Top-10 Stories of 2019: No. 9 Vukovich slugs his way to MLB's derby final

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer, Associate Scout

Blaze Jordan (DeSoto Central, 2020) came into the MLB High School Home Run Derby as a heavy favorite to earn the title and while ultimately he did, East Troy’s A.J. Vukovich (Louisville commit) nearly toppled Jordan and helped elevate his prospect status on an even greater national scale.

Vukovich has long been the No. 1 prospect in Wisconsin’s 2020 class primarily for his effortless right-handed power. He’s a Louisville commit and a corner infielder who’s been earning more and more looks from scouts at the professional level. He’s been making the national circuit rounds for awhile now and it’s what helped him land an invite to the opening round of the MLB’s high school derby back at the All-Star Break in the summer.

Jordan established himself early, slugging 20 home runs to land in the final, but Vukovich was right behind him with 18 of his own, enough to give him a shot to duel for the title in front of a big crowd at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

He was just edged out, seven homers to six, but Vukovich did some serious damage. He mashed several towering home runs, including one off a catwalk in deep, deep left field.

Vukovich helped place both himself and Wisconsin baseball on the national stage on the night of the MLB Home Run Derby. In a year that featured the rise of Jarred Kelenic, Danny Jansen, and Daulton Varsho, as well as the loud MLB debut of Gavin Lux, Vukovich helped bring greater attention to Wisconsin as an on-the-rise baseball scene.

Following his light show in Cleveland, we saw Vukovich’s extra easy pop first-hand at The Rock in late July. With a flick of the wrists, the lanky Louisville commit launched an 0-2 breaking ball over the right field fence for a grand slam.

The ascent of Vukovich which culminated in a cool performance on one of the biggest stages in baseball for a teenager was a great story for Wisconsin in 2019, one of the best.