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Tournaments | Story | 10/17/2018

Handicapping top Jupiter teams

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Riley Greene (Perfect Game)

Jupiter Pool Preview Jupiter College Standouts

The formula for going deep into the WWBA World Championship playoffs and having a chance to play in the final three games on Monday has always been the same. You have to have a deep enough pitching staff to withstand playing up to eight games and 56 innings in four-plus days of baseball. Winning teams always have previously unheralded pitchers step up and shine in the big games, just as righthander Dylan DeLucia of the Canes Prospects did last year in winning the Most Valuable Pitcher trophy for the surprising Canes underclass team.

Never has this formula been more important in this season-closing championship. The advent of the PitchSmart rules is just one factor. Increasingly, pitchers and coaches have been more aware of limiting the number of innings young arms throw during the calendar year and more and more pitchers are either limited in their pitch counts in Jupiter or already shut down until next spring. Of the members of the Perfect Game 2019 Top 100 rankings, 54 position players will be performing in Jupiter while only 16 pitchers will be taking the field.

Of course, no one expected either the Canes Prospects last year or the Dirtbags in 2016 to bring home the championship trophy, so anything can happen once the games start on Thursday. And probably will.

Teams are listed in alphabetical order within each grouping
Comments/numbers based on rosters as of Monday, October 15

Pre-Jupiter Favorites

Canes National
College Commitments: 21/24 | Primary Pitchers: 13

A team from the Canes organization has won the Jupiter title four of the last five years, with the underclass team unexpectedly taking the crown last year. In fact, all three Canes teams made it to the quarterfinals in 2017. The 2018 edition of Canes National features three Perfect Game All-Americans in center fielder Corbin Carroll, middle infielder Anthony Volpe and third baseman Cade Doughty. Carroll has won the Most Valuable Player crown at his last two events, the PG All-American Classic and last week's MLB sponsored Ways to Play tournament and is strongly making his case as one of the best high school players in the country. As always, the Canes pitching staff will be talented and deep, highlighted by 2017 World Championship Most Valuable Pitcher Dylan DeLucia, Nolan Crisp and the fast-rising prospect Tyler Nesbitt, all righthanders.

Giants Scout Team/FTB
College Commitments: 20/26 | Primary Pitchers: 13

FTB has produced 29 future big leaguers from their Jupiter rosters over the years, with many more to likely join that list as they move through the minor leagues over the next few years. However, they have never won the WWBA World Championship, with last year's runner-up placing being their best showing. Could 2018 be the year? Any team with outfielder Riley Greene hitting in the middle of the lineup has a chance, as Greene could get hot and win a couple of games by himself. Greene will be joined by fellow PG All-American outfielder Hylan Hall and shortstop Myles Austin, along with shortstop Tyler McKenzie and catcher Maxwell Romero and talented juniors Alex Freeland and Grayson Moore to form a potent lineup. The pitching staff has plenty of depth, with half the roster being primary pitchers in addition to a couple of position players who are capable on the mound.

Houston Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad 
College Commitments: 25/26 | Primary Pitchers: 10

Elite Squad's history in the WWBA World Championship is not much different from FTB above, with a trophy case full of hardware from other prominent PG tournaments but only some deep runs in the playoffs to show for their late October efforts. The Elite Squad infield will be in very good shape with PG All-Americans Tyler Callihan and Gunnar Henderson along with junior defensive whiz Jorge Carrion and slugging first baseman Gavin Casas. The pitching isn't deep in numbers but they interestingly have six lefthanders among their 10 rostered pitchers, including three in seniors Ryan Cabarcas and Kai Murphy and junior Tim Manning, who have the type of command and poise to pitch late into games. As with FTB, is this the year that Elite Squad will break through?

East Coast Sox Select
College Commitments: 27/29 | Primary Pitchers: 15

 The East Coast Sox certainly don't lack for star power and any team hitting shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and third baseman Rece Hinds in the middle of the lineup is plenty to draw plenty looks from scouts and plenty of apprehension from opposing pitchers. Fellow All-Americans catcher Hayden Dunhurst and outfielder Maurice Hampton provide more fire power, although Hampton will likely be limited by football commitments. While there is plenty of senior depth on the pitching staff, two of the most important hurlers could be juniors Ryan Bruno and Jackson Fristoe, both of whom were outstanding at the WWBA Underclass World Championships two weeks ago. Overall the Sox have 21 players with commitments to SEC schools, including eight committed to Mississippi alone.

Padres Scout Team (Scorpions/Team GA)
College Commitments: 24/26 | Primary Pitchers: 13

There are two Padres Scout Teams in the 2018 WWBA World Championship, plus two additional teams from the Scorpions organization, and another from the Team Georgia club, but this combination of the two top programs looks to be the one to watch. There are five PG All-Americans on the roster in outfielder Jerrion Ealy, two-way standouts Logan Tanner and Joseph Charles, infielder Connor Walsh and slugging outfielder Judson Fabian, although Ealy's availability may be limited. In outfielder Dylan Crews, righthander Carson Montgomery, first baseman CJ Kayfus and infielder Michael Brooks, the Padres will have four of the most talented 2020's in the championship. If the team gets good enough pitching there should be no shortage of runs and defense to get them deep into the playoffs.

