Few events come close to matching the WWBA World Championship when it comes to the presence of scouts and college recruiters with the impressive level of talent that is on hand. The nation's top prospects from across the country, Canada, Puerto Rico and even Latin America converge in Jupiter, Fla. to compete. While winning the championship is the ultimate goal, player exposure is also of great importance.
Many of the top players will find themselves playing in pro ball beginning next summer after the June draft, but many more will move onto the college ranks to continue their amateur careers.
Every year I assemble a team of players that are now at the college level that have attended the WWBA World Championship in past years. For the most part, these players participated in 2009 as high school seniors, and continue to be ranked as some of the top draft-eligible players for 2013 and 2014. College stars that have made this list in past years include young MLB stars Bryce Harper, Buster Posey and Stephen Strasburg as well as up-and-coming prospects Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen and Anthony Rendon.
Tyler Ross, LSU (All American Prospects 2008-09)
While the high school catching crop available for the 2013 draft is plenty deep, the same can't be said from the college ranks. Ty Ross is among the best available, who excels behind the plate with advanced blocking skills and a cannon for a throwing arm. He has honed his catching skills handling a power-armed staff at LSU, and would aptly handle the quality arms on this team.
Texas backstop Jacob Felts (SE Texas Sun Devils 2009) would provide needed depth off the bench at the position.
Kris Bryant, San Diego (Ohio Warhawks 2008-09)
2009 PG/Aflac All-American Kris Bryant slides over from his usual spot at the hot corner to make room for Tar Heel third baseman Colin Moran, the superior defender between the two. Bryant may wind up at first base, or even a corner outfield spot, some day anyway, but his immense power potential makes him a valuable asset no matter where he plays.
Two more 2009 PG/Aflac All-Americans, Vanderbilt's Conrad Gregor (Royals Baseball Club 2008; MidlandRedskins/Kansas City Royals Scout Team 2009) and Stanford's Brian Ragira (Kansas City Royals Scout Team 2008; Texas Scout Team Yankees 2009), provide plenty of promising options at first base.
JaCoby Jones, LSU (Kansas City Royals Scout Team 2008)
Jones, yet another member of the 2009 PG/Aflac All-American team, is a better fit at third base (where he made this same team a year ago) or in the outfield, but he fills a need on this team by playing second. Jones has the ability to hit and hit for power, and has proven to do so with a wood bat, while his speed makes him a threat on the basepaths.
Colin Moran, North Carolina (New York PG USA Dark Green 2008-09)
Moran led the Cape Cod League in RBI last summer, hitting .316 with 16 extra base hits. A left handed hitter, his profile is similar to former Tar Heel Dustin Ackley for his polished, gap-to-gap approach at the plate with a knack for making consistent, hard contact.
New Mexico's D.J. Peterson (Texas Scout Team Yankees 2009) played with Brian Ragira in Jupiter three years ago, and the two would form a fine corner infield tandem behind Bryant and Moran.
Brandon Trinkwon, UC Santa Barbara (OC Boxers, 2009)
Similar to catcher, the options for the middle infield were limited and is one of the weakest overall positions for the 2013 draft class. Trinkwon is a dark horse prospect in this class, hitting .301 with 6 home runs and 10 doubles on the Cape last summer after an impressive spring (.347/.460/.490) for the Gauchos.
Mississippi State's Adam Frazier (Florida Bombers Scout Team 2009) would provide valuable middle infield depth.
Austin Wilson, Stanford (All American Prospects 2008-09)
Jared King, Kansas State (Lids Indiana Bulls 2009)
Derek Fisher, Virginia (Royals Baseball Club 2010)
Michael Lorenzen gets the nod as the starting utility player as listed just below, and would start games in center in between Wilson and King. Wilson would likely slide over to center in such a scenario with some late inning defensive adjustments to bring one of the team's liveliest arms to the mound. Wilson, who was named to this team a year ago, was a PG/Aflac All-Americans in 2009 and has exciting power and overall athletic potential, although he has yet to put all of the pieces together. King has had no problems hitting in his first two seasons at Kansas State, and is the younger brother of Jason King whom the Tigers drafted in the fourth round in 2011. Fisher showed no problems hitting college pitchers during his freshman year at Virginia, and was among the national leaders in triples with eight.
Michael Lorenzen, Cal State Fullerton (ABD Bulldogs 2009)
As noted above, Lorenzen would start in centerfield on this team, but also would provide a valuable late inning arm out of the bullpen thanks to his mid-90s heat. The Titans wisely started to use Lorenzen in this same role last spring when he recorded 16 saves in 20 relief appearances. He also hit .297 with 20 doubles, and has true five-tool potential as positional prospect.
Carlos Rodon, NC State (Royals Baseball Club 2010)
Mark Appel, Stanford (Braves Scout Team 2008)
Jonathon Crawford, Florida (Southwest Florida Baseball 18u 2009)
Bobby Wahl, Ole Miss (Orioles Scout Team 2008-09)
Rodon was so dominant during his freshman year I don't think many would argue with my placement of putting him over Mark Appel and the rest of this starting staff. All four pitchers selected to be the starters in pool play have electric fastball-breaking ball combinations, and collectively went 32-8 with a 2.39 ERA last spring. Rodon and Appel both are expected to once again compete for the Golden Spikes Award, and finished the nation third and fourth respectively in the nation in strikeouts. Wahl is a fierce competitor, and Crawford doesn't know how to throw anything straight.
Pitching once again will once again define the college crop of draft-eligible players next June, as top prospects such as Dan Child (Oregon State, SE Texas Sun Devils 2009), Jason Hursh (Oklahoma State, Midland Redskins/Kansas City Royals Scout Team 2009), Trevor Williams (Arizona State, ABD Bulldogs 2008-09) and Kevin Ziomek (Vanderbilt, Mid-Atlantic Rookies 2008-09), as well as former PG/Aflac All-Americans Karsten Whitson (Florida, East Cobb Astros 2008; East Cobb Baseball 2009) and A.J. Vanegas (Stanford, SGV Arsenal 2008-2009) also have the Jupiter experience under their belts.
Michael Wagner, San Diego (Ohio Warhawks 2009)
Wagner finished second in the nation in saves last spring with 19, making 31 appearances on the mound for the Toreros, 29 of which came out of the bullpen. The well built 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander worked mostly as a starter last summer on the Cape, where he featured a low-90s fastball and sweeping slider.