Tournaments : : Story
WWBA World Pool Breakdown
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Todd Gold and Patrick Ebert will be breaking down all 17 pools set to compete at the 2012 WWBA World Championship. Be sure to check back frequently as the 17 pools of five teams each are released. Starting at the bottom and working up, Pools I through Q will be available on Thursday, while Pools A through H will be supplied on Friday. The full tournament schedule will be posted on Friday afternoon with the conclusion of the pool releases and previews.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Texas Scout Team Yankees
Texas Scout Team Yankees will be defined by five big bats in the
middle of their lineup, including OF Alex Verdugo, Cs Jon Denney and
Corey Simpson as well as PG All-Americans Billy McKinney and Sheldon
Neuse. Bret Boswell joins Neuse up the middle of the infield to
provide steady defense for a pitching staff that boasts numerous
prominent D-I recruits. Casey Meisner and Dominic Taccolini are the
hardest throwers among this group, complemented by fellow
right-hander Blake Goins as well as left-handers Tyler Alexander,
Ryan Burnett and Brandon Gilson. Neuse and Eric Garza provide
valuable versatility and depth given their two-way talents.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: ABD Bulldogs
The traditional SoCal powerhouse, the Bulldogs graduated a pair of top two round draft picks from last year's squad (Daniel Robertson, Tanner Rahier), but remain strong in a rebuilding year. Their 2015 class is loaded, with the top ranked prospect in the class RHP/OF Kyle Molnar and Team USA veteran C Chris Betts. The Bulldogs reached the semfinals of the 17u PG World Series sent two teams from their organization to the 2009 title game. Elliot Barzilli will be the main 2013 MLB draft attraction this year, while 2014 OF/1B Gerard Hernandez and 2013 3B Derek Rustich are the team's top power threats. The fact that the Bulldogs play together year round will give them an edge in a pool where their top competition is an all-star conglomerate of players pulled together from various other teams (Texas Scout Team Yankees).
Impact Matchup: Texas Scout Team Yankees vs Perfect Game Vegas Gold
One of the top 2013 Dominican pitching prospects, RHP Mayky Perez will get the start for Perfect Game Vegas Gold against the most talented team in the pool. This game is not likely to determine the pool winner, but it will be a Friday night matchup that will be on the itinerary of a lot of decision makers from MLB organizations.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: South Florida Elite
of the inaugural 2012 17u PG World Series held in late July, the
South Florida Elite Squad knows what it takes to win big events. PG
All-American slugger Zack Collins walked away as the MVP of the PG
World Series, with a long history of coming up big in Perfect Game
tournaments. Speaking of coming up big at PG events, Luis Guillorme
went 9-for-11 with a home run at last weekend's Florida Qualifier.
He along with toolsy OFs William Abreu and Brandon Diaz, infielder
Danny Zardon, and two of the more promising prep prospects from the
classes of 2014 and 2015, Brian Gonzalez and Dominic DiCaprio, will
join Collins in a strong lineup. Workhorse right-hander Shaun
Anderson claimed the MV-Pitcher honors at the 17u World Series, and
serves as the staff ace. Christopher Koppenhaver, Thaddius Lowry,
Michael Mediavilla and Mark Nowatnick are also key members of the
Elite pitching staff.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Diamond Devils
The big name on the roster is 2012 PG All-American C Nick Ciuffo, but the Diamond Devils are far from a one man show. Ciuffo is just one of four South Carolina commits, joined by 2014 MIFs Seth Lancaster and Jared Williams, as well as 2013 OF Gene Cone. Two-way 2014 grad Grant Holmes was very impressive nailing down a Save in the 17u WWBA playoffs while sitting 91-93 this summer, and also has shown he can hit for in-game power from the left side. 2015 OF Kep Brown is a young player to keep an eye on...and he's hard to miss at 6' 5" 185.
