Tournaments : : Story
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

New mix of players lead CBA

Steven Walters        
Photo: Perfect Game

ATLANTA, Ga. –  Many of the brightest amateur players and the best teams from around the country traveled to Georgia for the 17u WWBA National Championship, including the Temecula, Calif.-based CBA Marucci. The 2015 17u WWBA champions are prepared to take the title back to their home state with a new squad of players.

“This is our fifth summer as an organization, and we’ve had a pretty good tradition of top teams and success and some draft players,” said CBA coach Jon Paino. “I think the strength of our organization and team and group is the chemistry between the players. A lot of these guys play high school baseball with and against each other.”

Much of the team is brand new, with only nine of the 21 players having been together on last year’s roster. Many of them only have the experience of seeing each other on the other side of the diamond, which is the case for newcomer Brandon Dieter. Ranked as the No. 33 player in the class of 2018 per Perfect Game, Dieter said that this was his first tournament playing with the team, but that he has fit right in, which speaks to the chemistry of the team. Even with the lack of experience with each other, the team seemed to enjoy the opportunity to get to know each other and play with other top talents.

“That’s the cool thing about CBA, there’s a bunch of guys out there and you never know who you’re going to play with,” said  Michael Paredes, who is in his fourth year playing with CBA. “You meet a lot of new people. I’ve only played with, I think, one or two of these guys consistently since I’ve been playing CBA.”

Paino said that they are very selective when it comes to picking players for this team, as they look at things such as character and integrity, in addition to baseball skills. Many of the kids are also very good academically, which Paino alluded to also being an important part to the players on his roster.

Sixteen of their 21 players are committed to play at the next level at places such as San Diego State, Vanderbilt and Cal Poly. One of those San Diego State commits is Paredes, who said that the school was the perfect fit for him as a person.

“They offered me, so I’ve always been in love with San Diego State, it’s my hometown, so I’ve always been around that environment,” Paredes said. “It’s just been a dream of mine to go to that school, so as soon as they offered that out to me, I was just honored to take that. It was just a huge step for me.”

A native of Covina, Calif., Dieter is committed to a top academic school of his own, showing his prowess as a student-athlete by committing to Stanford.

“I was going into my sophomore year and my coach actually got them to come down and look at me, like a little private workout and it’s just something you can’t really turn down,” Dieter said. “That kind of school has the combination of athletics, academics and I’ve always wanted to go there.”

Development of players has been a key factor of CBA to sending kids to top schools, and Paino said that they focus on the development part to prepare them for the next level, whether college or professional. This year alone, the team had 11 players drafted, making their total 29 since 2015. Paredes said that he has improved in his time with CBA in many aspects of his game.

“They’ve not just shown me different parts of baseball, like just learning different things, they’re taught me how to act as a player when things aren’t going wrong or things aren’t going right, the way I conduct myself, just better myself in every arena in baseball,” Paredes said.

Besides Dieter, the team features two other class of 2018 players ranked in the top 100, including Cole Winn and Dominic Pipkin, both of whom are also new to the team. Winn checks in at No. 74, while Pipkin is ranked in the No. 99 slot. Both players can run their fastballs up to 93 mph, even though they are very different physically, as Winn is listed at 6-foot-2, 195-pounds, and Pipkin is listed at 6-foot-4, 175-pounds. Dieter and Pipkin were recently named to the PG All-American Classic watch list, and are awaiting their fates on if they will join their peers in San Diego.

“That was great,” Dieter said of hearing the news. “They pulled you down to that little side room in the field and you know, you get a sense in the back of your head that you might get to play in the PG All-American Game, and it’s just great.”

The organization has produced 12 PG All Americans since 2015, including Chris Betts, Blake Rutherford and Tyler Freeman. Those three went on to be drafted in one of the first two rounds in their respective drafts.

“He’s a lot like Perfect Game All-American last year, Tyler Freeman, where he’s just a grinder, quiet, goes about his business,” said Paino. “Never ever a question whether he’s going to give you everything he’s got, so we’re really proud of him.”

Dieter was on the mound for CBA in their third game on Monday, going four innings, giving up nine hits, three earned runs and two walks, striking out five. St. Mary’s commit Kyle Velazquez would provide the offense, driving in two runs to help CBA win the game 5-3. The team has won two straight since dropping their first game of the tournament, good enough for second place in their pool, and they carry a 2-1 record into their Tuesday game against Team All American. Although it was not the start they hoped for, they are still hopeful of a playoff berth.

“I would say, right now we’re crawling ourselves out of a hole that we’ve created for ourselves, but we’ve got full confidence in these guys to turn it around and do what they’re capable of doing,” Paino said.

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