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Tournaments | Story | 10/13/2016

World Championship Pool Preview

Jheremy Brown         Matt Czechanski         Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game


2016 WWBA World Championship Event Page

All 22 pools, A through V, for the 2016 WWBA World Championship will be released and previewed over the span of two days on Thursday, October 13 and Friday, October 14. Be sure to check out the Perfect Game homepage as well as the main event page for links to the full tournament schedule, standings, playoff bracket, daily scout recaps and feature stories leading up to and carrying through this year's WWBA World Championship to be held at the Roger Dean Sports Complex in Jupiter, Fla., Oct. 20-24.

The schedule for this year's WWBA World Championship is expected to be released at the end of the pool previews on Friday, October 14.

Click on the team name link to view each team's schedule and roster.



Pool A

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
All Star Baseball Academy Brady Devereux 306 2018 Gavin Hinchcliffe 291 2017 Mike Manning
Astros Scout Team/FTB Tucci
Connor Uselton 10
2017 Tanner Burns 16 2017 George Gonzalez
Baseball Northwest Dustin Garcia 207 2018 David Rhoades 391 2018 Josh Warner
D-BAT Cody Masters 186 2017 Kaden Krowka 500 2018 Ryan Bonesio

Projected Pool Winner:  Astros Scout Team/FTB Tucci
Conner Uselton, Astros Scout Team/FTB Tucci
Star power is the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the roster of the Astros Scout Team/FTB Tucci. Highlighted by several Perfect Game All-Americans, they’re loaded with legitimate draft talent both in the pitching staff and the everyday lineup. The core of this team won the 17u WWBA National Championship in July, as well as the WWBA Underclass World Championship a year ago, and they’re back to try and make it a World Championship. The pitching staff will be led by PG All-Americans Logan Allen, Tanner Burns, Hunter Ruth and Mitchell Stone, while Conner Uselton, Christian Robinson and Matthew Golda lead a star-studded potential everyday lineup. This is a team that is not only projected to win their pool, but is one of the better bets to win the whole thing.

Dark Horse:  Baseball Northwest
Coming off of a very good tournament season, Baseball Northwest comes into Jupiter with a talented club who is used to winning. Dustin Garcia leads the offense into Jupiter as the No. 207 ranked player in the class of 2018, committed to the University of Washington. He’s a very athletic prospect who should lead the defense from the outfield and hit near the top of the order. They also bring outfielder Kevin Watson Jr. (Oregon State), shortstop Jack Smith (Washington State) and infielder Tyler Doanes (West Virginia) into the mix offensively. On the mound, David Rhoades figures to get the ball in Game 1, as their highest-ranked arm, and he’ll be joined by Sam Wurth and Kyle Turner in the rotation. 

What To Watch For: FTB's Star Power
As mentioned above, the Astros/FTB roster is absolutely loaded, with four PG All-Americans on their pitching staff alone. We know they can play ball, we’ve seen it over and over again over the course of the summer and fall at various events, but they've had similar loaded rosters in the past without a championship in Jupiter to show for it. The question remains as to who will take the biggest strides forward in Jupiter? Who will cement themselves among the elite of the draft class heading into the offseason?

– Brian Sakowski



Pool B


Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
AZ T-Rex Rawlings
Jacob Gonzalez 45 2017 Boyd Vander Kooi 167 2017 Rex Gonzalez
PRBAHS
Ricardo De La Torre 42 2017 Osvaldo Berrios Flores 500 2017 Omar Rodriguez
Reds Midwest Scout Team Mark Vierling 302 2017 Brendan Murphy 99 2017 Andy Stack
Team Northeast Christian Hlinka 84 2018 Jake Randolph 500 2017 Bob Barth

Projected Pool Winner:  AZ T-Rex Rawlings
Jacob Gonzalez, AZ T-Rex Rawlings
Coach Rex Gonzalez has built up his program into a national power in a relatively short span of time, beginning back to when his nephew, Perfect Game All-American Jacob Gonzalez, was just an underclassman. Now Gonzalez, and a majority of his teammates, are heading into their senior seasons with one final tournament in front of them. The winners of the 17u Perfect Game World Series and the PG/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship, this T-Rex club is a squad that knows how to execute the subtle nuances of the game though the offense also has the strength to overpower the ball should they get into an offensive shootout. Along with Gonzalez, a TCU commit, the roster boasts nine additional Division I commits, which includes righthanded pitcher Boyd Vander Kooi who has turned in his fair share of dominant outings and will anchor down this deep roster.

Dark Horse: Reds Midwest Scout Team
One common trait among the teams who are able to advance deep into the playoffs in a talent laden tournament such as this is having quality depth on the mound. Nearly half of the Reds’ 17-man roster are listed as primary arms, including lefthander Brendan Murphy, who could very well be a riser come next June’s draft thanks to his projectable 6-foot-4 frame and already low-90s fastball. The depth of the offense doesn’t quite match up to what they boast on the mound, but Mark Vierling, a Missouri commit, should help set the tempo of the offense while Wake Forest commit Bobby Seymour provides thump in the middle of the order.

What To Watch For: All-American Infielders
An extra keen eye will be on both Jacob Gonzalez and Puerto Rican shortstop Ricardo De La Torre of PRBAHS for their own separate reasons. Now listed at 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, Gonzalez has continued to grow into his body with physicality, a trait that continues to develop offensively with strength that plays to all parts of the field and only helps solidify his power hitting corner infield profile. For De La Torre, who has one of the better overall defensive packages with a plus arm across the infield, Jupiter could serve as his final tournament in the states and he more than has the skill and impact to leave a lasting impression.

– Jheremy Brown



Pool C

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Arizona Rays Scout Team Evan Williams 500
2017 Luna Gilberto
335 2017 Dave Hilton
Braves Scout Team/Ohio Warhawks Calvin Mitchell
14 2017 Lyon Richardson 45 2018 Ron Slusher
Mountain West Slammers Luke Leisenring 311 2018 Caleb Sloan 34 2017 Mark Holzemer
Premier Baseball Futures - Evans Beau Hanna 154 2017 Shane Baz 29 2017 David Evans

Projected Pool Winner:  Braves Scout Team/Ohio Warhawks
Calvin Mitchell, Braves Scout Team/Ohio Warhawks
The Braves Scout Team brings an immensely talented roster to Jupiter highlighted by a trio of talented outfielders that feature a pair of All-Americans. The 14th-ranked player in the country, Calvin Mitchell, and Drew Waters both offer high-end athleticism to go with advanced barrel ability at the plate. They’ll be joined by an extremely athletic underclassman in the outfield by way of Joe Gray Jr. Also in their impressive lineup will be Jason Rooks (Georgia Tech), Jecorrah Arnold (Lipscomb), Oscar Serratos (Georgia Tech) and Charlie Welch (South Carolina). The Braves also bring a high quality stable of arms with them giving them what few clubs have in Jupiter: options. They’ve loaded up on ACC and SEC committed arms to help navigate their way through Pool C highlighted by an underclassman in Florida commit Lyon Richardson, who recently impressed at the WWBA Underclass World Championship. Weston Bizzle (Vanderbilt), Emerson Hancock (Georgia), Jose Visaez (South Florida), Chaney Rogers (Georgia) and Nolan Crisp (Florida) look to round out their staff.

Dark Horse:  Mountain West Slammers
The Slammers have a team filled with Division I caliber recruits and are headlined by PG All-American Caleb Sloan. Sloan, committed to TCU, offers one of the better pure projection arms in the class with a hard-breaking slider. Their team is tremendously deep in arms with the likes of R.J. Dabovich, James Notary, and Liam Eddy, all who figure to see significant innings. High-end 2018 catching prospect Luke Leisenring should help lead their offense with Noah Winkelman being a key contributor as well.

