Tournaments | Story | 7/10/2012

Driver earns W as Marucci cruises

Matthew Stokes        
Photo: Perfect Game

MARIETTA, Ga. – Right-hander Dustin Driver (2013, Wenatchee H.S., Wash.) threw well enough to earn the victory as the Marucci Elite (4-1) defeated the World Yacht Clippers American (3-1-1) 7-2 in a mid-afternoon pool X matchup on Monday at the 2012 17u WWBA National Championship.

In his longest outing of the summer, Driver worked around two hits and two walks through four scoreless innings before struggling in the fifth. In that frame alone, the UCLA verbal commit surrendered four base hits as well as a bases-loaded walk, which ended his outing on the mound. For the game, he pitched four and a third innings, allowed six hits and two earned runs, walked three and struck out five.

A Perfect Game scout described Driver as “live-armed” and clocked his fastball consistently in the 88-92 mph range, topping out at 93.

Driver credited his teammates for doing their part on Monday afternoon.

I like to have that defense behind me,” said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound righty. “I’m glad that we have hitting and defense as well as pitchers who can back me up like they did today.”

Driver, who ranks 20th nationally amongst 2013 prospects according to Perfect Game’s updated rankings, is not alone as a standout on the Marucci Elite team that competed on Monday.

Third baseman Justin Williams (2013, Terrebonne H.S., La.) showed out at the 2012 Perfect Game National Showcase last month in Minneapolis, Minn., earning him the distinction of being ranked as Perfect Game’s number three 2013 high school player. Williams, who is verbally committed to LSU, did little to hurt his national reputation against the Clippers, creaming a two-run home run.

Shortstop Oscar Mercado (2013, Gaither H.S., Fla.) looked to be as good as advertised on Monday as he stroked two doubles and effortlessly threw out a runner at first from deep in the hole. Perfect Game ranked the Florida State verbal commitment as the number seven 2013 prep player after his performance at the National Showcase. He also ranks first in Florida, which is traditionally a hotbed for high school baseball talent.

Driver said Kansas City Royals area scout Soctt Ramsay helped pair him with Marucci Elite, putting the two parties in touch earlier this year.

Chad called me and asked if I could go to some tournaments with them,” said Driver of Marucci Elite head coach Chad Raley.

Driver recently flew to Georgia specifically to play in this event and said he would compete for Marucci again in October for the 2012 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. The Washington product said he would be leaving just as quickly as he arrived as he had already booked a flight out of Atlanta.

Though the travel sound dizzying to the average person, Driver said it is worth it.

I’ve gotten used to it because I went to North Carolina for the Tournament of Stars and Minneapolis for the National Showcase last month,” said Driver of the constant travel. “It gets me seen more for the draft.”

Driver said the length of his time on the bump Monday was longer than any previous outings this summer.

The max I’ve pitched this summer is three innings so five was little bit more,” Driver said.

Even before his busy summertime schedule kicked off, Driver made his college decision shortly after Wenatchee High School’s spring season ended in early May, choosing to take his talents to head coach John Savage’s program at University of California, Los Angeles.

The campus is really nice, and it’s one of the top schools,” said Driver of UCLA. “And then Cali and the weather.”

If Monday was any indication, Marucci Elite head coach Raley will be eager to have Driver back on the mound for the team as soon as possible.

He’s a bulldog,” said Raley of Driver. “He’s aggressive with his fastball, and he’s got a really good changeup. It seems like he’s got a big league mindset out there. He pounds the zone with fastballs, and he’s not going to give in to hitters. He’s going to make you beat him.”

Driver, who said he wants to continue getting stronger in addition to developing an offspeed pitch, said he already learned a great deal from this summer.

You can work harder because there will always be other people working harder to be just as good if not better than you,” Driver said.

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