GOODYEAR, Ariz. – When the Fredericksburg, Va.-based EvoShield Canes arrive in the Valley of the Sun to defend the 17u Perfect Game World Series national championship they won a year ago, not only will they be showing up with an almost entirely new roster, they will be facing an expanded field of elite teams and an expanded playoff format.
Hey, no one ever said this was going to be easy.
The 3rd annual 17u PG World Series is set to get under way on Saturday (July 19) with all 20 teams – up from 16 the previous two years – scheduled to play two games that day in the unrelenting desert heat.
The Perfect Game national championship tournament event is scheduled to run Saturday through Wednesday (July 23) and the high temperatures forecast for those five days range from 106 degrees on the 19th up to 114 on the 23rd.
Again, no one ever said this was going to be easy.
The 20 teams invited to participate in this elite tournament come from 10 states, including those from the East Coast states of Florida, Virginia, Georgia and New Jersey. Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Oregon are also represented.
All games will be played at the Goodyear Ballpark Complex, the Cactus League spring training home of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
Perfect Game tournament officials are trying something new with the 17u PGWS format this year, and it certainly looks intriguing. The 20 teams will be divided into four, five-team pools right from the get-go and each team will play a pair of double-headers within their pool on Saturday (July 19) and Sunday (July 20).
The top-two teams from each pool then advance to a double-elimination playoff scenario with four teams each in an American and National bracket. The winners of the double-elimination tournaments from the American and National brackets will play in the championship game at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday (July 23).
After only two years on the Perfect Game national championship tournament schedule, the 17u PG World Series has already established itself as an event that the country’s most prominent travel ball programs want to be invited to; this year’s 20-team field is truly the best yet.
The rosters of the 20 teams feature 35 prospects from the class of 2015 ranked in the top-100 nationally, with another seven in the top-97 from the class of 2016. Although 2015 left-hander Logan Allen – ranked No. 80 nationally in his class – is the only member back from the 2013 17u PGWS national championship EvoShield Canes, the Canes are certainly coming into this tournament fully stocked and equally blessed.
Ten 2015 prospects ranked in the top-100 in their class dot the Canes’ roster, including four in the top-10: No. 3 right-hander Mike Nikorak; No. 7 right-hander Ashe Russell; No. 9 outfielder Ryan Johnson and No. 10 right-hander Beau Burrows. Right-hander Cody Morris comes in at No. 55.
The Houston (Texas) Banditos and Elite Squad Baseball from Pembroke Pines, Fla., boast rosters with five top-96 prospects from both the 2015 and 2016 classes.
The Banditos’ top guns are 2015 right-hander Ryan Cole McKay (No. 8), 2016 catcher Garrett Wolforth (No. 26); 2015 shortstop Kody Clemens (No. 43) and 2016 shortstop Andres P. Sosa (No. 56). The Elite Squad counters with 2015 outfielder Daniel Reyes (No. 5); 2016 right-hander Anthony Molina (No. 2) and 2016 right-hander/shortstop Gregory Veliz (No. 4).
Not to be overlooked is Norristown, Pa.-based Chandler Baseball World and the San Diego Show, with four top-100s apiece. Chandler Baseball managed to secure the services of highly ranked 2015 California prospects Devin Davis (No. 24) and Kyle Dean (No. 38), along with Colorado outfield prospect Greg Pickett (No. 26) and Pennsylvania shortstop Travis Blankenhorn (No. 57).
The Show features 2016 outfielder Mickey Moniak (No. 22), 2015 right-hander Drew Finley (No. 46) and 2015 shortstop John Cresto (No. 87).
Other highly ranked 2015s sure to draw the attention of scouts and college recruiters at the 17u PGWS include shortstop John Aiello (No. 11, Tri-State Arsenal); right-hander Kyle Molnar (No. 13, CBA Marucci); shortstop Nicholas Shumpert (No. 14, Prospects National Team); catcher Chris Betts (No. 25, CBA Marucci) and right-hander Matthew McGarry (No. 44, NorCal Baseball).
Other top 2016s include outfielder Seth Beer (No. 7, Georgia Roadrunners) and third baseman Spencer Steer (No. 43, GBG Marucci).