Tournaments | Story | 10/8/2019

Handicapping Top Jupiter Teams

David Rawnsley     
Photo: Jackson Fristoe (Perfect Game)

Jupiter Pool Preview | Jupiter College Standouts

Turn back the Jupiter calendar to October, 2016. The Evoshield Canes (now Canes Baseball) had won the previous three WWBA World Championships and had definitely broken the code on how to win this intense marathon of high-level baseball and take home the coveted rings. The Canes played together for five months of the year, had a strong core of high performing position players and a seemingly bottomless well of pitchers who threw strikes with solid stuff. The betting line in 2016, if there had been one, was essentially the Canes vs. The Field, with no clear favorite.

The Canes are still among the favorites to win the 2019 title, but it would be their first title since 2015, as other programs have learned the formula as well. Of course, the Canes Prospects, the organization’s younger team, won the championship in 2017, but the Dirtbags won in 2016 and the Florida Burn pulled off one of the bigger upsets in Jupiter history last year by beating the Canes in the finals, 2-0.

One dynamic across travel baseball that has strongly changed the face of the WWBA World Championships in recent years is the increasing talent and exposure of younger players and the sheer numbers that are on even the best team’s rosters. Seniors, and especially senior pitchers, are still vitally important to success in Jupiter but don’t be surprised if a number of underclassmen don’t step up over the next week and become the stars of the event, just as Kevin Parada, the 2018 co-MVP, did last year.

Another sub-plot in Jupiter this year will be if a West Coast team can break through and win the championship. The ABD Bulldogs were the last team from west of Louisiana to win back in 2008, although a number of teams have given it a solid run, including last year when CBA Marucci and the Langley Blaze both lost in the quarterfinals and GBG Marucci in the semifinals.

Teams are listed in alphabetical order within each grouping
Comments/numbers based on rosters as of Monday, October 7

Pre-Jupiter Favorites

Canes National
College Commitments: 27/28 | Primary Pitchers: 16 

The Canes have virtually run the board at WWBA events this summer, even factoring in the reality that they usually get the opposing team’s best pitcher and full effort. Aside from the sheer weight of expecting to win every game, the key for the Canes is their deep and versatile pitching staff, led by their designated big-game hurler, PG All-American righthander Max Carlson (2020, Savage, Minn.). The position players only have one top 100 talent in outfielder Dominic Johnson (2020, Edmond, Okla.), with the outfield of Johnson, Eddie Park (2020, San Jose, Calif.) and Alex Urban (2020, Lexington, S.C.) being one of the most athletic in the tournament. The key for the Canes will be consistently scoring enough runs against the best teams, something that cost them the championship last year when they managed only four runs over their final three games.

East Coast Sox Select
College Commitments: 30/31 | Primary Pitchers: 16

The East Coast Sox feature three PG All-Americans in two-way standout Robert Hassell III (2020, Franklin, Tenn.), slugging lefthanded hitter Slade Wilks (2020, Columbia, Miss.) and lefthander Ryan Bruno (2020, Wellington, Fla.), but the key to the roster is its amazing depth. The team may not be able to run out a pitcher who doesn’t throw at least 90 mph and that doesn’t include two-way talents such as Hassell, who was the top performer on the USA 18u National Team last month, or outfielders Houston Sapp (2020, Dawsonville, Ga.) and Nicholas Griffin (2020, Monticello, Ark.), or versatile junior infielder Kelly Crumpton (2021, Jackson, Miss.). Look for righthander Jackson Fristoe (2020, Paducah, Ky.), who was outstanding in Jupiter last year, to get the ball in a big game. The Sox are deep in high performance and proven position players such as outfielders Colten Ledbetter (2020, Hoover, Ala.) and Sapp, catchers Kimble Schuessler (2020, Llano, Texas) and Ben Schorr (2020, Columbus, Ga.) and shortstop TJ McCants (2020, Cantonment, Fla.). It’s very difficult to find a weakness on this roster and it will take a good team’s best effort to beat this team.

GBG Marucci 2020 Navy
College Commitments: 27/29 | Primary Pitchers: 13

GBG Marucci has reached the WWBA World Championship playoffs seven years in a row, including dropping a 2-1 game to the Canes in the 2018 semifinals, and this year’s team appears just as strong as the past editions. The team’s leader is obviously 2018 Jupiter Most Valuable Player Kevin Parada (2020, Pasadena, Calif). If one doesn’t think that the PG All-American can repeat his .478-2-13 numbers from last year, keep in mind that in his last WWBA event, the 2019 17u PG World Series, Parada posted a .534-1-13 line. Even given Parada’s prolific bat, the team’s most important player this year might be two-way standout Lucas Gordon (2020, Los Angeles, Calif.) who will both hit in the middle of the lineup and start an important game on the mound. On paper, GBG appears to be much deeper offensively than defensively, so working cleanly through pool play without expending any of the team’s best arms will be important.

