Ga. — Winning in the PG/WWBA 18u National Championship is no easy
feat, and doing it with a team that’s never played together is
almost unheard of. But that’s what the Marlins Scout Team has
accomplished over the last seven days in the sweltering Georgia heat.
majority of the team is from California, but they have players from
10 different states, including New York, Florida, Georgia, Arizona
on offense by left-handed first baseman Vincent Jackson (2012, Luella
HS, Ga.) and outfielder Grant Diede (2012, Acalanes HS, Calif.), the
Marlins Scout Team is on an incredible tournament run. They went 6-1
in pool play and have won their first two playoff games by a combined
score of 13-1. For the tournament, they’ve outscored opponents
first couple games we struggled to get them on the same page as they
were getting to know each other,” Coach Charlie Barbieri said. “But
it’s a credit to them, they’ve come together really quickly.
We’ve guided them a little bit here and there but for the most
part, it’s been them.”
stands out on the field in his 6-foot-4, 195-pound body. He was
drafted in the 23rd round by the Yankees last month.
Although he says negotiations with the team are ongoing, he’s
looking forward to his commitment with Tennessee.
excited about the opportunity,” Jackson said. “They have a really
great coaching staff and I’ve always wanted to play in the SEC.
Also, the recruiting class we have will make us College World Series
contenders in the next few years. I’d like to be a part of that.”
now, he’s a part of one of the hottest travel teams in the country.
In 19 tournament at-bats, he has nine hits (.391) with nine runs
scored and two stolen bases. This is his fourth year at the National
Championship tournament, and he’s eager to make his last one count.
from Georgia, so I’ve wanted to win this tournament for forever,”
Jackson said. “This is the farthest I’ve ever made it. This is a
once in a lifetime chance, especially with this team.”
or lose, Jackson has a bright future. After seeing him play earlier
in the tournament, one PG scout said Jackson reminded him of Fred
McGriff, also a left-handed first basemen, who batted .284 and hit
493 home runs in 19 major league seasons.
Barbieri offered an even greater compliment. While there are hundreds
of good players at this tournament, Jackson’s baseball skills are
only part of what makes him special.
very polished, a team-guy and very unselfish,” he said. “He’s
well-spoken and well-educated. He’s a great individual on an off
the field, and a pleasure to have on the team.”
Jackson has been important to the Marlins Scout Team’s success in
their first tournament together, it’s been a true team effort.
Diede — a California commit — is leading the universe in batting
over the last seven days, going 12-for-19 (.632) with two doubles,
three home runs, 14 runs scored, nine RBI and three stolen bases.
He’s also walked nine times, giving him an out-of-this-world .750
a Beast,” Coach Barbieri said of Diede. “He’s been our driving
force offensively. He’s kind of our sparkplug on offense.”
Brantley (2012, Wekiva HS, Fla.), Ruben (RJ) Ybarra (2012, Riverside
Poly HS, Calif.) and Terrence Connelly (2012, Chaminade HS, N.Y.)
have made significant offensive contributions in this tournament as
well. Brantley leads the team with six stolen bases while going
9-for-26 (.346) with a double; Ybarra is 9-for-24 (.333) with four
doubles, two homers and nine RBI; Connelly has eight hits in 22
at-bats (.363) with two steals and eight RBI.
Marlins Scout Team certainly has the bats to compete, but most
coaches will tell you it takes strong pitching and defense to advance
in this tournament. Fortunately for the Marlins, they have that too.
nine tournament games (57 innings), their pitching staff has allowed
16 earned runs (2.53), striking out 70. They’ve held opponents to
two runs or less six times, including their last four games.
the team’s first game last Friday, Seth Martinez (2013, Sunrise
Mountain HS, Ariz.) pitched 5.2 no-hit innings, striking out 12. He
followed that up with seven innings of one-hit ball (eight
strikeouts) in their first playoff game Wednesday night. Left-hander
Evan Challenger (2012, Mt. Dora HS, Fla.) has been dominant in his
two starts as well, yielding a total of four hits and one earned run
in 11 innings.
Marlins Scout Team is in the midst of a 37-day road trip that also
includes the 18u BCS Finals in Ft. Meyers, Fla., and the WWBA World
Championship in Jupiter, Fla.
now they’re focused on the task at hand: A win against Big Stix
Gamers Thursday afternoon would advance them to the semifinals, and
one step closer to winning a tournament Jackson has been dreaming
about for years.
is one of the best tournaments I’ve been to, I love it,” Jackson
said. “I love the Perfect Game atmosphere.”