Tournaments | Story | 7/7/2017

Phenom pitching and chemistry

Tiffany Seal        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga.—The Phenom Signature is a stacked team going into the 16u WWBA National Championship taking place in the greater Atlanta area. The team took the opener against Rawlings Prospects NC 2019, 3-1 in a best of six before playoffs.

“I think balance, chemistry and pitching will be the overall factors to get us through,” said head coach Joe Keller.

Starting pitcher Wesley Scott affirmed Keller’s prediction, going four innings of one-hit ball with one walk and 10 strikeouts before being pulled because of a weather delay. Other standouts on the day included first baseman Spencer Jones and third baseman Jordan Keller.

Jones went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, as Keller went 1-for-2 with a walk.

“I think we are a pretty solid team top to bottom of the lineup and pitching rotation, I think is the best in the tournament,” said Jones. “I am excited for this week because I think we have a good shot to win.”

The Phenom Signature team is based out of Moreno Valley, California. It has 16 top 500 players in the 2019 class, including No. 10 Scott, No. 15 right-handed pitcher D.J. Jefferson and No. 19 Jones.

“To me, it’s all about them,” said Joe Keller. “They’ve done the work throughout their life. We’ve just been lucky enough to coach these guys through many years and have them in our program and give them the opportunity to come to a venue like this and play.”

The Signature club has several long-time members, including Jordan Keller and Jones.

“It helped me a lot,” said Jordan Keller about the Phenom organization. “I started playing baseball when I was 10 and joined the team, and ever since then, I’ve played with them because the practices and developmental side of the team is amazing.”

Jones is going on his fourth season with the team and echoes the same thoughts.

“I’ve been a part of this team for four years, I started coming off of Little League and they have developed me and helped me take the next step from local baseball player to more on the national stage, so they have definitely help me develop my tools and help me get seen.”

Jordan Keller is heading to Sand Diego State, while Jones will travel across the country to play for Vanderbilt.

“We have a lot of our guys already committed here,” said Keller. “But I think the competition [at Perfect Game] is what we really look forward to the most, and getting the kids out there.”

The Signature club has 13 commits alone for the 2019 class, with programs including Arizona, Vanderbilt, Miami, TCU, San Diego State, Washington and Southern California.

Looking ahead to the week of baseball to come, team chemistry is a popular answer among the team as to why they have a chance to go deep in the WWBA National Championship.

“Definitely our team chemistry,” said Kaden Hopson. “We are from a lot of different places, but we still find a way to mesh together. And that’s something that is really good for us.”

Hopson is in his first season with Phenom and is on his way to committing in the coming days.

“This is my third time out here, it’s my first time here [at LakePoint], and overall it’s been a great experience,” said Hopson. “The complex is by far the nicest I’ve ever played at, it’s been fun playing on turf. Just the competition shows what level you are at, it’s great exposure with college scouts and even pro scouts, down the road it really helps you.”

With close to 400 teams participating in the National Championship, it will not be an easy feat for even the most talented teams, something Phenom has already identified. 

“With any of these tournaments with this many teams, I think it is luck, it has to go your way, it’s always a battle," said Joe Keller. "With this many teams here there are going to be some great games throughout the week.”

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