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Perfect Game Staff        
Published: Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jupiter, Fla. , October 26-30, 2006




The World Wood Bat Association fall championship, the last major scouting showcase of the year, has always featured the quintessential all-star team?€?a squad pooled largely of elite high school prospects from around the country. Typically, they become an instant favorite of the masses of scouts at the tournament, attracting the largest gatherings for their games.

Baseball America won WWBA championships in 2001 and 2003 with teams loaded with future high-round draft picks, but stumbled badly in 2002 and 2004 with the same approach. Last year, an all-star squad assembled by the Atlanta Braves was a hit with scouts, but never was a factor when trophies were handed out to the championship team on the final day.

This year, the Reds Scout Team has the distinction of being the team with the most cache--the one attracting the biggest crowds of scouts and college recruiters. It?€™s also the team that has the biggest target on their backs. So far, the Reds have withstood every challenge and played to the level of their talent, winning both games Saturday to run their record in pool play to 3-0.

Though the team wears the Cincinnati Reds uniforms, and has players from coast to coast, the Reds Scout Team is operated by Cincinnati ?€™s Midland Redskins, one of the nation?€™s top youth programs in the country over the last 20 years.

Seven players off this year?€™s Midland club, which played in the Connie Mack World Series and other Perfect Game events this summer, have returned to play with the team at the WWBA fall championship. But the roster of players include the likes of shortstop Justin Jackson (Asheville, N.C.) and Michael Burgess (Tampa), both of whom are projected to go in the first 10 picks of next year?€™s draft. Along with Jackson and Burgess, third baseman Derek Dietrich (Parma, Ohio ), one of only four players on the roster from Ohio , catcher Yasmani Grandal (Hialeah, Fla. ) and righthander Sam Runion (Asheville, N.C.) also participated in the Aflac High School All-America Classic this summer.

The Reds Scout Team also features lefthander Walker Kelly (Fort Worth, Texas), one of the top pitching prospects in the 2008 high school class, and first baseman Eric Hosmer (Cooper City, Fla.), one of the top hitting prospect for 2008.

The Reds won back-to-back games on Saturday, beating the McHenry County (Ill. ) Hurricanes 2-1 and Team Connecticut USA 12-4.

They stuggled to beat McHenry County sidearming righthander T.J. Swank (Crystal Lake, Ill.), who kept Reds hitters off balance with a fastball that ranged from 74-78 mph. Swank didn?€™t walk or strike out a single batter while scattering six hits, all singles. He gave up run-scoring hits to sophomore second baseman Brent Zimmerman (Cooper City, Fla.) in the third and Grandal in the fourth. Three Reds pitchers, all touching at least 90 mph, limited McHenry County to two hits.

In their second contest, Runion started for the Reds but was ineffective, allowing six hits and four runs in three innings despite a fastball at 92 mph. The Reds broke open a close game with five runs in the seventh inning as outfielder Andrew Lambo (Newbury Park, Calif.) had two singles and a double and drove in three runs. With the win, the Reds became one of three teams to clinch a berth in bracket play, which begins Sunday.

In their opener Friday, the Reds beat the Bellaire (Texas ) Offseason Cardinals 9-0 in a five-inning, run-rule game. Kelly worked the first three innings, touched 89 mph, and struck out eight while allowing no walks and one hit.


Georgia ?€™s East Cobb Astros and North Carolina ?€™s Dirtbags continued to advance through pool play with a minimum of ease. Though neither team pitched shutouts Saturday like they did in their first two games, both teams advanced to 3-0 in their respective pools and were on the verge of clinching berths in bracket play. Both teams needed to win their final pool play game Sunday to assure a spot in bracket play.

East Cobb beat the Colorado Slammers 4-2 Saturday, scoring four times in the first inning, then relying on the arm of junior lefthander Brett DeVall (Parker, Fla), who worked four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out seven.

The Dirtbags, meanwhile, have outscored their opponents 21-1. They rolled Perfect Game Royal 11-1 as senior outfielder Quincy Latimore (Apex, N.C.), junior shortstop Garrison Lassiter (High Point, N.C.) and junior outfielder L.T. Hoes (Mitchellville, Md.) combined to go 6-for-9 and collectively reached base 11 times in 12 plate appearances.

The Florida Magic (3-0) became the first team to clinch a berth in bracket play with a 3-2 win over the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy , as catcher Timmy Roberson (Lake Worth, Fla.) drilled a game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh.

PG Crosschecker (3-0) became the third team to advance to bracket play when it beat the Puerto Rico Raiders 8-0 on a combined no-hitter and edged New Jersey-based Tri-State Arsenal 2-1.

Other teams that were 3-0 heading into Sunday, when bracket play begins include California ?€™s ABD Bulldogs, which have thrown shutouts in all three games so far, and Hammertime of Florida.

--The third day of play was impacted twice by rain early in the day, but games ended pretty much on schedule, with the exception of two games that were scheduled to be played at Jupiter?€™s Roger Dean Stadium. Those games were re-scheduled at the end of the day on other fields.

Tournament organizers were constantly checking radar weather maps overnight and through the morning as rain cells moved in from the southwest.

With games scheduled on 13 fields every two hours and 25 minutes, and lights available on only five fields, there is little margin for error if rain interrupts play for a significant period of time.

--All-America Prospects outfielder D.J. Leonard suffered an injury to his C-5 vertabra on a head-first slide at home plate on an attempted steal in his team?€™s 4-3 loss to Perfect Game Navy on Saturday. But the injury could have been much worse had a trainer not been in the immediate area and a doctor and paramedic, who were fathers of All-America Prospects players, advised officials at the field not to move Leonard.

There was a half-hour delay in the top of the fourth inning as an ambulance and paramedics arrived, immobilized Leonard, put him on a stretcher and took him to a local hospital, where he remained in traction overnight but was expected to make a complete recovery.

EDITOR?€™S NOTE: Perfect Game Crosschecker?€™s Allan Simpson and David Rawnsley are in Jupiter covering the tournament and will file daily notebooks. Beginning Friday, their coverage will also include a daily list of the top 10 tournament highlights of the day.

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