Deep Playoff Run Potential

Blackhawks National
College Commitments: 22 / 27 | Primary Pitchers: 13

The Blackhawks are led by two PG All-American pitchers in lefthander Spencer Jones and righthander Wesley Scott, both of whom could play on both sides of the ball during the championship. Overall, the team has an impressive seven senior pitchers in the PG 2019 Top 300 rankings, so pitching depth should not be an issue until at least deep into the playoffs, should the California based team get there. The offense will be led by a trio of talented outfielders in PG All-American Damone Hale, Michael Dixon and Caiden Matheny. The Blackhawks are relatively new to the WWBA World Championship but could also be one of the surprise teams as well.

Braves Scout Team/Team Elite
College Commitments: 24/ 26 | Primary Pitchers: 14

Team Elite doesn't have the top prospect name recognition the organization has often had in the past, with Virgin Islands righthander Alex McFarland (No. 72) being the top-ranked 2019 player and righthander Nate Wohlgemuth (No. 15) being the top-ranked 2020 prospect. But they have enormous depth, with 15 players ranked in the Top 500 in the 2019 class and 20 players holding scholarships from SEC or ACC schools, including 12 primary pitchers. Catcher Jonathan French is sure to draw plenty of attention from the scouts but this is a team built for the long haul through eight games in four plus days.

CBA Marucci
College Commitments: 19/19 | Primary Pitchers: 6

CBA always seems to come to Jupiter from California with a short roster but things almost always work out fine. Two of their top players, first baseman Joe Naranjo and infielder Carson Repetti, could easily be considered primary pitchers and Naranjo in particular is expected to throw key innings. CBA is especially strong up the middle, with catcher Gabe Briones, infielders Carter Young and Cody Freeman and center fielder Jasiah Dixon all being veteran talented performers. Big and strong first baseman Jake Skipworth is capable of carrying the offense with his righthanded bat.

MLB Breakthrough Series
College Commitments: 15/24 | Primary Pitchers: 9

The MLB Breakthrough Series program has made huge strides in a short time in bringing together talent from around the country and gave Canes National a hard run last week for the Ways to Play championship. They feature two of the top two-way players in the country, always an important factor in Jupiter success, in PG All-American shortstop and righthander Sanson Faltine and Ways to Play Most Valuable Pitcher Michael Harris III. Another PG All-American, Nasim Nunez, is unparalleled as a defensive middle infielder and will likely hit at the top of the order with the speedy Glenallen Hill Jr. PG All-American sluggers Darius Perry, a primary catcher, and Emanuel Dean, an outfielder, should get plenty of chances to knock in runs. The pitching is sneaky good after Faltine and Harris, with DJ Jefferson and hard-throwing 2020's Miles Garrett and Marquis Grissom Jr. expected to contribute important innings. One of the joys of watching MLB Breakthrough play, of course, is to see how many former big leaguers are on the bench contributing their wisdom and guidance.

Royals Scout Team
College Commitments: 20/22 | Primary Pitchers: 6

The Royals will be an offensively-oriented team that should score plenty of runs and defend well, especially in the middle of the field, but they don't look to have the pitching depth on their roster at present to make a deep playoff run without lots of innings from secondary pitchers. A trio of talented 2020 prospects – shortstop Robert Moore and outfielder's Alex Greene and Robert Hassell III – have the tools and experience to excel despite their youth. Polished veterans such as second baseman Christian Cairo and center fielder Sammy Siani will contribute both offensively and defensively along with providing senior leadership. Catcher/righthander Joseph King will be a key player, as he has consistently shown himself to be one of the top two-way players in the country and is perhaps a better pitching prospect than position player.

The Talent’s There

Banditos Scout Team
College Commitments: 18/22 | Primary Pitchers: 8

The Banditos program is increasingly concentrating on younger age group teams so it is no surprise that their Jupiter roster is headlined by some high ceiling juniors. Yohandy Morales is a very high ceiling shortstop and is fun to watch play and catcher Drew Romo might be the best defensive catcher in the high school ranks regardless of class. Middle infielders Aaron Nixon and Samuel Infante are two more 2020's to watch carefully. Senior righthander Jack Kochanowicz's start will most likely be one of the most heavily scouted games of the tournament.

Canes Prospects
College Commitments: 17/20 | Primary Pitchers: 10

The defending champions were not the first underclass team to win the WWBA World Championship, the ABD Bulldogs having previously accomplished that, but it is always a surprise when a group of young players does win and it is impossible to predict. Still, the Prospects are due their respect, especially since they have 15 juniors already committed to Power 5 schools, including nine prospects in the PG 2020 Top 200. The group of position players looks especially strong, led by outfielders Brody Drost, Alex Urban and Dominic Johnson and shortstops Lukas Cook and Johnny Castagnozzi. As usual, it will come down to how quickly the young pitching staff matures under the bright lights of Jupiter that will determine the Prospects’ chances.