Impact Game: South Florida Elite Squad vs Diamond Devils
The marquee names in this one are clearly Ciuffo and Collins, but given the style of these two teams the game could come down to pitchers throwing strikes and the defense making plays. SF Elite SS Luis Guillorme is one of the best glovemen in the 2013 class and gives the Elite an edge in that department. Ciuffo can shut down the SF Elite running game. This one is likely to come down to execution in big spots, SF Elite looks to have an edge but once these two talented teams step between the lines it's anyone's game.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: East Cobb Baseball
a favorite to claim just about every Perfect Game tournament they
attend, the East Cobb Baseball team looks to redeem themselves after
getting knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the SGV
Arsenal a year ago. While a trio of well-rounded PG All-American
players grace the roster in Travis Demeritte, Josh Hart and Brian
Navarreto, the team's best players may be a trio of promising 2014
grads. Michael Chavis is coming off of an impact performance at the
WWBA Underclass World Championship and looks to assert himself as one
of the top prospects in the country, regardless of class. Kel
Johnson also swings an impact bat and Dalton Ewing has one of the
most exciting collections of tools. Keenan Innis, Wesley Jones and
Eli White help round out the lineup, while Tyler Haswell, Addison
Reed and Ethan Walker represent East Cobb's usually strong pitching
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Florida Burn
Going strictly off of on-paper talent DBAT/MSL All-Stars would be the pick. But the Florida Burn have proven throughout the course of their first year as a national program that it is unwise to pick against them. They are an underclass team, but they don't play like one. The Burn are also on fire of late. Two weeks ago they captured the WWBA Underclass World Championship, and then a week later earned an invitation to Jupiter by wining the Florida Qualifier. They also won the 16u PG World Series in August and made final four appearances in two other national level tournaments this summer. There is talent to be found on their roster (as evidenced by three Florida commits), but it's the way that their lineup grinds out at-bats from top to bottom, throw strikes and make sound defensive decisions that have had the largest impact on their success this year.
Impact Matchup: East Cobb Baseball vs Florida Burn
The opening night matchup in Roger Dean Stadium is always an event, drawing a larger turnout than a lot of the (High-A) Florida State League games played in the same stadium. The Florida Burn couldn't have debut on a bigger stage in their first trip to Jupiter. We'll find out very quickly if their young team is ready to compete with the best of the best as they take on perennial powerhouse East Cobb. The past two years a pittcher has used this stage to propel himself to a high draft pick as Kyle Smith (Royals 4th round, 2011) and Duane Underwood (Cubs 2nd round, 2012) each had big games under the lights on opening night.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Royals Scout Team
the Royals Scout Team lacks recognizable star power, they have a long
and deep roster with a nice balance of 2013 and 2014 players.
Similar to the Midland Redskins, a few 2014 arms stand out on the
Royals roster including RHPs Brandon Bielak and Patrick Bryant,
although the team's best arm comes in the form of 2013 LHP Hunter
Green. 2013 RHPs Wil Crowe, Dakota Hudson and T.J. McDonald give the
the Royals three more arms that peak in the low-90s. Two of the
team's better positional prospects, MIF Dale Burdick and C/3B Matt
Morgan, are also from the 2014 class. OFs Tyler Allen Luis Silverio
have solid tools across the board, SS Weston Wilson shows smooth
defense up the middle and 1B/OF Jacob Heyward (brother of Jason), 1B
Connor Simonetti and OF K.J. Woods have intriguing overall potential
at the plate.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: FTB Mizuno
Last year FTB's younger team made a cinderella run all the way to the championship game, including an upset over the organization's top team Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Mizuno in the quarterfinals. It would not be a huge shock if they made another run this year, as their roster has premium 2014 talent. FTB Mizuno has six players ranked in the top 100 of their respective class, with another eight who currently own triple digit rankings. Jeremy Vasquez has emerged as one of the top power hitters in the 2014 class and will be a big presence in the middle of the lineup. While the roster consists heavily of young toolsy position players, the presence of 2013 pitchers Brandon Lawson (South Florida commit), Ian Farrell (SC-Upstate commit) and Joseph Starling (Stanford commit) will be huge for this young team.
