The 2009 WWBA World Championship is less than a week away, and it is at this time of year when I assemble an all-star cast of players that attended the event three years (with some exceptions) prior that have since moved on to play at the college level.
I decided to start putting together these teams to point out that the players that participate in the event have an impact on all levels of the sport, emphasizing just how much premium talent is in attendance all in one place. All of the players listed below are eligible for the 2010 draft, joining the hundreds of talented draft-eligible prep players that will be in Southern Florida next week. Some of those players will decide to begin their professional careers right out of high school, while some are likely to grace this list three years from now.
Bryce Harper, College of Southern Nevada (Braves Scout Team 2008)
Alright, the first player on this list didn’t play in Jupiter in 2006. In fact, he just turned 14 years old when the 2006 WWBA World Championship began, but he’s too good to leave off of this list, and his isn’t the only exception I’m going to make. He played last year for the star-studded Braves Scout Team roster, handling a star-studded pitching staff that included eventual 2009 first-round picks such as Matt Hobgood, Chad James, Tyler Matzek and Shelby Miller. If you’re looking for a true 2006 participant, look no further than Yasmani Grandal of Miami (Midland Redskins), also a first-round candidate for next June’s draft.
Hunter Morris, Auburn (East Cobb Astros, 2005-06)
No stranger to Perfect Game and WWBA events, Morris appeared in two consecutive WWBA World Championships for the East Cobb Astros (the Astros were the co-champions in 2005 and lost to the Houston Heat in the semi-finals in 2006). It didn’t take him long to make an impression at the college level, as he was named the SEC’s freshman of the year, hitting .351 with 28 extra base hits and a slugging percentage just below .600 before spending the summer after his freshman year with Team USA. He didn’t make as strong of an impact during his sophomore year, although he still hit 12 home runs, and continued to show his prodigious power potential by adding eight more bombs last summer on the Cape. He is one of the 2010 draft’s true power prospects, and few, if any players outside of Bryce Harper, can match his raw power.
Derek Dietrich, Georgia Tech (Reds Scout Team)
Dietrich and Morris have had similar career paths up to this point in time. Both were premium draft picks in the 2007 draft that decided to forego significant signing bonuses to honor their college commitments. Both wasted no time making an impact at the college level, as Dietrich was also a freshman all-american, joining Morris on Team USA during the summer of 2008 and on the Cape this past year. Dietrich is also former Aflac All-American that also was a member of the Reds Scout Team (Midland Redskins) that secured the 2006 WWBA Championship. While Dietrich currently plays shortstop for Georgia Tech, he profiles better at either second or third base. As a left-handed hitter he has a patient approach and good power to all fields.
Zack Cox, Arkansas (Kentucky Baseball Club, 2006; Braves Scout Team, 2007)
Even though Cox is just a sophomore, he did participate at the 2006 event, and did so again in 2007. His prowess as both a hitter and as a pitcher for the Razorbacks allowed him to qualify for the utility spot on this pseudo-roster, although his future lies in the batters box. One of the more polished hitters available for the 2010 draft, Cox was a member of the usually talent-loaded 2007 Braves Scout Team that claimed the tournament championship.
Christian Colon, Cal State Fullerton (Ohio Warhawks)
Colon’s resume is quite extensive as a former Aflac All-American and game MVP with two summers spent playing for Team USA in between his springs spent serving as the captain for the perennial contending Cal State Fullerton program. What he lacks in tools (and he’s a solid player across the board) he makes up for his intangible qualities, which makes him one of the better locks to perform at a high level once his professional career begins. He did break his leg this past summer, but is expected to be healthy once the spring season begins.
Tyler Holt, Florida State (Florida Hardballers)
Leon Landry, LSU (Louisiana All-Star Baseball Team)
LeVon Washington, Chipola College (Florida Hardballers, 2007; Royals Scout Team 2008)
This trio would cover a tremendous amount of ground in the outfield, as all three have game-changing speed and plus defensive tools. All three profile in a more different fashion offensively. Holt is the type of player that makes the most of his physical tools by working the count, swatting line drives all over the field, playing hard everyday and carrying a winning attitude. A three-sport (football, basketball) star in high school, Landry is an aggressive hitter with impressive power at the plate, but he needs more time for his game polish to catch up to his tool-set. Washington has an exciting blend of power and speed, and was one of only two unsigned first-round picks from the 2009 draft. He once again profiles as a first-rounder for 2010 as he currently is attending Chipola College at the juco level.
Bryce Brentz, Middle Tennessee State (Knoxville Yard, 2005-06)
This was a tough category to single out one player, as Brett Eibner of Arkansas (Houston Heat) deserves mention as well. Brentz gets the nod for superior offensive numbers, ranking at or near the top of almost every single notable national statistical category as a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State. He continued to post solid numbers for Team USA last summer, but remains somewhat of an enigma since he doesn’t play in a more prominent conference against stiffer competition on a weekly basis.
Anthony Ranaudo, LSU (South Florida Bandits)
Justin Grimm, Georgia (Dirtbags)
Alex Wimmers (Kentucky Baseball Team)
This is an impressive trio of starters, all three of whom have firmly placed themselves in the discussion for the first round of next June’s draft. Ranaudo could go among the top three overall picks, possibly even first overall, while both Grimm and Wimmers continue to improve as their college careers progress. Ranaudo did not pitch this past summer after enduring a heavy workload in the spring for the national champion LSU Tigers, and he may be the favorite to win the Golden Spikes award this coming season. Both Grimm and Wimmers played on the Cape, and both possess very good fastball-curveball repertoires that allow them to rack up a lot of strikeouts.
Chad Bettis, Texas Tech (D-BAT)
Bettis is arguably the best closer prospect from the college level among those eligible for the 2010 draft, securing the same role for Team USA last summer, recording three saves and proving to be nearly unhittable against international competition. You may guess that his best pitch is his fastball, which he routinely throws in the mid-90s and can approach triple digits when used in shorter stints, while sitting in the low-90s when used as a starter.
The thoughts and opinions listed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect Game USA. Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and Brewerfan.net, and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.