Tournaments | Story | 10/16/2015

2012 Jupiter College Standouts

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

2015 WWBA World Championship Event Page

By now you're surely aware of the talent that has taken the fields at the world's most heavily scouted tournament event, the WWBA World Championship. Every year the best players from around the nation take the fields at the Roger Dean Complex in Jupiter, Fla. to determine who is the best in the nation.

Look no further than the favorites to win this year's major awards at the Major League level. From Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor competing for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, to Kris Bryant doing the same in the National League. Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper both previously appeared in Jupiter and are the favorites for the AL and NL Most Valuable Player Awards respectively.

And then you have the perennial Major League All-Stars including Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen as well as rising stars that include Matt Harvey, Anthony Rizzo, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Jose Fernandez and a seemingly countless number of notable big leaguers.

While so much of the focus is often on the players that are making an impact on the professional level of baseball, whether that be at the major or minor league level, every year I like to look at past Jupiter participants who are now among college baseball's top talents.

This season marks the 10th year that I have assembled such a team. From Posey, Harper, Donaldson, Gerrit Cole, Lance Lynn and Stephen Strasburg just to name a few, the impact that the WWBA World Championship has on the next level of baseball truly is impressive.

The talent that makes up this year's group of college players that played in Jupiter within the past 3-4 years is no less impressive and stands to make a significant impact on next year's draft, the top minor league prospect lists to come over the next 2-3 years and the big leagues in the not-so-distant future.

To visit the past features, year-by-year, click on the following links:

2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011
2012 2013 2014


Chris Okey, Clemson
Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler/Mizuno, 2011-12; Central FL PG Royal, 2010

Catcher and first base were the two toughest positions to choose one player from a deep well of college talent, and several of the players were legitimate candidates at both positions. Okey got the nod here, for a variety of reasons. The first being his defense, as the former PG All-American continues to receive high grades for his skills behind the dish, with a strong throwing arm and cat-like lateral quickness. He has an extensive history performing at a high level, including three straight appearances at the WWBA World Championship, all with the illustrious FTB program. Okey was named a First Team Perfect Game College All-American in 2015 after hitting .315-12-57 for the Tigers and has positioned himself as a likely first-round pick in next June's draft.

Florida's J.J. Schwarz, Florida (Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler, 2013; Palm Beach Select, 2012), Virginia's Matt Thaiss (Tri-State Arsenal, 2011-12; Team EvoShield 2010), Tulane's Jake Rogers (DBAT/MSL All-Stars, 2012) and USC's Jeremy Martinez (Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler, 2012; SGV Arsenal, 2010) are all proof of the talent at the position and would provide enviable depth.

A.J. Puk, EvoShield Canes, 2012
First Base

Pete Alonso, Florida
All American Prospects, 2012; East Coast PG Gray, 2011

Alonso was a force in the middle of the All American Prospects lineup at the WWBA World Championship in 2012, a lineup that included PG All-Americans Kyle Tucker and Daniel Reyes. Alonso hit .462 (6-for-13) with two home runs and five RBI on his way to being named to the event's All-Tournament Team, his last PG event. While he made an immediate impact as a freshman, he really took off during the summer of 2014, being named the Northwoods League's MVP, and followed that up with a big sophomore season for the Gators despite missing the first month of the season due to a broken foot. After a deep run in the College World Series in 2015 Florida appears to be the favorite to open the 2016 season as the No. 1 team, and Alonso's presence in the middle of their lineup has a lot to do with that.

K.J. Harrison of Oregon State (GBG Marucci, 2013), J.J. Matijevic of Arizona (Chandler Baseball, 2013, Mid-Atlantic PG Orange, 2012) and Zack Collins of Miami (South Florida Elite Squad, 2011-12) are a trio of big boppers that would fit in nicely with any lineup. Harrison and Collins also add further depth and versatility to the already deep group of catchers listed above.

