Tournaments | Story | 1/17/2020

Trosky 2020 spoils for a fight

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Jack Moss (Perfect Game)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The term “loaded for bear” originated in the mid-1800s and referred to the hunters of that day who went into an event fully prepared for action and spoiling for a fight.

After the first day of play at the Perfect Game WWBA West MLK Upperclass Championship in the west Phoenix suburbs, it’s clearly obvious that Northern California-based Trosky National 2020 is cocked and loaded not necessarily for bear but certainly for any upperclass opponent it might encounter during this weekend’s hunt.

Boasting a roster stacked with standout class of 2020 prospects almost exclusively from the western part of the country, the Trosky National 2020s blasted Minnesota-based Team Wooten Hit Dawg 12-2 in five innings on Friday and may have set the tone for what lies ahead over the next three days.

“We’re heading into this tournament with the mentality that we’re going to win this thing; I think we have the players to win it,” Eddie Park, a highly regarded outfielder from San Jose, told PG late Friday morning, speaking from just outside a practice field at the Camelback Ranch MLB spring training complex.

“It will be challenging just to play together as a team because everyone is from all over the place … but as we go deeper into the weekend we’ll be a lot better.”

Action also began at the PG WWBA West MLK Underclass and Freshman Championships on Friday, with games being played at Camelback Ranch, the Peoria Sports Complex and various high school fields in the West Valley. Trosky Baseball has six teams competing here: three in the Freshman division, two in the Underclass and this one in the Upperclass.

“It’s exciting for us; I think it’s exciting for all our groups,” Trosky National 2020 head coach Adam Varteressian told PG Friday. “It’s exciting for our 20’s because it’s kind of our last go at it before their high school seasons and wherever their colleges will send them for summer ball.

“For our younger guys, it’s their first Perfect Game event for a lot of them, so they’re excited to be out here and visit Arizona and get introduced to Perfect Game.”

Most of the players on the Trosky National 2020 roster call California home which means they will be starting their high school seasons in the next couple of weeks. There is also a good collection of players from warm-weather states Arizona and Hawaii, so they’ll be getting after it on their respective high school fields in the very near future, as well.

The mid-January dates for the West MLKs is perfect for these 2020s, as it enables them to get a jump on what will be their final seasons of high school baseball a little bit ahead of everyone else. Varteressian acknowledged it can be a difficult at times for the pitchers and he and his staff take extra care with them, but as long as they’re in shape and feeling good, they’re more than welcome to come along for the ride.

The top guns on the roster include Park, a left-handed hitting Stanford signee ranked No. 181 in the class of 2020. Jack Moss is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder from Englewood, Colo., who is ranked No. 205 nationally and has signed with Arizona State, and Kalae Harrison is a No. 321-ranked left-handed hitting middle-infielder from Kailua, Hawaii, who has signed with Texas A&M.

“It’s definitely nice coming out to the Mainland and seeing different places, experiencing new sceneries and things,” Harrison told PG Friday. “It’s just nice seeing different (teams) here on the Mainland. … I love coming out and competing with this Trosky National team. It’s nice seeing different types of players from around the country and it’s good to face different arms and see where you’re at compared to the others.”

Fifteen of the rostered 2020s have already signed with D-I schools so a lot of these guys came here with the hope of improving their standing in the upcoming MLB June Amateur Draft, now just six months away. From that perspective, everyone is looking forward to showing well during their three or four day stay in the desert.

The Trosky National 2020s certainly showed well in their tournament-opener, pounding out 10 hits and talking advantage of six walks in four innings. Ryland Zaborowski tripled, singled, drove in two runs and scored two; Tony Castonguay singled twice with two RBI and two runs; Moss had a pair of singles and scored twice; Safea Mauai and Aries Gardner each drove in a pair of runs.

Zaborowski is a top-500 Grand Canyon U. signee from Arizona; Castonguay is a top-500 Kansas recruit out of Colorado; Mauai is top-500 Hawaiian who is signed with Hawaii; Gardner is the No. 394-ranked outfielder out of Michigan who is headed for South Alabama.

Other highly regarded 2020s on the roster include middle-infielder Drew Bond (No. 353, Gonzaga) from Arizona and catcher Connor Burns (t-500, Long Beach State) out of California; 2021 shortstop Trevor Haskins is a Stanford commit ranked No. 143 nationally.

Moss guesses he’s played with about 80 percent of the guys who joined him in Trosky’s dugout Friday, and he feels confident it’s a group that’s going to turn some heads over the long MLK holiday weekend.

“We push each other to be our best but I think even more than baseball players, we’ve just got a really good group of kids more than anything,” he said Friday. “If you make an error, they’re going to be there to pick you up; if you strike out, they’re going to be there to pick you up. With all the success these kids have (enjoyed), to be that good of teammates really says a lot.”

And Moss was more than pleased to be taking the field at Camelback Ranch Friday morning, just a little over 20 miles west of the ASU campus in Tempe he may someday call home.

“Anytime you can get out and play baseball is good,” Moss said. “It’s been a great break but I had a really good offseason … but anytime you can get out and play some games, it’s always a pleasure.”

Like most top-tier upperclass travel ball teams, this Trosky National 2020 team has a core group of players that have been with the program for two or three years alone with several others who jumped on board more recently. Old-timer or short-timer, Varteressian is confident the players will work together to make a lot of good things happen.

“It’s fun to see them see each other for the first time in a couple of months,” he said. “A lot of these guys play together in other events, too. We have around eight Area Code (Games) kids so they were together (for that) and even if they’re not on the same team they spend some time together and get a chance to be around each other.”

By being able to pencil into the lineup a veteran group of high school seniors, Varteressian doesn’t have to worry about giving any motivational speeches. They’re all fully aware of the expectations that come along with putting on a Trosky Baseball uniform, and no one wants to disappoint.

“Baseball is a game of reminders, for sure, so we remind them of what our expectations are,” Varteressian said. “We remind them why they’re here, and to represent themselves well and, obviously, to represent our program well.”

Park is one of the newcomers to this team, so he spent Thursday and Friday making a lot of new friends. He also knows that a lot of these guys do know one another really well, and for that reason he feels like the chemistry on the field and in the dugout is going to be just fine.

It can be a challenge, of course, with so many new faces in new places, but the timing of the event in mid-January makes it all the more exciting.

“The last time I played in a game was in October so just being able to get back on the field makes me super excited about this tournament,” Park said. “Perfect Game doing something over the MLK weekend right before the high school season starts helps a lot of guys get back into mid-season form.”

Added Harrison: “This is just about competing and having fun and playing the game that we all love; it’s just exciting.”

Trosky National 2020 will wrap-up pool-play Sunday morning with an eye on advancing the West MLK Upperclass quarterfinals Sunday afternoon; the seminal and championship games are slated for Monday.

Varteressian really likes this Trosky National 2020 team and it is with mixed emotions that he watches them perform at their final Perfect Game tournament this weekend. There are new Trosky Baseball teams coming down the chute ready to fill the gap, of course, and, besides, he’ll always have the memories that this team that came into the West MLK loaded for bear has left him.

“I think all the coaches here do this for the same reason, to see these kids develop, see them progress, see them move on and hopefully do better than we did, and watch them reach their goals and their dreams,” he concluded.

“Some of these guys I’ve known since they were eight years old, so being here with them in their last tournament is great … and seeing them move on (to the next level) is pretty exciting – that’s why we do it.”

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