2008 WWBA World Championship - Jupiter
The ABD Bulldogs defeated Cangelosi Baseball 7-3 to win the 2008 World Wood Bat Association World Championship. The Bulldogs, contenders at virtually every WWBA event they’ve ever competed in but never a champion until now, overcame an early 3-1 deficit against the scrappy Cangelosi team.
RHP Ian McCarthy got the win for ABD. The 4th of 5 Bulldog pitchers, McCarthy pitched three scoreless innings and gave the ABD bats a chance to have an impact against the depleted Cangelosi pitching staff. A total of 11 pitchers took the mound during the game.
Outfielders Frankie Christian (LF), Anthony Hutting (CF) and James Dykstra (RF) provided the spark for ABD with both their offense and defense. Christian drove in the lead run with a single up the middle in the 4th inning and later came around to score on a Dykstra double. Hutting had 2 hits and scored 2 runs after having the key hit in ABD’s semifinal win against All-Star Baseball. Dykstra was a standout defensively the entire playoffs in right field.
Cangelosi Baseball CF Mark Payton (Orland Park, IL) was named the championship’s Most Valuable Player for his role in the middle of the Cangelosi batting order, his outstanding defense in centerfield and his leadership of the event’s surprise team.
Texas Scout Team RHP Garrett Gould (Wichita, KS) was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. Gould went 1-0, 0.00 in 8 innings, allowing 1 hit, 1 walk and striking out 18 hitters. He threw a 5 inning 1-hit shutout against Braves Scout Team in the quarterfinals, striking out 11 hitters.
Cangelosi Baseball, a team that plays with the same relentless, overachieving style and spirit that characterized the major league playing career of team owner and field boss John Cangelosi, pulled the biggest upset of the WWBA fall championship Monday afternoon by beating the Texas Scout Team Yankees 3-1 in one of two semi-final games.
Trailing 1-0 entering the fifth and final inning, Cangelosi tied the game 1-1 and won it on the tournament’s tie-breaker in the second extra frame, getting one run on a base hit by Mark Payton (Orland Park, Ill.) and an insurance run on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Chris Savas (Lombard, Ill.). The Texas Scout Team failed to score in the bottom of the inning.
Cangelosi now moves on to the final, where it will meet another powerhouse team and pre-tournament favorite, California’s ABD Bulldogs. ABD qualified for the championship game by beating Pennsylvania’s All-American Baseball Academy 3-0 on a three-hit shutout by righthander Aaron Northcraft (Newport Beach, Calif.) and a clutch two-run double by outfielder Anthony Hutting (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.).
The Cangelosi team qualified for the 80-team WWBA tournament only by finishing third in a regional qualifier in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in September. Their latest win in this tournament was their seventh straight—four in pool play and three in the playoff round.
But none came close to the magnitude of their latest win, a David vs. Goliath contest, a true study in contrasts as the Texas Scout Team has 13 players on its roster that are ranked higher than Cangelosi’s top-ranked player (Payton), according to PG Crosschecker.
The 5-foot-7 Cangelosi, who owns Cangelosi Baseball Academy in the Chicago area, parlayed his modest talent into a 13-year big league career. His team has played this entire tournament with the same scrappy approach, without a dominant player who has carried the team. No one Cangelosi player has stood out at the plate or on the mound.
But the team came up big against the Texas Scout Team, a club with numerous potential early-round draft picks. After staying close for four innings, Cangelosi tied the game in the fifth on a hit batter, double by second baseman Matt Highland (Kankakee, Ill.) and sacrifice fly by shortstop Justin Kopale (Oak Forest, Ill.).
The two teams then went to the tournament’s tie-breaker, where each half inning begins with the bases loaded and one out. After failing to score in its first at-bat, Cangelosi faced the task of retiring the Yankees in the bottom of the inning with two Aflac All-Americans, outfielder Everett Williams (Austin, Texas) and Luke Bailey (LaGrange, Ga.) coming to bat. But Williams grounded out weakly, inducing a force play at the plate, and Bailey struck out.
ABD reached the final by pitching its third straight shutout in the playoff round. It had an earlier 3-0 win over the Florida Diamond Vision Elite and a 5-0 forfeit win over the South Florida Bandits.
California’s ABD Bulldogs, with possibly the most potent offensive lineup in the tournament, won their second playoff game Monday at the WWBA fall championship—without scoring a run.
With the score tied 0-0 in the fourth inning of ABD’s quarter-final game with the South Florida Bandits, ABD coaches drew it to the attention of the umpires that the Bandits might be using an ineligible player—one that had played for another team in the pool-play segment of the tournament.
Sure enough, he had and umpires immediately forfeited the game to ABD. The win goes in the books as a 5-0 victory for ABD, a power-packed lineup that features seven of the top 15 prospects from California in the 2009 draft class.
The forfeit win propelled ABD into the semi-finals, where they are matched up with Pennsylvania’s All-Star Baseball Academy, 8-4 winners over the St. Louis Pirates in another quarter-final game. Outfielder Chris Gosik (Thorton, Pa.) went 3-for-3 for the victorious Academy team, while righthander Neil Herring (Malven, Pa.) tossed two perfect innings of relief, striking out five.
All games in the first three rounds of the playoffs were scheduled for five innings, in response to the rains Sunday that pushed back the first round of the playoffs by a day. The championship game will be a regulation seven innings, but the scheduled start time may be moved up significantly from the posted 3:30 time, possibly to as early as 2:30.
The winner of the ABD/All-Star Baseball Academy game will meet the winner of the other semi-final contest between the Texas Scout Team Yankees and Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball.
The Braves Scout Team and the Texas Scout Team Yankees were rated co-favorites to win the WWBA fall championship as both teams fielded lineups flush with prospects ranked among the nation’s top 100 for the June draft.
Predictably, the two teams met up in the tournament’s playoff round—but it was in a quarter-final game Monday, not the championship tilt.
The Braves saved their two best arms for the Texas showdown, righthander Shelby Miller (Brownwood, Texas) and lefthander Tyler Matzek (Mission Viejo, Calif.), two pitchers projected to be drafted in the top half of the first round next June. The pair combined on a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in an 8-0 Braves win on Friday night, both touching 94 mph.
No matter, the Texas Scout Team took down the Braves handily, winning 4-0. The Yankees touched Miller for three second-inning runs, powering them into the semi-final round.
Miller was clocked again at 94 in his three-inning stint, but his own error and some unlucky bounces proved his undoing.
Catcher and clean-up hitter Luke Bailey (LaGrange, Ga.) opened the fateful second for Miller with a high hopper over the third baseman’s head and moved to second on an error by the left fielder. Outfielder Randal Grichuk (Rosenberg, Texas) then dropped a bunt down the third-base line and Miller picked up the ball and heaved it down the right-field line, with Bailey scoring and Grichuk reaching second.
Grichuk then scored himself when a lazy fly ball to right field was lost in the sun. A single by Larry Rodriguez (Channelview, Texas) scored the third run.
Matzek, the top-ranked prospect (No. 3 nationally in the 2009 class) participating in the tournament, also gave up an unearned run in his two-inning relief stint, while also touching 94.
Both Miller and Matzek were upstaged by Texas Scout Team righthaneder Garrett Gould (Wichita, Kan.), who blanked the Braves on one hit while walking none and striking out 11. Gould, projected as a second- or third-round pick, was in command throughout with a fastball up to 91, a sharp breaking ball and deft changeup. With only two balls in the middle of the plate all game, Gould appeared much sharper than in his first outing Thursday night when his fastball was mainly in the high 80s.
The Texas Scout Team meets Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball ‘09 in the semis. Cangelosi advanced with a surprise 3-0 win over the Royals Baseball Club in a game that featured a double no-hitter.
All three Cangelosi runs scored in the second, two coming on a ball the catcher tossed innocently back to Royals pitcher Cody Geyer (Weaverville, N.C.), only for it to bounce off Geyer’s glove. The third run of the inning scored on a sacrifice fly.
Righthander Pat Kaminska (Naperville, Ill.) threw the no-hitter for Cangelosi, hitting one batter and pitching to one hitter more than the minimum.
California’s ABD Bulldogs and Pennsylvania’s All-Star Baseball Academy were set to meet in the other semi-final game.
Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball defeated the Florida Bombers in a first-round playoff game—payback, of sorts, from the summer when the Bombers defeated the Illinois Sparks in the championship game of the World Wood Bat Association 18U National Championship in Marietta, Ga. this past July
Cangelosi, operated and managed by former major leaguer John Cangelosi, is essentially the fall-team equivalent of the Sparks as several players cross over from one roster to the other. Cangelosi meets the Royals Baseball Club in the quarter-finals, after the Royals scored four runs in the final inning to defeat Georgia’s Team Elite 4-1.
Pennsylvania’s All-Star Baseball Academy may have pulled the first mild upset in the first round of eight playoff games by edging the Dallas Tigers 3-2. Though both teams were 4-0 in pool play, the Tigers were considered one of the pre-tournament favorites.
All-Star Academy righthander Ryan McCallin (West Grove, Pa.) was the winning pitcher, although he walked off the mound in the fourth inning, clutching his elbow. But Tim Timoney (West Chester, Pa.) came on to get the final four outs, earning a save.
Lefthander Colton Cain (Waxahachie, Texas), a member of Team USA’s junior national team and a University of Texas recruit, took the loss for the Tigers. The tying and winning runs, both unearned, scored in the top of the fourth on an infield single by DH Greg Olinski (Philadelphia), the nine-hole hitter.
Though McCallin is a Pennsylvania resident, he attends a Delaware high school—and technically is the only non-Pennsylvania player on the All-Star Academy team.
All-Star Academy moves on to meet the winner of the St. Louis Pirates-San Gabriel Valley (Calif.) Arsenal game in the quarter-final round.
It looks like I do only marginally better picking WWBA World Championship pool winners than I do picking lottery/powerball numbers.
In the Jupiter Preview (http://www.pgcrosschecker.com/showcase/2008/events/jupiter_preview.aspx), I ventured an opinion as to who I thought would be the 16 pool winners. At least give me credit for making my opinions public. Getting only 5 of the 16 pools correct doesn’t count for much more.
But that’s been the nature of this championship. The tremendous amount of talent on the field has meant more parity between the 80 teams. Only five teams finished pool play with perfect 4-0 records: Team Elite, Diamond Vision Elite, Florida Bombers, Dallas Tigers and All Star Baseball Academy. Only one of those teams, the Dallas Tigers, was on my predicted pool champions list.
Here’s a quick review of the Prediction/Reality dynamic (correct predictions in Bold):
Pool A: The Dallas Tigers easily swept to the Pool A championship, just as predicted.
