JUPITER, Fla. – When the Midland Redskins/Royals Scout Team first released their roster for the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship, there was the unmistakable sound of jaws dropping from coast to coast.
The Redskins/RST, with head coach Chris Glazier, had put together a pitching staff that was unrivaled by any team in the blockbuster 85-team field. There were five Perfect Game All-Americans: right-handers Taylore Cherry, Kayden Porter, Lucas Sims, and Ryan Burr and lefty Matthew Smoral. They were supported by another nationally ranked lefty Max Foody.
But once the team assembled at the Roger Dean Complex on Friday for its first games of the tournament, it was learned that Porter and Sims wouldn’t be in attendance. That left it up to the rest of the staff to carry the load, and they did their jobs admirably.
The Redskins/RST finished pool play with a record of 2-0-2 even with the staff pitching three shutouts (one of the ties was 0-0 with the Northwest Scout Team). But the uneven play couldn’t be blamed on the guys laboring on the mound.
“All of our guys have done a good job,” Glazier said Sunday. “Smoral was tremendous, Burr was great, Cherry threw well, Foody threw well – everybody we ran out there was throwing strikes, had good velocity and had good command of second pitches.”
Smoral worked five innings and allowed only one hit while striking out eight; Cherry pitched four hitless innings with six strikeouts and Burr allowed three hits and struck out eight in four innings. Foody allowed only one hit and struck out five in three innings of work.
It was an inability to score runs that hurt the Redskins/RST. They won their pool with that 2-0-2 record but lost a first-round playoff game to the Texas Sun Devils, 5-0.
“We have kids from all over who haven’t been playing, probably, a whole lot of baseball – we’ve got kids from the Midwest and the north that probably haven’t been seeing a whole lot of live pitching because of the weather outside right now,” Glazier said. “It’s a process and we’re seeing some pretty good arms down here. You’re seeing 90 mph just about every game and it’s an adjustment.”
The biggest story to come out of the Redskins/RST camp was the performance of Foody. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior at IMG Baseball Academy in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., just returned to the pitcher’s mound after a year-long layoff.
Foody tore the labrum in his pitching shoulder five games into his sophomore season. He put off surgery and finished that season as a designated hitter because he didn’t feel any pain when swinging the bat. He finally had surgery that June and didn’t pitch again until this past August, right before the start of his senior year in high school.
“Every day I’m throwing a little harder and my arm feels great,” he said Sunday. “I’m beyond rehab but I still do rehab every day, just going through the routine.”
It’s really a remarkable recovery.
“He’s rehabbed and come all the way back and did a great job for us,” Glazier said. “I think he was up to 92 (mph) yesterday and that’s a tough injury to come back from. He’s done it, he’s on the right path and he’ll be a very good pitcher again come spring.
“We saw him when he was 16 and he had that unfortunate injury, and now he’s back and we’re glad to have him back with us and playing here.”
Foody was just glad he was able to contribute.
“Nothing else compares to this, no other tournament,” Foody said. “There are just scouts everywhere at this tournament.”
Foody had committed to the University of Florida during his freshman year in high school, but after the surgery Florida withdrew the offer. He has since committed to Florida State.
Glazier follows a strict rule that once a pitcher has thrown in a tournament like this he won’t be allowed to throw again. So once Foody, Burr, Cherry and Smoral made their initial appearances, they weren’t called upon the rest of the tournament.
“We’ve won this in the past twice with some other teams and some other different names,” Glazier said. “A kid’s health is more important to us than winning the tournament. We’ll go as long as we can with the guys that we have that are healthy and still fresh, and when it’s done it’s done.”
It was done late in the afternoon on Sunday after the playoff loss to the Sun Devils. The loss didn’t diminish the Jupiter experience.
“It’s a tremendous event to see all the scouts and all the college coaches,” Glazier said. “The guys that aren’t committed get to seen by just about every school in America and the guys that are draft-eligible get to be seen by every major league team here. It’s a great event, probably the best event in the country.”