Second Base

Nick Senzel, Tennessee
Royals Scout Team, 2012

The recipient of Perfect Game's 2015 Summer Collegiate Player of the Year, Nick Senzel is coming off of a huge summer spent on the Cape in which he took home MVP honors and was at or near the top in nearly every notable offensive category, finishing first in RBI (33), runs (34), hits (56), doubles (16) and slugging percentage (.558). This is coming off his first two years at Tennessee in which he hit .315 as a freshman and .325 last spring. While he played third base over the summer months, he's expected to slide back to his usual position at second base for the 2016 season and could be taken among the top 10 picks in next June's draft with another strong showing.

Louisville's Nick Solak (Caneglosi Baseball, 2011-12), Notre Dame's Cavan Biggio (Houston Heat, 2012) and Florida Gulf Coast's Jake Noll (Chet Lemon's Juice, 2011) were also considered for the first team and would provide valuable depth up the middle of the infield.

Corey Ray, Marucci Elite, 2011
Third Base

Will Toffey, Vanderbilt
Syracuse Sports Zone, 2013

The left side of the infield doesn't have nearly has many standout candidates as the right side does, but that isn't to take anything away from the immediate contributions that Will Toffey made as a freshman for the CWS runner-up Vanderbilt Commodores. Draft eligible as a sophomore, Toffey hit .294 with 20 doubles, four home runs and 49 RBI as the team's everyday third baseman, providing valuable protection for the team's Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Rhett Wiseman and Dansby Swanson. With those two graduating to pro ball Vanderbilt will turn to players like Toffey as well as outfielders Bryan Reynolds and Jeren Kendall to emerge as the new leaders on offense with hopes of returning to Omaha for the third straight year.

Sheldon Neuse of Oklahoma (Texas Scout Team Yankees, 2012) gives the team not only a valuable backup at the hot corner but also a power arm out of the bullpen as a proven two-way talent.


Kevin Smith, Maryland
Baseball U, 2013

While his .273 batting average as a freshman doesn't necessarily stand out Kevin Smith proved to be more than capable of handling the shortstop position for the Terrapins during his introductory season to college baseball. Twenty-two of his 68 base hit went for extra-bases, and he also stole 11 bases while providing a steady glove up the middle on defense for a team that knocked out the No. 1 postseason-seeded UCLA Bruins from Regional play. Maryland was bounced from the postseason the following weekend in the Super Regionals by the eventual champion Virginia Cavaliers, but it was still a successful season for Smith, who was named a First Team Freshman All-American by Perfect Game.

Ole Miss has a pair of middle infielders that could factor into the shortstop discussion in Errol Robinson (Victus Orioles, 2012) and Tate Blackman (Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team, 2013; Orlando Scorpions Purple, 2012; EvoShield Force, 2011)

Mike Shawaryn, Tri-State Arsenal, 2012

Nick Banks, Texas A&M
Houston Banditos, 2012
Buddy Reed, Florida
Texas PG Teal, 2012
Corey Ray, Louisville
Marucci Elite, 2011

Line these three players any way you'd like in the outfield, as they all have the ability to play center field, and as a result would cover a tremendous amount of ground defensively while providing valuable assets on offense. Banks is the best natural hitter of the three, a former PG All-American who is coming off of a huge sophomore season for the Aggies. Reed may be the most athletic player in all of college baseball, a switch hitter with pop from both sides of the plate and a dynamic tool-set. Ray may have the most helium of the trio as he continues to garner high praise from the scouting community with a chance of being taken among the top 5-10 overall picks in next year's draft.

Their statistics were remarkably similar last year when all three were college sophomores, and they combined to hit .330 with 40 doubles, 13 triples, 23 home runs, 148 runs scored, 151 driven in and 61 stolen bases. However you break down the math, that is a significant amount of offensive production.

It wasn't easy picking only three from a group of players that includes Kyle Lewis of Mercer (BigStix Gamers, 2012), Ryan Boldt of Nebraska (Ohio Warhawks, 2011-12), Jeren Kendall of Vanderbilt (Reds Midwest Scout Team, 2013) and Auburn's Anfernee Grier (Marucci Elite, 2012).