Pool B: Pool B swung on one inning, the bottom of the 7th inning of the All Star Baseball Academy vs. East Cobb Astros game when All Star scored 5 runs to pull off a 7-6 upset. Predicted champion ECA finished second in the event in overall pool play run differential (a +25) but didn’t win their pool
Pool C: The St. Louis Pirates narrowly edged NW Timberjacks for the pool title, while predicted winner Orlando Scorpions finished 1-2-1
Pool D: San Gabriel Valley Arsenal defeated pre-tournament pool favorite Kansas City Royals Scout Team behind RHP Dylan Covey’s 17 strikeout gem, thus taking this very talented pool with a 3-1 mark
Pool E: The South Florida Bandits edged pool favorite Houston Heat 4-3 on the game’s final play to tip the pool in their favor.
Pool F: This direction of this “Pool of Death” changed immediately on Friday when Team Puerto Rico run ruled the favorite Dirtbags 10-1. Still, the Dirtbags could have advanced if they hadn’t tied the New Jersey Twins.
Pool G: Diamond Vision Elite cruised in this pool with a 4-0 mark, while favored MSL All-Stars finished 2-2.
Pool H: ABD overcame an early tie with the East Cobb Titans and defeated a very talented South Charlotte Panthers team to take the pool they were favored to win.
Pool I: Texas Scout Team Yankees didn’t get their offense going at any time in pool play, but did score just enough to beat Chet Lemon’s Juice and move on to the playoffs.
Pool J: Team British Columbia got outscored 13-9 in four pool games but pulled out a final game victory over Georgia PG Orange to reach the playoffs. Predicted winner SW Florida Baseball never got untracked in going 1-1-2.
Pool K: Braves Scout Team was certainly short of dominating and lost to Orlando PG Purple, but was able to beat Team Bedlam to take the pool with a 3-1 record.
Pool L: The Louisiana All-Stars defeated favored Winning Inning and their Aflac pitcher Michael Givens 5-3 in the pool’s key match up.
Pool M: Team Elite, with a perfect 4-0 record and only 3 runs allowed, would be the top seeded team if the playoffs were seeded instead of bracketed. Pre-tournament favorite All American Prospects couldn’t duplicate their success from the World Underclass and went 1-3.
Pool N: The Richmond Braves were certainly one of the championships’ top 16 teams as far as overall talent, but they lost 5-2 Friday morning to the favored Royals Scout Team.
Pool O: Cangelosi Baseball dominated the pool with a 4-0 record, including a 5-4 win over the favored Ohio Warhawks.
Pool P: The Florida Bombers defeated the favored Diamond Devils 3-2 with a run in a Sunday night “winner takes the pool” play-in game. The match up between two WWBA age group champions can’t really be called an upset.
The 160th and final game of pool play action at the WWBA fall championship was finally completed about 1 a.m. Monday, yet it didn’t deter about 40 scouts and college recruiters from sticking around until the very end.
It was worth the wait as five Richmond (Va.) Braves pitchers, including two prominent 2010 arms, combined on a no-hitter. Still, the Braves (3-1 in Pool N) had to hang on in the seventh to win 2-1 over New Jersey’s Tri-State Arsenal (2-2). Both teams had already been eliminated from playoff consideration.
Righthander Andrew Smith (Roswell, Ga.) worked the first four innings for the Braves, walking one and striking out 11. His fastball topped out at 91 mph. Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) bettered Smith by touching 93 in his one inning of work, but wasn’t quite as effective as he walked two, struck out none and gave up his team’s only run—though managed to preserve the no-hitter.
The game didn’t get started until almost 11 o’clock Sunday night, even though it was one of two games slated to begin at 9:30 p.m. Rain early in the day caused a complete rescheduling of games.
Oddly, the other game slotted in the 9:30 time slot also ended in a no-hitter—and yet the team that was no-hit, Tennessee’s Dulin’s Dodgers, won the game 1-0, beating the Houston Heat. Dulin’s scored the only run of the game in the first inning on a walk and stolen base sandwiched between two errors.
The final day of action at the 10th annual World Wood Bat Association fall championship has just gotten underway here in Jupiter, Fla., with eight playoff games on the agenda.
Actually, one of the games has been delayed by 15 minutes because of a rare sighting to open play at this weekend’s 80-team competition: bright, blinding sunshine. Rain, or the threat of rain, was a familiar occurrence as play began on the first four days of the tournament but clear skies and sunshine will be the order of the day Monday.
With the sun barely poking above the horizon to the east, it was directly in the batters’ sightline on one field, and in the interest of safety, the start of the first-round playoff game between California’s ABD Bulldogs and Florida’s Diamond Vision Elite was delayed by 15-20 minutes.
Rain on Sunday morning pushed the full playoff schedule over to Monday, and the teams that meet in the championship game at 3:30 p.m. will be playing in their fourth game of the day. All games through the semi-finals, though, have been shortened to five innings but the tournament’s tie-breaker will be used in the event a game is tied at the end of regulation.
The 16 teams for Sunday’s WWBA fall championship playoff round have been set, and it will be a diverse field geographically as teams (and players) from all parts of the U.S. are represented, along with teams from Canada and Puerto Rico.
There are three teams from Florida, two from California and Texas, and one each from Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania. The nationally-assembled Braves Scout Team and Royals Baseball Club, which were organized by the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals, have a mix of players from all over the country. The Braves have players from 10 different states, the Royals from 18.
Because of Sunday’s rain that pushed the entire playoff round to Monday, it was determined that all playoff games prior to the final would be five innings, with the championship game still scheduled for seven.
First-round games will be played at 8 a.m., quarter-final games at 10:30 a.m., semi-final games at 1 p.m. and the final at 3:30 p.m.
TOP HALF OF BRACKET
Dallas Tigers (4-0 in Pool A) vs. Pennsylvania’s All-Star Baseball Academy (4-0 in Pool B)
St. Louis Pirates (3-0-1 in Pool C) vs. California’s San Gabriel Valley Arsenal (3-0-1 in Pool D)
South Florida Bandits (3-1 in Pool E) vs. Team Puerto Rico/YBC (2-0-2 in Pool F)
Florida’s Diamond Vision Elite (4-0 in Pool G) vs. California’s ABD Bulldogs (3-0-1 in Pool H)
BOTTOM HALF OF BRACKET
Texas Scout Team Yankees (3-1 in Pool I) vs. Team British Columbia (3-1 in Pool J)
Braves Scout Team (3-1 in Pool K) vs. Louisiana All-Stars (3-0-1 in Pool L)
Georgia’s Team Elite (4-0 in Pool M) vs. Royals Baseball Club (3-1 in Pool N)
Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball (4-0 in Pool O) vs. Florida Bombers (4-0 in Pool P)
The St. Louis Pirates had gone undefeated through three games in the WWBA tournament, but knew the only way they would advance to Monday’s 16-team playoff was by winning their final Pool C game—and pitching a shutout, to boot.
The Pirates did just that, and then some in edging the Bellaire (Texas) Off-Season Cardinals 1-0 early Sunday evening. Lefthander Alex Belew (O’Fallon, Mo.) and righthander Andy Flett (Fenton, Mo.) not only threw a shutout but a combined no-hitter, striking out 14. Three Bellaire batters reached base, two on walks and one on a hit batter, but none moved past first base.
St. Louis scored the only run of the game in the fifth inning on an error and run-scoring double by shortstop Zach Mazzio (Edwardsville, Ill.), the nine-hole hitter.
By winning, St. Louis tied Washington’s Northwest Timberjacks for first place in Pool C at 3-0-1. The first tie-breaker in such a case is head-to-head competition, but the two teams tied each other 4-4 on Saturday. The second tie-breaker is fewest runs allowed in all pool play games, and St. Louis had allowed eight runs in its first three games to nine in four games by the Timberjacks.
Since the Timberjacks won their final pool play 16-2 over PG USA Royal to push their total runs scored for the tournament to 29 (16 more than St. Louis), the Pirates knew their only practical way to advance out of the pool was by winning their final game by shutout. If the opposition scored even once, the third tie-breaker (total runs scored) would be kicked into place and the Pirates knew they had little or no chance to win in that scenario, and they had no chance to advance if Bellaire scored two or more.
The Pirates will draw the Pool D winner, California’s San Gabriel Valley Arsenal, in one of eight first-round playoff games Monday at 8 a.m.
Team British Columbia and the Florida Bombers claimed the final two playoff berths Sunday evening in down-to-the-wire, winner-take-all pool games.
Team B.C. (3-1) won Pool J by edging the Georgia PG Team Orange (2-1-1) 1-0, pushing across the only run of the game in the sixth inning on a triple by first baseman Brooklyn Foster (Langley, B.C.) and a single by second baseman Keaton Briscoe (North Vancouver, B.C.). Lefthander Brett Van Pelt (Whitby, Ontario) went the distance for the Canadian entry, tossing a two-hitter, and salvaged the win when the potential tying run was cut down on a play at the plate in the final inning.
Meanwhile, the Bombers (4-0) won a tight 3-2 game over South Carolina’s Diamond Devils (2-2) in Pool P as five Bombers pitchers combined on a two-hitter, striking out 12. The Bombers broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh, pushing across the winning run on a single by right fielder J.R. Murphy (Bradenton, Fla.), a walk and a base hit by DH Michael Revell (Havana, Fla.).
British Columbia draws the Texas Scout Team Yankees, Pool I winners, in the first round of playoffs, while the Bombers meet Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball, winners of Pool O.
With seven of PG Crosschecker’s top 15 prospects in California’s 2009 draft class on their roster, the ABD Bulldogs might be the best true club team in the World Wood Bat Association fall championship.
The Bulldogs became the 12th of 16 teams to qualify for Monday’s playoff round, defeating the East Coast PG USA Teal team 8-2 late Sunday afternoon in their final game in Pool H. ABD won the pool with a 3-0-1 record and will take on Florida’s Diamond Vision Elite (4-0 in Pool G) in the first round of the playoffs.
ABD, which missed the playoffs a year ago for the only time in nine trips to Jupiter, Fla., picked up only one player from its regular team to come to the WWBA tournament. And the pick-up, righthander Justin Jamieson, the No. 1-ranked high school prospect in Ohio’s ’09 class and the only non-California player on the ABD roster, put the Bulldogs playoff chances in immediate jeopardy when his first-inning wildness led to two East Coast PG runs. He walked three of the four hitters he faced before being lifted.