Impact Matchup: Rockies Scout Team/Dulin Dodgers vs FTB Mizuno
The approach that the Royals Scout Team has taken in past years has been to place a far greater emphasis on showcasing players than winning games. Their abundance of talent allows them to win games in spite of it, but the Rockies Scout Team and FTB Mizuno both have a strong chance of coming out of Pool D as well. This matchup between the top two travel teams is most likely to be the deciding game in producing a pool winner.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Marucci Elite
Elite travels to Jupiter looking to defend their 2011 WWBA World
Championship crown with a roster that once again is loaded with
talent. They have a balanced mix of big bats, slick gloves and power
arms to help carry them through pool play and the playoffs to
accomplish that goal. PG All-Americans Justin Williams and Oscar
Mercado will have no shortage of big bats hitting both ahead and
behind them, highlighted by a group of talented infielders from the
2014 class that includes Joseph Dunand, Gregory Deichmann and
Nicholas Shumpert. Speedster Matthew McPhearson will help set things
up, while IF Blake Hennessey, C Andrew Dunlap and OFs Anfernee Grier
and Justin Smith will all vie for regular playing time. It's no
different with the pitching staff as PG All-American Dustin Driver
isn't the only power arm at their disposal. Branden Keliher, Keaton
McKinney, Jared Poche and Daniel Propicio are just a handful of
notable arms they have to turn to.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: All American Prospects
The Atlanta Blue Jays are a very tempting pick here but the All-American Prospects get the slight edge. The Prospects have the market cornered on elite young left handers from the state of Florida with the top ranked lefty from the state in the class of 2014 (Bennett Sousa) and 2015 (Thomas Sczapucky). There is a lot of high end youth on the roster but the 2013 class sends some strong prospects as well with Peter Alonso, Kevin Abraham, Juan Escarra and DJ Paone who are all ranked in the top 250. Alonso homered off of eventual first rounder Nick Travieso in last year's tournament.
Impact Matchup: Marucci Elite vs All-American Prospects
This prospect-laden matchup will one of the bigger draws of pool play. From a scouting standpoint this matchup rivals the other big time pool play games of Yak West vs East Cobb Astros and SGV Arsenal vs EvoShield Canes. The Atlanta Blue Jays have enough talent that they also have to be considered a serious contender in the pool so while the winner will be in good shape the Blue Jays still represent an additional hurdle. This is one of the toughest pools in the tourney and this is the pool's biggest matchup. It will likely be just one of several quality games in the pool.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Chet Lemon's Juice
Lemon's squad has claimed the WWBA World Championship twice in its
14-year history, most recently doing so when they split the title
with the Dirtbags in 2010. Their team may not have a ton of star
power or notable D-I commits, but they routinely show strong
fundamentals and a strong sense of team unity. Tyler Danish is the
best of their players, providing valuable innings with a knack for
stepping up on the big stage. In addition to being named the
MV-Pitcher at last year's WWBA Underclass World Championship, he has
been named to four PG/WWBA All-Tournament teams in the last 12
months, including last year's WWBA World Championship. Josh Greene
provides the Juice with one of its better bats, while Drew Carlton
gives them another proven arm. Keep an eye on 2016 LHP Andrew Baker,
who dialed his fastball up to 87 at the WWBA Underclass World
Championship a couple of weeks ago.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Sandlot/Midwest Scout Team
The Sandlot Midwest Scout Team shows its Oklahoma roots by boasting a deep pitching staff. Thomas Hatch showed a lot of promise as a member of the 2011 squad winning his start in Roger Dean Stadium. This year Hatch will join Jon Roblez (who was also a part of the 2011 staff), James Teague and live armed 2014 grad Carson Larue and lefty Austin Kerns to form the best pitching staff in the pool.
Impact Matchup: Chet Lemon's Juice vs Sandlot/Midwest Scout Team
The pitching depth makes Sandlot a contender in the pool, but to win it they will have to knock off Chet Lemon's Juice. Chet could turn to Florida commit Tyler Danish, who threw four shutout innings in last year's tournament shortly after winning MVPitcher honors at the Underclass World Championship. Runs would be at a premium in such a matchup and one swing of the bat could decide not only this head to head matchup, but the entire pool.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Midland Redskins
Midland Redskins will field their usually deep and well-rounded
roster, with this year's spotlight shining on infielder Drew Ward.