Houston Astros Scout Team
College Commitments: 24/26 | Primary Pitchers: 14

The Astros Scout Team is better known as Elite Squad for the rest of the year and brings that organization’s depth of high-level talent, headed by PG All-American third baseman Coby Mayo (2020, Coral Springs, Fla.). Mayo is one of the few players at the championship who could realistically be expected to put on a Kevin Parada-type performance based on the way he has swung the bat the past few months. He’ll likely have ample runners on base in front of him, as speedy center fielder Enrique Bradford (2020, Hialeah, Fla.) might be the best pure leadoff hitter in the country. Samuel Infante (2020, Hialeah, Fla.) and Jorge Carrion (2020, Miami, Fla.) will be one of the top middle infield duos at the event, with Carrion also capable of throwing some key innings on the mound. PG All-American righthander Alejandro Rosario (2020, Miami, Fla.) and polished and experienced lefty Timothy Manning (2020, Pompano Beach, Fla.) lead a deep and well-seasoned pitching staff.

Giants Scout Team - FTB
College Commitments: 22/26 | Primary Pitchers: 11

The Giants Scout Team – FTB’s combination of offensive firepower and quality defense, especially at premium up-the-middle positions, are a match for any team at the championship. Puerto Rican standouts include center fielder Mario Zabala (2020, San Juan, Puerto Rico), a PG All-American, and shortstop Stephen Ondina (2020, Gurabo, Puerto Rico), both of whom are not only talented but fun to watch due to their energy. Dante Girardi and sensational sophomore Termarr Johnson (2022, Atlanta, Ga.) will also see plenty of time in the infield while Anthony Shaver (2020, Clermong, Fla.) and two-way talent Grayson Moore (2020, Longwood, Fla.) are top 100 outfielders. PG All-American outfielder Brandon Fields (2020, Orlando, Fla.) is a wild card coming into the event due to his football talents. McGwire Holbrook (2020, Orlando, Fla.), “Bazz” Jimenez (2020, Miami, Fla.) and junior Jayden Melendez (2021, Palmetto Bay, Fla.) form an impressive trio of catchers, with Holbrook being the best present bat and Melendez the best present defender. If the Giants aren’t able to bludgeon their opponents with offense and take runs off the board with defense, their 2019 run might be shorter than expected as there are plenty of question marks on the pitching staff after righthander Jovan Gill (2020, Fort Myers, Fla.).

Deep Playoff Run Potential

Braves Scout Team/Team Elite
College Commitments: 20/23 | Primary Pitchers: 11

There is little doubt that the Braves Scout Team/Team Elite is going to score runs. Not only does the team feature three PG All-Americans in catcher Jack Bulger (2020, Bowie, Md.), infielder Alex Freeland (2020, Cape Coral, Fla.) and third baseman Jordan Walker (2020, Stone Mountain, Ga.), the No. 1-ranked prospect in the PG 2020 class rankings, they also have proven offensive performers in first baseman Kellem Clark (2020, Brandon, Miss.) and infielder Izaac Pacheco (2021, Friendswood, Texas), the sixth-ranked player in the 2021 class. Fine tuning that offensive mix further, Walker and Bulger are righthanded hitters, Freeland is a switch-hitter and Clark and Pacheco are lefthanded swingers. It seems highly probable that righthander Ty Floyd (2020, Rockmart, Ga.), who had an outstanding summer, will pitch in whatever is deemed the Braves most important game, but the team’s eventual success will rest on how the rest of the pitching staff performs. In many ways, this teams isn’t much different than the Giants Scout Team – FTB.

College Commitments: 27/29 | Primary Pitchers: 15

The Dirtbags are two-time Jupiter champions (2010, 2016) and that in itself counts for something in the way the organization prepares for the event and what the expectations will be. Dynamic outfielder Jack Deleo (2020, Norwalk, Conn.), a PG All-American, is one of the North Carolina based team’s key imports from the Northeast, but the one player who could have the most impact on the team’s chances is slugging lefthanded hitter Josh Moylan (2020, Stoney Beach, Md.), who had a big August with his strength and all-fields power. The pitching staff is loaded with Power 5 conference arms with the normal Dirtbags twist of having extra lefthanders, seven in all, to provide balance over what they hope is another extended stay in Jupiter.

