Harvard-Westlake Baseball Player Will Gasparino Is Keeping His Options Open
Written bySteven Stiefel
Photographed byEric Dearborn
Private school Harvard-Westlake is known for its challenging curriculum—and for growing professional baseball players. That was hammered home during the 2021 MLB season when three graduates started as pitchers for different teams—and one, Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves, emerged with a World Series win.
That point isn’t lost on senior and varsity center fielder Will Gasparino, who also has big aspirations—and has generated some pretty lofty expectations.
At a weeklong high school showcase in Tampa last summer, the MLB draft website Prospects Live reported: “If you’re looking for a tool shed to dream on in the 2023 class, then look no further than Will Gasparino…. Gasparino is a plus runner with one of the best first steps in the class (1.49 10 yd. split) that covers a ton of ground in center field and brings an above-average arm to only strengthen the long-term staying power…. Found barrels all week long, and produced the highest exit velocity of the week.”
UP IN THE AIR
Despite his skill level and excellent track record, Will’s future is completely up in the air. It’s not because he’s indecisive. It’s because the upper echelon of baseball works in complicated ways.
“Pro baseball teams will draft players after this year’s baseball season. My decision will depend on the outcome of the draft in June and how much pro teams value me,” Will says.
Other factors that play into Will’s decision: Pro baseball players start in the minor league after they’re drafted, typically spending about four years in the minors before they’re called up to the majors.
Also, college athletes are now eligible to earn a salary while they attend college—due to a rule change last year, after decades of debate. “Getting a college education is very important to me, and it’s even more attractive if I can earn a salary playing baseball at the same time.”
Amid all the uncertainty, Will remains optimistic and grounded. “I’m excited about the future, whatever options are available to me,” he says. “I hope I have the privilege to play professional baseball, but I’ll make that decision based on what my family and I think is best when the time comes.”
In the meantime, he has verbally committed to University of Texas, which he chose over UCLA. “Both have great programs,” says the Santa Monica native. “But UT gets much larger crowds for their games, and it’s much more fun to play in front of a lot of baseball fans.”
IN HIS GENES
Will’s parents have been very involved in his academic and sports background. His mother, Jenna, is an English teacher at Harvard-Westlake, and his father, Billy, is vice president of amateur scouting for the Dodgers. Billy is also a former infielder who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies. He spent a year in the minor leagues before leaving the sport as a player.
Will’s baseball career began when he was 3 years old. “My parents had to stretch the truth about my age because you had to be 4 to play in Santa Monica Pony League. But I was always bigger than other kids my age, so no one ever questioned it.”
“I hope I have the privilege to play professional baseball, but I’ll make that decision based on what my family and I think is best when the time comes.”
Will also had early interest in soccer, but by spending time at Dodger Stadium and traveling to Arizona for spring training with his father, he became more and more interested in baseball.
Asked about his son’s ability, Billy demurs. “I’ve chosen to try to maintain my persona as a dad rather than a scout in this case,” Billy says. “But I do think Will is a unique player with tons of upside. You don’t see a lot of guys like him out there.”
When pressed, Will says that he agrees with the scouting reports, the consensus of which is that he can run, throw, and hit remarkably well for his size.
As far as achievements go, Will says the pinnacle of his athletic career so far has been winning the 2021 California Interscholastic Federation championship in perhaps the most competitive state for baseball. He also played in the Perfect Game All-American Classic, an invitation-only game for top college and pro baseball prospects held last August.
“My parents have instilled in me the importance of having a plan B,” Will says. “I’m taking sports and science classes at Harvard-Westlake that include focuses on physiology, sports psychology, and nutrition.” These are all areas of possible academic concentration should Will attend UT.
Asked what advice he has for other young athletes, Will says, “Keep your head down and work hard. Trust the process. Know that some kids bloom early and some bloom late.”
And keep a sense of humor. “I like to joke that after I’ve played major league baseball for 20 years I’m going to play in the NFL.”
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