The Bulldogs rallied from their early 2-0 deficit behind a lethal lineup that includes third baseman Matt Davidson (the No. 2-ranked high school player in California), first baseman Brooks Pounders (No. 7), second baseman David Nick (No. 9), right fielder K.C. Hobson (No. 14) and shortstop Jiovanni Mier (No. 15). Hobson, son of former big league player and manager Butch Hobson, doubled home two runs as ABD broke a 2-2 tie with four runs in the fifth.
Righthander Vince Wheeland (Turlock, Calif.), a little-known 2010 pitcher who had never previously played in a major national competition, bailed out Jameson by coming on to start the second inning and retiring all 12 hitters he faced, seven on strikeouts. He gave way in the final inning to righthander David Armendariz (Granada Hills, Calif.), another promising 2010 arm. Armendariz’ fastball topped at 93 mph.
By advancing to the playoffs, ABD faced the potential of meeting two of the best club teams in the tournament in its half of the 16-team bracket, but the East Cobb Astros and North Carolina’s Dirtbags both unexpectedly failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in recent memory.
The Bulldogs’ stiffest competition in the playoffs should now come from the Braves Scout Team and the Texas Scout Team Yankees, both basically all-star squads that were assembled from far and wide, specifically for the WWBA championship. But both those teams are on the opposite side of the bracket from the Bulldogs, and lined up to meet in the quarter-finals.
PG Crosschecker’s David Rawnsley forecast prior to the tournament that the Braves Scout Team, Texas Scout Team and ABD would be the top three finishers in the tournament and all three teams are nicely positioned to win the championship.
A potential ABD-Braves Scout Team final would be a particularly intriguing match-up as long-time ABD coach Mike Spiers is a scout for the Braves in Southern California.
Team Puerto Rico/YBC, meanwhile, defeated PG USA Crimson 3-0 in the final game of Pool F. With the win, Puerto Rico (2-0-2) not only claimed the 13th spot in Monday’s playoffs, but it kept the Dirtbags (2-1-1) from advancing to the playoffs.
After a slow start to Sunday’s action at the WWBA fall championship, caused by overnight rains that resulted in delays on every field and a significantly revamped schedule, the pace has quickened considerably on the final day of pool play.
By 3 p.m., 11 of the 16 playoff berths had been determined. All pool play games that were originally scheduled for today will be played, with the last two games scheduled for 9:30 p.m.
All the playoff games are now scheduled for Monday, meaning that the two teams that reach the championship game will play four games Monday. The eight Round of 16 games will start at 8 a.m., the quarter-finals are set for 10:30 a.m., the semi-finals for 1 p.m., and the final for 3:30 p.m.
Only pool winners qualify for the playoffs and the latest teams to advance are the two pre-tournament favorites—the Braves Scout Team and the Texas Scout Team Yankees. The Braves (3-1) defeated New York’s South Troy/Youth Service team 4-1 to clinch Pool K, while the Yankees blanked the Temecula (Calif.) Boxers 5-0 to wrap up Pool I.
Should the Braves and Texas Scout Teams, with some of the best high school talent in the country on both teams, win their first-round playoff games, they would meet in one of the quarter-finals.
Outfielder/righthander Wes Hatton (Norco, Calif.) powered the Braves Scout Team to its latest win with a double and triple over the center fielder’s head, and also took the mound, where he struck out the only hitter he faced to earn a save. He was clocked at 92 mph.
Outfielder Jake Miller (Houston) led the Texas Scout Team to its win with a three-run homer, while Class of 2009 righthanders Andrew Walter (Peoria, Ariz.) and Shawn Blackwell (League City, Texas), both of whom touched 90, combined on a three-hitter with no walks and 11 strikeouts.
The other team not previously identified to qualify for the playoffs is the Louisiana All-Stars (3-0-1 in Pool L). They wrapped up their pool with a 4-2 over the Lids Indiana Bulls as outfielder Cade LeBlanc (Baker, La.) drove in four of his team’s five runs with a single and two doubles.
Washington’s Northwest Timberjacks (3-0-1) has completed play in Pool C, but has not officially qualified for the playoffs pending the St. Louis Pirates’ game later this afternoon against the Bellaire (Texas) Off-Season Cardinals. If the Pirates (2-0-1) win by shutout, they advance. If the Pirates win but allow two or more runs, Northwest advances. If the Pirates win and allow one run, the teams will need to resort to a third tie-breaker (most runs scored) as they will have the same record and same number of runs allowed.
The Timberjacks, while technically a Pacific Northwest team, have only seven players from Washington on their roster. They picked up seven players from Georgia, including highly-ranked outfielders Alex Glenn (McDonough, Ga.) and Braxton Lane (Tyrone, Ga.)—two of the fastest players in the 2009 draft class. Glenn has been clocked at 6.22 seconds in the 60-yard dash, and Lane at 6.25.
In a 16-2 clinching win over PG USA Royal, Glenn scored three runs and stole four bases—all without the benefit of a hit.
Tomorrow’s first-round playoff games match the following teams:
California’s San Gabriel Valley Arsenal (3-0-1 in Pool D) vs. Pool C (undetermined)
South Florida Bandits (3-0 in Pool E with one game remaining) vs. Pool F (undetermined)
Florida’s Diamond Vision Elite (3-0 in Pool G with one game remaining) vs. Pool H (undetermined)
Texas Scout Team Yankees (3-1 in Pool I) vs. Pool J (undetermined)
Georgia’s Team Elite (4-0 in Pool M with one game remaining) vs. Royals Baseball Club (3-0 in Pool N with one game remaining)
Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball (3-0 in Pool O with one game remaining) vs. Pool P (undetermined)
Another member of the 2010 class who has helped himself significantly (see RHP Dylan Covey in the previous blog) is LIDS Indiana Bulls SS/RHP Justin O’Connor (Cowan HS, Muncie, IN). O’Connor came into Jupiter ranked #81 in the 2010 class according to PG Crosschecker but that is certain to change when the next rankings come out.
O’Connor has done something in Jupiter that very few players at any level accomplish and has done it twice in the last three days; thrown 92 mph off the mound and hit a home run during the same game. As of mid-day on Sunday he is the only player at the event who has more than one home run.
Chicago Cubs RHP Carlos Zambrano might be the most frequent visitor to the 92 mph/home run club.
Despite his easy velocity off the mound, O’Connor has impressed the Perfect Game scouts much more with his shortstop tools and his hitting potential than his pitching future. He has true shortstop actions on defense and is the kind of hitter who rarely takes a bad swing or has a bad at bat, even against top level pitching.
In its early years, the World Wood Bat Association fall championship was a showcase geared mainly towards the nation’s top high school seniors. A few top underclassmen like B.J. Upton or Scott Kazmir would occasionally appear, but mostly it was an event to show off the current year’s draft class.
Recently, more and more of the nation’s top juniors and sophomores have begun appearing in the 80-team tournament, and this year the volume of impact underclassmen has reached a new WWBA standard. Some of the best talent in the event this weekend has been sophomores and juniors.
It’s not a coincidence, either, as the 2010 and 2011 high school draft classes have already been touted as being exceptionally strong.
Of the top 70 prospects in the 2010 class, as identified by PG Crosschecker, 41 are playing at this weekend’s WWBA tournament. The list includes Florida righthander A.J. Cole, ranked No. 1 overall. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Cole, playing for the Orlando Scorpions, solidified his position by cranking up his fastball on Thursday night to 94 mph.
But numerous other juniors—both those already familiar to the Perfect Game scouting staff, and several newcomers to the national stage—have helped themselves as well.
A key Pool D showdown early Sunday afternoon between the Kansas City Royals Scout Team and California’s San Gabriel Valley Arsenal not only determined a winner from that pool, but provided a large number of scouts, including several of the 15 major league scouting directors attending the tournament, a sneak peek at the 2010 class. Six players involved in the game are currently ranked in the top 100 nationally.
None of the six helped himself more than San Gabriel Valley starter Dylan Covey (Pasadena, Calif.), who dominated the Royals, one of the most talented teams in the tournament, with a fastball that routinely reached 94, including several times in the seventh inning, and a sharp, downer 78-80 mph breaking ball. He went the distance, winning 3-2, and propelled San Gabriel Valley (3-0-1) into the playoffs.
Covey struck out 17 and allowed only one hit—a wind-blown triple by Brian Ragira (Fort Worth, Texas), the sixth-ranked prospect in the 2010 class. Covey did walk five, including three in the first inning, and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch, but his stuff was overpowering.
Covey, ranked No. 34 nationally entering the tournament, has undoubtedly vaulted himself to the upper reaches of the 2010 list, possibly even into the top 10, with his performance.
Several other 2010 prospects have also helped their national profile considerably here this weekend and we’ll touch on some of the more prominent ones in a later blog.
The first four games of Sunday’s original 56-game schedule have gotten underway in the blue quad, on the Florida Marlins side of the adjoining Marlins-St. Louis Cardinals spring-training complexes.
Overnight rains left all 12 fields under water, delaying the original 8 a.m. start time for the first block of games, but several fields have now become playable and most of the remaining fields are scheduled be up and running by late morning.
Schedules have been revamped almost across the board, with an early emphasis being placed on pool games that have significant playoff implications.
The most obvious game with a bid at stake is a Pool A contest between the Dallas Tigers (3-0), the pre-tournament favorite to win the pool, and the surprising Florida PG USA Gold team (2-0). A Tigers win would put them into the playoffs, while a Gold team victory could create a potentially interesting three-team scenario that wouldn’t be resolved until later today.
If the PG Gold team should upset the Tigers, it would then need to beat the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (2-1) later today to clinch the pool’s one playoff berth. A PG Gold loss would result in a three-way tie at 3-1, necessitating a tie-breaker to determine the pool winner.
The first tie-breaker in the case of a three-way tie favors a team that went 2-0 in games involving the three teams. If all teams went 1-1, the next tie-breaker is fewest runs allowed in all pool-play games.
The Tigers can avoid that scenario by simply winning their fourth straight pool game. Though the team has four of the top 10 2009 prospects from Texas on its roster, including three players from Coppell High—shortstop/righthander Chad Kettler, outfielder Jacob Morris and catcher Jonathan Walsh—only Morris and first baseman/lefthander Colton Cain (Waxahachie, Texas) made the trip to the WWBA fall championship.
Between them, Morris and Cain were a combined 2-for-16 in the first three games, and the Tigers have had to rely more on pitching to push them through to the brink of a playoff berth. In their tournament opener, junior righthander Shane Henderson (Flower Mound, Texas) pitched one of the best games of the entire tournament, a complete-game one hitter with one walk and 13 strikeouts, with a fastball that touched 90.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the revamped Baseball Web TV web site (www.baseballwebtv.com) since the start of play in Jupiter, please take the opportunity!