MLB Breakthrough Series
College Commitments: 19/27 | Primary Pitchers: 13

The Breakthrough Series team certainly doesn’t lack for star power with three 2019 Perfect Game All-Americans in first baseman Michael Brown (2020, Vacaville, Calif.), outfielder Chase Davis (2020, Elk Grove, Calif.) and shortstop Ed Howard (2020, Lynwook, Ill.) to go with two top 25 2021 prospects in catcher Ian Moller (2021, Dubuque, Ia.) and shortstop Noah Smith (2021, Chicago, Ill.). There won’t be many easy outs in this lineup. In addition to Chicago area natives Howard and Smith in the middle infield, D’Andre Smith (2020, Diamond Bar, Calif.) is also an outstanding player, especially on defense. Righthanders Miles Garrett (2020, Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Marquis Grissom Jr. (2020, Atlanta, Ga.) are two of the most experienced starting pitchers in the 2020 when it comes to pitching in big games and it will be interesting to see how they are used. Keep an eye on pitchers Isaiah Jackson (2020, Savoy, Ill.) and Ty Collins (2020, Los Angeles, Calif.), who both are plus athletes with big arms who could shine in front of the large contingent of scouts sure to gather for every one of MLB Breakthrough’s games. And although none of them will make their impact on the field, the impact of having multiple former big leaguers on the bench coaching is sure to have an impact in the dugout and for game preparation/management.

Rawlings Arkansas Prospects - Platinum
College Commitments: 20/23 | Primary Pitchers: 10

Rawlings Arkansas Prospects is more a sum-of-the-parts team than anything, much like past champions Dirtbags and Florida Burn, and have been very successful as a team this summer at major events. PG All-American Cayden Wallace (2020, Greenbrier, Ark.) hasn’t been with the team consistently all summer but adds a huge bat in the middle of the lineup and may even close occasionally after throwing in the low-90s at the Pre-Jupiter Round Robin last weekend. There may not be a better defensive outfield in Jupiter than the speedy trio of Clayton Gray (2020, Cabot, Ark.), Houston King (2020, Cabot, Ark.) and Kyle Booker (2020, Southaven, Miss.). Gray and King and their plus speed/lefthanded bat combos may hit at the top of the Prospects’ lineup. Wallace, catcher Joe Reid (2020, Ozark, Mo.) and shortstop Marcus Brown (2020, Springdale, Ark.) will be the big bats in the middle of the order. On paper the team looks short of pitchers but many of the position players are solid mid-80s strike-throwers on the mound and are accustomed to the dual role. Mississippi commit righthander Jack Dougherty (2020, Collierville, Tenn.) has thrown some big games for the Arkansas Prospects this summer and will likely get the ball in another big game this weekend.

Scorpions Founders Club
College Commitments: 23/29 | Primary Pitchers: 14

The Scorpions will not lack for offense with three PG All-Americans in the middle of their lineup in outfielders Dylan Crews (2020, Longwood, Fla.) and Zac Veen (2020, Port Orange, Fla.) and infielder Jack O’Dowd (2020, Nashville, Tenn). While Crews is one of the most experienced and proven talents in the class, scouts are still getting used to watching the fast rising and high ceiling Veen and his power/speed combination, and he could really raise his stock with a big week. First baseman/lefthanded pitcher CJ Kayfus (2020, Wellington, Fla.) is a top 100 talent and a high performance player on both sides of the ball. The key to a long run will be how the Scorpions deep pitching staff holds up through the playoffs.

The Talent’s There

BPA 2020
College Commitments: 15/25 | Primary Pitchers: 10

Unlike some of their California-based peers, BPA has expanded their roster with some depth from other parts of the country, most notably Mississippi native Kemp Alderman (2020, Decatur, Miss.), one of the country’s top two-way talents between his prodigious power and low- to mid-90s arm. BPA has even a better two-way talent in PG All-American Jared Jones (2020, Whittier, Calif.), and just those two players really expand the team’s talent base. Center fielder Petey Halpin (2020, San Mateo, Calif.) should set the table for BPA while San Diego State commit and lefthander Ricky Tiedemann (2020, Long Beach, Calif.) and righthander Carson Hamro (2020, Vista, Calif.), a UCLA commit, should play major roles on the mound.

