FORT MYERS, Fla. – It’s been said that a tie is usually as gratifying as kissing your sister, but a tie worked out just fine for FTB Mizuno 17u at the Perfect Game WWBA Florida Qualifier Sunday morning.
FTB Mizuno 17u managed to push across a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to forge a 3-3 tie with Miami Suns Gold in both team’s final pool-play game at the four-day event. The tie was good enough to award FTB the championship of their four-team pool and an automatic berth into the 16-team playoffs, which began Sunday afternoon.
FTB’s 2-0-1 pool-play record was good for the No. 10 seed in bracket play. It was to play No. 7 Central Florida Bandits Upperclass in a first round game at Terry Park.
The four quarterfinal round games are scheduled for a little later Sunday afternoon, all at Terry Park. The two semifinal games and the championship game will be played Monday morning at Hammond Stadium – spring training home of the Minnesota Twins – on the Lee County Sports Complex grounds.
The WWBA Florida Qualifier champion earns a paid invitation to next month’s WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.
The FTB Mizuno 17u team that head coach Jered Goodwin brought here for the Florida Qualifier isn’t the elite group that will fill the roster spots at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter Oct. 20-24 and play under the FTB Mizuno/Cardinals Scout Team banner.
Six top prospects that will be on that team spent this past week at the USA Baseball 18u trials in Cary, N.C., which gave Goodwin the opportunity to bring some of his younger players to this event. The roster in the official Florida Qualifier program lists eight prospects from the class of 2013 and one from 2014.
There will be a few of the players on this roster that make the trip to Jupiter, but most will be on a team that will play in the Perfect Game 2011 WWBA Underclass World Championship back here in Fort Myers Oct. 7-10.
“I got to bring a lot of young guys here and meet them and kind of groom them for the PG Underclass here in a couple of weeks,” Goodwin said. “Then this will be kind of my base team next summer, these guys that we brought to this event.”
It is unquestionably a talented group, with 11 players listed who have already made Division I college commitments. They are primary pitchers Seth McGarry (Florida Atlantic), Jason Carmichael (Florida), Zach Eflin (Central Florida) and Frank Grandinette (Miami); catcher Tomas Nido (Florida Atlantic); and infielders Nick Rivera (Florida Gulf Coast) and Avery Romero (Florida), all in the class of 2012.
Commits in the class of 2013 include left-handers Sean Brady (Florida) and Ian McKinney (Central Florida), and infielders Spencer Trayner (North Carolina) and Derek Deler (Florida Atlantic). All of those prospects attend Florida high schools.
Perfect Game has all of those prospects ranked nationally in their respective class, including six in the top 160. Trayner (No. 45), Romero (55), Eflin (77) and Nido (82) are the highest ranked national prospects. All have been involved heavily in Perfect Game events throughout their high school careers.
Eleven is a hefty number of commitments, but it also leaves 12 members of this FTB roster still uncommitted.
“The biggest reason for being here is the exposure standpoint. You come to Perfect Game events and the exposure that you get is big, so that’s first and foremost,” Goodwin said. “Typically you’re going to play good baseball, just like we did today, against another nice team. And then (a reason for coming is) to get reps. The underclass guys are trying to go and make a run at the Underclass (World) tournament here in a couple of weeks and the older guys are trying to get ready for Jupiter.”
FTB Mizuno 17u outscored its three pool play opponents, 20-7, and Goodwin said he had six pitchers rested and ready to go in two possible games the rest of Sunday. Despite the pool-play ending tie and the No. 10 seed, no one doubts FTB remains a favorite to take home the championship trophy.
There’s just too much talent on this team, and Goodwin likes its chances.
“The one thing that they’ve done all weekend is kind of scrap,” he said. “They’ve been really good on the base paths and the baseball IQ that they’ve had has been phenomenal. You never know what you’re going to get with the young kids – how aggressive they’re going to be, how they’re going to fit in chemistry-wise. So we’ll see how the young guys are going to react in bracket play.”
As far as the WWBA World Championship goes, Goodwin made sure to express his thanks and appreciation to the St. Louis Cardinals for sponsoring the team he will take to Jupiter.