Ward, who turns 18 next month, is the No. 2 prospect in the 2014
class but he may opt to make himself eligible for next June's draft.
Karl Ellison, Logan Ice and Tanner Norton will likely split time
behind the plate, first base and the DH to give the Redskins three
more power bats behind Ward. OFs Alex Abbot and Brennon Lund have an
exciting collection of tools that will fit well at the top of their
order. Zach Shannon stands out among the team's impressive
collection of 2014 arms, which also includes fellow RHPs Bryce Montes
De Oca, Matthew Ruppenthal and Storm Rynard as well as LHP David
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Mountain West 2013
Colorado will feature a strong 2013 class, and Mountain West has most of the top players from that class on its roster. Two-way standout Derik Beauprez will be the main attraction. Most MLB scouts are interested in his long term potential on the mound, though he's more advanced at present as a power hitting first baseman. His Cherry Creek HS teammate Griffin Jax is also a legitimate player who will play 3B when he's not on the mound. Power armed righty Alec Hansen is another high upside hurler on the roster, and when he has command of his low 90s fastball he is a very tough opponent. Other players to watch from this team include MIF Brody Weiss and LHP Denton Keys.
Impact Matchup: Midland Redskins vs Mountain West 2013
Midland has a star studded lineup, but Mountain West might have enough talent of their own to have a shot. Both teams have plenty of pitching and this will be the biggest matchup in the pool so it could be top arm vs top arm in a matchup with big pool implications. A potential pitching matchup between giant RHPs Derik Beauprez (6-5/220) and Bryce Montes de Oca (6-7/265) would be one of the most intriuging pitching matchups of pool play.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Dirtbags
Dirtbags shared the 2010 WWBA World Championship crown with Chet
Lemon's Juice, and always bring a scrappy, hard-nose approach to the
game that is defined by their team name. Every single player on
their roster hails from North Carolina, and 15 of the 20 players on
their roster have committed to play at notable in-state D-I programs.
The most notable of which is sweet-swinging, power hitting 2014 1B
Braxton Davidson. Two more 2014 players stand out for the Dirtbags,
RHP Hansen Butler and C Dominick Cammarata, although most of the team
is made up of experienced members of the 2013 class. Parker Johnson
serves as the anchor for the pitching staff with a polished
four-pitch mix. C Logan Koch and MIF Wood Myers help define the
infield past Davidson. SS/RHP Ryder Jones also is in the infield
mix, notable on this team due to his commitment to Stanford, who has
two-way promise with a smooth left-handed swing and powerful right
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: South Florida Bandits
The Dirtbags are clearly the team to beat in this pool, but if the Bandits throw ace Chris Oakley against them they have a shot to knock them off. If they do that then the depth of this team gives them a shot to finish the job and steal the pool. Palm Beach PAL and the Mid-Atlantic Rookies will both be tough games as well, but the Bandits are the second most talented team in the pool (on paper) and if they show up ready to play they have a realistic shot at the playoffs.
Impact Matchup: Dirtbags vs Palm Beach PAL
A matchup between two teams who not only have talented lineups, but who have been through the trenches together many times before. Both of these organizations have consistently turned out teams that play above their talent level and have been involved in a lot of intense games throughout the travelball careers of many of their current players. These two teams should be geared up to play one another and an intense game should result. The player to watch in this pool is power hitting 2014 1B Braxton Davidson. While Palm Beach PAL doesn't have a superstar of the same caliber, C Michael Barash, an LSU commit, leads a very solid team and nothing comes easy for their opponents.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Yak Baseball West- GBG
Similar to last year's Cardinals Scout Team All-American outfield of Albert Almora, David Dahl and Jesse Winker, this year's Yak Baseball West looks as though it will boast an All-American infield including J.P. Crawford, Kevin Franklin, Chris Rivera and Dominic Smith. Crawford, Rivera and Smith may all be turned on to pitch as well, as could fellow IF Tyler Cohen and OF Quinn Brodey. Grant Hockin is one of the top arms in the class of 2014, as he and his brother Chad will be turned to provide valuable innings. Promising LHP Chris Kohler, a late addition to the squad, gives Yak Baseball yet another promising arm, meaning they won't have to rely on their offense to out-score their opponents every time they take the field.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: East Cobb Astros
They may be young but the Astros are one of the elite underclass teams in the nation and they play 150 games a year together. They would already be the favorite in some pools but they are a darkhorse in Pool I due to the imposing presence of Yak West. The Astros have an OF defense that will save a lot of runs as burner Reggie Pruitt plays alongside CF Daz Cameron (son of Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron). The Astros have five members of the class of 2015 who are currently ranked in the top 100.
