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Tournaments  | Story  | 9/21/2023

Redemption for 10 at 14u Festival

Jheremy Brown     
It’s a saying scouts, coaches, athletes, and parents alike have long said in regard to players: they continue to get better. And quite frankly, that holds true to anything you do in life. That jump from 12u baseball to the 13u diamond where the mound is further back and it can feel like an eternity running from base to base the first couple of times can be a tough transition for some while others adapt, whether it be natural skill or already having reps on the bigger field. 

Those transitions never stop as you continue to rise up the ranks as the ball starts coming in harder and spinning in different directions out of the hand from pitchers while, conversely, hitters are getting stronger and faster while refining their approach and pitch-to-pitch process in the box. While the 12 to 13u jump is a big one, so too is the 13u to the 14u level as players take a majority of their reps swinging wood bats in the summer and those premier fastballs (low-80s) a year prior are now mid- to upper-80s, with some peaking into the low-90s.

You could go through and tell endless stories of players who didn’t really take off until “late” in their high school career, or even college, ultimately hearing their names called in the first round or making that debut in the big leagues. 

To help keep things simple and somewhat constrained, we’re going to look at the 2023 14u Select Festival rosters and dive into just how many players attended the 13u National Showcase in 2022 and didn’t make the 13u Select Festival, but put in the work, came back to the 14u iteration this past July and received the call notifying them of their selection to the 14u Festival. 

Amongst the 52 players who received the Festival phone call this year, 10 might’ve had an extra chip on their shoulder when they arrived at the 14u National, prior to solidifying their spot on Labor Day. Those 10, Banks Addison (No. 31 in latest 2027 national rankings), Lucas Farrar (No. 35), Will Hayes (No. 39), Max Hemenway (No. 10), Matthew Kelley (No. 6), Blake Lundy (No. 19), Mac Morris (No. 21), Jose Partida (No. 11), Teagan Scott (No. 66 in 2026) and Sebastian Wilson (No. 17), all attended the 13u National a year prior and while some were on the cusp, they all left no doubt after their summer and National Showcase performances. 

Again, there are countless players who continue to put in the work, proving they belong at the top of the rankings and there WILL BE several players who didn’t make a single Festival that end up in the Perfect Game All-American Classic, just as we see every year. Of the 60 players to make it to Chase for this year’s iteration of the PGAAC, 43 of them didn’t play in either the 13u or 14u Festival, taking their games to the next level throughout the years and developing into high level prospects. 

Not only did all 10 of these players make the game and surge up the rankings, they also won some serious hardware amongst the group whether it was Hayes taking home the Pitcher of the Year award, Hemenway winning the Rawlings Gold Glove for his defensive play throughout the summer or Kelley who continued to be a model of consistency while earning the Launch Hydrate Impact Award. 

Despite throwing 10 more innings in 2023, Hayes walked one less batter, allowed 2 less hits and shaved his ERA down by nearly 3 runs all while seeing his velocity tick up into the 83-86/87 mph range with one of the better sliders in the class. Banks Addison and Teagan Scott joined Hayes on Team Elite this summer and were consistently in the mix as cornerstone pieces both in the top third of the order as well as at premium positions on defense with Addison at shortstop and Scott behind the plate. 

Both Hemenway and Sebastian Wilson are a pair of Tennessee commits (Wilson was actually the first player in the entire ’27 class to commit) and were teammates this past summer with Wow Factor, playing pivotal roles on both sides of the ball while a third Wow Factor player, Blake Lundy, did a bulk of the catching and possesses some of the best tools across the board. 

As you continue to sift through the 10 names, the improvements continue to shine as Partida soared to No. 11 in the class after seeing his fastball jump from bumping 81 mph in March to sitting in the mid- to upper-80s late in the summer and into the Festival. Kelley continued to add physical strength and it played throughout the summer at the top of the USA Prime lineup with gap-to-gap strength and budding over-the-fence power. Morris and Farrar are a pair of versatile shortstops who both possess some of the best arm strength across the diamond and have continued to elevate their overall games in a big way since 2022. 

While this quick hit article is meant to highlight the 10 players who accomplished their mission, it’s also meant to show how players continue to develop, improve and refine not only year to year, but seemingly month-to-month and even tournament-to-tournament. The hard work from players across the country certainly doesn’t go unnoticed and for this 2027 class, it’ll be fun to see who continues to take those next steps, elevate their game and end up receiving that phone call for the PG All-American Classic, whether they made a Festival or not.