What To Watch For: Braves Scout Team Outfield
As noted above, it’s rare to see as dynamic of an outfield assembled at the amateur level. Both Mitchell and Waters have significant offensive ceilings with tremendous bat speed and strength. Both of them look to be locked into a corner with Gray roaming center field. Gray has tremendous athleticism with plus bat speed and raw power that makes him a tantalizing pro prospect. Between those three, scouts should be lining the fences even deeper to make sure the catch the at-bat. 

– Matt Czechanski




Pool D

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Atlanta Blue Jays Luis Guerrero 199 2017 Sawyer Losey
446 2017 Anthony Dye
Baseball U Benjamin Casparius 136
2017 Eric Heatter
442
2017 John Wells
Canada PG Gold Jaden Brown 210 2019 Ricardo Alvarez De Lugo T1000 2017 Mike Steed
CBA Marucci Nick Allen
17
2017 Jeremiah Estrada
23
2017 Jon Paino

Projected Pool Winner:  CBA Marucci
Nick Allen, CBA Marucci
CBA Marucci has been the team to beat on the West Coast for over a year now, taking the titles at the 2016 17u WWBA National Championship and the 2016 PG/EvoShield National Championship while finishing as the runner-up at this year’s 17u PG World Series, and they enter this year's WWBA World Championship as one of the pre-tournament favorites. Their roster in Jupiter should be largely intact, led by a trio of PG All-Americans in Nick Allen, Tyler Freeman and Jeremiah Estrada. CBA may choose to throw Estrada early to bring him back in the playoffs as he delivered four statement games over the summer. And he’s not alone, as in addition to the team’s offensive firepower and defensive prowess they boast enviable pitching depth as Brian Gursky, Johnny Kuhn, Roman Phansalkar, Daniel Ritcheson and Jonathan Stroman are all highly ranked arms from the class of 2017.

Dark Horse:  Baseball U
Baseball U finished tied for the lead in their pool a year ago with a 3-1 record, and even knocked off the mighty Astros Scout Team/FTB Tucci Squad in their second game of pool play, but lost their one-on-one matchup to the eventual pool champion Midland Redkins on the first day of the tournament. North Carolina commit Benjamin Casparius is back to lead the team on offense, and defense, which is strong up the middle with talent, including fellow infielders Davis Payne, Tim Dezzi and Cole Stetzar. Lefthander Eric Heatter, who delivered a brilliant complete game outing in the win over FTB last year, is also back to front the pitching staff. Also keep an eye on toolsy Dominican outfielder Gustavo Rodriguez who has intriguing power and a big outfield arm.

What To Watch For: CBA's Infield
Nick Allen is a human highlight reel on defense, seemingly making a jaw-dropping play every time he takes the field. Tyler Freeman gives the team another steady glove, and an impact bat, up the middle of the infield with hard-hitting Tyler Hardman manning one of the infield corners. All three have a tournament MVP trophy from a recent Perfect Game tournament – Harding claimed the most recent at the California World Series earlier this month – and seven collective All-Tournament nominations from this summer. Add in a trio of versatile catchers – Joe Fitzhugh, Chris Jimenez and Clay Owens – and you have an infield defense that is going to help their talented pitching staff get the job done.

– Patrick Ebert



Pool E

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
DBacks Langley Blaze Adam Hall 22 2017 Jack Hodgson 500 2017 Doug Mathieson
Dirtbags Philip Clarke 48 2017 Logan Jarosz 89 2018 Andy Partin
Florida Burn Josh Rivera 94 2019 Brant Brown
T1000 2018 Mark Guthrie
Team Indiana Jared Poland 167 2018 Jack Perkins 67 2018 Dan Held

Projected Pool Winner: Dirtbags
Philip Clarke, Dirtbags
Dirtbags Baseball, a team based out of North Carolina, comes to Jupiter as the favorite to win their pool with players from all over the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. Their roster is led by Perfect Game All-American and catcher Philip Clarke, one of several Vanderbilt commitments on the roster. Kier Meredith, an extremely speedy and hitterish outfielder, should hit towards the top of the order and be the sparkplug of the Dirtbag attack. On the mound, the Dirtbags will feature several high-end arms, including Logan Jarosz (Georgia Tech), Sam Weatherly (Clemson) and Mason Hickman (Vanderbilt), all of whom are capable of bringing the heat with the pitchability to go with it. They’ll be a very tough out, regardless of who they may face. 

Dark Horse: Team Indiana
Team Indiana, a team with a decidedly Midwestern flavor, brings a roster down to Jupiter loaded with highly-ranked and highly-committed players, all hailing from, you guessed it, Indiana. Several of their players are underclassmen from the class of 2018, including both of their most highly-ranked prospects in pitcher Jack Perkins and infielder Jared Poland, both of whom, coincidentally or not, are committed to Louisville. Perkins can really pitch and run his fastball into the 90s, while Poland is one of the more physically strong prospects in the class, and that strength shows up in his hitting. Jackson Smeltz, Addisyn Coffey, and Hayden Jones are also highly-ranked prospects to keep an eye on. 

What To Watch For: Adam Hall
The Perfect Game All-American, native Canadian and Texas A&M commitment is the highest-ranked player of anyone in the pool, and for good reason. He’s a super athletic shortstop prospect with flashes of all five tools and advanced feel for the game, especially given his cold weather nativity. After a long summer of showing up as a high draft prospect, lots of eyes will be on him as he tries to cement himself among the best draft prospects in the class of 2017, something he’s done a great job of thus far, but never on a bigger stage than the one he’s about to enter. 

– Brian Sakowski




Pool F

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Dodgers Scout Team/East Cobb Grant Burton 55 2018 Hunter Barco 5 2019 Jamie Crane
Kentucky Baseball Club Prime Tanner Johnson 500 2017 Aaron Perry 500 2017 Kevin Clary
Team Citius Jack Herman 43 2018 Devin Ortiz 169 2017 Omar Washington
US Elite/Team Majestic Troy LaNeve 20 2019 Zeke Gongola 203 2018 Mark Heisel

Projected Pool Winner:  Dodgers Scout Team/East Cobb
Grant Burton, Dodgers Scout Team/East Cobb
This East Cobb team is one that already had a core group of players playing together throughout the summer and with a quick glance it appears they’ve added another handful of highly talented, and athletic players. Outfielder and 2018 graduate Grant Burton will make the trip across the country, along with third baseman Casey Schmidt, and both should bolster a middle of the order that also features hard-hitting catcher and Alabama commit Sam Praytor. Their pitching is just as impressive as they have both the depth and talent on the mound that’s required to escape pool play. Auburn commit Cody Greenhill has made the rounds on the national circuit and has continued to show off his bowling ball type fastball which has been upwards of 94 mph. Lefthander Ryan Webb offers advanced feel and pitchability of a full arsenal, the type that can easily work through a lineup more than once, while fellow lefthander Hunter Barco has already been up to 92 mph despite just entering his sophomore year.

Dark Horse:  Team Citius
While Team Citius is based out of Texas, an area they pulled a few players from for this roster, it’s a team composed mostly of players from the Northeast who boast impressive commitments up and down the roster. While the commitments are nice, it’s the talent that will ultimately win games and Coach Omar Washington has plenty of that on both sides of the ball. The offense is one that, despite their youth, should be able to go toe-to-toe with the pitching in their pool and beyond should they advance with talents such as Maryland commit Jack Herman, Vanderbilt pledge Justyn Henry-Malloy and the ultra-physical Shane Muntz, a Wake Forest commit. Both Devin Ortiz, who’s committed to Virginia, and Duke-bound Jack Carey, are a couple of righthanders who possess fastballs in the low-90s and feel to mix to help keep the East Cobb bats on their toes. 