Canes Prospects
College Commitments: 16/24 | Primary Pitchers: 10

It’s always difficult to predict how a team of underclassmen will perform under the bright lights, but two such teams, including the Canes Prospects in 2017, have won at Jupiter so there’s definitely a track record of success. Immediate track record is important, too, and this Canes team just won the WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers on Monday. Canes Prospects features six players ranked in the top 62 of the 2021 and 2022 classes, all of them position players, so the talent is there. Four of those players – Alex Mooney (2021, Rochester Hills, Mich.), Kurtis Reid (2021, Hamilton, Ohio), Daniel Corona (2021, Brooklyn, N.Y.) and James Triantos (2022, McLean, Va.) – are primary shortstops, so it will be interesting to see how the Canes juggle positions and playing time. Mooney is one of the most toolsed-up players in the 2021 class and scouts are sure to spend extra time on the Michigan native. First baseman Gavin Kush (2021, Sour Lake, Texas) and Daylen Lile (2021, Louisville, Ky.) are also highly regarded players. Lefthander Gage Jump (2021, Aliso, Calif.), a UCLA commit, is the highest ranked pitcher on the roster.

Florida Burn 2020 Platinum
College Commitments: 14/25 | Primary Pitchers: 11

The Burn are the defending champions and that alone is reason enough to call them championship contenders. Their key to playing on Monday will be the same as it was in 2018: running out enough strike throwers on the mound and supporting them with solid defense, although it is worth noting that no Burn pitcher is ranked in the top 500 in any class. The team’s catching depth borders on the absurd with PG All-American Mac Guscette (2020, Nokomis, Fla.), TCU commit Pierce Chambers (2020, Treasure Island, Fla.) and highly ranked 2021 receiver Satchell Norman (2021, Sarasota, Fla.), all likely to see action at other positions. The left side of the Burn infield is also a significant strength, with Florida State commit Vince Smith (2020, Clearwater, Fla.) at shortstop and top 2021 slugger Tommy White (2021, St. Petersburg Beach, Fla.) at third base.

Padres Scout Team/ECB
College Commitments: 20/25 | Primary Pitchers: 10

The Padres Scout Team/East Cobb Baseball is a very interesting mix of prospects from across the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes. The pair of 2022s, No. 1 in the class righthander Dylan Lesko (2022, Buford, Ga.) and No. 8-ranked catcher Jared Jones (2022, Marietta, Ga.) are especially notable as they both have the talent and maturity to contribute against their older opponents. 2021 shortstops Christian Moore (2021, Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Kristian Campbell (2021, Marietta, Ga.) are ranked 19th and 44th in their class, respectively, and make up a highly athletic middle infield, while 21st-ranked Joe Mack (2021, Williamsville, N.Y.) can play multiple positions. Most of the pitchers are seniors, though, led by big righthander Blake Money (2020, Springhill, Tenn.) and his low- to mid-90s heat. Two-way prospect Brad Grenkowski (2020, Kennesaw, Ga.) has as much high-level experience as any player in the country and will be counted on to contribute both at plate and likely on the mound.

Royals Scout Team
College Commitments: 20/20 | Primary Pitchers: 7

The Royals will be fun to watch for no other reason than the presence of shortstop Robert Moore (2020, Leawood, Kan.), who starred at the 2018 WWBA World Championship and is back for an encore performance. But beyond that there is plenty of top-level talent, as 16 of the Royal’s 20 rostered players are committed to SEC or ACC schools. There is sure to be a Virginia coach watching every Royals outing as in addition to top 100 outfielder Alex Greene (2020, Edgewater, Md.), there are five Virginia commits scheduled already to pitch in pool play, including highly promising southpaw Jake Berry (2020, Great Falls, Va.). Catcher Alek Boychuk (2020, Buford, Ga.) and infielders Harold Coll (2020, Hyde Park, Mass.) and Lukas Cook (2020, Knoxville, Tenn.) will also be getting plenty of scouts’ attention. Pitching depth may end up hurting the team, though, if they make a long run in the playoffs.

Don’t Sleep On Them

CBA Marucci
College Commitments: 19/20 Primary Pitchers: 9

CBA Marucci always seems to outperform their collective resumes and last year was no exception, as the California team reached the quarterfinals before losing a heartbreaker, 2-1, to the Canes. Although they have a completely new roster this year, don’t look for 2019 to be an exception. Scouts will be especially focused on PG All-American center fielder Jake Vogel (2020, Huntington Beach, Calif.) who missed the last portion of the summer circuit, including the All-American Game, with injuries after electrifying everyone at the PG National Showcase with a 6.15-second 60-yard dash and a quick righthanded bat. Talented junior lefthander Brock Selvidge (2021, Chandler, Ariz.) is the highest-ranked pitcher on the staff, while top 200 talent Idelfonso Ruiz (2020, San Ysidro, Calif.) will handle the catching duties and hit in the middle of the CBA lineup.

