuck at first base long-term because he doesn’t possess much speed, but he could probably move to left field in a pinch. While he doesn’t profile to move off first, he is an outstanding defender there with very good range and an above-average arm.
Pratto pitched in high school too, making him one of the many two-way talents available this year. But let’s not kid ourselves, his bat is what will make him money. Expect him to go off the board somewhere in the 10 to 20 range.
On Monday night Pratto will likely live out a second dream scenario in less than six years. He’s not doing too bad for himself.