This is especially true if you’re not actually here in Jupiter and are following the action from home. There are dozens and dozens of highlight clips and player profiles up on the site and more are being added constantly. It’s the best way to be part of the action in Jupiter even if you are hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Heavy overnight rains that left all 12 fields unplayable at today’s scheduled 8 a.m. start time and the possibility of additional rains during the day initially cast uncertainty whether all games would be played today according to the original schedule, or whether an improvised schedule might have to be adopted.
A total of 56 games were on today’s schedule—48 games to conclude pool play, and the first round of playoff games. It has now been determined that the first round of playoffs (eight games) will be pushed back to Monday.
While it was unclear initially whether all games would be played today, what was certain all along as play begins today is that six teams, all with 3-0 records in pool play, have already qualified for the playoffs. Only the pool winners advance to the Round of 16, with the Pool A winner scheduled to meet the Pool B winner, C vs. D, and so on.
With the possible exception of the Royals Baseball Club, winners of Pool N, all of the teams that have already qualified for bracket play are somewhat surprise winners.
Pennsylvania’s All-Star Baseball Academy (Pool B), the South Florida Bandits (Pool E), Florida’s Diamond Vision Elite (Pool G), Georgia’s Team Elite (Pool M) and Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball (Pool O) are the other teams to qualify.
The All-Star Academy pulled the stunner of the tournament Saturday in Pool B by eliminating the two-time champion East Cobb Astros, a perennial contender, with a stunning five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out an improbable 7-6 win. Both teams were 2-0 entering the game, and the winner was guaranteed of moving on to the playoffs.
East Cobb seemed to have the game in the bag when it took a 6-2 lead to the bottom of the seventh, especially with righthander Kaleb Cowart (Adel, Ga.), one of the top prospects in the 2010 class, set to close it out after working a scoreless sixth inning.
But Cowart, whose fastball was clocked up to 92 mph, couldn’t retire any of the five hitters he faced in the seventh with base hits by second baseman Sean Coyle (Chalfont, Pa.) and Christian Walker (Limerick, Pa.) driving him from the game.
East Cobb still led 6-4 when lefthander Patrick Merkling (Woodstock, Ga.) came on to relieve Cowart, but he promptly gave up a two-run single to first baseman Robert Amaro (Bensalem, Pa.) to tie the game, 6-6. Another single by right fielder Chris Gosik (Thorton, Pa.) loaded the bases with none out and Walker scampered home with the game winner one out later on a Merkling wild pitch.
Suddenly, the All-Star Academy found themselves in the playoffs as Pool B’s representative, leaving the Astros on the outside looking in. The oddity is that the Astros, who won their first two games convincingly by shutouts, had outscored their opponents by a 26-7 margin, while the All-Star Academy’s margin was just 15-10.
The All-Star Academy is a representative playoff team, by any measure, as it includes most of the top high school prospects in Pennsylvania’s 2009 draft class. Walker and Amaro, the nephew of Philadelphia Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., are ranked Nos. 1-2 in the state by PG Crosschecker.
The Academy was scheduled to play its final pool-play game, now a meaningless contest insofar as the pool standings are concerned, in the 8 a.m. time slot this morning, and will draw the Pool A winner in the first round of the playoffs. That game was originally scheduled for 5:20 p.m., but will now be played Monday.
All 30 major league teams are represented at the WWBA fall championship in one way or another—from fielding teams in the event, to providing uniforms and equipment to select clubs, to sending scouts in mass numbers.
The Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks are among the teams that have a considerable presence. The Royals assembled two teams to play in the tournament and they are a combined 5-1, while the Diamondbacks have the most scouts in attendance of any club, 20.
Notable by their low-profile presence are two teams—the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. Appropriately, scouts from those teams are in a different baseball venue this weekend—Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park to watch their teams play in the World Series.
The Phillies have just two scouts here, both of whom just joined the organization in the last month, while the Rays have a slightly stronger scouting presence. The Rays are also making their presence felt by sponsoring a team in the tournament, the Rays Scout Team.
The odd part of it all is that players for the Rays Scout Team are all from Arizona, as are the team’s two coaches, former big leaguers Ron Davis and Dave Hilton, who work with the Rays from their Arizona homes. It’s also no coincidence that Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison makes his home in Arizona, and it was at his urging that the Rays fielded a team in the tournament—even if all the players are from Arizona.
The Rays got outstanding pitching in their first three games of the tournament, allowing just four runs overall, but their hope of advancing to the playoff round out of Pool E was squashed in the final game of the day Saturday when the South Florida Bandits (3-0) clinched the pool’s one bid with a 3-1 win over the Rays.
Righthander Josh Dahl (Glendale, Ariz.) started for the Rays and lit up the radar guns at a steady 92-93 mph, touching 94, but his own wildness was his undoing as he hit four batters, two with fastballs in the third inning that led to two South Florida scored runs.
Earlier in the tournament, the Rays appeared to pass a critical test when the best prospect on their roster, righthander Josh Barrett (Mesa, Ariz.), worked the first five innings of a 1-0 win over the 2004 WWBA champion Houston Heat, allowing one walk and a hit, while striking out six with a fastball that peaked at 93.
But the Rays needed to beat South Florida to keep their hopes alive, and four Bandits pitchers stopped them short on a four-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Righthander Kyle McKenzie (Canton, Mass.), the top-ranked prospect from Massachusetts and a Tulane recruit, worked the final three innings for the Bandits, striking out seven while topping out at 93.
The second of the four Bandits pitchers, righthander Edurado Encinosa (Miami), also reached 92 and struck out the side in his one inning of work.
Righthander Jonathan Meyer (San Diego) tossed the second complete-game, no-hitter of the day (and tournament) as California’s ABD Bulldogs defeated the Central Florida Renegades 2-0 Saturday afternoon.
Meyer (not to be confused with Jonathan Meyer of Simi Valley, Calif., who is playing in the tournament for the Ohio Warhawks) wasn’t overpowering, walking three and striking out four with a two-pitch mix that included an 81-83 mph fastball and a 74-75 mph slurve.
The win was the first of the tournament for ABD (1-0-1), a pre-tournament favorite to win Pool H.
The Bulldogs then turned around and beat the South Charlotte Panthers 2-1, getting a big-league quality, game-saving defensive play by third baseman Matt Davidson (Yucaipa, Calif.), a potential 2009 first-rounder, on a high hopper to third with the tying run on third base on the last play of the game. The game was pivotal for ABD as it would have been eliminated from playoff consideration with a loss.
Righthanders Chad Thompson (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) and Gabriel Encinas (Whittier, Calif.) stopped South Charlotte (2-1) on four hits. The 6-foot-8 Thompson, another ABD possible ’09 first-rounder, allowed no hits in three innings, walking two and striking out five. He topped out at 91 mph.
Earlier in the day, Chet Lemon’s Juice got a route-going, no-hitter from righthander Robert Benincasa (Riverview, Fla.) as the Juice beat South Florida PG Navy 6-0. Benincasa was much more dominating than Meyer in his gem as he walked none and struck out 16.
The Juice’s win temporarily put it in the driver’s seat in Pool I with a 2-0 record, but it gave it all right back one game later in a key 1-0 loss to the Texas Scout Team Yankees. Both teams are now 2-1 entering Sunday’s action, but the Yankees hold the tie-breaker if both teams should finish pool play at 3-1.
The Texas Scout Team, expected to contend for the tournament championship, got a combined two-hitter from junior righthander Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands, Texas) and senior righthander Brady Rodgers (Richmond, Texas). Between them, they struck out six. Taillon, a potential 2010 first-rounder, ran his fastball up to 93 mph while the Arizona State-bound Rogers was in the more pedestrian 85-88 mph range, but was the more effective of the two pitchers.
Catcher Luke Bailey (LaGrange, Ga.), a potential 2009 first-rounder, doubled to lead off the second inning and came around to score the only run of the game for the Texas Scout Team on a single by Cody Robinson (Sugar Land, Texas).
Georgia’s Team Elite (3-0 in Pool M) and the Royals Baseball Club (3-0 in Pool N) became the first two teams to qualify for the playoff round of 16. Though each team has another pool-play game remaining, no scenario exists that another team in their respective pools could overtake them.
Team Elite won its third straight game of the tournament in the 8 a.m. block of games this morning, but didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the All-American Prospects (1-2), the pre-tournament favorite to win the pool, lost their second game of the day in the afternoon to the Midwest Blazers Scout Team, 4-0.
The Royals, the younger of the two Kansas City Royals entries, clinched a berth in bracket play by rolling over New Jersey’s Tri-State Arsenal 10-0 in a game that matched two unbeaten teams.
With a roster that includes only players in the 2010, 2011 and even 2012 draft classes, the Royals jumped all over Tri-State Arsenal pitchers Chris Jenkins (Westfield, N.J.) and Evan DeLuca (Whitehouse Station, N.J.), the two top rated pitchers in New Jersey’s 2009 draft class. The Stanford-bound Jenkins allowed three runs in 2-2/3 innings while being clocked up to 93 mph, while the University of San Diego-bound DeLuca was touched for six runs in one inning, while hitting 90.
Royals catcher Brandon Sedell (Cooper City, Fla.), just a high school sophomore, continued his hot hitting by going 2-for-2 with an RBI. Sedell is now 8-for-9 in three games. Kevin Pohle (Ballwin, Mo.) and J.R. Bradley (South Charleston, W.Va.), both junior righthanders, blanked Tri-State on three hits, striking out six between them. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Pohle topped out at 89 mph, while the 6-3, `170-pound Bradley peaked at 88.
With the Nov. 12-19 NCAA early-signing window looming, this weekend’s WWBA fall championship presents the final chance for hundreds of college coaches to see many of the nation’s top prep prospects in action.
A significant number of the high school seniors who are among the roughly 1,800 players participating here this week are expected to sign binding letters-of-intent in the one-week signing period, though a high percentage of those players have already made non-binding verbal commitments.
Of the nation’s top 100 high school prospects for the 2009 draft, as ranked by PG Crosschecker, 76 are participating in the WWBA fall championship. Of even more significance, 45 of the top 50 seniors in prospect-rich Florida are here.
Though the commitments are not binding, PG Crosschecker has identified verbal commitments to date for 81 of the nation’s top 100 prospects and several hundred more beyond the elite level.
The University of Florida has been setting a hot early pace in Florida alone by getting commitments from 13 of the top 45 prospects in the state. Twelve of the 13 are playing this weekend in Jupiter, and Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has been a prominent spectator at games involving his recruits, though they are spread out on different clubs.