Impact Matchup: Yak Baseball West - GBG vs East Cobb Astros
This matchup will shift the balance of power in the pool. Yak comes in as the favorite, but a slipup would put East Cobb firmly in the driver's seat. The ACC and SEC coaches will be all over the Astros, who have a lot of uncommitted talent. While big league crosscheckers will follow Yak West closely, and the head to head matchup of an elite class of 2013 squad against an elite class of 2015 squad will be one of the most interesting matchups in the tourney.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler
The Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler team looks for redemption this year after they were knocked out in the quarterfinals a year ago by the upstart Central FL PG Royal team, a team made up of players that participated in the FTB travel ball program. Like last year, this team is loaded with talent with an incredibly deep and versatile roster. Christian Arroyo, Adrian Chacon, Brett Hanewich, Chris Okey and Spencer Trayner are among the more notable hitters for a team that should have no problem scoring runs. Preventing runs doesn't look like it will be an issue either with Cre Finfrock, Cobi Johnson, John Kilichowski and David Peterson standing out among their pitchers. Throw in two-way threats such as Nicholas Gordon, Nick Longhi, Ian McKinney and Dylan White and you have a team that's an obvious favorite to claim the championship.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Dbacks NW Scout Team
This is a northwestern dream team of sorts that has been brought together by Mike Brooks. They reached the semifinals of the 17u PG World Series in July and the organization has found success at several other national tournaments this summer. While it appears unlikely that anyone can dethrone the juggernaut Cardinals Scout Team in this pool, the Dbacks look like the next best squad. A couple of young up and coming players from the Dbacks to keep an eye out for are 2015 SS Ethan Paul and 2014 C Slade Heggen out of Montana. 2013 INF Nate Mondou will be counted on as the leader of this team and his high level hit tool will give the Dbacks a chance to extend innings and push across some runs.
Impact Matchup: Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler vs Team Georgia
Team Georgia posses the top arm in the pool outside of the Cardinals Scout Team roster in RHP Andrew Harrington. If they use him in this game it represents the best chance for someone to pull an upset. Everytime CST/FTB takes the field hundreds of golf carts pile behind the backstop and along the foul lines, making every FTB game a big one, regardless of the opponent. Team Georgia might be a year away after winning the 16u WWBA this summer, but they represent the biggest test in pool play for FTB.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Team Elite
There's quite a bit of recognizable prospective talent on this year's Georgia-based Team Elite squad, including PG All-Americans Austin Meadows and Northern California imports Rowdy Tellez and Jonah Wesely. Missing from Team Elite's usual roster is Perfect Game's No. 1 overall high school prospect in the class of 2013, Clint Frazier, but Meadows, Tellez, Terry McClure and Hunter Webb should provide plenty of offense in the middle of the order. Spencer Adams and Michael Gettys, two of the top prospects in the 2014 class, join Wesely on the pitching staff, who along with Connor Jones, Clarke Schmidt and Dylan Williams could help carry Team Elite deep into the playoffs.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico
On paper this pool appears to be Team Elite's for the taking. But the Orlando Scorpions Black are one of the best underclass teams in the country, and while their lack of experience likely keeps them a year away from contending, they have impressive talent. East Coast PG Gray has some high end talent of their own and a lot of pitching depth, earning them very strong consideration here. But it's Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico that is the pick shock the heavily favored Team Elite. Their MIF will be as strong as any in the pool as PG All-American Jan Hernandez teams with Roy Morales. C Rene Melendez give Team Mizuno a very solid foundation up the middle. The question mark with this squad is pitching, they lack a well known ace, but if a few pitchers step up during this tournament they could surprise.
