Tournaments : : Story
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mirabelli dons two hats at Jupiter

Jeff Dahn        

JUPITER, Fla. – That guy walking around the Roger Dean Complex at this week’s Perfect Game WWBA World Championship wearing two hats? Oh, no need for a double-take. That would be John Mirabelli, the guy who would be at the World Championship this week even if he didn’t have a son playing.

Mirabelli is an assistant general manager and vice president of scouting operations for the Cleveland Indians. He is also the proud father of Tommy Mirabelli (2012, Rocky River, Ohio) who is here this week as a member of the North Carolina-based Dirtbags Baseball program.

“You can knock out two birds with one stone,” John Mirabelli said under the bright sunshine at the Roger Dean Complex Thursday afternoon. “You can get a little work done and mix some business with pleasure. I’m fortunate and he’s fortunate to be part of (a) Perfect Game (event).”

Tommy Mirabelli, a 5-7, 140-pound left-handed hitting mid-fielder enjoys having his father around to see him play, and said he feels no added pressure to perform well.

“He’s a  great guy,” Tommy said of his dad. “It’s not only just as a dad, but he teaches me so many things. He gives me tips on what I did wrong, what I’m doing right … so it’s definitely a huge plus.

“I’ve been feeling a little pressure ever since I first started playing baseball, and this is nothing new. It’s pretty good. I love the Dirtbags and they’re a wonderful program. And everything about Jupiter is amazing.”

The Dirtbags will be among the favorites to win the six-day event, which kicked off Thursday (Oct. 21) and concludes with the championship game Monday (Oct. 25). The presence of both Mirabellis has made the Dirtbags stronger.

“It’s great for our kids and it’s great for our program to have somebody like Tommy – who is a terrific baseball player – and obviously his dad, with the scouting connections  with Cleveland,” Dirtbags head coach Andy Partin said. “The best thing about John Mirabelli is he’s … just like talking to your uncle, or your brother. He’s down to earth and he’s been great with our kids.”

Partin said he expects Tommy Mirabelli to be a “terrific” college player. He has already received numerous offers but has made no verbal commitment.

“I got a lot of contact from college coaches saying they were coming down here to watch me, so Jupiter as a tournament has a lot of exposure and that just adds to things competition-wise,” Tommy Mirabelli said.

The elder Mirabelli is going to take a little time to sit back and enjoy watching his son play this week, but this is no family vacation. Tommy Mirabelli wants to impress coaches and scouts and John Mirabelli wants more than a few young players to impress him.

“I’ve been here many times,” John Mirabelli said. “It’s very heavily scouted and we’ve got our contingent of scouts here as well. Because of the convience and the logistics of having so many players in one spot, they put it on a silver platter pretty much for the scouting industry. And for the most part it’s the last event of the year before we go into the spring and put our eyes on some of these kids.

“So yeah, you put it all on paper and it’s a pretty good deal.”

When the Indians’ John Mirabelli looks at the WWBA World Championship, he sees pure baseball with a very discerning eye.

“This is it. This is the grass-roots level ,” he said. “This is how I sort of cut my teeth as an area scout and this is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. This is where it all starts at. You  can’t have a winning team or a winning organization unless you have good players. You’ve got to get out here and scout, make evaluations and make good decisions.”

When the Dirtbags’ Andy Partin looks at the WWBA World Championship, he sees it with a sense of awe.

 “We’re excited, our kids are juiced and they’re ready to go,” Partin said early Thursday. “This is what we work hard for all year. It just gets bigger and better every year. It’s just the greatest event that a high school kid can go to. There’s nothing else to compare it to. It’s like going to Disney World for the first time. You don’t know what to expect, but it’s awesome.”

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