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, 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 tomorrow 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 while also reading about some of the more notable college players that have participated in the WWBA World Championship in recent years.
In just the past five years, the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship has produced at least two eye-popping statistics when it comes to referencing the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
In those last five drafts, 137 prospects that played in the annual blockbuster tournament held in Jupiter, Fla., were first round or first round supplemental selections. Another 101 prospects were selected in the second round. That’s an average of 27.4 first round and just over 20 second round picks in the last five years alone.
It’s no wonder MLB front office people and the feet-on-the-ground scouts find the five days they spend in Jupiter every late October so valuable. The Kansas City Royals, for example, are stocking their farm system with the best available talent, and their scouting department annually puts together an entrant in the WWBA World Championship called the Royals Baseball Club.
The Royals’ assistant general manager for scouting and player development J.J. Picollo and Midwest regional scouting supervisor Mitch Webster both speak highly of the WWBA World Championship.
“It’s a great venue for us to see guys at a high level of competition and also to see them in competition,” Picollo told Perfect Game in the spring. “Getting a chance to see (a pitcher) get stretched out and pitch for five innings, that’s a benefit.
“That’s kind of a great way to end the fall because you’ve seen a lot of guys in (showcase) settings and now you get to see them compete, most of the time with the team they’ve been playing with (all summer),” he continued. “You get a better feel for their makeup and see if they are able to sustain things. The pitching in particular down in Jupiter is an important aspect for us. We gauge a lot off of that last tournament.”
Webster spoke with Perfect Game at the conclusion of last year’s event.
“It was good,” he said of the experience. “It was good to measure the guys out of our region and compare them to guys from all over the country. It just gives you a better overall picture.
“We’ve all got names of players who we want to see and get as many looks as you can,” he continued. “It’s very beneficial to be doing that no matter where you’re doing it at. To get here in this good warm-weather climate is really beneficial to the northern tier guys, especially.”
In the last five drafts, the Royals have selected seven WWBA World Championship alumni in the first three rounds. They include first round picks 1B Eric Hosmer (2008) and MIF Christian Colon (2010) as well as second round selections RHP Sam Runion (2007), OF Brett Eibner (2010) and C Cameron Gallagher (2011).
More than 230 WWBA World Championship graduates have already made it to the Major Leagues, including the Royals’ Hosmer and the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, who were at the WWBA World Championship as recently as 2007. Trout, in fact, played in 2008 for Tri-State Arsenal, and the Angels selected him the first round of the 2009 draft. Fifteen prospects who were at the Jupiter event as recently as 2006 have reached the Major Leagues.
There were 15 first round or first round supplemental picks in the 2011 draft that are WWBA World Championship alumni, including top-10 picks SS Francisco Lindor (No. 8, Indians) and SS Javier Baez (No. 9, Cubs).
Cather Brett Austin, a first round compensation pick by the San Diego Padres, played in last year’s tournament with the co-champion Dirtbags – they shared the team championship with Chet Lemon’s Juice – and was one of four Dirtbags players that were drafted. Right-handers Brandon Culbreth and Jason Creasy were eighth round picks by the Astros and Pirates, respectively, and RHP Griffin went in the 44th round to the Indians.
“It was a lot of fun, and as far as recruiting kids and stuff like that, that’s always a nice little feather in the cap,” Dirtbags Manager Andy Partin said of sharing last year’s championship. “But you know, win or lose it’s really not that big of a deal. We just want to get these kids moved on to (the next level) and hope they continue to get better.”
Last year’s Dirtbags team had 13 prospects who had committed to Division I schools, including Austin, Culbreth, Creasy and Griffin. This year’s roster has 18 D-I commits, including MIF Corey Seager, RHP/OF Keaton Hack and MIF D.C. Arendes, all of whom played on last year’s Dirtbags championship team as underclassmen. Partin knows a championship repeat will be a tall order.
“I’m sure we’ll have a little bit of a target on our chest; guys will want to beat us since we did fairly well last year, but it’s another big, strong group,” he said. “We have a bunch of physical-type kids and we’ve got some hillbillies, we’ve got some rednecks on there. We’ve got a nice blend of guys and it’s a good group of characters.
“We’ll see. We’ve just to go in there and be healthy,” he concluded. “We were hot last year (and) we played really well. We’ve got to try to figure out how to do that again.”
A complete history of the WWBA World Championship can be found here.