Impact Matchup: Team Elite vs East Coast PG Gray
The depth of East Coast PG Gray's pitching staff almost ensures that the loaded Team Elite lineup will face a quality arm. And that is the reason that this tournament is flooded with literally thousands of scouts. OF Austin Meadows looks to continue to build his draft stock and strong showings against quality pitching in Jupiter could propel him into consideration for the top of the first round. Whether he matches up against hard throwing lefty Zach Farmer, right handed changeup artist Lawson Vassar or one of the other four East Coast PG Gray pitchers ranked in the top 500 he will have an opportunity to prove himself to MLB scouting directors and crosscheckers. Additionally, the pitching depth of both squads makes it likely that this matchup produces a pool winner.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Houston Banditos
Winners of the 17u WWBA National Championship in mid-July, the Banditos boast plenty of star power, including four PG All-Americans in Nick Banks, Kacy Clemens, Casey Shane and Kohl Stewart. It remains to be seen if Stewart, one of the best prep quarterbacks in the nation, travels to join the team in Jupiter, but his hopes to do so make merit of his devotion to baseball. Mark Ecker, J.R. Holloway and Bryce Welborn, the MV-Pitcher at the 17u WWBA National Championship, help bolster the the Clemens and Shane-led pitching staff and gives them depth to carry the team deep into the playoffs. Clemens will pull double duty providing a big bat in the middle of the Banditos lineup to drive in offensive catalysts such as Banks, Ryne Birk, Darryn Sheppard and Stone Garrett, one of the top prospects from the 2014 class.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Syracuse Sports Zone
The best team from the Northeast this year, Syracuse has a chance to pull the upset and steal the pool from one of the five most talented squads (Houston Banditos). Physical RHP Mark Armstrong was impressive all summer long, with stops at the 17u WWBA National Championship, East Coast Pro and Area Code Games. If the schedule lines up to allow him to face the Banditos it would not only be a huge draw for scouts, but also gives the Zone a chance to wrestle away control of the pool. Dylan Manwaring is a highly skilled infielder who will also provide depth on the mound and will join the physically imposing Tyler Green in the middle of the order.
Impact Matchup: Syracuse Sports Zone vs Houston Banditos
Syracuse has a couple of quality arms to choose from to throw at the Banditos, and on paper it appears that this matchup has a chance to decide the pool winner. The Banditos are one of the most loaded teams in the field, but they could have their hands full with Syracuse Sports Zone. The pitching matchup is almost assured to be a big one no matter which high level arms get the nod for each side.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Orlando Scorpions Purple
Another team loaded with notable D-I commits, the Orlando Scorpions Purple team has diverse collection of talent entirely from the talent-rich state of Florida. The most notable of which are PG All-American IF John Sternagel and one of the more impressive collections of the top 2014 prospects. That group includes RHP Andrew Karp, C John Jones, OF Carl Chester and MIF Take Blackman. Talented two-way talents Alan Archer and MT Minacci give the team much needed depth and versatility. RHPs Taylor Blatch and Andy Ward, who was named the MV-Pitcher at the 16u WWBA National Championship, and LHP Scott Moss provide more pitching depth, while toolsy OFs Ryan Larson and J.B. Woodman will help Sternagel make the offense go.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Richmond Braves
While the South Charlotte Panthers are also a strong pick here, the Braves class of 2013 has long been a strength in that organization. Two-way star Bryce Harman uses his 6' 5" frame to get downhill leverage as a LHP (and has been up to 91) and to create leverage from the left handed batter's box where he has shown usable in-game power at numerous national level tournaments. The gritty play of talented SS Charlie Yorgen also goes a long way to set the tone for a hard nosed team who has a shot at winning one of the toughest pools in the field. Additionally their pitching staff has plenty of velocity, led by RHP Jack Roberts who has been up to 92 several times this summer.
