Tournaments | Story | 9/25/2014

3 PG WWBA Qualifiers take stage

Jeff Dahn         Matt Rodriguez         Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

Three Perfect Game WWBA qualifying tournaments are scheduled to be played in Texas, Georgia and Iowa this weekend, with the champion at each event receiving a paid invitation to the prestigious PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., Oct. 23-27.

The 5
th annual PG WWBA South Qualifier will be played on fields in and around Houston Friday through Monday; the PG WWBA Southeast Qualifier #2 will be held on fields in and around Perfect Game South at LakePoint in Emerson, Georgia, Friday through Sunday; and the 13th annual PG WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship is scheduled to unfold on fields in and around Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Friday through Monday.

More than 160 of the top travel ball teams from those respective regions will be on hand to compete for the paid ticket to Jupiter and the PG WWBA World Championship, the most heavily scouted amateur baseball tournament in the world.

Battle for Texas’ set at PG WWBA South Qualifier

TOMBALL, Texas – The Houston Banditos Black, not far removed from their championship at the 17u Perfect Game World Series in late July, return to defend their title at the 5
th annual PG WWBA South Qualifier in a tournament that could accurately be billed as the “Battle for Texas”.

The tournament headquarters is the Premier Baseball of Texas facility in Tomball; games will be played on seven other fields as well, including those at the University of Houston, Rice University and San Jacinto College, all in Houston.

The Banditos Black are one of 54 teams from the Lone Star State in the 56-team field, with the Nola Monsters-East Coast BB from Mandeville, La., and Extra Effort from Moore, Okla., being the interlopers.

The Nola Monsters-East Coast BB should be especially competitive behind three D-I commits, including 2015 right-hander/outfielder Dallas Woolfolk, the No. 166-ranked national prospect in his class and an Ole Miss recruit.

But on that proverbial piece of paper that always seems be floating around the press box at a tournament like this, it appears there are about a dozen teams that are a cut above the rest, with the Banditos Black being the choicest cut of all.

The Black, under the direction of Ray DeLeon, boasts a roster with at 17 D-I commits (at this time) from the classes of 2015 and 2016, seven of whom are ranked in the top-203 in their respective classes. It also includes a couple of prospects who played in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in August: right-hander Ryan Cole McKay, a Louisiana State commit ranked No. 29 and shortstop Kody Clemens, a Texas commit ranked No. 47.

Other notables included 2015 catchers Garrett Wolforth (No. 68, Dallas Baptist) and Joe Davis (No. 97, Houston); 2016 outfielder Conner Capel (No. 29, Texas) – the MVP at the 17u PG World Series – and 2016 shortstop Andres P. Sosa (No. 69, Texas).

The Prospects National Team out of Kyle, Texas, features five D-I commits, including PG All-American shortstop Nick Shumpert, a Kentucky commit ranked No. 13 in the 2015 class. Uncommitted 2016 shortstop David Hamilton is ranked No. 199 in his class.

The always tough to take down Texas Sun Devils out of Beaumont come into the event with eight D-I commitments: four to McNeese State, two to Mississippi State and one each to Rice and Texas. 2015 right-hander Parker Ford is one of those Mississippi State commits and is ranked No. 53, and 2015 right-hander/third baseman Chase Shugart, the Texas commit, is ranked 186

The South Texas Sliders, sliding up here from San Antonio, feature five D-I recruits including 2016 middle-infielder Jaxon Williams, an Arkansas commit ranked 155
th. The nationally renowned Dallas Patriots organization have three very strong entrants – 17u Navy, 17u Red and 18u Valdez – with 18u Valdez featuring the talents of 2016 first baseman/outfielder Hunter Seay, an uncommitted prospect ranked No. 88.

A couple of highly ranked prospects scouts will have an eye on this week are 2017 outfielder/right-hander Ronald Washington and 2016 right-hander/shortstop Mason Thompson. Washington, a Texas commit, is ranked No. 1 nationally in the 2017 class and will be playing with the Team Rawlings Texas Bandits Black 17u, and Thompson, also a Longhorns recruit, is ranked No. 15 in his class and is playing with the Austin Banditos

2015 left-hander Sarah Hudek will also be on hand, pitching for the Fort Bend Texans 2015. Hudek, a “high follow” from Sugar Land, Texas, recently announced that she has committed to Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City, La.

LakePoint goes for two

EMERSON, Ga. – With the 2014 WWBA Southeast Qualifier #1 in the books
, a second team will play for the chance to earn an automatic paid invitation to the prestigious WWBA World Championship held in Jupiter, Fla. at the end of October.

This weekend’s WWBA Southeast Qualifier #2 kicks off Friday evening and will conclude on Sunday, September 28, with a championship game hosted at the new state-of-the-art Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint facility.

Ten locations will host the 58 participating teams hailing from seven different southeastern states over the course of the three-day tournament. The 58 teams are split up into 12 pools of four teams and two pools of five teams, with the winner of each pool advancing to the playoffs starting Sunday.

