JUPITER, Fla. — The most exclusive travel team tournament in the baseball world — the 2013 WWBA World Championship — kicked-off Thursday afternoon at the Roger Dean Stadium Complex, the Spring Training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins.
On field five of the Marlins quad Thursday afternoon, dozens of scouts — college and pro — stacked their golf carts six rows deep behind home plate to see the No. 62 ranked player in the 2014 class: Team Elite’s right-handed pitcher Spencer Adams (2014, Cleveland, Ga.).
On the big stage, the 6-foot-5, 190-pound Adams struck out four in two no-hit innings. He displayed good command of his fastball — throwing 22 of 28 pitches (79 percent) for strikes — while working in the 88-91 mph range with impressive late movement. Adams also mixed in a slider in the mid-80s, a pitch that Team Elite coach Brad Bouras thinks is among the best — not just in the tournament, but in the entire country.
“His slider is a great out-pitch, and is as good of a pitch as anyone’s in the nation,” he told Perfect Game Friday morning. “He’s poised, has great stuff and is very professional. We always throw Spencer in game one of a big event like this.”
With a 10-1 lead after two innings, coach Bouras turned to his bullpen, a move that will allow him to keep Adams’ arm fresh for the weekend. Left-hander Alex Troup (2014, Marmion, Ill.) and right-handers Justin Yoss (2014, Magnolia, Texas) and Micah Carpenter (2015, Hull, Ga.) combined to strikeout five batters against one hit in the final three innings to claim game one over PG Dark Green Clippers 12-2, the largest margin of victory of all 19 games played Thursday.
Montrell Marshall (2014, Snellville, Ga.) led Team Elite’s offensive outburst, putting his team on the board with a two-run double to left field in the first inning, before crushing a two-run triple to center in the second. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder wowed scouts with his size, athleticism and bat speed. But coach Bouras admires another quality of Marshall’s above all.
“Obviously he’s a very talented player,” coach Bouras said. “But the best thing he brings to the table is his leadership. Marshall is a team player with no ego. He could go 0-for-4 but you wouldn’t be able to tell because he’s still cheering on his team. Then he has a game like this where he gets a few extra-base hits and drives in some runs, and you realize how much potential he has — not only as a player, but as an individual, too. Everything he does, the guys follow him. He leads by example.”
Just as Marshall sacrifices his ego for the good of his team, teammate Willie Rios (2014, Bradenton, Fla.) recently made a life-changing sacrifice for his baseball career. The Snellville, Conn. native moved south last month to play baseball year-round while attending IMG Academy in Florida, a decision that wasn’t an easy one to make.
“My family still lives back home in Connecticut, so it’s tough,” Rios said.” But it’s a sacrifice that needed to be made. I can see myself getting bigger and my pitching has come a long way. And even my bat, too.”
The two-way, switch-hitting Rios went 1-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored Thursday night. He also throws in the low-90s on the mound — left-handed. The 6-foot, 185-pound Rios is expected to pitch in relief early in the tournament, making him available to start this weekend.