Tournaments | Story | 6/29/2016

Fuller brings the thunder

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – HP Maldonado is participating in this year’s 17u Elite Round Robin tournament in order to prepare and get their team in top shape for the upcoming 17u WWBA National Championship. The HP Maldonado offense is led by Terriez Fuller, the No. 37 overall player in the nation for the class of 2017, and his big-time power.

“We’ve been doing this for the last three years, this tournament (Elite Round Robin) gets us ready for the WWBA,” said manager Esteban Maldonado. “We’re trying to get the kids pitching as the scouts are coming in and get them into a groove. We want them to perform, this is about them. We want to set the rotation and get the guys set with the right mindset.”

After today’s defeat of Team Phenom PA, HP Maldonado moves to 3-0 in the Round Robin and looks to be playing their best baseball. Fuller also looks to be in top shape as he already has two home runs in three games played during this event.

Fuller is a big player, standing at 6-foot-6 and 240-pounds, and uses his frame to take advantage of his raw power. A lefthanded batter, he generates good bat speed and can crush pitches seemingly a country mile out of ballparks. He is ranked fifth in the state of Georgia for the class of 2017 and is currently uncommitted, and the way he swings the bat is the reason for his high ranking. He credits his mentality at the plate to his coach’s advice and not trying to do too much. He tries to square up the ball and not overthink anything at the plate.

“When I step in the batter’s box my approach is to stay middle-away and not try to pull the ball,” said Fuller. “I don’t want to think too much, I just want to see the ball and hit the ball. My coach taught me is to go in there and not overthink anything and that mentality helps me.”

The Philadelphia Phillies first round draft pick in 2015 (10th overall) was former PG All-American Cornelius Randolph, and he and Fuller were high school teammates at Griffin High School. Fuller seems to have learned a lot from Randolph, who many believed had the best hit tool in the entire 2015 draft.

“A couple of years ago I didn’t play varsity my freshman year in high school,” said Fuller. “In my sophomore year I had Cornelius (Randolph) playing with me and he took up time to help me work on batting and my swing. He helped fix my mechanics and to work on the tools that I didn’t have. I can’t say that I wasn’t good, but I didn’t put in the work. As I started working hard it started coming out like how far I can hit the ball.”

Being one of the top players in his class, Fuller will likely be under consideration for the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Fifty of the country’s top high school players take part in the Classic at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif on Sunday, August 14. Nick Allen, the No. 19 overall player and the No. 6 shortstop nationally, and Brandon Hurt, the No. 11 overall player and the No. 4 righthanded pitcher nationally, were the first two named to the All-American team. Fuller says he doesn’t really pay much attention to the accolades he receives and focuses more on improving as a player.

“It means a lot, but I can’t really think about that because I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” said Fuller. “I don’t want to get too far into it and not worry about what I still have to do. I still have work to do and I’m just focusing on getting better and better every day.”

HP Maldonado’s team, offensively, is built around Fuller’s power in the middle of the lineup. Team hitting coach Miles Head added that the lineup is structured to have speed near the top of the lineup and for the middle of the order to knock in runs.

“We have a combination of power and speed,” said Head. “We have Terry Fuller in the middle of the lineup but we have a lot of speed and I try to utilize that as much as possible. We have three or four guys who can get the bunt down, play small ball, and get stolen bases. Hopefully our big guys in the middle of the lineup can knock in those guys who get on ahead of them.”

As for the pitching staff, Esteban Maldonado said that he likes to keep his pitchers in a consistent rotation. The Elite Round Robin provides a good opportunity for teams to align their pitchers and strategize who will be throwing on a given day.

“Mackenzie Stills is our first starter and a Vanderbilt commit; Mason Frady is second and a Georgia State commit; Garrett Brown is third and he’s a Georgia commit; we also have two lefties, Brison Finney and Chance Amell,” said Maldonado of his staff. “Our relievers are really good and pretty solid pitchers. We want to get the guys set so that we have a five-man rotation set for the WWBA and that’s pretty hard to do.”

Led by the talented Fuller, HP Maldonado is loaded with elite prospects. Esteban Maldonado puts the responsibility on the shoulders of the coaching staff to keep his players level-headed and not to be overcome by the scouts and coaches who will undoubtedly be in attendance of their games.

“They want to perform in front of scouts but as coaches we try to keep them calm and prepare mentally,” said Maldonado. “When they go and hit then they’ll just be themselves. Of course when you see the scout human nature makes you want to perform better but with the right mindset they’ll be fine.”

Scouts and coaches have started making their way to LakePoint to see the talent that has amassed for the Elite Round Robin. Many more are on their way as the 17u WWBA National Championship starts this Friday. If this tournament is any indication, scouts will probably see Fuller hit a scoreboard or a building (or more) with the way his power has been on display.

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