What To Watch For: Depth Of The Pool
While the Dodgers Scout Team/East Cobb squad is favored to come out of this pool it will by no means be an easy path to move onto the next round. Yes, they have the talent on paper but they aren’t the only team with talent and depth as Team Citius, as detailed above, is just one foe they’ll have to match up with. Both US Elite and the Kentucky Baseball Club are proven programs;  US Elite is loaded up with 20 commitments on their roster and KBC has six, four of which are committed to the University of Kentucky. Whoever ultimately comes out of Pool F will prove to be battled tested and ready for what’s to come next in bracket play. 

– Jheremy Brown



Pool G

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
2DSports Sun Devils Korey Holland
182 2017 Deven Hemenway 500 2017 Matt Thompson
East Cobb Yankees Kyle Jacobsen 27 2017 Andrew Keene 386 2018 James Beavers
Elite Squad Louisville Slugger Alex Rao 330  2018 Alexander Bello 226 2018 Richie Palmer
Padres Scout Team/Chandler World Heliot Ramos
50 2017 Jan Figueroa 172 2017 SD Scouting Dept

Projected Pool Winner:  East Cobb Yankees
Kyle Jacobsen, East Cobb Yankees
The East Cobb Yankees should put up plenty of runs with their talented, young lineup. Led by PG All-American and South Carolina commit Kyle Jacobsen, the Yankees have an impressive lineup from top to bottom. Highly touted underclassmen – Kendall Simmons (Georgia Tech), Ryan Bliss (Auburn), and Devin Warner (Auburn) – also look to make key contributions offensively. Warner has shown some of the best power potential from the underclass ranks with a home run display during both the PG Underclass All-American Games as well as the Southeast Qualifier. Those four are accompanied by other Division I commits in Michael Guldberg (Georgia Tech), Colin Hall (Georgia Tech), Cole McNamee (Wake Forrest) and Ian Jenkins (South Carolina). For pitching, the Yankees will look to the uncommitted Andrew Keene and Matthew Bollenbacher as well as underclass Georgia Tech recruits Will Shirah and Jack Friedman.

Dark Horse:  Padres Scout Team/Chandler World
If there was a team to give the East Cobb Yankees a run for their money in Pool G it will likely be the Padres Scout Team. They come loaded with several impressive arms spanning the next three grad years. FIU commit Jan Figueroa or UCLA commit Sam Glick will likely match up with the Yankees potent offense. Helping round out their rotation will be highly ranked and recently uncommitted D.J. Jefferson as well as Virginia commit, Carson Jones. Their offense has the potential to make some noise as well with the likes of Heliot Ramos (FIU), Manny Gonzalez, Bryce Todesdo (Clemson), D.J. Poteet (Wake Forrest) and Pablo Garabitos (USF).

What To Watch For:  East Cobb Yankees/Padres Scout Team Matchup
In what will likely determine the winner of the pool and the team that will advance into bracket play, the matchup between the two teams should feature a high number of Division I commits facing off. It’s a classic battle of whether offense or pitching will win out and with the talent the Yankees have offensively pitted against the plethora of arms for the Padres. Beyond that this is a very deep pool with both the Yankees and the Padres as well as a Elite Squad Louisville Slugger Roster filled with quality underclass players.

Matt Czechanski



Pool H

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime Alejandro Toral 7 2017 Cole Winn
181 2018 Alan Kunkel
Chicago Scouts Association Jarred Kelenic
3 2018 Jake Sweeney
99 2018 John Sarna
MVP Myles Austin
17 2019 Kristopher Artis
500 2018 Manny Upton
SGV Arsenal Brandon Dieter
66 2018 John Dearth
455 2017 Jerry Pena

Projected Pool Winner:  Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime
Alejandro Toral, Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime
The Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime squad is always one of the teams to beat in Jupiter, dating back to their days when they were known as the South Florida Elite Squad. This year’s club is no different, with a dangerous lineup from top to bottom where PG All-American first baseman Alejandro Toral serves as the heart and soul with a patient approach and dangerous power from the lefthanded batter’s box. They have a deep stable of strike-throwers to turn to as well, with 2017 righthanders Alexander Castro, Max Lazar, Yaron Rodriguez and Alex Widerhold as well as lefthanders Jeremy Cook, Elijah Gill and Brandon Kaminer to help guide them through pool play. Their top arm, as far as prospect rankings are concerned, is 2018 righthander and Notre Dame commit Cole Winn who is making the trip from Colorado who claimed All-Tournament honors at two PG tournament events this summer.

Dark Horse: Chicago Scouts Association
For the most part the Chicago Scouts Association is a combination of the top players from the Chicago White Sox ACE organization and the Hitters program located in Southeastern Wisconsin. The team boasts 16 Division I commits, including five to the University of Louisville. Dynamic five-tool outfielder Jarred Kelenic, the third-ranked player overall in the class of 2018, and hard-hitting corner infielder Alex Binelas are two of those Louisville commits and will help power this team. There’s depth in the pitching staff with notable recruits in Nathan Burns (Oregon State), Ben Dragani (Michigan), Ryan Hoerter (Auburn) and Jake Sweeney (Arkansas) which could help the Chicago Scouts Association make a return to the playoffs as they did a year ago, losing to the eventual champion EvoShield Canes in the first round.

What To Watch For: Elite Squad's Middle-Of-The-Order Thunder
Power has always been present in the middle of the Elite Squad’s order, dating back to sluggers Zack Collins and Willie Abreu, among others. Alejandro Toral, the seventh-ranked prospect in the class of 2017, and Triston Casas, the second-ranked player in the class of 2019, give the Elite Squad yet another tandem of powerful lefthanded hitting sluggers that will be difficult for opposing pitchers to navigate through without any damage. Toral hit a pair of bombs in Jupiter last year, and the offensive firepower goes far past these two young hitters as Brandon Dorsey, Jeter Downs, Zach Jackson, Gabriel Rodriguez and Mark Vientos will help create one of the most lethal offenses assembled in Jupiter.

– Patrick Ebert



Pool I

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
EvoShield Canes Jordon Adell 2 2017 Christopher McMahon 63 2017 Jeff Petty
Iowa Select Brayden Frazier 299 2018 Luke Patzner 146 2018 Steve James
Nelson Baseball School 18u Ty Delancey T1000 2017 Nick Swanson 266 2018 Brian Nelson
Northeast Baseball Bryce Reagan 48 2018 Matt Tabor 222 2017 Scott Patterson
 
Projected Pool Winner:  EvoShield Canes
Jordon Adell, EvoShield Canes
Perennially talented, and the three-time defending champion, the EvoShield Canes come to Jupiter looking to claim an unprecedented, nearly unbelievable four straight WWBA World Championship title. The Canes are loaded again, as one would expect, and feature the No. 2 ranked player in 2017 (Jordon Adell), who has made significant strides over the summer to the point when, paired with his extremely tools profile, makes him look like a big-time top-of-the-draft talent. It’s not just their lineup that’s loaded, as their rotation is set to feature Sam Carlson, Christopher McMahon, Austin Weiermiller and many others, giving them seemingly overwhelming odds to win their pool, as they will arrive in Jupiter once again as a favorite to win the whole thing. 

