Stay tuned to Perfect Game over the next several days and through the weekend as we provide detailed coverage of the 2011 WWBA World Championship. Tomorrow, Jeff Dahn will be providing a preview of this year's event while also offering a historical perspective, and David Rawnsley will break down the top teams and overall talent that will be in attendance at this year's event on Wednesday. Rawnsley and Kendall Rogers will also step into the chat room on Wednesday at noon, EST to take your questions surrounding the championship tournament. You can also view the main event page, schedule page and Pool breakdown feature.
As the 2011 WWBA World Championship approaches, it's important to look at the names that have attended the event in past years to get an idea of the impact the tournament has on all levels of baseball.
Last year there were 15 players from the class of 2011 that went on to become first and first-round supplemental picks, including Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez and Jose Fernandez, all three of whom also participated in the 2010 All-American Classic. Two other premium first-round picks from this past year, Dylan Bundy and Bubba Starling took part in the event in 2009, and Archie Bradley did so in 2008.
A big reason why Joshua Bell signed for five million dollars as the first pick in the second round is due to his performance at last year's tournament, as he missed the summer showcase and tournament season in 2010 due to injury.
In addition, every year the event sees numerous players opt to honor their college commitments instead of signing directly out of high school. Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen and Anthony Rendon all participated at the WWBA World Championship in 2007 prior to beginning their college careers leading to them being selected with the first, second and sixth overall picks respectively in last June's draft.
Due to that impact, every year I like to take a look at some of the more notable college players that have taken part in the WWBA World Championship in past years. This year I once again will assemble a college all-star team of sorts of some of the top players eligible for the 2012 and 2013 drafts. Most of these players participated at the World Championship in 2008.
Mike Zunino, Florida (Southwest Florida Baseball, 2006-08)
Zunino was named the SEC player of the year last spring after hitting .371-19-67, and he is also a former Perfect Game All-American.Recently named the fifth-best prospect available for the 2012 draft, Zunino has an exciting combination of power potential at the plate and a powerful arm behind it. He serves as the most lethal hitter in a dangerous Gators lineup, and another big season at the plate should lead to him becoming a premium pick next June.
Arkansas transfer Dane Phillips (Big Time Gamers, 2007-08) and Buffalo's Tom Murphy (South Troy Youth Service, 2008) offer plenty of depth behind the dish among the Jupiter alumni.
Christian Walker, South Carolina (All Star Baseball Academy, 2007-08)
Walker has put up big numbers in each of his first two seasons with the Gamecocks, and elevated his game in Omaha as his team claimed the College World Series Championship each of the last two years. He has 33 doubles and 19 home runs during his college career, and is poised for a huge season next spring as South Carolina looks for the three-peat.
Clemson's Richie Shaffer (South Charlotte Panthers, 2007-08), a former Perfect Game All-American, would make a fine reserve and likely the first option off the bench as a power-hitting corner infielder.
Nolan Fontana, Florida (Orlando Scorpions, 2007-08)
Fontana plays shortstop for the Gators, but slides over to second to make way for Deven Marrero. Fontana has a swing tailor-made for hitting line drives, with a disciplined, patient eye at the plate which serves him well serving as Florida's leadoff hitter. While he's not a huge power threat, he is one of the steadiest performers defensively, providing rock-solid glove work up the middle for one of the nation's most dangerous teams.
JaCoby Jones, LSU (Kansas City Royals Scout Team, 2008)
Jones, a former Perfect Game All-American, hit .338 during his first year for the Tigers on his way to being named the SEC Freshman of the Year. A great overall athlete, Jones is a versatile player defensively with the ability to play anywhere on the infield. He isn't eligible to be drafted again until 2013, but has already started a fine college career.
Deven Marrero, Arizona State (Braves Scout Team, 2007-08)
Marrero was named both the top prospect for Team USA and in the Cape Cod League, with a career .349 batting average at the college level, including hitting at a .397 clip as a freshman. A great overall athlete, Marrero can make all of the plays from the shortstop position with good range, quick feet and a strong arm to go along with his power potential at the plate. He has the potential to be the first player selected in next June's draft.