Knights/eXposure Baseball
College Commitments: 23/26 | Primary Pitchers: 10

This combination of two successful national level programs will feature a deep roster of talented players, although mostly lacking in name recognition and national ranking than many of their peers in the Jupiter field. One thing the Knights/eXposure grouping features is perhaps the best single game performance pitcher at the event in PG All-American Ryan Hagenow (2020, Knoxville, Tenn.), who may get the ball in the team’s key pool play matchup against MLB Breakthrough Series. This is one of those sleeper teams that everyone should be ready for and aware of.

North East Baseball
College Commitments: 28/33 | Primary Pitchers: 18

North East Baseball is bringing its usual huge roster of players from across the country to Jupiter, which provides enviable depth, especially on the mound, but also presents issues in pool play trying to figure out roles and lineups with new players. Notably, 20 of the 33 rostered players are from the Northeast, a higher proportion it seems than the organization has brought previously. Maine native and Vanderbilt commit lefthander Hunter Owen (2020, South Portland, Me.) will get the ball in North East’s biggest pool play game against FTB Tucci. Catching is in very good hands in St. John’s commit Mark Black (2020, Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Southern California commit Garret Guillemette (2020, Yorba Linda, Calif.). It will also be interesting to watch how a pair of talented Houston area sophomores, outfielder Jace LaViollette (2022, Katy, Texas) and righthanded pitcher Wilson Woodcox (2022, Houston, Texas), perform under the Jupiter pressure.

Reds Midwest Scout Team
College Commitments: 20/27 | Primary Pitchers: 13

The Reds always come to Jupiter with a full staff of power arms and this year is no exception. PG All-Americans Carter Baumler (2020, Grimes, Iowa) and George Klassen (2020, Port Washington, Wis.) definitely fit that description, although Baumler’s two-way talents may be limited by his football season, and Wisconsin native Tyler Chadwick (2020, Marshall. Wis.) throws harder than either of them. Fellow righthanders Benjamin Wiegman (2020, Antioch, Ill.) and Vincent Trapani (2021, Eau Claire, Wis.) will also be lighting up radar guns and hopefully chewing up innings for the Reds. A key player, potentially on both sides of the ball, will be Minnesota’s Mac Horvath (2020, Rochester, Minn.), a North Carolina commit. Horvath has been beset by injuries the past two seasons after being one of the highest ranked players in the 2020 class early in his high school career, but he showed flashes, especially with his power, during the summer that his game was getting into shape.

San Diego Show
College Commitments: 14/20 | Primary Pitchers: 6

The Show come across the country with one of the smaller rosters and shorter pitching staffs in the field but with one of the longer resumes of success playing together. Their infield will be exceptional, with PG All-Americans third baseman Kevin Sim (2020, San Diego, Calif.) and shortstop Jordan Thompson (2020, Chula Vista, Calif.) pairing with 2021 standout Marcelo Mayer (Chula Vista, Calif.), with the hard-throwing Thompson also likely acting as the team’s closer. Seniors Kyle Casper (El Cajon, Calif.) and Nathan Nankil (Chula Vista, Calif.) will anchor the outfield. Recent California commit and righthanded pitcher Paulshawn Pasqualotto (2020, Las Veags, Nev.) and junior Max Miller (2021, Carlsbad, Calif.) will be the key starters on a pitching staff that will have to step up to last long in the playoffs.

Strong Playoff Potential

In addition to the 23 pools that will each produce an automatic bid to the single elimination playoffs, there will be nine 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 wildcard teams.

5-Star National
AZ D-Backs Scout Team
Banditos Scout Team
Canes American
Cangelosi Sparks
Chicago Scouts Association
Dallas Patriots Stout
Dallas Tigers
DBacks/Langley Blaze
Dulins Dodgers
East Cobb Yankees
FTB Tucci
Hunter Pence Baseball Academy
Midland Redskins
Milwaukee Brewers Scout Team
Ohio Warhawks
On Deck O's 
Ontario Blue Jays
Power Baseball
San Diego Padres Scout Team
South Charlotte Panthers
Team Elite Prime
Team Indiana
Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team

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