Dark Horse: Northeast Baseball
Northeast Baseball, or NEB as they’re commonly known, who we’ve seen very recently in a PG event, as they played in the PG/Evoshield National Championship in Arizona last month. They should bring a quality offense to the World Championship, as both Brett Hammit and Bryce Reagan both raked the entire PG/Evo tournament, and they also feature high-level hitters like Ethan Gallagher and the Fedko brothers (Christian and Kyler). On the mound, Louisville commits Gavin Sullivan and Connor Adams figure to get a good amount of time, and Tennessee pledge Chase Wallace features one of the better breaking balls in the class.

What To Watch For: Jordon Adell
Jordon Adell comes into Jupiter as the No. 2 overall player in the nation behind SoCal phenom Hunter Greene, and scouts are still a bit split as to whether or not Adell profiles in the big leagues better as a toolshed outfielder or as a flame-throwing righthanded pitcher. It's been repeated ad nauseam that Adell is "toolsy," but the fact of the matter is that there might not be a prospect in the entire country now with louder raw tools than Mr. Adell. With plus speed, a plus arm and plus raw power to go with an outstanding physical presence, scouts are going to try and determine just how far he's come with the hit tool in the past six months or so. At the same time they'll certainly be interested to see him on the mound, where his fastball can reach the mid- to upper-90s, complemented by a slider that flashes above average.

– Brian Sakowski



Pool J


Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Dallas Patriots Stout Will Frizzell 355 2017 Tyler Thomas 483 2017 Logan Stout
Diamond Devils Colton Byars 500 2018 Eric Foggo HF 2017 John Rhodes
EC Grays Scout Team Austin Thrasher T1000 2018 Michael Desanti T1000 2017 Chris Snusz
Florida Burn Platinum Shane Shifflett 74 2017 Sam Keating 214 2017 Mark Guthrie

Projected Pool Winner:  Florida Burn Platinum
Shane Shifflett, Florida Burn Platinum
When you watch Coach Mark Guthrie’s team play you get a sense of discipline on the field with the little things in a game coming as second nature for his players while playing at a high level. It’s of no surprise that this type of play has led to a long resume of success both in the past and this summer as they finished at No. 9 in the 17u team rankings. On top of the “Burn” style of play, this is a core group that’s come up the ranks together and that sense of unity is another weapon over some teams who come together for a tournament or two. The fast-twitch Shane Shifflett has been a regular at Perfect Game events and he’ll be one of the leaders both on offense and up the middle on defense. There are nine primary pitchers listed on the roster, six of whom are committed, including righthander Sam Keating, a member of Clemson’s 2017 class, and Nate Gillen, a highly projectable upper-80s lefthander who’s committed to Florida Gulf Coast.

Dark Horse:  Dallas Patriots Stout
There’s plenty of overlap between this Dallas Patriots team and the one that advanced to the 17u WWBA World Championship playoff round which means this club knows how to win. Back from this past summer is hard-hitting third baseman Will Frizzle, a Texas A&M commit who has a physical 6-foot-5 frame and will be a weapon in the middle of the Patriots’ order. Donovan Langston, who is listed as uncommitted, shows sound bat-to-ball and coordination in the box, skills that should help set the tone of the offense from the top of the order. The pitching staff will be led by lefthander Tyler Thomas and righthander Connor Neuman, committed to Baylor and Louisiana Tech respectively, and each offer a fastball in the upper-80s while projecting for more. 

What To Watch For: The SEC Burn
While being mechanically sound and executing a game plan help win some games, you still need talent and that’s what the Burn have up and down their lineup. Of the 14 players committed on the roster, eight of them are heading to the SEC with five of those eight locked in with the University of Florida. That focus of talent is spread throughout the field too with Shifflett and fellow Florida commit Jose Ciccarello locking down infield positions while Alabama commit Eric Kennedy patrols the outfield. Another Gator commit helps out behind the plate in Sam McMillan.

– Jheremy Brown



Pool K

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Central Florida Gators Elijah Cabell 5 2018 Joseph Charles 18 2018 Joe Mercadante
Dulin Dodgers Andrew Benefield
53 2017 Hugh Fisher 69 2017 Tim Dulin
Georgia PG Texas Orange Alex Freeland 21 2020 Mason Kearney 151 2019 Guerry Baldwin
Minnesota Blizzard Blue Seth Halvorsen 252 2017 Michael Jensen 283 2017 Adam Barta

Projected Pool Winner:  Central Florida Gators
Elijah Cabell, Central Florida Gators
Despite being one of the few pure underclass teams in Jupiter, the Central Florida Gators are an exceptionally talented team that made it to the round of 32 during this summer’s 17u WWBA National Championship event and won the 16u Perfect Game World Series. They’re talented offensively with Elijah Cabell (LSU), Mason Denaburg (Florida) and Nolan Gorman (Arizona), just to name a few. Their group of 2019’s is just as impressive with Tyler Callihan (South Carolina), Andrew Roberts and Raymond Torres (LSU). The depth of their pitching staff cannot be overlooked as well, including Matthew Liberatore (Arizona), Carter Stewart, Gunnar Hogulnd (Ole Miss) and Connor Thurman (Arizona), as many of these players will be names that will become draft prospects in just one year’s time. Both Strewart and Liberatore recently impressed at the WWBA Underclass World Championship last weekend in Fort Myers, with multiple strong outings between the two. All of their starters offer high-end projection with either present heat or velocity that will develop in the near future. Their overall depth on both sides is something that gives them a key advantage as they navigate through pool play.

Dark Horse:  Dulin Dodgers
If anyone in the pool is going to topple the Gators look for it to be the Dulin Dodgers. The Dodgers have a roster filled with SEC commits and are headlined by shortstop Andrew Benefield (Louisville). Their roster is has diverse split between 2017 grads as well as impact underclassmen. Vanderbilt commit and lefthander Hugh Fisher looks to lead them on the mound as well as Jared Shemper (Alabama) and Kendall Williams (Vanderbilt). Fisher has the most potential as a draft project with a projectable 6-foot-5 frame and a fastball up to 92 mph as well as an impressive changeup. Besides their on-field talent, the Dodgers play very well as a team with exemplarily coaching and pose the Gators their biggest threat.

What To Watch For: Middle Of The Gators Lineup
In what is shaping up to a tremendously talented 2018 class, the Gators have a trio of the higher end bat-first prospects that just began their junior years in high school. Elijah Cabell and Nolan Gorman each have tremendous raw power with loud impact off the barrel and the ability to deliver jaw-dropping home runs that stand out at any age. Denaburg is no slouch as well with advanced bat-to-ball skills and power potential as well as a high ceiling as a pitcher. 

Matt Czechanski




Pool L
 
Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Chet Lemon's Juice Edgar Brito
HF 2017 Josh Bates
HF 2017 Chet Lemon
GBG Marucci Daniel Cabrera 59 2017 Blake Beers 108 2017 Mike Garciaparra
On Deck O's Tate Pennington
500 2017 Brennan Malone
10 2019 Jason Hill
TPL National Cam McMillan 48 2018 Carter Holt 500 2017 Matthew Paul

Projected Pool Winner:  GBG Marucci
Daniel Cabrera, GBG Marucci
GBG Manager Michael Garciaparra has done a nice job turning GBG Marucci into a perennial threat in Jupiter, leading his squad to the semifinals the last two years and claiming his pool the last four. The talent continues as this year’s GBG squad features 21 Division I commits, and pitching should once again be a strength as there are nine hurlers ranked within the top 500 in the class of 2017, most notably righthanders Blake Beers, Andres Alvarez, Alex Gallegos, Michael Weisberg and lefty Isaac Esqueda. Sean Mullen (2018) and Chris Villaman (2019) add two more underclass power arms. The offense is a little more balanced between 2017 and 2018 players, but seniors Daniel Cabrera, Jonny Deluca and Zach Hogueisson for the most part will set the pace on this well-balanced club.

