EMERSON, Ga. – The Perfect Game National Showcase is a spectacle in that it brings in the top talent in the country to one field at one time. It is an incredible accomplishment just to be invited to this showcase, but that is only half the battle. For the first and maybe only time, players at this event can compete directly with all of the other players in their graduating class who are highly ranked.
With all the players being on the same field for a week, it gives scouts the right atmosphere to compare players side by side. The goal for these players is to show out and move up in the rankings. For Cornelius Randolph and Tristin English of the Home Plate Chilidogs Maldonado, showing out and moving up is exactly what they did; and in a big way.
Randolph, a Clemson commit, came into the showcase with a respectable 192 ranking. He was never overlooked by the other shortstops in the class, but it was evident that he was viewed below some of the premiere players in the 2015 class. After a stellar performance at the event, including one of the better batting practice rounds, it was clear he was among some of the best players out there. In addition, he jumped all the way up to No. 17 in the rankings.
English, a Georgia Tech commit, did not disappoint with his performance either. Coming in with a ranking of 120 and listed as a primary catcher, he lit up the radar guns on the mound with an impressive fastball that reached 94 mph (miles per hour). His ranking now sits at No. 37, and he is listed as the No. 1 ranked right-handed pitcher in the state of Georgia. Looking back on the event as a whole, both players enjoyed the atmosphere that the showcase brought.
“Chaotic,” Randolph said of what the event was like. “It was something else.”
“Just playing with the best competition in the country, it’s going to make you better automatically just like that,” English added.
Randolph’s sweet swing from the left side and tremendous glove and footwork in the field make him a true all-around ballplayer. Although his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame may not make him look like the ideal power hitter, he is capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark to all fields.
“Cornelius is one of the best hitters I’ve seen in years,” Home Plate head coach Esteban Maldonado said. “It doesn’t matter the count. Even if he has two strikes, he is one of the best two strike hitters I’ve seen. He has pure power, but he loves to hit. He works on his craft, and it shows in the game.”
His arm in the infield is nothing to look past either. At the National Showcase, he produced the second-highest velocity across the diamond at 92 mph. Combining that with his quick 6.94 speed in the 60, there really is not much Randolph cannot do. He styles his game after major leaguer and multiple time all-star Robinson Cano. He likes the way Cano plays “because he is so smooth and sweet. Everything is just natural.” When watching Randolph play, the similarities between the two are pretty accurate.
Tristin English hit a two-run home run in the first inning on Tuesday
English plays the game fast just like his teammate. His power off the mound is just as impressive as his power at the plate. That was evident in Tuesday’s 17u WWBA Elite Round Robin game between his Home Plate team and the Easton Rockets. English connected on a first inning two-run home run and the ball that got out in a hurry. His steady play and his mindset on the field are two things that drive him to success.
“He’s been at Home Plate since he was 13,” Maldonado said. “He’s very competitive. He goes out there with winning in mind all the time. Every time he steps on the field he just gets better and better. The sky is the limit for him and Cornelius.”
Although English received much praise for his performance on the mound at the National Showcase, his numbers behind the plate were just as impressive. His 1.82 pop time and 83 mph throw from the catcher position placed him in the top five in both categories. His ability to be a dual-threat on the mound and behind the plate, along with his big bat, makes him an extremely versatile player.
His play, along with Randolph’s, give Home Plate a great deal of hype that their head coach believes is positive for the organization.
“It definitely gets us in the public eye, and gets people talking about the organization,” Maldonado said. “It’s good to have those kids represent the organization. Not only are they good ballplayers and they execute in the game, but off the field they are tremendous human beings, which we are very proud of.”
The team is preparing for the 17u WWBA National Championship, which starts Friday, by competing in this week’s first annual 17u WWBA Elite Round Robin. This round robin brought in some of the top teams who will be playing in the national championship, and it gives the teams a chance to get some work in for their players before the big tournament starts. When the round robin is over, Home Plate will have gotten the chance to play four competitive teams and get in the swing of things a few days before they start their title run.
“We’ve seen a lot of good pitching,” Maldonado said. “We’ve had good games. It lets us know where we are at and the things that we need to work on going into the world wood bat [tournament]. It just gives us a good idea of where we are. We are facing four of the top teams that are going to be competing, so I think it’s really good for us.”
With Randolph and English playing great ball this summer, they will look to lead their team in the biggest tournament they have played in all summer. Both are confident that their team can hang with anyone, which they will need if they hope to run through the 304-team gauntlet that is the WWBA National Championship.