Impact Matchup: South Charlotte Panthers vs Dbacks Team BC
This pool is deep for having a high level powerhouse in it (Orlando Scorpions Purple). While this matchup may not decide the pool, it will be an intriguing matchup from a scouting standpoint. The South Charlotte Panthers feature 13 Division I college commits, many of whom will be on campus at ACC and SEC schools next fall. The Dbacks Team BC aren't as well known but both the current reports and past history suggest that this will be a team that scouts should keep an eye on. Team BC alumni include Justin Morneau, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis and Ryan Dempster. While the Scorpions are the favorite on paper, there is enough talent in this pool that they could slip up, which could add pool implications to the Panthers-Dbacks matchup.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Ohio Warhawks
A staple at the WWBA World Championship, the Ohio Warhawks have reached out to every corner in the nation, and even Canada, to assemble their roster. PG All-American pitchers Ian Clarkin and Jordan Sheffield, as well as All-American MVP Ryan Boldt gives the team three dynamic players. Jordan's brother Justus, one of the top prospects in the 2014 class, also joins the team. Fellow top hurlers Akeem Bostick, Trevor Clifton, Corey Herndon, Zachary Houston, Trent Paddon and Taylor Widener gives the team what should be one of the best and deepest pitching staffs of any team in Jupiter. The lineup doesn't have the same impact potential, although OF Tray Roberts has a similar tool-set to Boldt to help propel the Warhawks offense.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Houston Heat
6' 8" RHP Andrew Kelley will lead the latest of impressive Houston Heat pitching staffs. Kelley repeated his delivery very well for such a tall pitcher at the PG National back in June and if he can pound the strike zone in Jupiter like he did in Minneapolis he will be very tough to generate any runs against. The rotation depth goes well beyond Kelley, as Andrew Lantrip and Josh Pettite are another pair of quality arms that are already on the radar coming into the tournament.
Impact Matchup: Ohio Warhawks vs Giants Scout Team
RHP Carlos Salazar makes his much anticipated PG debut on the first full day of action. The flamethrower from Northern California will take on the Giants Scout Team on Friday. 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic MVP Ryan Boldt will also be a big draw in addition to the rest of the star studded Warhawks roster. The Giants are a hard-nosed team who showed a lot of resilience battling for a victory in the Kernels Foundation qualifier tournament. They are the type of team that grinds out at-bats and works the count and should provide a good test for Salazar.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: EvoShield Canes
Only a handful of teams can rival the Canes roster when it comes to recognizable talent committed to prominent D-I college programs. PG All-American A.J. Puk may not be ready to return to the mound, but has been starting to dismiss the idea that his upside is greater on the mound with his prodigious power. Justin Bellinger, one of the top 2014 prospects, and Jarret DeHart also show big home run pop, while Tyler Alamo, Jordan Gore, Ryan Kirby and Connor Heady gives the team impact talent up the middle. Pitchers Luke Bolka, Chase Brewis, Derek Casey, Canaan Cropper, Tanner Draper, Alec Grosser and Connor Jones give the Canes one of the deepest staffs of any team in attendance.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: SGV Arsenal
On paper it looked like it would be a down year for the Arsenal who graduated an extraordinarily talented crop of prospects in 2012 (highlighted by first rounders Max Fried and Lucas Giolito). But the results this summer and fall have not suffered one bit. Though there doesn't appear to be a slam dunk 1st round draft pick for 2013 on the roster, SGV still has more talent that most of the teams in the impressive field at the WWBA World Championship. 2014 OF Scott Hurst is an undersized player who often gets overlooked but he has an advanced feel for the game and impressive offensive tools. Fellow 2014 grads Jack Flaherty and David Banuelos make up a strong core that have been a huge part of the Arsenal's success this season. The pitching staff will be fronted by San Diego commit Ryan Olson and sinkerballer Kevin Lillicrop. They may not have the firepower of the EvoShield Canes, but the Arsenal are capable of knocking off any team in the field.