Dark Horse: TPL National
TPL National could easily out-score their opponents with an athletic and talented group of position players, especially from the class of 2018. Ron Washington is a long-time PG veteran as he and fellow 2017 bats Bubba Thompson and Cordell Dunn will provide stability to the middle of the TPL order and leadership to a lineup that includes several talented 2018 players. Three of those 2018’s are ranked within the top 100 for the class: Cam McMillan (48), John Malcom (59) and Dexter Jordan (78). The pitching staff isn’t quite as stout as the lineup, as runs could be plentiful on both sides of their pool play games.


What To Watch For: Youth Movement
Aside from the matchup between GBG Marucci and TPL National that likely will determine the pool winner, there is an intriguing number of highly ranked underclass players in Pool L. TPL of course has McMillan, Malcom and Jordan, while GBG has catcher/outfielder Kameron Ojeda, ranked 19th in the 2018 class, as well as shortstop Michael Perez, ranked 68th. However, the best of all of the underclassmen may be a member of the class of 2019, and a North Carolina recruit, Brennan Malone of the On Deck O’s. Malone, armed with a fastball that already creeps into the low-90s, a promising breaking ball and a projectable 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, could provide an interesting opportunity for advanced scouting, especially if he draws a start against either GBG or TPL.

– Patrick Ebert



Pool M

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Houston Banditos Jordan Groshans 18 2018 Marcelo Perez 57 2018 Ray DeLeon
South Florida Bandits Christopher De Guzman 500 2017 Justin Alintoff 500 2017 Mark Holtzman
Tri-State Arsenal Prime Cash Case 53 2017 Brandon Neck 20 2018 Joe Barth
Upstate Mavericks Blake Jeter 500 2017 Cuay Williams 500 2017 Chris Nall

Projected Pool Winner:  Tri-State Arsenal Prime
Cash Case, Tri-State Arsenal Prime
The Arsenal will bring a good mix of talent to Jupiter, highlighted by a good amount of both 2017’s and 2018’s. Positionally and offensively, they’ll be led by Perfect Game All-American Cash Case, a high-level hitter who profiles extremely well at third base. David Lamanna should do the majority of the catching for the Arsenal, and the Notre Dame commitment is excellent defensively while providing a solid amount of punch in his bat. Max Dineen showed extremely well with the bat at the WWBA Underclass World Championship, and it’s possible that he leads off for the Tri-State attack. A pair of 2018 lefthanders should lead the way on the mound in Brandon Neeck and Billy Price, both of whom are committed to Virginia. There’s quality depth here in addition to some star power, making them the odds-on favorites to come out of this pool. 

Dark Horse: 
Houston Banditos
Posing the most serious threat to Tri-State to come out of the pool on top are the Houston Banditos, a perennially talented team out of South Texas. They’ll be bringing a lot of underclass talent to Jupiter, and it’s extremely high-end talent. Shortstop Jordan Groshans and third baseman Hunter Watson form one of the more talented left sides of any infield one is likely to see. On the mound, underclassmen again lead the way, with Marcelo Perez and Matthew Thompson both being ranked extremely high in the 2018 and 2019 classes, respectively. Both are capable of running their fastballs well into the 90s with excellent off-speed stuff. They may be one of the younger teams in the event but don’t mistake youth for lack of talent, because they will also be one of the more talented teams taking the fields in Jupiter. 

What To Watch For:
Underclass Texans
As mentioned above, the Houston Banditos are one of the younger clubs in this event. With that being said, they’re still extremely talented, and our eyes will assuredly be locked onto this team as they make their way through the pool. All of the aforementioned prospects, including Groshans, Watson, Perez and Thompson, are ranked within the top 100 of their respective classes, and with good reason. We’ll definitely be paying close attention to how they fare in a mostly-upperclassmen event. 

– Brian Sakowski




Pool N

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Cangelosi Baseball Branden Comia 209 2018 Steven Washilewski
T1000 2017 Tyler Thompson
Indians Scout Team Bobby Witt Jr. 1 2019 Colton Bowman 123 2019 Blaze Lambert
South Charlotte Panthers 2017 Drew Donathan 500 2017 Owen White 16 2018 Don Hutchins
SWFL Sabrecat Bats Giovanni DiGiacomo 
 178 2018 Carter Schwab 500 2017 Justin Karn

Projected Pool Winner:  Indians Scout Team
Bobby Witt Jr., Indians Scout Team
The Indians Scout Team might be one of the younger teams in attendance as 12 of their 20 players listed are underclassmen but by no means should they be taken lightly as they have the talent to make some noise. Their 2017s have the experience of playing in some of the higher-end circuit events and their underclassmen are just as seasoned with potent pieces both on the mound and in the field. The coaching staff will have some flexibility as well with a handful of players serving in a two-way capacity, such as 2017 Brandon Schrepf (a South Florida commit), 2018 Tony Bullard (Arizona), and top-ranked 2019 Bobby Witt Jr. (Oklahoma). Of the 20 players on the team nine are listed as primary pitchers, providing adequate depth to not only take down opponents in pool play but advance deep into the playoffs. Dustin Saenz (Texas A&M), Kaleb Hill (Mississippi) and Colton Bowman (Oklahoma State) form a trio of impressive lefthanders among those nine primary pitchers.

Dark Horse:  South Charlotte Panthers 2017
The first thing that stands out about the Panthers’ roster is its shear length as they have 23 players listed, many of whom helped lead the same team to a runner-up finish at the 17u WWBA National Championship. Uncommitted righthander and 2018 graduate Owen White may be the big name on the roster, as he’s ranked 16th in the country in his class, but he’s not the only arm who can light up radar guns or miss bats as both Austin Love and Nick Swiney are committed to ACC programs. The offense features a couple more ACC-bound players in Drew Donathan (Clemson) as well as Cameran Brantley and Satchel Jerzembeck, both of whom are bound for Chapel Hill. The roster is a balanced one and this is a group that has proven they can win together.

What To Watch For:  Bobby Witt Jr.
It’s not often too often that a 2018 graduate is featured in a segment such as this so to detail a 2019 is almost unprecedented, something that speaks to the magnitude of talent possessed by Bobby Witt. The Oklahoma commit made his national debut this past summer and his performance was one that immediately vaulted him to the top of the 2019 national rankings. While he shows the defensive actions that would mesh into the collegiate game right now, it’s his bat speed and ability to impact the baseball that are truly advanced. It will be interesting to see how the young shortstop, who also sits in the upper-80s on the mound, handles this type of environment, but after what he showed this summer he should prove to be just fine. 

– Jheremy Brown



Pool O

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
FTB Mizuno Brady Allen 87 2018 Josiah Sightler
161 2018 Trevor Berryhill
Homeplate Chilidogs Terriez Fuller 40 2017 Danson Sweatt 401 2018 Lloyd Thompson
Marucci Elite Jacob Pearson 38 2017 Robert Touron
110 2017 Chad Raley
PG Navy Select Justin Foscue
500 2017 Dylan Deveney 500 2018
Bob Parks

Projected Pool Winner:  Marucci Elite
Jacob Pearson, Marucci Elite
In terms of program stability and continued excellence it’s hard to look past the Louisiana-based Marucci Elite. They come back to Jupiter with a roster headlined by LSU commit and PG All-American Jacob Pearson. Their real strength however will be on the mound with a tremendous collection of highly ranked and touted arms. Robert Touron (Miami) and Caden Lemons (Ole Miss) look to lead an impressive rotation backed up by the likes of Alex Belch (Kansas State), Jack Dreyer (Iowa) and promising underclassman John Pharris. Head Coach Chad Raley did not hesitate to take his program nationally when rounding out his roster with players ranging from Massachusetts, Florida, Iowa and Minnesota. Behind their pitching depth, Marucci Elite stands out as a favorite among a deep pool. 