A.J. Puk, Florida
EvoShield Canes, 2012; Reds Midwest Scout Team, 2011

Although most consider Puk's future to be brighter on the mound, where the lefthander has the ability to sit in the 92-95 mph range while touching higher, he also offers considerable promise as a lefthanded slugger. He put on a power display during the home run challenge at the 2012 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship just weeks before being named to the All-Tournament team in Jupiter for his offensive contributions. A Perfect Game All-American earlier that year, Puk's stuff has gotten considerably better, as many to most expected, since arriving on campus in Gainesville, and could be taken with the first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft if he continues to make strides on the mound.

Perfect Game 2015 College Freshman of the Year Brendan McKay (DBacks Team BC, 2013) made a huge impact for Louisville both as their cleanup hitting first baseman and Saturday starter and was also considered for the utility role.

Connor Jones, EvoShield Canes, 2012
Starting Pitchers

Jordan Sheffield, Vanderbilt
Ohio Warhawks, 2012
Mike Shawaryn, Maryland
Tri-State Arsenal, 2012
Connor Jones, Virginia
EvoShield Canes, 2012
Alec Hansen, Oklahoma
Mountain West '13, 2012

There's a nice blend of size, stuff and proven experience among this group of starters, all of whom throw righthanded. Hansen and Sheffield stand out as the staff's hardest throwers, with each having the ability to approach triple digits while maintaining mid-90s velocity late into games due to their live arms. Hansen stands out in particular from this group as a frequently discussed candidate to go first overall in next year's draft thanks to his 6-foot-7, 235-pound frame and power arsenal. Shawaryn and Jones may not throw as hard, but both can touch the mid-90s, with Shawaryn usually living in the 92-94 range and Jones a tick below that.

Jones has experience on his side, serving as Virginia's ace during their CWS championship run last June while also matching eventual event Most Valuable Pitcher Tyler Danish (now a member of the Chicago White Sox organization) nearly pitch-for-pitch in a semifinal matchup between the EvoShield Canes and Chet Lemon's Juice at the 2012 WWBA World Championship.

Jones and Shawaryn were both named to the 2012 WWBA World Championship All-Tournament Team.

Picking just four starters for this team is never an easy task, as you could easily round out two more dominant staffs with the following pitchers:

Matt Crohan, Winthrop (PG Crimson Bandits, 2011)
Dakota Hudson, Mississippi State (Royals Scout Team, 2012)
Alex Lange, Louisiana State (Marucci Elite, 2013)
David Peterson, Oregon (Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler, 2012-13)
Cody Sedlock, Illinois (Reds Midwest Scout Team, 2012)
Kyle Serrano, Tennessee (Royals Scout Team, 2012)
Mitchell Traver, TCU (Houston Heat, 2010-11)
Kyle Wright, Vanderbilt (Midland Redskins, 2013)

Relief Pitcher

Zack Burdi, Louisville
Chicago Scouts Association, 2012

Zack is the second of two Burdi brothers that emerged from the University of Louisville with the ability to regularly record triple-digit readings on a radar gun while serving as the team's closer, and he also follows in his older brother Nick's footsteps by being recognzied on this team. The younger flamethrower went 6-1 with nine saves a year ago in 20 relief appearances, posting a stingy 0.92 ERA while limiting baserunners by allowing just 16 hits and eight walks in 29 1/3 innings. As noted his fastball touches 100-plus, and routinely is delivered in the 97-99 mph range to go along with a wicked upper-80s slider, making late come-from-behind wins a near impossible feat for opposing teams.

Miami's Bryan Garcia (Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler, 2012), Louisiana's Dylan Moore (D-BAT, 2013), Cal State Fullerton's Chad Hockin (Yak Baseball West, 2012) and Vanderbilt's Ben Bowden (PG Crimson Bandits, 2011) would form a lethal bullpen bridging the gap between a potentially dominant starting staff and Burdi's power arm.

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