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Tournaments | Story | 6/30/2017

FTB Tucci returns ready for a run

Tiffany Seal        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga.—FTB Tucci 55 walked their way to an 8-2 victory against Titan’s Baseball 16’s Orange during the opening game of the 2017 17u WWBA National Championship on Friday. With several returning players from last year’s 16u team who made it to the championship, this year’s roster is ready to combine their talent and teamwork to take it all the way home.

“On paper we are really talented and we are looking for it to translate on the field,” said head coach Julio Figueroa. “We are looking for team chemistry to come together really quick because it is the first time all these guys have played together. So it’s going to be a challenge for us to put it together, obviously in the biggest and most competitive atmosphere, right out of the gate.”

FTB’s Right-hander, Franco Aleman, opened the tournament tossing 2 2/3 innings, giving up three hits, with three walks and six strikeouts. The 6-foot-6 righty is committed to Florida International and is the No. 13 right-hander in the 2018 class.

With strong outings from both Aleman and right-hander Dalton Baker, the offense was able to figure out the Titan’s pitching early, racking up a total of 11 walks in five innings of play.

Shortstop Nander De Sedas was one of FTB’s many players who were patient at the plate; drawing two walks on the day. De Sedas is the No. 2 ranked shortstop nationally, and No. 9 overall 2018 prospect according to Perfect Game.

Florida Travel Baseball is accustomed to top talent up the middle of their infields, with past alumni including 2017 World Series Champions Addison Russell, Javier Báez and runner-up Cleveland Indian Francisco Lindor.

“I think our organization has always looked for that,” said Julio Figueroa. “There are some organizations that look for arms or outfielders, but we’ve always been blessed to always have very talented middle infielders. We go back to the Lindor, Russell, Báez era. We got a few guys here, Nander is one of those guys, Lency Delgado and John Rodriguez as well, so we’re keeping the tradition alive.”

Delgado and Rodriguez are ranked Nos. 11 and 44 in their respective primary positions as shortstops, and have commitments to Alabama State University and Florida International.

For De Sedas, a chance to play at Florida State for a coach with the highest active winning record in college baseball means one thing.

“I am looking forward to having the chance to play in Omaha. I think there will be a few good chances when I go to that program. I really like the coaches there, and [I’m] looking forward to having a chance to go to Omaha my three or four years, just to go to Omaha every single year and be competitive is what I am looking for.”

Florida Travel Baseball is located in Kissimmee, Florida. The program has a record of 580 college commitments, 206 drafted players, 21 Major Leaguers, 3 MLB All-Stars and one Rookie of the Year.

“It’s amazing being able to say I play on the same team big leaguers have played on,” said De Sedas. “Lindor, Báez, those types of players that have been through here, and to have the chance to play with this organization, hopefully one day, I will have the blessing to become like one of those players.”

The FTB organization holds firm to its belief in providing and fostering a family environment, while growing both skill and character on and off the field.

“They have developed me a lot, hitting-wise, fielding-wise,” said De Sedas. “The coaches really help me and talk to me about what I need to do to be a pro, and what you have to do in college, and really give me a lot of advice to be better every day.”

The team as a whole looks to improve upon its run last year in the 16u WWBA National Championship, where they finished runner-up to East Coast Sox Diamond.

“That runner-up left a bitter taste in our mouth, I don’t think we want to have that taste again, so we’re going to come out here and play as hard as we can,” said first baseman Pedro Figueroa.

Although a handful of players are leftover from the 2016 run, FTB Tucci 55 has just as many newcomers.

“It’s kind of the first time we are all together as a team,” said De Sedas. “I think how we support each other when we are down and how we push each other, will be the key to our success. We no doubt have some of the best talent in the tournament, but it depends on how we show it on the field.”

With a year to build on an already accomplished and talented roster, last year’s experience was a cup of coffee for some of the returners like Pedro Figueroa.

“I have been really improving since last year at LakePoint, so I’m feeling really good coming in here,” said Figueroa, who scored two of the seven runs. “I feel like we stack up really well against this competition.”

Other standouts thus far include Florida International commit, Joel Brewer, who went 2-for-2 with one walk and one run scored. Second baseman Rodriguez contributed in the fifth, with a two-RBI double and a pair of walks on the day.

“On paper we feel like we are the best lineup out here,” said Julio Figueroa. “So we are going to have to go out there and prove that. Obviously there’s a lot of talented ball clubs out here, but we like our chances and how we look as a team.”

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