Dark Horse: FTB Mizuno
If any team in the pool was going to attempt to stop Marucci Elite from again advancing to the playoffs it will likely be FTB Mizuno. Armed with several Division I-bound commitments – in both the 2018 and 2019 classes – the likes of Raynel Delgado (FIU), Juan “J.J.” Gonzalez-Molina (UCF), Brady Allen (USF), Isiah Thomas (Vanderbilt), Trent Jeffcoat (Ole Miss) and Dylan Buck (WVU) lead a potent offensive attack. Their pitching is deep as well and gives them options to work through difficult Marucci and Homeplate lineups with Josiah Slighter (South Carolina) and Nicholas Daniels (FIU) leading their rotation.

What To Watch For: Terriez Fuller
The immensely strong Fuller earned a PG All-American selection after putting on an impressive power display at the PG National Showcase. Fuller certainly looks the part of a professional prospect listed at 6-foot-4, 240-pounds with intense physical strength. Scouts will pour in to watch his at-bats to watch him face off against high-caliber pitching to get a true test of his skill.

Matt Czechanski



Pool P
 
Team Top Pos. Player

RK

Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Dallas Tigers Jacob Campbell
309
2018 Russell Smith
88 2017 Tommy Hernandez
East Cobb Baseball Logan Cerny
222 2018 Luke Bartnicki
34 2018 Matt Hightower
Mets Scout Team Ward Hacklen
212 2017 Brian Morrell
97 2017 NYM Scouting Dept
Miami PG Columbia Blue Andres Santana
180 2017 Chauncey Nunez
500 2017 Ralph Suarez

Projected Pool Winner: Mets Scout Team
Brian Morrell, Mets Scout Team
The Mets Scout Team doesn’t have the deepest roster, with 16 players currently listed, or a ton of star power, but all but two of their players have a college commitment. From New York to Florida, the talent is spread across the East Coast with numerous players having versatile two-way profiles. The most notable of the prospects is Notre Dame recruit Brian Morrell, a projectable righthander – who also swings a potent bat – who likely will front a deep pitching staff along with fellow 2017 righthanders Gavin Williams, Elijah Pleasants, Kyle Witten and Bryar Johnson, in addition to 2018 righty Chance Huff. While the offense isn’t quite as deep, Ward Wacklen, Matthew Cooper and Spencer Smith are all big-bodied sluggers with the potential to do damage in the middle of their lineup.

Dark Horse:  Dallas Tigers
The Tigers won their pool a year ago, going 4-0 before losing to the eventual event runner-up Team EvoShield in the first round of the playoffs. However, this team doesn’t have the same kind of star power, and nearly half of their 18-man roster is made up of underclassmen, including five players from the class of 2019. Six-foot-9 lefthander Russell Smith is the most notable prospect to keep an eye on as this team bridges the gap between the present and a promising future. Part of that future rests on the shoulders of super-projectable 2019 righthander Elijah McCormack, who is currently ranked 50th in the class, is already committed to Oklahoma and possesses a 90 mph fastball.


What To Watch For: Arms Aligned To Take Down The Favorite
East Cobb Baseball also has a young team, but they have a trio of promising young 2018 arms, none more promising than lefthander Luke Bartnicki, a Georgia Tech recruit ranked 34th in the class who was named to six All-Tournament teams this summer. He peaked at 93 mph while going 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA spanning 13 games and 34 1/3 innings at those events. This year marks Russell Smith’s third time in Jupiter, and he was named to the event's All-Tournament Team each of his first two times where he was collectively 2-0 with 18 strikeouts over 11 scoreless innings. That’s a testament to his big-game experience, and Smith is armed with a mid- to upper-80s fastball thrown on a severe downhill plane. There’s a good chance the Mets Scout Team will have to successfully navigate past both lefties to claim the pool which will be no easy task.

– Patrick Ebert



Pool Q
 
Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Premier Baseball Futures - Nixon Matthew Stary 500 2017 Connor Phillips
186 2019 Mark Nixon
Richmond Braves National Niali Doherty 500 2017 Conner Nurse 170 2017 Eddie Jones
Sandlot Scout Team Justin Cooke
129 2017 Levi Prater 500 2017 Clay Overcash
Twins Scout Team/Scorpions Tim Elko 48 2017 Jack Leftwich 58 2017 Matt Gerber/George Sandel

Projected Pool Winner:
  Twins Scout Team/Scorpions
Tim Elko, Twins Scout Team/Scorpions
The Twins Scout Team/Scorpions comes to Jupiter with a pretty star-studded roster loaded with talent, including several very intriguing underclass prospects. They’ll be led by a pair of legitimate draft candidates in righthanded pitcher Jack Leftwich and infielder Tim Elko. Leftwich has the size, arm strength and changeup to keep crawling up draft boards during the spring, while Elko, a 2016 PG All-American, has drawn comparisons to Pete Alonso, a University of Florida product and recent second-round draft choice. Sophomore prospects Dylan Simmons, Judson Fabian and Bryce Boone join 2018 righthander Bayden Root as the big-time underclass prospects mentioned above, and all should contribute heavily to this pool favorite’s chances to win the whole thing. 

Dark Horse: Sandlot Scout Team
The Sandlot Scout Team, consisting of players mostly from the state of Oklahoma (with some exceptions), heads into Jupiter with several players from the Midwest Elite program. Midwest Elite enjoyed a lot of success over the summer and fall, and will look to continue that success in Jupiter. They, like a few other teams, feature a lot of strong non-2017 talent, including hitters Kaden Polcovich and Hal Hughes, both of whom recently impressed at the PG/EvoShield National Championship in Arizona last month. On the mound, several D-I recruits should see time in the rotation, including Levi Prater, Aaron Brooks, Sam Rainwater and Andrew Stratman. 

What To Watch For: Twins Scout Team Draft Prospects
As mentioned above, both Tim Elko and Jack Leftwich (along with several others) are on various draft lists heading into the offseason. Scouts will assuredly be paying close attention to both as they try to get updated follows submitted ahead of the long, cold winter (for us Midwesterners, at least). Leftwich, a righthanded pitcher, checks a lot of boxes from the scouting perspective. He has the size, arm strength, delivery and excellent changeup that leaves scouts impressed. How he looks after a long summer will be very interesting. Similar with Elko, who possesses excellent hitting tools to go along with big power, it will be very interesting to see how he continues to look against some of the best arms in the country.

– Brian Sakowski



Pool R

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
BPA Jayson Gonzalez 32 2017 Jack Owen 156 2017 Jared Sandler
Ontario Blue Jays Noah Naylor 14 2018 Alex Jones T1000 2017 Mike Steed
St. Louis Pirates/Elite Baseball Training Kevin Graham 183 2018 Tyler Mettetal 303 2017 Rick Strickland
Team Elite Nation Jeremiah Jackson 38 2018 Nolan Crisp 27 2019 Romas Hicks

Projected Pool Winner:  BPA
Jayson Gonzalez, BPA
Should BPA advance out of their pool like they’re projected to do, hardly anybody should or will be surprised given their track record of success. This is a group that seems to be there, deep into the playoffs, in each tournament they enter and they do so with the same core group of players. The WWBA World Championship is no different as Coach Jared Sandler bring a cast of familiar faces with him, a roster that is led by Perfect Game All-American and Vanderbilt commit Jayson Gonzalez. And while Gonzalez will bolster the infield and be a presence in the middle of the order, catcher Tyler Lasch has earned the respect of his peers and will be a leader from behind the dish. One arm who Lasch will be handling is fellow Mississippi State commit Jack Owen, a lefthander who has had a remarkable Perfect Game career to this point. He may not show the type of velocity that will light up radar guns but his feel and command on the mound are so advanced that he can have the best of hitters lost at the plate.