Among top players who have verballed to the Gators are catcher Austin Maddox (ranked No. 2 in Florida), third baseman Bobby Borchering (No. 6), outfielder Levon Washington (No. 7), righthander Michael Heller (No. 8) and catcher Mike Zunino (No. 13). All but Washington, who is injured, are here.
Because of the event’s location, top prospects from other states are not quite as plentiful as Florida, but 13 of the top 15 prospects from California are in attendance—all but one of whom has committed to West Coast schools. In all, PG Crosschecker has verbal commitments from 44 of the top 47 prospects in California.
Texas is also heavily represented here as 15 of the top 18 prospects from that state are in attendance. PG Crosschecker has identified college commitments for 22 of that state’s top 24 prospects.
While the vast majority of top high school seniors have already committed to four-year schools, some of the ones that haven’t are notable. Among the uncommitted high school players are the nation’s four top-ranked prospects: Texas lefthander Matt Purke, the No. 1 prospect; Georgia outfielder Donavan Tate (No. 2); California lefthander Tyler Matzek (No. 3); and Florida righthander/shortstop Mychal Givens.
College teams haven’t necessarily been in hot pursuit of the four, in large measure because each is expected to be an early first-round pick in the 2009 draft. Only Matzek, who was clocked at 94 mph Friday night, and Givens, who recorded the highest velocity in the tournament this morning at 96, are in attendance at the WWBA tournament.
Tate, a top football talent who is being heavily recruited by football powers such as Southern California and Georgia, had a high school football commitment that kept him away. He spent most of the summer playing for the East Cobb Astros and Team USA’s national junior team, and initially had little intention of playing football this fall. But he relented after one game and rejoined his Cartersville (Ga.) High team.
He’ll likely sign a college football scholarship in February that would allow him to play football and baseball in college—on the chance he doesn’t sign a lucrative professional baseball contract next summer.
Two other top-ranked baseball players who are also football players of note—righthander David Renfroe (Batesville, Miss.; No. 19 on PG Crosschecker’s list of the top prep prospects) and lefthander Slade Heathcott (Texarkana, Texas; No. 21-ranked)—are also missing from the WWBA tournament because of football commitments this weekend. But Renfroe has committed to Mississippi to play baseball and Heathcott is a Louisiana State baseball recruit.
Upsets have ruled the day Saturday at the WWBA fall championship, with the two major shockers of the entire tournament occurring in the day’s second block of 12 games.
The defending champion and pre-tournament favorite Braves Scout Team (2-1) was toppled 6-4 by Orlando PG Purple (1-2), a team that hadn’t scored a run in losing their previous two Pool K games.
The two-time champion and perennial power East Cobb Astros also tasted defeat, losing 7-6 to Pennsylvania’s All-Star Baseball Academy. The loss may prove costly to the Astros (2-1), who had outscored their opponents 20-0 in winning their first two games, as the All-Star Academy (3-0) will win Pool B with a win against winless Miami PG Maroon (0-2) in their final pool play game. Only the pool winners advance to bracket play.
Even with a loss, the Academy should be in solid position to move on as it would win the tie-breaker with the Astros if the two teams finish at 3-1. East Cobb’s only shot to reach the playoffs will be if three teams end at 3-1, and a tie-breaker, based on fewest runs allowed, favors the Astros.
The situation for the Braves Scout Team (2-1) is not as dire as it could still finish at 3-1 and would win any tie-breaker in the event of a two-way tie at the top of the pool. Should three teams end at 3-1, that scenario might become a little more problematical for the Braves, who have assembled an all-star roster of top prospects for the 2009 draft from around the country.
Losses by the Braves Scout Team and East Cobb were hardly the only upsets Saturday morning.
The All-American Prospects (1-1), convincing winners of the WWBA Underclassmen championship two weeks ago, tasted their first loss as they were beaten by PG USA Orange 4-3 in Pool M in the biggest upset in the first-round of games. Georgia’s Team Elite leads that pool at 3-0, but faces an inevitable showdown with All-American Prospects Sunday at 3 p.m. before that pool is settled.
Also from that block of games, the Houston Heat (1-2), the 2004 WWBA champion, was eliminated from Pool E with a 4-3 loss to the South Florida Bandits (2-0).
Yet another team with a roster assembled by Perfect Game, Georgia PG Texas Orange (2-0), essentially ended the hopes of the Orioles Scout Team (0-1-1) coming out of Pool J with a critical 3-2 win. The Oriole Scout Team and Southwest Florida Baseball were considered co-favorites in that pool, and Southwest Florida also went down to defeat, losing to the previously winless Akadema Indiana Yankees (1-2), 5-3.
The East Cobb and Braves Scout Team upsets highlighted the second set of games on the day. But another game of note occurred in Pool O where the Ohio Warhawks and Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball, both 2-0, squared off with Cangelosi winning 5-4, and all but clinching that pool.
The Cangelosi team is managed and operated by former major league outfielder John Cangelosi, and is effectively the fall version of the Illinois Sparks, who finished second to the Florida Bombers in the 192-team, WWBA 18-and-under summer championship in Marietta, Ga.
While there is some crossover in talent between the Sparks and Cangelosi, the fall club lacks the front-line talent that existed on the summer team and the win over the Warhawks was considered yet another upset Saturday as the Warhawks loaded up with top prospects from California, Nevada and Utah specifically for Jupiter.
The pitching velocity charts that the Perfect Game staff keeps for all pitchers at the WWBA World Championships has been taken to a new level.
Premium Level/Scout Level subscribers to PG Crosschecker can now access the complete pitching velocities, including off speed pitches, for every single pitcher at the Jupiter championships. The information currently posted on the PG Crosschecker site (www.pgcrosschecker.com) is complete through all games on Friday (64 games total) and will be updated again at the end of play today.
Pitcher/Team Yr H/W Home FB CB Chg Oth Oppo Gm#
Ahorrio, Eddie - Team PR - YBC
6-0 175 R-R
Programa Alcance Factor 1, Arecibo, PR
Dirtbags/Hooters Scout Team
Alexander, Kevin - FL Bombers Scout Team
6-1 165 R-R
Taravella, Miami, FL
PG USA Black
If you aren't a Premium/Scout level subscriber, why not? Visit the site and see all the high level subsriber content available.-- DR
There are two showdown games underway in the 10:20 a.m. time slot, with the Ohio Warhawks (2-0) and Illinois’ Cangelosi Baseball (1-0) squaring off in a key O pool game, and Georgia’s East Cobb Astros (2-0) and Pennsylvania’s All-Star Baseball Academy (2-0) meeting in a critical Pool B matchup.
In all probability, the East Cobb/All-Star Baseball Academy winner will win that pool, while the Ohio Warhawks can clinch its pool with a victory.
Two more showdown contests loom in the 12:40 p.m. time slot with the Royals Baseball Club (2-0) taking on New Jersey’s Tri-State Arsenal (2-0) in a game that should determine the winner of Pool N.
Though the Texas Scout Team Yankees (1-1) lost a game Friday, they were one of the heavy pre-tournament favorites and have a key game slated against perennial contender Chet Lemon’s Juice (2-0). The winner of that game will take a stranglehold on Pool I.
RHP Robert Benincasa of Chet Lemon’s Juice threw a complete game no-hitter on Saturday morning and only a couple of defensive breakdowns kept him from throwing a Perfect Game in a 5-0 win over South Florida PG Blue.
The 6-0, 175 senior from Armwood HS in Riverview, Florida struck out 16 hitters, a tournament high thus far, without allowing a walk. Three PG Blue hitters reached by error, including one on Benincasa himself, but none advanced beyond first base.
Along with impeccable control, Benincasa pitched steadily in the 84-86 mph range with a sweeping 70-72 mph curveball.
If a couple of early developments are any indication, this could be an interesting day today at the WWBA fall championship. We’ve already seen two significant losses.
The All-American Prospects, with essentially the same team that breezed to the WWBA Underclass fall championship two weeks ago in Fort Myers, Fla., were upset 4-3 in Pool M by the upstart and previously winless PG USA Orange team.
The loss significantly jeopardizes the Prospects’ chances of winning their pool as they are now 1-1 while Georgia’s Team Elite, 8-0 winners over Team Connecticut in another early-morning game, have moved to 3-0. Only one team per pool advances to the playoff round of 16, but All-American Prospects could still advance by winning their final two pool games. Prospects and Team Elite are scheduled to meet Sunday at 3 p.m. in what could be a key showdown game.
All-American Prospects won the Underclassmen tournament by allowing just two runs in eight games while tossing shutouts in all four playoff games. They also won their opener at this tournament by shutout on Friday, 8-0 over Team Connecticut.
But their vaunted pitching staff failed them almost immediately this morning. They fell behind 2-0 early against PG USA Orange and never caught up as their two big guns, third baseman Nick Castellanos (Miami) and shortstop Yordy Cabrera (Lakeland, Fla.), the Nos. 3-4 hitters, went a combined 0-for-4. In three at-bats, Castellanos grounded into two double plays started by the opposing pitcher and struck out in the seventh inning with the potential tying run on second base.
Cabrera and Castellanos, both top prospects in the 2010 draft class, were selected co-MVPs of the WWBA Underclassmen tournament—primarily for their offensive production.
Cabrera, in particular, has drawn the close scrutiny of scouts and college recruiters, and is ranked No. 3 nationally among high school juniors. He is a long, lanky athletic shortstop with graceful infield actions, easy above-average arm strength and significant bat speed. He has almost equal value on the mound and was the winning pitcher in the WWBA Underclass championship game, striking out 10 in five innings with a fastball in the 90-92 mph range.
The other surprise development of the morning’s initial 12-game block involved Tampa righthander Mychal Givens, the second-highest ranked player in the 2009 draft class who is playing here this weekend.
Givens recorded the highest velocity to date at the tournament with two pitches at 96 mph and two more at 95, topping the previous high of 94 (recorded by six different pitchers). But he gave up four runs in three innings and was the losing pitcher as previously-unbeaten Winning Inning lost 5-3 to the Louisiana All-Stars. Givens walked three—all in one inning—and gave up four hits, while striking out three.
His performance today was somewhat in keeping with his career resume as a pitcher. While Givens has superior stuff with excellent velocity and good life on his fastball, and can mix in two solid secondary pitches, he’ll struggle to throw consistent strikes and too many of his pitches can tend to find the middle of the plate when he does. His best slider this morning was clocked at 84 mph, his best changeup at 82.
Day Three of the World Wood Bat Association fall championship got underway this morning at 8 o’clock on 12 fields at the joint spring training complexes of the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.