North East Baseball
College Commitments: 25/33 | Primary Pitchers: 15

As usual, depth and talent will not be the issue with North East Baseball. The issue will be bringing together players from 19 states and Puerto Rico quickly into a cohesive team and surviving pool play intact. Lefthander Jonathan Blackwell, the highest ranked senior on the roster and a native of West Virginia, has already been tabbed to get the start in North East's seemingly most challenging pool play game against the Florida Burn.

College Commitments: 20/22 | Primary Pitchers: 9

The two-time champion Dirtbags play as a team as well as any organization in baseball, with a tightly knit group of players from North and South Carolina who have extensive experience as Dirtbag players and who will likely continue to play with and against each other well into college, as 16 of their 22 players are committed to schools in the Carolinas. Lefthander AJ Wilson and catcher Jax Cash are the only seniors ranked in the PG Top 200 but that has never proven to be an obstacle for the Dirtbags in the past.

GBG Marucci
College Commitments: 25/31 | Primary Pitchers: 10

GBG has made frequent runs deep into the WWBA World Championship playoffs but that might be more challenging this year as they are bringing a very young team, with 15 juniors among their deep roster. It's also a very talented group of juniors with 10 of those young players being ranked among the PG 2020 Top 300. Shortstop Michael Curialle and catcher Michael Carpentier will provide the senior leadership from the middle of the field, with juniors such as infielders Eli Paton and Daylen Reyes, as well as catcher Kevin Parada, expected to play major roles.

Don’t Sleep on Them

Chicago Scouts Association
College Commitments: 20/25 | Primary Pitchers: 11

The Chicago Scouts Association is going to score some runs, with powerful sluggers Matt McCormick (a catcher) and Jason Hodges (outfielder) being joined by a pair of high ceiling juniors in third baseman AJ Vukovich and shortstop Ed Howard. Where the pitching will come from is another question, with Louisville commit Michael Prosecky likely to get the start in the team's key pool play game against San Diego Padres Scout Team/Chandler World on Friday.

Midland Redskins
College Commitments: 17/23 | Primary Pitchers: 13

The Redskins are like the Dirtbags, a sum-is-greater-than-the-parts team that plays together all summer and fall and has a tradition of winning. Outfielder Kyle Westfall is the senior leader and the only senior ranked in the PG 2019 Top 500, but the Redskins also feature a trio of 2020 Top 100 players in shortstops Colt Keith and Jack O'Dowd and righthander Ty Collins

Ohio Warhawks/643 DP Cougars
College Commitments: 27/34 | Primary Pitchers: 17

If depth counts for anything this combination team of the Ohio Warhawks and the 643 DP Cougar organizations has a smooth road ahead of them, as their 34 player roster, including 17 pitchers, all gathered from 11 states and Washington D.C., is one of the largest ever seen at the World Championship. The issue, as it often is with the Warhawks specifically, is getting through pool play so that the depth, especially the pitching, can start to come into play. The Warhawks/643 DP share a pool with the defending champion Canes Prospects and 2017 semifinalist AZ D-Backs Scout Team, so every game with be critical.

Reds Midwest Scout Team
College Commitments: 23/26 | Primary Pitchers: 12

Andy Stack's Reds Midwest Scout Team always seems to overachieve in Jupiter and this year should be no exception as the Reds will bring a deep roster of talented upper Midwesterners to Florida. PG All-American catcher Nate Stevens will lead the offense while two-way standout Mac Horvath leads a talented group of 2020 players. Horvath missed all summer with an injury but looked strong on both sides of the ball at the G-Form Fall Championship in Arizona last month and scouts will be getting their first full look at the Minnesota native. Brothers Andrew Wiegman, a 2019 shortstop, and Benjamin Wiegman, a 2020 pitcher, should also be big contributors.

Texas Rangers Scout Team
College Commitments: 20/22 | Primary Pitchers: 8

The venerable Texas Rangers Scout Team has changed their name this year but the group of players from Texas remains essentially the same, a heavily scouted team that almost always makes the playoffs but generally lacks the depth to compete with the larger teams. Powerful lefthanded hitting third baseman Brian Baty will get significant scouting attention and righthander Blake Mayfield is a proven big-game pitcher who will likely throw the Rangers must-win pool play game.

Strong Playoff Potential

In addition to the 22 pools that will each produce an automatic bid to the single elimination playoffs, there will be 10 wild card teams selected after pool play based on the Perfect Game tie-breaking formula. Expect a number of these talented teams to be among those pool champions or wild card teams.

5-Star National
9ers Baseball Club
AZ D-Backs Scout Team
Baseball Northwest National
Baseball U
Canes American
Cangelosi Sparks
Dallas Patriots Stout
Dallas Tigers
Dodgers Scout Team/Team Citius
Dulin Dodgers
East Cobb Astros
East Cobb Baseball ST
East Cobb Yankees
Florida Burn Platinum
FTB 55 Tucci
Hunter Pence Baseball Academy
Louisiana Knights
On Deck O's 
Ontario Blue Jays
Padres Scout Team/Chandler World
Rawlings National Scout Team  
San Diego Show
South Charlotte Panthers
Team Elite Prime
Team Indiana
Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team
US Elite 2019 National

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