Dark Horse:  St. Louis Pirates/Elite Baseball Training
The St. Louis Pirates and Elite Baseball Training programs have teamed up for the second straight year to form a squad that features 11 players who have already given their commitments to a college program. Both programs finished with top-85 17u programs from this past summer with Elite Baseball Training checking in at No. 10 nationally. With such rankings comes equally impressive talent, particulalry on the mound where they will be led by lefthander Tyler Metteral, a South Carolina commit, and righthander Johnny Ray who’s committed to Louisiana State. The offense offers a nice blend of athleticism, quick-twitch and strength, all factors that will help the team as they attempt to make it through pool play and deeper into the playoffs.

What To Watch For: 
Next Wave of Team Elite
This may not be their “Prime” team but Team Elite Nation has several players who will suit up under that team name come next summer. Coach Romas Hicks has underclass talent littered throughout the lineup, and though they might be younger than most, this is a team that can’t be taken lightly. The infield will be full of athleticism and talent with Timmy Borden, Isaiah Byars and Jeremiah Jackson, while the outfield is equally as twitchy and athletic, anchored by Parker Meadows and Ryder Greene. They also have the pitching depth to rival any in the pool with several arms who can already bump into the low-90s. As a result, Team Elite Nation could very easily ruffle some feathers and make noise in this pool. 

– Jheremy Brown




Pool S

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Houston Heat Bo Hoeffken HF 2017 Nick Barnes 1000 2017 Bear Bay
Orlando Scorpions Cyrus Grimes
500 2017 Tyler Jones 1000 2017 Mike Mercadante
Royals Scout Team Noah Campbell
67 2017 Spencer Strider
181 2017 KC Scouting Dept
Team EvoShield Emilio Rosas 31 2018 Austin Becker 17 2018
Dan Gitzen

Projected Pool Winner:  Royals Scout Team
Noah Campbell, Royals Scout Team
The Royals Scout Team always does a tremendous job assembling talent from across the country and this year is no different. Led by South Carolina commit Noah Campbell, the Royals should have a tremendously talented offensive club geared towards run production. A pair of highly ranked catchers solidify them behind the plate with Adam Hackeberg (Clemson) and Justin Vought (Maryland). They brought a bounty of arms as well led by Clemson commit Spencer Strider and Mississippi State commit Aaron Brown. Their 2018 collection should see plenty of work as well with Tyler Burchett (Kentucky), Andrew Moore, Liam Henry (Arkansas) and Braydon Tucker (Indiana). The strong stable of arms allows them to match up well against the likes of the Scorpions, Heat and the always dangerous Team EvoShield in creative ways.

Dark Horse:  Team EvoShield 
Following up a trip to the championship game a year ago, Team EvoShield returns with a re-loaded roster of talented underclassmen. They come armed with a dazzling up-the-middle combination between Emilio Rosas (California) and Xavier Edwards (Vanderbilt) who are sure to provide jaw-dropping defensive plays. Their offense should be impressive as well between Anthony Seigler (Auburn), Nick O’Day (TCU) and Nicholas Northcut (Vanderbilt). The Canes at any level thrive on pitching as they are headlined by a pair of high-projection arms in Austin Becker (Vanderbilt) and Austin Elliot (North Carolina).

What To Watch For: Underclass Arms
Both the Royals Scout Team and Team EvoShield come armed with several of the most talented underclass arms in the event. Though they won’t appear on draft radars for another year, they should still get scouts buzzing for what’s to come in a very strong 2018 class. Austin Becker, Austin Elliot, Justin Jarvis, Patrick Wicklander, Tyler Burchett, Liam Henry and Braydon Tucker are all already Division I-bound with various commitments from the SEC to the Big Ten. They should keep college coaches pilling in behind the plate to get a preview of next year’s crop of arms.

– Matt Czechanski



Pool T

Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Marlins Scout Team Mateo Gil
58 2018 Carlos Lomeli
82 2017 Mike Leiderman
Palm Beach Select Brock Mathis
288 2017 Christian Santana
208 2017 John Ober
Team Elite Prime Will Banfield
6 2018 Kumar Rocker
1 2018 Brad Bouras
Team Mizuno Puerto Rico Jose Marcano
192 2017 Yashviel Estrada 500 2017
Edwin Rodriguez

Projected Pool Winner: Team Elite Prime
Kumar Rocker, Team Elite Prime
Team Elite’s ‘A’ team, their Prime squad, is loaded with talent, making them not only the favorite to win Pool T but also to win the event title. They won’t have PG All-American Nick Storz at their disposal but they do have two of the top-ranked players for the class of 2018: Kumar Rocker and Will Banfield. Rocker is certain to draw a huge crowd of scouts when he takes the mound as the No. 1 ranked player from his class, already armed with a low- to mid-90s fastball, and he also shows big power in the batter’s box as a promising two-way talent. Banfield might just be the best prep catcher since Bryce Harper, with a potent bat of his own and a strong arm behind the dish to go along with a mean competitive streak. There are 18 other Division I recruits on the Team Elite roster, most to SEC and ACC powerhouses, meaning there’s plenty of talent past Rocker and Banfield.

Dark Horse:
Marlins Scout Team
The Marlins Scout Team always does a good job assembling a talent-laden roster with players from across the country, usually highlighted by a handful of arms from California. That holds true again this year as the Marlins have enough depth on their staff to compete with anyone. Carlos Lomeli is the highest ranked prospect of the group, who was named to the All-Tournament team at three of the four PG tournament events he attended this summer thanks to a low-90s fastball. Fellow 2017’s Stephen Keller, Hunter Breault, Jacob Flores and Zachary Pettway are certain to draw key assignments as well while Ian Bedell is a name to keep an eye on from the class of 2018.

What To Watch For: Lomeli vs. Team Elite
In Jupiter teams frequently align their top pitcher to go against their top opponent, and if that holds true in Pool T the Marlins could put their best arm on the mound to face the powerful Team Elite squad. Lomeli is ranked 82nd in the class of 2017 and is committed to pitch for Eric Valenzuela at St. Mary’s at the next level. Lomeli more than proved capable in big-game situations by taking the mound three times at this year’s 17u WWBA National Championship for the Southern California Bombers. There he provided 12 innings without giving up an earned run and saved his best appearance for last, going the distance in a 3-1 win over the EvoShield Canes.

Patrick Ebert



Pool U
 
Team Top Pos. Player

RK

Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Midland Redskins Cal Conley 118
2018 Matt Dockman 500 2017 JD Heilmann
Scorpions 2017 Prime Joshua Crouch 200 2017 Stephen Wilmer
373 2018 Brad Wilkerson
Texas Scout Team Yankees Tristen Lutz
105 2017 Simeon Woods-Richardson
50 2018 Jay Heafner
Tri-State Arsenal Select Henry Davis
239 2018 Billy Price
304 2018 John McAdams

Projected Pool Winner:  Texas Scout Team Yankees
Justin Bullock, Texas Scout Team Yankees
The Texas Scout Team Yankees are the prohibitive favorite to win this pool, and they may be the trendy pick to win the whole thing. They’re very talented from top to bottom, with such offensive stalwarts as Zachary DeLoach, Bryce Bonnin, Tristen Lutz and Adam Oviedo. They can all hit and all defend, giving them one of the more well-balanced lineups top to bottom in perhaps the entire event. On the mound, the No. 81 player in the nation, Justin Bullock, should lead the way, and he should contribute offensively as well. John Kodros presents one of the toughest left-on-left at bats of anyone in the country and Simeon Woods-Richardson has some seriously high-octane stuff. 