Unlike the start of play in the first two days of action, there is no imminent threat of rain as the skies above Jupiter, Fla., are largely clear with the exception of a disturbance off the Atlantic coast that is not expected to be a factor. Moreover, there is no measurable wind this morning after regular gusts up to 35 mph impacted play on the first two days.
While the prospect of rain was a constant threat almost throughout Thursday’s and Friday’s play and it rained briefly a couple of times, all 64 games were played in the first two days of play—as scheduled.
As play starts today, every team has played either one or two games. All will play four games by the completion of pool play on Sunday afternoon. There are 24 teams in the 80-team field with unblemished records, either 1-0 or 2-0. Only the 16 pool winners advance to the playoff round, a 16-team bracket that starts Sunday.
Two of the 2-0 teams, Georgia's Team Elite and Clearwater, Fla.-based Winning Inning are playing in this morning’s opening-round of games.
On one field was Braves Scout Team lefthander Tyler Matzek (Mission Viejo, Calif.), the No. 1-ranked high school prospect from California for the 2009 draft, pumping 94-mph fastballs.
On another diamond, directly behind it, was righthander Brooks Pounders (Temecula, Calif.), the No. 7-ranked prospect in the Golden State, matching Matzek pitch for pitch, touching 94 on his own.
The paradox of it all is that two of the nation’s premier high school arms, both from California, were putting on a show for hundreds of scouts from all over the country—in Florida. With both pitchers must-see commodities, it wasn’t uncommon for scouts to bounce back and forth between the two fields to get a glimpse at both arms.
Matzek worked the first three innings of the Braves Scout Team’s easy 8-0 win over Oklahoma’s Team Bedlam in Pool K, allowing one hit while striking out five. Pounders went the initial two innings, both scoreless, as California’s ABD Bulldogs ended up tying the East Cobb (Ga.) Titans 4-4 in Pool H.
Both the Braves Scout Team (2-0) and ABD (0-0-1) are heavy favorites to win their respective pools and advance to the playoffs, giving Matzek and Pounders a second chance to showcase their impressive talent.
But for as good as Matzek and Pounders were Friday night in the final games on the day’s 52-game schedule, both pitchers may have been outshined by righthander Shelby Miller (Brownwood, Texas), who succeeded Matzek on the mound for the Braves Scout Team. Miller worked the final two innings of a run-ruled, five-inning game, striking out five of the six hitters he faced.
Miller also touched 94, but stood out as he also showed two premium secondary pitches, a 73-75 mph curve and an 81-82 mph changeup, had an easy, loose delivery and was in command of his stuff throughout.
Catcher Bryce Harper, generally conceded to be the top high school baseball prospect in the country despite being just a sophomore, was scheduled to play for the pre-tournament favorite Braves Scout Team in the WWBA fall championship.
But Harper was denied permission by the school administration at Las Vegas (Nev.) High to miss any more class days to make the trip to Florida because he had already missed too much school time this fall to play for Team USA at the COPABE Youth Championship.
Harper’s absence has cost the tournament its showcase underclassman talent, but youth was still served here Friday. The Royals Baseball Club, the second of the two teams being by the Kansas City Royals and the youngest team in the 80-team field, has seen to that.
With no one on the roster who is older than a high school junior, the Royals have rolled through their competition with ease so far. They beat the Richmond Braves 5-2 Friday morning and followed with an impressive 7-0 win over the Austin (Texas) Baseball Club on Friday night as three impressive young arms combined on a five-inning, no-hitter with 13 strikeouts.
Six-foot-3, 175-pound righthander Casey Mulholland (Bradenton, Fla.), one of the nation’s top juniors, worked the first two innings, striking out five. His fastball touched 90 mph.
Dillon Peters, a 5-11, 175-pound sophomore southpaw (Carmel, Ind) pitched the middle two innings for the Royals, striking out five hitters while touching 89 mph with his fastball.
A second righthander, 5-9, 165-pound freshman Lance McCullers (Tampa), son of the ex-major leaguer, finished it out by striking out the side with a fastball that reached 91.
Not to be outdone, Royals sophomore catcher/first baseman Brandon Sedell (Cooper City, Fla.) went 3-for-3 in the game and drilled a two-run, first-inning homer. Sedell, rated one of the nation’s top prospects in the 2011 draft class, also had three hits in the morning game, giving him a tournament-best six to date.
No team has dominated the World Wood Bat Association fall championship through the years quite like the East Cobb Astros, who won the championship in 2003 and shared it two years later. A year ago, the Astros entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and lost out in the semi-finals.
As Friday’s action in the 2008 tournament was winding down and focusing on two sets of four feature night games on the lighted fields in the blue quad at the Florida Marlins training complex, there were 12 teams in the 80-team field with 2-0 records.
Not only were the Astros one of the 12, but they were the only team that had not allowed a run. In Pool B games, the Astros whipped the Florida Pokers 12-0 Friday night and then blanked Miami PG USA Maroon 8-0 Friday afternoon.
Junior outfielder Chavez Clarke (Marietta, Ga.) was the hitting star of East Cobb’s first win, drilling two triples (one from each side of the plate) and a home run, and he had two more hits, a double and a single, in Friday’s victory. In the two games, he is 5-for-6 with four extra-base hits.
Both of East Cobb’s wins have been run-ruled affairs, with the Astros efficiently reaching the run limit right on cue—with a 12-run advantage after four innings Thursday, and an eight-run lead after five Friday.
Senior righthander Jordan Cooper (Knoxville, Tenn.) and junior righthander Stetson Allie (North Olmsted, Ohio) combined on a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts in East Cobb’s latest win. Cooper, a Mississippi commit, worked the first three innings, striking out seven with no walks, while topping out at 86 mph. Allie, a premium 2010 prospect, fanned four in his two-inning stint, walking one, but his fastball topped out at 94—equaling the fastest velocity in the tournament to date—and his slider sat at 87.
Other teams at 2-0 were the Dallas Tigers, All-Star Baseball Academy (Pennsylvania), St. Louis Pirates, Kansas City Royals Scout Team, Diamond Vision Elite (Florida), South Charlotte (N.C.) Panthers, Winning Inning (Florida), Team Elite (Georgia), Tri-State Arsenal (N.J.), Ohio Warhawks and Florida Bombers.
The Bombers are traditionally one of the nation’s premier summer league clubs, but tend to focus on younger players in the fall with an eye towards the following summer. But the Bombers won their first two games Friday in convincing fashion, beating PG USA Black 5-0 and College Select (Connecticut) 11-3 in Pool P games.
Catcher/outfielder J.R. Murphy (Bradenton, Fla.), a Miami recruit who broke all of Eric Hosmer’s Bombers single-season hitting records this summer, had five hits in the two Bombers wins Friday.
Though the Bombers have never gone deep in the playoffs at the WWBA fall championships in Jupiter, they have dominated WWBA summer events in Marietta, Ga., winning five championships in the last seven years in the 18-and-under division. This year’s tournament featured 192 teams and was the largest tournament in baseball history.
The Braves Scout Team, the defending champion and pre-tournament favorite, made its 2008 WWBA debut Friday afternoon, defeating a pesky Ontario Blue Jays team 3-2. The game was significant not so much because it close, but because it drew between 350-400 scouts and college recruiters—the largest number ever to see a single game in the 10-year history of the WWBA tournament, according to Perfect Game president Jerry Ford.
The largest previous number, in Ford’s estimation, was a game on the same field in 2001 involving lefthander Scott Kazmir—about seven months before he was selected in the first round of the 2002 draft by the New York Mets. Ford estimates there were about 300 scouts there that day.
Scouts weren’t on hand Friday to see any one particular player on the Braves Scout Team, but the nationally-assembled roster has several potential high-round selections in the 2009 draft. Blue Jays righthander Joey Ellison (Mississauga, Ontario) allowed the first two Braves batters of the game to reach base and score, but pretty much held the lineup in check from that point on with a fastball that topped out at 85 mph. The Braves broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth, pushing across the winning run on a run-scoring single by outfielder Wes Hatton (Norco, Calif.), the only Braves player with two hits in the game.
Meanwhile, four Braves pitchers scattered three hits, with righthanders Dylan Floro (Merced, Calif.), Michael Theodore (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and Scott Griggs (Alamo, Calif.) throwing two innings apiece, and righthander Tanner Bushue (Kinmundy, Ill.) closing it out. Floro was clocked from 90-93, while Griggs, the winning pitcher, topped out at 94—tying the fastest-recorded velocity to this point of the tournament.
Orlando Scorpions righthander A.J. Cole (Winter Springs, Fla.) was the first pitcher to reach 94, touching that figure Thursday night. East Cobb Astros righthander Stetson Allie (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) matched him earlier today, working the final two innings of an 8-0 win over Miami PG USA Maroon. Both Allie and Cole are top prospects in the 2010 draft class.
One of the charts that the Perfect Game staff keeps during events such as Jupiter is the velocity chart, keeping track of all the pitchers who touch 88 mph or above.
Not surprisingly, that chart is filling up quickly.
38 games have been entered into the system as of a bit after 4 pm on Friday afternoon. In those 38 games, a total of 91 pitchers threw 88 mph or better. 52 pitchers had thrown 90 mph or above, topped by East Cobb Astros RHP Stetson Allie, who touched 95 mph and RHP Madison Younginer (KC Royals) and RHP A.J. Cole (Orlando Scorpions) who nudged 94 mph.
The Kansas City Royals Scout Team has put seven pitchers on the chart in only two games, while the Texas Scout Team and Bo Jackson Midwest both have six pitchers at 88 or above after two games.
We’ll be keeping track of the top velocity pitchers throughout the event and publishing it on the Perfect Game web site later.
Tri-State Arsenal/Cust Diamond Jacks CF Michael Trout (Millville, NJ) put in an early bid for the “Performance of the Day” in the Arsenal’s 8-3 win over Deep South PG White.
Trout went 3-4 against Deep South, including a Grand Slam and a run scoring triple and ended up with a 4-1-3-6 line on the day.
Trout has a ranking of 74 in the 2009 class according to the latest Perfect Game Crosschecker rankings, but that may be due for a bit of a bump. Trout is an excellent runner with sub 6.5 speed in the 60 and a big arm in the outfield. He has the strength at 6-2, 190 lbs to generate impressive bat speed but has been an inconsistent hitter at national level events this summer. The offensive tools are there, though, and performances like this on the big stage are sure to help his stock with the scouts.