The WWBA Southeast Qualifier #1 champion Team Elite 18’s Prime once again look like one of the more talented teams to play this weekend, with seven players ranked in the Top 200 for their respective class. They are led by 2014 PG All-American Jahmai Jones (2015, No. 7), along with lefthander Jonathan Gettys (2016, No. 20), righthander Nick Neidert (2015, No. 59), outfielder Chad Smith (2015, No. 74), third baseman Bryce Denton (2015, No. 77), catcher Michael Curry (2015, No. 135), and shortstop Aaron Schunk (2016, No. 172). Don’t count out Team Elite 17’s Prime, though, either. Led by shortstop Cam Shepherd (2016, No. 51), they also have twins Austin Wilhite (2016, No. 130) and Nick Wilhite (2016, No. 131).

East Cobb Baseball (Astros) return to LakePoint for this weekend’s qualifier with a loaded roster and as good a chance as anybody to earn the automatic paid invitation to the WWBA World Championship. They bring shortstop Jalen Miller (2015, No. 41), first baseman Thomas Johns (2016, No. 102), outfielder Reggie Pruitt (2015, No. 110), righthander Brock Love (2015, No. 118), catcher Cody Roberts (2015, No. 148), and lefthander Nick Bush (2015, No. 177). Their fellow East Cobb Yankees look strong on paper as well, with four players in the Top 200, including righthanders Jonathan Hughes (2015, No. 85) and Shane Tucker (2015, No. 131), catcher Kyle McCann (2016, No. 139), and shortstop Carter Hall (2015, No. 182).

The recent 2017 rankings has been very good to the MBA Pride Elite program, who bring a very young, but very talented team to LakePoint for the weekend. Five players ranked in the Top 200 for the 2017 class will compete against older competition in the Southeast Qualifier, but have an excellent chance t a deep playoff run. They have a pair of players in the Top 10 in righthander Altoon Coleman (2017, No. 4) and first baseman Alejandro Toral (2017, No. 6), along with catcher Mervyl “MJ” Melendez (2017, No. 35), shortstop Jose Ciccarello (2017, No. 143), and righthander Brady Greene (2017, No. 198).

Other elite prospects in attendance will be Upstate Mavericks shortstop Gabriel Holt (2017, No. 56), Team DeMarini GA 17u McCarthy; lefthander Graeme Stinson (2016, No. 93), Mountain Expos Black; catcher Caleb Raleigh (2015, No. 130), Chattanooga Cyclones; righthander Corbin Brooksbank (2017, No. 171); and Doubleday Rockies shortstop Brody Wofford (2015, No. 187).

Upper Midwest stakes its claim for Jupiter

The 13th
 annual WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship will take place Sept. 26-29 at various fields in and around the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, will serve as the hub for the event while hosting the event's semi-finals and championship games on Monday, Sept. 29.

The 48 teams that are scheduled to participate will be placed in 12 pools of four teams each. Each winner of their respective pool will advance to the playoffs set to begin on Sunday afternoon, with the overall event champion receiving the coveted automatic paid invitation to the 2014 WWBA World Championship.

Those 48 teams hail from 10 different states in the upper Midwest and Canada, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ontario and Wisconsin.

Last year's event champions, the St. Louis Gamers 17u, return this year along with their 16u and 18u travel team partners. Ryan Mantle, who was named last year's Most Valuable Player, and Michael Plassmeyer, the event's co-Most Valuable Pitcher, will play for the Gamers' 18u squad this year.

On paper the always powerful Reds Midwest Scout Team (Hartford, Wis.) and Elite Baseball Training 2015 (Chicago, Ill.) have the most loaded rosters. The Reds' team boasts 18 Division I commits of the 23 players on their roster, while 16 players of Elite Baseball's 17-man roster are linked to D-I programs.

Of those two teams the highest ranked players expected to participate are PG All-American third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes, the 33rd
 ranked player in the 2015 class, and righthander Drake Fellows, the 21st ranked player in the 2016 class.

Perfect Game has five sponsored teams in the tournament, including its Iowa Select Black, Navy, Red and Royals teams. The Black team, which advanced to the playoffs at last weekend's PG/EvoShield National Upperclass Championship, is made up entirely of 2015 graduates, mostly from the state of Iowa, and includes five Division I commits.

Four players that participated in last year's WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship were selected in the top 10 rounds of the MLB First Year Player Draft including Mitch Keller (2nd round, Pirates), Sam Hentges (4th
, Indians), Simeon Lucas (7th, Indians) and Stetson Woods (9th, Giants).

Recent participants of the WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship that now play in the big leagues include Mike Foltynewicz (Astros), Ian Krol (Nationals), Cody Asche (Phillies), Lance Lynn (Cardinals), Drew Storen (Nationals) and Jeremy Hellickson (Rays).

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