Fort Ashby's Wheelhouse Arsenal helps fill the college ranks
By Chapin Jewell
FORT ASHBY - The goal is player development and the results have already spoken for themselves. The Wheelhouse Academy, located in Fort Ashby, became West Virginia’s affiliate for the Arsenal Organization, a multi-state baseball program dedicated to the development of the highest caliber baseball players in the United States.
Just one season in, and the results are unprecedented. That’s 10 out of 12, all the graduating seniors and one junior, accepting offers to continue playing college ball at the next level, with the remaining two underclassmen set to return next year.
The signees have signed to a list that includes three Division I schools, five Division II schools, one Division III school, one Junior College, and of course those two returning underclassmen.
The biggest question is, why does the program work, what sets it apart?
According to Wheelhouse Academy co-owner Shane Corwell, “The easy and most concise answer to the question why the program works is that it’s the only thing that follows focused hard work and that's results. We put an emphasis on training not only as a team but as an individual to help the team.
“Baseball is a team sport but also thrives as personal performance. We run weekly training sessions that work on overall athleticism and baseball fundamentals. Additionally, we provide team workouts as well to promote team unity, Corwell stated.
“However, we stress individual growth and consistently getting better through measured results. We have the teams track and log different measurable to verify they are increasing.”
With a substantial development in the Wheelhouse facilities continuing, with a major focus being on advanced physical fitness concepts and equipment, the opportunity not just for area baseball players but athletes engaged in all sports to improve their fitness s available in a way it hasn’t been before locally.
A brief bio follows on the 11 college signees, identifying the college and offering a brief player bio from Wheelhouse owner Shane Corwell.
Grant Cain - Allegany - RHP - Mount Saint Mary's
“Grant is a dominant right-handed, hard throwing pitcher. He has great command of multiple pitches and routinely sits in the mid to upper 80’s with his fastball. He will be an excellent addition to the pitching rotation at Mount St. Mary’s.”
Wes Athey - Allegany - OF, 1B, LHP - Davis & Elkins
“Wes is a well-rounded baseball player. He is the type of player colleges are looking for. Wes has worked hard at the plate to increase his exit velocity and hit a ball in a game in Bridgeport, 102 mph off the bat!!! Along with his hard work at the plate, Wes has become a solid outfielder and home at first base as well. As if that isn't enough, he is also a strong left-handed arm on the mound which I am sure D&E will use immediately.”
Grant Landis - Hampshire - IF, C, P - Fairmont State
“Much like Wes Athey, Grant is a great utility player to have on any roster. He is extremely solid defensively. First base was the only position Grant didn't play for us this past season. Along with his defensive skill set, Grant has pop at the plate and a tremendous upside to keep building and become an impact player at Fairmont State.”
Wes Landis - Hampshire - OF, P - Fairmont State
“Wes has one of the strongest most powerful arms I have seen. He primarily played RF for us over the summer when he wasn't on the bump. Wes is also a dominant long starting righ- handed pitcher. Fastball in the mid 80’s with fantastic control and nasty breaking pitch kept hitters off balance all summer long.”
Tra Bryson - Hampshire - OF, IF, P - Davis & Elkins
“Tra is the silent assassin of baseball. All summer I believe he said three words. Of course I am joking, but he spoke plenty with his bat, and his arm on the hill. Tra is hard throwing right-handed pitcher with multiple pitches to keep hitters off balance. At the plate, Tra could be one of the hardest outs in our lineup. He fights through counts and is a patient hitter, waiting for the pitcher to let up or make a mistake and he does damage when that occurs.”
Mason Brenneman - Northern - MIF, P - Davis & Elkins
“Terrific up the middle and an absolute vacuum at either shortstop or second base. Mason's tall frame also made him dominant on the mound. An explosive fastball and even more impressive slider made him one of our top performers pitching. Another great collegiate level player due to his ability to play defense, pitch and hit. He will be a great addition to D&E.”
Brady Whitacre - Frankfort - C, 3B - Potomac State
“Coach Little will be happy with Brady as he is not only getting a quality catcher and third baseman, he is getting an additional field coach. Brady understands the game and controls the game at such a high level. His intensity, focus, drive & winning attitude is contagious and look for big things from him. Brady has tremendous power at the plate and consistently finds barrels and even when they are outs, they are "loud outs."
Connor McDonald - Frankfort - C, OF – Bethany
“Connor is a workhorse and dedicated to putting in the work to get better. He has a powerful swing and power to the pull side. Behind the plate he does a good job and continues to show improvement and Bethany will be a great fit for this developing young player.”
Isaac Van Meter - Moorefield - P, SS, OF - Mount St Mary's
“Isaac is a special talent. Size, strength, work ethic, attitude are just a few words that describe him. On the mound he is a dominant figure and shows pops of velocity with a high 80’s fastball and like others masterful command of his secondary pitches. Up the middle, short stop, second base or centerfield, he is a great leader and will be solid defensively.”
Isaac Upole - Southern - P, 1B - West Virginia University (2022 Grad)
“Isaac is another special talent. Size, strength, work ethic, attitude are just a few words that describe him. On the mound he is our most dominant performer with a powerful fastball and multiple pitches that keep all hitters off balance. Isaac has risen in the ranks and is now the number one lef-handed pitcher in the State of Maryland and number 21 nationally in Perfect Game Spring Ratings. Isaac is a great overall athlete with tremendous upside.”
Those returning underclassmen to Wheelhouse Arsenal, in addition to Isaac Upole who has signed with WVU, include Bryce Snyder of Mountain Ridge and Slade Saville of Petersburg.
In such a short time, the Wheelhouse Academy and specifically the Wheelhouse Arsenal travel organization has had tremendous success, and they’re just getting started.
With a substantial development in the Wheelhouse facilities continuing and with a major focus being on advanced physical fitness concepts and equipment, the opportunity not just for area baseball players but athletes engaged in all sports to improve their fitness s available in a way it hasn’t been before locally.