Diamond Vision Elite, a team from nearby Wellington, Fla., with players from local high schools only and none listed among the nation’s top 500 according to PG Crosschecker, became the first team in the 80-team WWBA tournament to advance to 2-0.
The Elite team opened with a 5-4 win over New York PG USA Dark Green Thursday in Pool G, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, then defeated Bo Jackson Midwest 4-0 in a Friday morning game as three pitchers, righthanders Brad Gero (Lake Worth, Fla.) and Jesse Russiianoff (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and lefthander Josh Scott (Loxahatchee, Fla.), none throwing harder than 85 mph, combined on a six-hitter.
The Dirtbags have been perennial bridesmaids at WWBA summer and fall championships over the past four years with several second- and third-place finishes—but no tournament titles. With the potential (on paper, at least) for this team to be their strongest yet, the Dirtbags had legitimate hopes that this might be the team that would put them over the top.
But after their first two games Friday at the WWBA fall championship, the Dirtbags are winless—and essentially on life support. They eked out a 1-1 tie against the New Jersey Twins in their opening game and then, decked out in pink camouflage uniforms, they were soundly beaten 10-1 by Team Puerto Rico/YBC.
At 0-1-1, the best the Dirtbags can do in Pool F is finish with a 2-1-1 record. That probably will not be good enough to qualify for the playoffs as only one team from each pool advances.
Should two teams tie for the best record in a pool, the winner of the head-to-head game moves on. The fewest runs allowed in pool play is the second tie-breaker, and on that count the Dirtbags one-sided loss may prove costly—especially with eight runs coming in the fifth and final inning of a run-ruled game. Games are over when one team is ahead by at least runs after five innings.
The Dirtbags’ disappointing play to date is surprising as they feature most of the top North Carolina prospects in the 2009 high school class, including third baseman Wil Myers (Thomasville, N.C.), ranked first and 13th nationally, and outfielder Brian Goodwin (Rocky Mount, N.C.), ranked second and 15th nationally. Myers has a single and no RBIs in two games, while Goodwin isn’t scheduled to join the Dirtbags until Saturday as he has a high school football game to play Friday night back in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, center fielder Raymond Fuentes (Manati, P.R.), a leadoff hitter with 6.3-second speed in the 60, sparked Team Puerto Rico (1-0-1) to its surprisingly easy win over the Dirtbags by going 3-for-3 with two runs, a triple and stolen base. That makes Fuentes, the No. 2-ranked player from Puerto Rico, 5-for-6 so far in the tournament.
The On Deck O’s and starting pitcher RHP Wes Hatley were hard luck 1-0 losers Friday morning in their match up against the New York PG Dark Green team.
New York/PG leadoff hitter Eddie Spitaletta reached base on an error leading off the bottom of the first inning and came around to score on a stolen base and two wild pitches. Hatley settled down to throw five no hit innings, allowing only one other runner to reach base, that via a hit by pitch in the 5th inning. LHP Danny Vilet came in to pitch a 1-2-3 6th inning for the O’s to complete the 6 inning no-hit/no-walk performance.
Four New York/PG pitchers combined on a 3 hit shutout: RHP Steven Roche (2 innings), LHP Blake Aquadro (2 1/3 innings), RHP Greg Devaux (2/3 inning) and LHP Jimmy Hodgkin (2 innings).
With a roster that included first baseman Eric Hosmer (the third pick in the 2008 draft), catcher Kyle Skipworth (the sixth pick), righthander Gerrit Cole (the 28th selection) and top prospects from all parts of the country, the Braves Scout Team—a team assembled and coached by Atlanta Braves scouts—stormed to the 2007 WWBA fall championship.
Apparently other big league teams took notice. As many as eight teams that are entered in this year’s tournament have a connection, of sorts, to a major league club—whether it’s in the uniforms they’re wearing, or the scouts they’re providing to assemble and coach the teams.
No team has taken the lead from the Braves more than the Kansas City Royals, who have two teams entered in the tournament—the Royals Scout Team, a team assembled with prospects from 14 different states (and Canada), and the Royals Baseball Club, a team represented by players from 18 different states. While the Royals Scout Team has mainly players from the 2009 draft class of its roster, the younger Royals Baseball Club has only players from the 2010 and 2011 classes.
It’s little coincidence that the Royals have patterned an entry in the tournament after the Braves as Royals GM Dayton Moore, scouting director J.J. Picollo and director of baseball operations Lonnie Goldberg all came to Kansas City from the Braves. In the much bigger picture, the Royals have incorporated much of the Braves approach and philosophy towards player development into their organization, from the major league club on down.
The Braves first assembled a team for the Jupiter tournament two years ago, using their scouts to identify the team, and then to coach the assembled players. Picollo and Goldberg were with the Braves at the time, and saw the obvious benefits that organizing a team of top prospects in a high-profile environment can have.
“It gives you a great chance to really get to know the kids,” Goldberg said. “That’s the biggest benefit that we get from it.”
In addition to Picollo and Goldberg, the Royals have 18 scouts in Jupiter, four of whom are coaching the two Royals team. Every Royals scouts, both full-time and part-time, had a hand in identifying players and coordinating their travel to and from Jupiter. The Royals even brought in their own equipment manager to pass out uniforms.
With about 50 top prospects at their disposal, the Royals will use the opportunity to sell the players on the virtues of being a future potential Kansas City Royals player by bringing in four top players from their farm system, including Mike Moustakas (the No. 2 overall selection in the 2007 draft) and Hosmer, their top pick this year, to speak to the assembled players.
So far, everything is running smoothly for the Royals as both teams are 1-0.
The younger Royals Baseball club beat the Richmond Braves 5-2 in an 8 a.m. game as junior outfielder Mason Williams (Winter Garden, Fla.) and sophomore catcher Brandon Sedell (Cooper City, Fla.) sparked an 11-hit attack with three hits apiece.
The older Royals Scout Team opened with a 7-1 win over PG Columbia Blue in a 10:20 a.m. game as five pitchers, all of whom touched 90 mph or better, combined on a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts. Righthander Madison Younginer (Simpsonville, S.C.), the top-ranked 2009 prospect in South Carolina, worked the first three innings, striking out seven. His exploding fastball topped out at 93.
Action is slated to get underway at 8 o’clock this morning on Day 2 of the 80-team WWBA fall championship, with games scheduled on 11 fields. Six fields will be utilized on the St. Louis Cardinals spring-training complex, and five more on the adjoining Florida Marlins spring compound.
This is scheduled to be the first full day of tournament play with 52 games scheduled. WWBA officials, however, are keeping a wary eye on the weather map as there is a 90 percent chance that rain will hit the Jupiter area today. In fact, there is heavy rain to the west and north.
Some of the pre-tournament favorites involved in the 8 a.m. time slot are the Dallas Tigers, who play the Kentucky Baseball Club, and the Dirtbags (North Carolina), who play their tournament opener against a potentially-tough New Jersey Twins team.
One of the more intriguing opening-round games involves Bo Jackson Midwest, a team with players mainly from Illinois and Indiana that was assembled by the legendary former baseball and football great.
In the true tradition of saving the best for last, the two dominant pitching performances on the first day of the WWBA fall championship came in the final block of four games.
On one field, three Texas Scout Team Yankees pitchers combined on a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts as the Yankees defeated South Florida PG Navy 4-0, while on an adjacent field Ontario Blue Jays lefthander Evan Grills (Whitby, Ontario) did a solo in throwing a three-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts in an 8-0 Jays win over Orlando PG Purple.
Righthander Garrett Gould (Wichita, Kan.), the top Kansas prospect in the 2009 draft class, worked the first three innings for the Yankees, retiring all nine hitters he faced, seven on strikeouts. Though his fastball was only 87-90 mph, he mixed it well with a power curve in the 77-82 mph range and a 75-78 mph changeup.
Gould gave way to righthander Kurt Heyer (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who worked the next three innings for the Yankees. He faced the minimum nine hitters, striking out six, and the only base runner he allowed, on a walk, was erased on a caught stealing. Heyer, an Arizona recruit ranked No. 62 among California high school prospects for the ’09 draft, threw four pitches for strikes, including a fastball that topped at 91 mph.
Lefthander Miguel Pena, a 2010 pitcher from Mission, Texas, with an 87-88 mph fastball, finished up the game by striking out the side.
Grills, Canada’s top prospect for the 2010 draft, was in control throughout for the Blue Jays, walking none and retiring 15 of the last 16 batters he faced. Though he threw a fastball that topped only at 88 mph and a curve, the extremely projectable 6-foot-5, 190-pound lefthander had excellent command of both pitches.
Not to be outdone, Orlando Scorpions junior righthander A.J. Cole (Winter Springs, Fla.), the top-ranked prospect in the 2010 draft class, was clocked at 94 mph—the highest recorded velocity on the day—though his team, the Orlando Scorpions, lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Pirates.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Cole was not involved in the decision, but he allowed two hits and an unearned run while striking out seven.
East Cobb Astros CF Chevez Clarke turned in a performance of the young tournament in the Astros 12-0 victory over the Florida Pokers in the 8 pm slot Thursday night.
The 2010 switch-hitter from Marietta, Georgia led off the game with a triple over the centerfielder’s head hitting left handed. Hitting in the third inning from the right side of the plate, Clarke lined another triple up the right centerfield gap.
Think about how often you’ve heard about a Major League hitter hitting home runs from both sides of the plate in a game and how rare that is. Hitting triples from both sides of the plate must be much more rare. If any stat geeks are reading this and want to email me at email@example.com and let me know just how rare this is in the big leagues, please do so!
Clarke wasn’t done though. In his third and final at bat (again hitting right handed), he lined a home run over the left centerfield fence, driving in three runs. The crack of the bat was so loud that I was on another field and heard it and came quickly over to see what happened, just as Clarke was trotting between third and home.
His batting line for the game read: 3-2-3-4, with a slugging percentage of 3.333.
The tournament’s first outstanding pitcher’s dual matched the Chicago White Sox Scout Team versus Team Puerto Rico. Each team was equally effective with their pitching in the 0-0 tie, although they did it with opposite strategies.
For Team Puerto Rico, the 7 inning load rested entirely on the shoulders of Alex DelaCruz, a 5-11, 170 right hander from Anasco, Puerto Rico. The 2009 grad overmatched a talented White Sox roster with a mid 80’s fastball that touched 87 mph, a sharp mid 70’s breaking ball and a very advanced change up. DelaCruz finished with 10 K’s while scattering 4 hits. He allowed only one runner past first base and base bailed out by an outstanding throw by CF Julian Santos to nail a White Sox runner at the plate in the third inning.