Victor Roache, Georgia Southern (Bo Jackson Midwest, 2008)
Brandon Thomas, Georgia Tech (Georgia PG Texas Orange, 2008 / Georgia PG Vegas Gold, 2007)
Austin Wilson, Stanford (ABD Bulldogs, 2008)
Roache led all DI players with 30 home runs last spring after hitting eight as a freshman in 2010. His power surge continued into the summer, as he was ranked the sixth-best prospect on the Cape and is currently ranked the 15th-best overall prospect available for next year's draft.
Thomas hit .307 and stole 19 bases for the Yellow Jackets last spring. He is a switch hitter that has a smooth, level swing from both sides of the plate with the ability to spray line drives to all fields. A good overall athlete, he has the ability to play all three spots in the outfield, showing good range and instincts in centerfield.
Wilson, yet another former Perfect Game All-American, is a rare five-tool athlete and impressive physical specimen. His foot speed matches his bat speed and overall power potential, coming from a 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame with room for even more strength. He hit .311 as a freshman, and is an early favorite for one of the top picks for the 2013 draft.
Texas A&M's Tyler Naquin (Houston Heat, 2008) and Wilson's Stanford teammate Brian Ragira (Texas Scout Team Yankees, 2009 / Kansas City Royals Scout Team 2008) would provide valuable power off the bench for this team.
Brian Johnson, Florida (Team Worth, 2008, Florida Bombers Scout Team, 2007)
Johnson is the third of four members of the Florida Gators to make this team as a starter, and would serve well as both the team's designated hitter and arguably the most reliable starting pitcher. In addition to his patient eye at the plate, he has an advanced knowledge for changing speeds while hitting his spots as a left-handeder. He was recently named the 26th-best overall prospect available for next year's draft, and is poised to have another big year for the Gators.
Florida teammate Austin Maddox (East Cobb Astros, 2008 / PG USA Black, 2007) and Oregon State's Matt Boyd (Kansas City Royals Scout Team, 2008 / PG USA Purple, 2007) would provide tremendous depth off the bench and out of the bullpen for this team.
Mark Appel, Stanford (Braves Scout Team, 2008)
Karsten Whitson, Florida (East Cobb Baseball, 2009, East Cobb Astros, 2008)
Kevin Gausman, LSU (Ohio Warhawks, 2009)
Appel was named the second-best prospect available for the 2012 draft, with a perfect blend of size and stuff as he sat in the upper-90s at times this past summer. He starred for both Team USA and on the Cape, and serves as the Friday ace for a Stanford team loaded with talent.
Whitson enjoyed a big year as a freshman (8-1, 2.40 ERA) after being selected ninth overall by the Padres in the 2010 draft. He surprised a lot of people by honoring his commitment to Florida, and was a member of the Perfect Game All-American Classic in 2009.
Gausman is also a former 2009 All-American, with a perfectly projectable build that had a big season a year ago serving as LSU's Friday ace during his freshman year. Draft-eligible as a sophomore, Gausman has the ability to sit at 93-95 while approaching triple digits on occasion.
As usual, there was no shortage of starting pitchers to choose from, including Georgia Southern's Chris Beck (Homeplate Baseball, 2007), Arizona State's Jake Barrett (Rays Scout Team, 2008) and Brady Rodgers (Texas Scout Team Yankees, 2008), Texas' Sam Stafford (Houston Heat, 2006), Vanderbilt's Sam Selman (Austin Baseball Club, 2007), Georgia Tech's Buck Farmer (East Cobb Shamrock, 2007), Cal State Fullerton's Dylan Floro (Braves Scout Team, 2007-08) and Monmouth's Pat Light (Kansas City Royals Scout Team, 2008).
Marcus Stroman, Duke (South Florida Bandits, 2007-08)
What Stroman lacks in size (5-foot-9, 175-pound) he more than makes up for in arm strength, with the ability to easily pump his fastball in the mid-90s with a nasty slider. That recipe makes him a perfect fit for a short relief role at the next level, and his athleticism continues to give him two-way potential as a hitter and middle infielder.