Ga. – Yak Baseball West (6-0) beat the Philadelphia Whiz Kids
(2-2-2) 6-2 in a Tuesday morning pool N matchup at the 2012 WWBA 17u
the mound, right-hander Jack Morello (2013, Notre Dame H.S., Calif.)
tossed four and two-third frames, allowing three hits while striking
out eight. Working with a fastball that sat consistently in the
mid-80s, Morello mixed in a mid-70s changeup. A Perfect Game scout
noted that Morello maintained the same arm speed with his offspeed
offering as his fastball, making it that much harder for batters to
differentiate between those two pitches.
Smith (2013, Junipero Serra H.S., Calif.) hit yet another home run in
the tournament, this one a two-out solo shot to left-center in the
top of the sixth. The left-handed Smith, who’s been on Perfect
Game’s radar for some time now, assumed the number two spot on the
company’s most recent high school class of 2013 prospect rankings
after his performance at last month’s National Showcase in
In addition to clocking in at 6.89
seconds in the 60-yard dash and firing a 91-mph throw from the
outfield in drills, Smith made a name for himself with his hitting as
well as with his pitching. His fastball peaked at 92 mph in the
One Perfect Game scout described
the University of Southern California verbal commitment’s upside as
tremendous and that all he needs is added reps to continue
progressing. Perfect Game Scouting Coordinator Todd Gold said he
believes scouts will be willing to pass on Smith’s potential as a
left-handed pitcher in favor of the promise he has shown as a hitter.
For all the attention he has
received, Smith is certainly not the lone standout on this summer’s
Yak West Baseball roster.
Shortstop John Crawford (2013,
Lakewood H.S., Calif.) also has a promising career ahead of himself,
said Yak West Baseball head coach James Byers.
“He’s got all five tools,”
said Byers of Crawford, following the 9 a.m. game’s conclusion.
“The sky’s the limit with him. He can be as good as he wants to
be. A good comparison is Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.”
Crawford, who said he primarily
plays short for Lakewood, has begun to also see some time as a
right-hander pitcher as well as in center field. Like Smith, Crawford has verbally
committed to Southern Cal, making his pledge in Oct. 2011.
“It reminded me of my high
school, and the coaches are really nice,” said Crawford of Southern
Even after deciding on his future
college destination, Crawford has continued to impress on the
At June’s National Showcase,
Crawford threw 90 mph across the infield and ran a 6.77-second
60-yard dash. Additionally, he hit 90 mph on the gun with his
fastball while pitching in game action. A Perfect Game scout noted
that Crawford “has a loose arm with easy arm speed and repeats his
When asked about how this
tournament has gone for his team, Crawford said it has been smooth
sailing so far.
“We’ve been doing really well,”
Crawford said. “We’ve been playing well together, and everybody’s
Participating in national events
this summer are significant to Crawford and his future.
“They mean a lot,” said
Crawford of the National Showcase and the WWBA 17u National
Championship. “You got to play hard every game because you never
know who’s watching.”
This summer he has learned at least
one thing along the way.
“Never get down on yourself no
matter how bad you do,” Crawford said. “There’s always
Another notable player on Yak
Baseball West’s squad is third baseman Kevin Franklin (2013,
Richard Gahr H.S., Calif.). Standing at six-foot-two, 220
pounds, Franklin is what Byers described a big teddy bear.
“He goes by KJ, but his business
name is Kevin,” Byers laughed. “He’s a good kid.
“He’s blossomed a lot in the
last year. His at bats have gotten tremendously better. He’s
willing to learn.”
Franklin made enough of a name for
himself that he chose his college choice nearly a year before he
could sign his National Letter of Intent.
“I committed to Arizona State on
Nov. 15, 2011,” Franklin said. “It was a big day for me. I loved
the place and the coaching staff. They treated me well. The campus is
gorgeous, and they have fantastic fan support. It’s an awesome
place to play baseball.”
Though he played outfield as a
freshman and sophomore at Richard Gahr High School in Cerritos,
Calif., Franklin moved to third base as a junior. He also plays the
hot corner for Yak Baseball West, which he has been a member of for
two years now.
“I just love it,” said Franklin
of the organization. “The coaches treat me well. They treat
This summer has been eventful for
Franklin, even a whirlwind at times.
“I had to leave two weeks before
school ended to go to the National Showcase so I had to take finals
early,” said Perfect Game’s number 19-ranked prospect for the
high school class of 2013.
“I think it’s worth it though.
People around the country would love for opportunities like this, and
to be one of those few who can do this is an awesome feeling. I’m
very happy and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
After attending the National in
mid-June, Franklin traveled to Cary, N.C. for the USA Baseball
Tournament of Stars. He characterized those back-to-back events as
experiences that he’ll never forget.
In this tournament, Franklin said
the team has been on fire lately.
“We came out real hot, and it’s
because we’ve played together for a while,” Franklin said.
“Everybody’s just doing their job, and it’s awesome playing
with guys who know their role. We all play together as one.”
Franklin’s future also looks
good, and he hopes that will mean he will be playing professionally
in the near future.
“That’s my dream: to play
professional baseball,” said Franklin of where he hopes to be in
five years. “Since I’ve started this game, I’ve wanted to play