Impact Matchup: EvoShield Canes vs SGV Arsenal
With all due respect to a very solid St. Louis Pirates squad, the pairing of these two powerhouses in the same pool makes for a slam dunk choice for Impact Matchup in this pool. The Canes are one of the most talented teams in the entire field, the Arsenal don't quite have the same firepower but they are highly polished and have no glaring holes in their roster. A slight majority of the Canes roster typically plays together throughout the year, while SGV will run out the same lineup it has all season, which should close the talent gap. Expect an intense and entertaining matchup that will surely draw a crowd.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Reds Midwest Scout Team
The Reds Midwest Scout Team made an impressive run at last year's WWBA World Championship, losing to the eventual champion Marucci Elite squad in the semifinals. While their star slugger Nathan Mikolas graduated to pro ball and PG All-American MVP Ryan Boldt is playing with the Ohio Warhawks, the Reds picked up California OF Jason Martin who showcased his skills, which center around his game-changing speed, at the Area Code Games. SS Josh VanMeter has recently stepped up at the plate to serve as the heart and soul for the Reds, while Jake Ring, Spencer Gaa, Mason McCoy and Bryce Only also help power the Reds offense. Although the team lacks a true shutdown ace, Christian Bokich, Derek Burkamper, Adam Dressler and Jacob Sparger gives the team four promising starters to turn to.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Florida Hardballers
Last year's squad graduated OF Max White who become a 2nd round pick of the Colorado Rockies, but returns a lot of key pieces to a deep and experienced 2012 edition. OF/RHP Dalton Duty has shown steady development and had a strong showing at the 2012 PG National Showcase. If he continues to show progress he has a chance to follow in the footsteps of White and work his way into a prime draft spot. Duty will be joined in the OF by big armed Sean Kamhoot and promising 2014 lefty hitter Sam Armstrong. MIF Tucker Neuhaus will be one of the bigger keys for the Hardballers who will be without the power/speed combo of two-sport standout Jordon Austin who is currently in football season.
Impact Matchup: Upstate Mavericks vs Reds Midwest Scout Team
This matchup will pit two emerging stars who made a name for themselves at separate high level events in August. Two-way South Carolina commit Cory Thompson is a primary MIF who ran his fastball up to 93 mph at the East Coast Pro showcase. Southern California CF Jason Martin had a breakout showing at the Area Code Games and has shown tremendous improvement over the past few years.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Tri-State Arsenal
The long and storied New Jersey-based Tri-State Arsenal travel ball organization can never be counted out from any national competitive baseball tournament. The most recent of their success stories is Los Angeles Angels Angels phenom Mike Trout, who played in Jupiter with the Arsenal from 2007-08. Matthew Thaiss and Nick Bottari will provide the bulk of the thump in the middle of the lineup with a nice left-right bat combination. Tim Hoehn, Pedro Perez, Jr. and Nicholas Sciortino gives the team a trio of steady gloves up the middle, and Hoehn could also provide valuable innings off the mound. The Arsenal won't have electric LHP Robert Kaminsky with them in Jupiter, but they will have a solid collection of arms in Karl Blum, Zachary Gallen, Sean Kelly, Robert Moretti, Joseph Palumbo and Michael Shawaryn.
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Homeplate Chillidogs
While he gets more attention for pitching with both hands, Vanderbilt commit Aubrey McCarty's biggest asset to the Chillidogs will be his switch hitting power presence in the middle of the order. He also adds to a deep pitching staff. 2014 LHP Daniel Gooden is coming off a strong showing in the WWBA Underclass World Championship and looks to show that he can have the same kind of success against older competition (as he did at the 18u WWBA National Championship back in July).
Impact Matchup: Tri-State Arsenal vs Palm Beach Select
The Arsenal appear to be the favorite on paper but Palm Beach Select has the built-in advantage of playing every game in their backyard, improving their own contender status in Pool Q. The Arsenal's deep pitching staff puts them in a position where winning this game puts them firmly in the driver's seat, while an upset from the Select would blow the race wide open in what appears to be a balanced pool.
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