The White Sox split their shutout between four very talented 2009 pitchers, all of whom had the rapt attention of the couple hundred scouts watching the game. Starter Danny Healey (Cooper City, FL) threw 3 shutout innings, working between 88-91 with a 12/6 curveball at 72 mph. As impressive as Healey was, he was the lesser of the four White Sox pitchers in prospect terms.
We asked three scouts to rate the performance/stuff of RHP Felix Roque (Miami, FL), RHP Dane Williams (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) and RHP Cody Stiles (Coral Springs, FL) after the game. Each of the three scouts put a different pitcher at the top off the list. All three topped out at 92 mph and each had a breaking ball that was at least an average pitch, with Stiles’ 75 mph hammer especially impressive. Overall, the four White Sox pitchers allowed three hits while striking out 11 Team Puerto Rico hitters.
With a lineup of big leaguers that includes Jason Bay (Red Sox), Ryan Dempster (Cubs), Jeff Francis (Rockies), Rich Harden (Cubs) and Justin Morneau (Twins), British Columbia has become Canada’s hotbed for baseball talent.
The flow of talent from B.C. may stop any time soon as nine of the top 21 Canadians for the 2009 draft, as ranked by PG Crosschecker, are from Canada’s most western province. Of the nine, eight are playing for Team British Columbia this weekend at the WWBA fall championship, including righthanders Mike Monster (Kelowna), the No. 2-ranked Canadian, and Rory Young (Langley), the fourth-ranked prospect.
Team British Columbia is a darkhorse candidate in Pool J as the Orioles Scout Team and Southwest Florida Baseball are in the same pool, but the Canadian team opened the tournament on a successful note by defeating the Akadema Indiana Yankees 2-1 as righthander Zak Miller (Surrey, B.C.) worked the first six innings, allowing just three hits, though his fastball topped out at only 85 mph.
The win was actually the second of the day for Team B.C. as it defeated the Ontario Blue Jays 11-1 in an off-site, exhibition encounter designed to give the Canadian players an additional game, but Canadian bragging rights were no doubt at stake.
Team B.C. and the Blue Jays are the only Canadian teams entered in the 80-team tournament, but righthander Jake Eliopoulos, the top-ranked Canadian in the 2009 class isn’t playing for either team. Eliopoulos (Newmarket, Ontario), projected as a second- to fourth-rounder next June, is in Jupiter but as a member of the Kansas City Royals Scout Team.
Meanwhile, righthander Evan Grills (Whitby, Ontario), Canada’s No. 1-ranked junior who has an outside shot of being drafted in the first round in 2010, is scheduled to start the Blue Jays’ tournament opener tonight.
In an opening-round game in Pool O that featured three of Puerto Rico’s top four prospects for the 2009 draft, Team Worth battled to a 1-1 tie with Tennessee’s Dulin’s Dodgers.
Righthander Raul Rivera, the No. 1-ranked prospect in Puerto Rico, worked the first four innings for Team Worth, a team otherwise assembled with Florida players, and allowed just one hit while walking one and striking out two. His fastball topped at 90 mph, but he got good sinking action on his two-seamer and induced nine ground-ball outs.
Shortstop Jason Thompson (Germantown), the top-ranked prospect in Tennessee, scored the only run for Dulin’s after he was hit by a Rivera pitch as the first batter of the game.
In a quirky name game that is sure to give scouts in California, Tennessee and Texas fits next spring, there are two players in each state with the same name. Not just the same last name, but the same first and last name.
In California, there are two players of nearly equal ability named Jonathan Meyer—one a shortstop/righthander from Simi Valley High who ranks No. 27 on PG Crosschecker’s list of the top prospects in the state; the other a righthander from Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego, ranked No. 61. The former is playing for the Ohio Warhawks in the WWBA tournament and has verbally committed to Cal State Fullerton, while the latter is a member of California’s ABD Bulldogs. Mercifully, he is scheduled to sign with Clemson when the NCAA early-signing period begins Nov. 12.
Tennessee features two Jordan Coopers. One, the second-ranked player in the state, is a righthander at Shelbyville Central High, while the other, the state’s sixth-ranked player, is a lefthander at Knoxville’s Farragut High. At least there won’t be any confusion this weekend as only the lefthanded Jordan Cooper, an Ole Miss recruit, is playing in the WWBA championship, for the East Cobb Astros.
Texas scouts will have their own share of confusion with Bellaire High righthander Tyler Duffey, the 47th-ranked prospect in the state and a Rice recruit, and Lamar High righthander Tyler Duffie, the 64th-ranked player in Texas and a Texas Christian recruit. Both those players are here this weekend, Duffey with the Bellaire Off-Season Cardinals (a team that is essentially an extension of the Bellaire High program) and Duffie with the Houston Heat.
Righthander Blaze Tart, a highly-rated North Carolina product who transferred from Durham’s Riverside High to the Pendleton School/IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for his senior year, saw his first action of the WWBA tournament against the South Charlotte Panthers, which includes several North Carolina players that Tart has played with in the past—notably shortstop Eric Brady from Green Hope High in Cary, N.C.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Tart came on in the sixth inning with his team, East Coast PG USA Teal, trailing 5-2, and he began pumping a steady stream of 90-91 mph fastballs. Tart, the No. 12-ranked player on PG Crosschecker’s list of the top North Carolina players in the 2009 class, is scheduled to return to his North Carolina roots as he has verbally committed to UNC Wilmington.
The Pendleton School, world-renowned for its golf and tennis programs, is rapidly making a statement in baseball, as well. Shortstop Tyler Pastornicky was a fifth-round pick out of that school in this year’s draft, while righthander Casey Mulholland is the No. 4-ranked high school player in Florida in the 2010 class.
The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy traditionally attracts the top high school baseball talent in Puerto Rico, and the Academy set a draft record, of sorts, by having 12 players (including six in the first 10 rounds) drafted two years ago—the most ever by one high school. The most by a conventional high school in the contiguous United States is six.
The Academy has traditionally brought the elite talent in Puerto Rico to the WWBA fall championship in the last several years, reaching the round of eight in its best finish. But it appears the best 2009 talent from the island has been spread equally this year among three clubs—the Academy team, Team Puerto Rico/YBC and Team Worth.
Of the top nine Puerto Ricans identified by PG Crosschecker for the 2009 draft, eight of whom are here this weekend, three each are playing for Team Puerto Rico/YBC and Team Worth, and only two for the Academy. The top-ranked Academy player is outfielder Juan Silva, ranked only No. 5 overall.
Interestingly, three of the top four ranked Puerto Ricans are members of Team Worth, a loose assembly of top players from Florida—plus the three high-profile Puerto Ricans. Righthander Raul Rivera, the No. 1-ranked player, outfielded/lefthander Ruben Sierra Jr., son of the former major leaguer and the No. 3-ranked talent, and catcher Roidany Aguila, the No. 4 talent, are all playing for Team Worth.
The Academy and Team Worth are both currently playing in the opening round of the tournament, which will give hundreds of scouts their first close-up look at the top Puerto Rican prospects for the 2009 draft.
Conveniently, Rivera was the starting pitcher for Team Worth in today’s opener while Aguila was his batterymate. In the early going, Rivera was clocked in the 86-90 mph range.
Outfielder Raymond Fuentes, the No. 2-ranked Puerto Rican, plays for Team Puerto Rico/YBC, which plays its initial game today at 5:30. Fuentes, who has been timed in the 60 in 6.30 seconds, will be one of the fastest players in the 80-team tournament.
The opening games of the 10th WWBA Fall Championship kicked off at 3 p.m. today on the four fields in the blue quad—effectively the four main fields in the spring training complex of the Florida Marlins.
Games will be played on those fields only today, with another quartet of games scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and the remaining set of four scheduled for 8 p.m. With Roger Dean Stadium, the primary spring home for both the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, and also the summer home of the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals, the Class A Florida State League affiliates for both clubs, unavailable this weekend because the playing surface is undergoing a makeover, the four fields are the only ones that are lighted.
With today’s games limited to the one quad, there should be a huge number of scouts and college recruiters concentrated in one area, and it appears there are already close to 400 gathered to see the four tournament openers. That number could double by this evening, especially with three pre-tournament favorites—the two-time champion East Cobb Astros, the Orlando Scorpions and the Texas Scout Team Yankees—playing on three different fields.
Correction: Today’s game between Ontario Blue Jays and Orlando PG Purple and the matchup between RHP Ryan Moore and LHP Evan Grills is at 8:00 pm on Blue 4, not at 5:30 as previously written.
It’s about three hours before the first game at the 2008 World Wood Bat Association World Championships in Jupiter, Florida. Dozens of PG staff members are busy taking care of all the last minute details (putting up tents and signs, getting equipment organized, lining up the ubiquitous golf carts, etc.) that make an event run smoothly.
Today’s schedule features three sets of four games each on the Blue Quad, the only four fields of the 12 at the Marlins/Cardinals which have lights. Roger Dean Stadium is not in the field rotation this year as it was resodded at the end of instructional league.
The big worry at the moment is the weather forecast, which calls for an 80% chance of rain later this afternoon and a 70% chance tomorrow, along with a wind advisory, before settling down for the weekend to the normal Florida 30% chance. There are numerous contingency plans in case of rain and open gaps built into the schedule, but there are limits on available field slots as well.
Important: In case of weather, schedule updates will be posted on this blog, on the WWBA website (worldwoodbat.com) and the Perfect Game website (perfectgame.org). Please check these sources frequently if there are schedule changes or any other up to the minute information.
There are some very interesting games scheduled among the dozen today. Dulins Dodgers vs. Team Worth will draw lots of attention in the 3 pm bracket, while a pitching match up between RHP Tyler Moore (Orlando PG Purple) and LHP Evan Grills (Ontario Blue Jays will command the attention of all the scouts in the 5:30 time slot. The East Cobb Astros, Texas Scout Team Yankees and Orlando Scorpions all play games at 8 pm.
FOLLOW ALL WWBA COVERAGE FROM JUPITER
ON PERFECT GAME, PG CROSSCHECKER BLOGS
The 80-team World Wood Bat Association Fall Championship, which will feature the greatest collection of high school talent ever assembled in one event, kicks off Thursday afternoon in Jupiter, Fla., and we’ll be there with all the coverage.
PG Crosschecker’s Allan Simpson and David Rawnsley will follow all the action and their regular blogs on the Perfect Game and PG Crosschecker websites will contain a wide range of coverage, including simple game scores and highlights, to scouting reports and updates on top prospects in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 draft classes, to interesting developments that evolve through the five-day tournament. We’ll even be the source for weather updates and directives, should rain interrupt the schedule at any point.