Dark Horse:  Midland Redskins
A pretty consistently high-end team, the Midland Redskins pose a serious threat to the Texas Scout Team Yankees as far as who is likely to win this pool. They’re a very talented team, loaded with high quality D-I talent. In particular they’re loaded on the mound, with Cole Ayers, Tyler Brown, Brendan Regen and future CMU Chippewa Justin Campbell leading an extremely talented overall pitching staff. On the other side of the ball, Miami commit Cal Conley will lead the way, as he’s an excellent shortstop with high-level hitting tools as well. Luke Benoit and Cam Hill are a pair of Kentucky-committed outfielders, while Casey Opitz should do a good amount of the catching for the Redskins. 

What To Watch For: Most Competitive Pool Of The Tournament?
This may be the most competitive, deepest pool of the event with all four teams having legitimate talent. It may even be an “any given Sunday” type of scenario, where the team to rise out of this pool is likely to be saddled with a loss. The Yankees and Redskins are both loaded, while the Orlando Scorpions are a perennially talented club, and Tri-State Arsenal Select has a roster full of underclass talent. It will be extremely fun to watch this one play out from a competitive perspective, regardless of scouting.

– Brian Sakowski



Pool V
 
Team Top Pos. Player RK Class Top Pitcher RK Class Manager
Chain National Cole Brannen 21 2017 DL Hall 2017 Andy Burress
Dallas Patriots Nick Davis HF 2018 Spencer Cochran HF 2018 Brandon Sherard
Stars Baseball Tyler Casagrande 232 2018 Cristian Sanchez 154 2018 Carson Carroll
Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team Brady McConnell 18 2017 CJ Van Eyk 86 2017 TOR Scouting Dept

Projected Pool Winner:
  Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team
Brady McConnell, Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team
In terms of pure talent, the Blue Jays appear as ready as any team in the tournament as they’re built to go deep into the WWBA World Championship. The pitching staff boasts D-I commit after D-I commit and they can all win at the highest level of competition, whether it’s Florida commit Tommy Mace, future Seminoles C.J. Van Eyk and Conor Grady, or one of the two arms from Puerto Rico, Wilberto Rivera and lefthander Jerryll Rivera Gonzalez. Righthander Landon Leach is a hard-throwing Canadian who has been gaining steam, and doing the receiving of all these arms will be Perfect Game All-American Luis Campusano, arguably the best defensive catcher in the class. Scouts will certainly be following shortstop Brady McConnell with a keen eye as he showed very desirable tools during the PG National Showcase, as did fellow PG All-American and Florida International commit Johnathan Rodriguez. Many of these players may be playing together for the first time but all have a common goal in mind and that’s to claim the title.

Dark Horse:  Chain National
Had Chain drawn almost any other pool they’d likely be the favorite as they feature a robust throng of talent, the type that could see two teams make it out of Pool V now that 32 teams advance to the playoffs. With a strong mix of top 2017 and 2018 talent, Coach Andy Burress’ team will be led by Perfect Game All-Americans D.L. Hall, a lefthander committed to Florida State, and outfielder Cole Brannen, a Georgia Southern commit. Brannen has both the speed and strength components to his game, something that should bode well atop the lineup, while the powerful bats of Josh Hatcher (Mississippi State), Brandon Howlett (Florida State) and Aaron Sabato (North Carolina) should provide some thunder in the middle of the order. The pitching depth is just as impressive as they’re led by Hall and complemented by Carter Raffield, who has recently been up to 94 mph, as well as A.J. Labas and Chase Wilkerson, among others. 

What To Watch For:  D.L. Hall vs. Blue Jays Bats
If all things hold true then it would appear highly probable that Florida State commit and Perfect Game All-American lefthander DL Hall will be given the ball against the Blue Jays Scout Team, a game that could ultimately decide the pool. A potential first round pick for next June’s draft, Hall will match up against one of the more potent lineups in the tournament, though he has the arsenal to do so successfully with a fastball that works into the mid-90s, arguably the best curveball in the class and a changeup that flashes big-time potential. If he goes out and does his thing he will solidify himself in the minds of scouts and directors alike. 

– Jheremy Brown



Editor's note: Each of the four contributors to this preview collectively agreed not to select the EvoShield Canes to win it all again when making their overall 2016 WWBA World Champions prediction, recognizing they certainly have the talent to do so. Since their third consecutive championship last year was unprecedented, a fourth would be legendary.

Brian Sakowski's Projected Champion: Central Florida Gators
After reaching deep into the playoffs in both the 17u and 16u WWBA National Championships back in Georgia, following those appearances up with a victory at the Florida Qualifier and boasting a roster absolutely stacked with talent, I'll be selecting the Central Florida Gators to knock the crown off of EvoShield and win it all. It's well within reason to suggest that no other team can match the offensive firepower the Gators possess, with Nolan Gorman, Mason Denaburg, Tyler Callihan, Elijah Cabell, and others dotting their lineup, and their pitching staff is no slouch either. Denaburg, Joseph Charles, Carter Stewart, Gunnar Hogland and Matthew Liberatore are all capable of shutting down any opposing offense, and the depth is there as well. They've been an extremely fun team to follow for several months now, and I believe the season will culminate with them hoisting the championship trophy. 

Jheremy Brown's Projected Champion: Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team
I wouldn’t often pick a “scout team” to take down a title due to the lack of chemistry, as these teams are often brought together for a tournament or two, but the depth of this club is too big to ignore. They have a little bit of everything when it comes to pitching as Conor Grady and Tommy Mace offer a strong pitchability option with present stuff, Wilberto Rivera could be a dominant arm out of the bullpen and C.J. Van Eyk offers an arsenal that should be able to work through a lineup more than once. Shortstop Brady McConnell and catcher Luis Campusano, both Perfect Game All-Americans, are two of the better defensive prospects at their respective positions and should also prove to be pivotal bats in the heart of the order. Johnathan Rodriguez adds a third PG All-American to the roster while Tony Jenkins should bring a speed component to the top of the order. The Blue Jays check a lot of the boxes when you start looking for a champion and should be a force to reckon with if they come together as a cohesive team.

Matt Czechanski's Projected Champion: CBA Marucci
It’s always very hard to look at such a talented collection of rosters and teams as a whole and narrow it down to one selection to win the whole thing. CBA Marucci has a tremendously talented lineup and have competed incredibly well as a team dating back to last year. Between PG All-American infielders Nick Allen and Tyler Freeman, as well as recent California World Series MVP Tyler Hardman and underclass bats Kingston Liniak and Clay Owens, their are plenty of hitters in their lineup that can do damage. They're deep on the mound as well with 11 Division I committed arms headlined by PG All-American Jeremiah Estrada who will work in the low-90s and show off an impressive three-pitch mix. The depth and talent of their lineup as well as their rotation gives them every opportunity to capture their first WWBA World Championship. 

Patrick Ebert's Projected Champion: Astros Scout Team/FTB Tucci
The FTB program enters the WWBA World Championship each and every year with a loaded roster, and therefore a pre-tournament favorite to win it all. They've had troubles advancing into Monday's playoff action, or like last year, into bracket play at all. And while they're certainly familiar with carrying star power on their roster it could be the pitching staff this year that puts them over the top. With a staff that could have rivaled the EvoShield Canes each of the last three years, long-time Jupiter observers know you need a stable of horses to carry you through pool play and one or two more to provide a game-of-a-lifetime type performance in the playoffs. After winning the 17u WWBA National Championship they proved they can accomplish that feat on the big stage and should be poised to do it again.


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