Tournaments | Story | 9/22/2012

Mouton hurls no-no for Blizzard

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – A year ago Logan Shore had the most impressive pitching performance at the 2011 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship, tossing a complete game one-hitter (the one hit was recorded by Perfect Game All-American MVP Ryan Boldt) while striking out 13 batters against the eventual champion Reds Midwest Scout Team.

That performance led to Shore to being named the Most Valuable Pitcher at the event, and prompted Reds' Head Coach and Area Scout Andy Stack to drop a comparison to Jeremy Hellickson for his overall mastery and three-pitch repertoire.

While Shore took the mound yet again this year, starting the second of Minnesota Blizzard Blue's games held at Marion High School's field, it was the Game 1 starter that stole the show.

Left handed pitcher Rob Mouton, who has committed to play collegiately at Bradley, hurled a gem of his own, a no-hitter in which he walked only one batter while striking out 11 St. Louis Pirates batters.

Like Shore a year ago, everything was working on this day for Mouton. His effectively mixed in his fastball, curveball and changeup, and while he doesn't throw as hard as Shore does, peaking at 84 mph on the day, the results were equally impressive.

As good as Mouton's performance was, he was quick to pass the credit along to his teammates.

It feels pretty good,” Mouton said after the game. “A couple guys made a few clutch plays in the field. Centerfielder Cody Wetmore made a couple of great catches. Dylan Dresel made tons of great plays at shortstop. Trenten Rabel the first baseman made a nice play on a foul ball. Our catcher, Bo Schmitz called a terrific game and framed up nice.

It's nice to know that I have my team behind me.”

The team concept is something you can grow accustomed to hearing Minnesota Blizzard Blue Head Coach Adam Barta talk about when asked about his squad.

The thing about this team is that they all play together and they all have accepted their role,” Barta said. “On all of these club teams you have a lot of No. 3 hitters, a lot of starting shortstops, a lot of No. 1 pitchers, so in a situation like this you have guys willing to play their part. The nice thing about this team is that you have leaders, one of them being Rob Mouton. There aren't too many followers on this team, it's a collective unit that knows what they need to do to win the next game.”

On a cool day in Eastern Iowa, 84 may not seem like a blistering figure when it comes to fastball velocity, but he spotted the pitch extremely well and used it perfectly to set up his secondary offerings.

With a tall and loose 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame there is plenty of reason to believe that he will only continue to add strength and record higher radar gun readings. He has been as high as 85 over the summer as he was at the 17u WWBA National Championship in mid-July, a big jump from the mid- to upper-70 readings he was recording at this time last year.

Rob is a guy who has put on 18 pounds of muscle in the last year and a half and he's the type of guy who hits the weight room hard,” Barta said of Mouton's development. “With the work that he has done outside of the ballpark he has done a really good job preparing for all of his starts and it showed today.

Starting a tournament you never know what you're going to get no matter what kind of team you have. For him to throw that game in the first game of a tournament is pretty big.”

Mouton has made improving his fastball velocity a priority, hitting the weight room while staying focused not only on the field, but off of it.

I guess I've been trying to get my velocity up,” Mouton said. “I've been working on my changeup since I've been about 11 years old and I continue to work on it. The past year or two I've been working on my curveball trying to get it more bite on it. But the biggest thing I've been working on is velocity, hitting the weights and trying to eat right, work with Adam Barta my pitching coach and listen to what he has to give me. I do long toss during practice before the game usually, but a lot of what I try to (to improve) is outside, off the field, and I try to spend my time wisely.”

The time and hard work he has invested is evident, as it came at a key time. With Logan Shore scheduled to start the second game, one would expect that it would be Shore, and not Mouton, who would have the dynamite showing.

As anyone involved with baseball will be quick to tell you, you never know what to expect going into any given game.

It turns out Shore lasted only one inning in Game 2, making the Blizzard Blue coaches aware that he felt a painful twinge in his hip flexor, and he was pulled from the game as a precautionary measure.

I kind of tweaked my hip flexor in the first game,” Shore said of his condition. “I went out and didn't know if it would hurt as bad it did. It wasn't just a soreness, it was something deeper than that. I couldn't go after that and I didn't want to risk anything.

Hopefully this won't be a thing that keeps me out tomorrow, I don't know yet. I'll ice and rest it tonight. If it's feeling good tomorrow I'll probably throw at some point, we'll see what happens.”

While he didn't have the opportunity to try and match his performance from a year ago, it's a game that he remembers fondly.

That was one of the best games that I pitched,” Shore recalled. “My fastball, slider and changeup were all really working. The changeup especially, to (neutralize) lefties. It was just overall a really good game, throwing strikes and going after hitters. It was fun, a lot of fun.”

Barta too is quick to share memories from that game, but also recognizes the improvements Shore has made since.

In all of the starts and innings that I've seen him throw this spring and summer, he's improved,” Barta said. “A lot of guys when they're at that level they don't have a ton of guys to compare themselves to in Minnesota or Iowa, and the nice thing about Logan is that every start he has, or every time he gets out there he's improving, and that's important. And the guys that come to these games need to see that. They need to see him good, then they need to see him better and better after that. He's one of those guys that isn't afraid of the big challenge.”

Shore currently sits at No. 101 in Perfect Game's ranking of the top high school prospects from the class of 2013. He had a busy summer, as all of the top prospects in the game do, traveling to numerous, notable national events including the Area Code Games and the Team USA trials, peaking at 92 with his fastball while also showing legitimate two-way promise with a potent bat.

This is Shore's fourth trip to Cedar Rapids for the Kernels Foundation Championship, and he has long been a member of the Minnesota Blizzard travel ball organization.

Logan has been in our program since he was 13 years old, and I can't say enough about Logan as a baseball player," Barta said.  "What's neat about Logan is that he's a better person than he is a baseball player. Here's a kid that 89 to 92 guy, tops at 93 to 94, and he's certainly one of the top prospects, if not the top prospect in the Midwest.

He's got great composure, he's a great leader, and he's very humble too. I think with a lot of guys that get a lot of exposure and have scouts following them around sometimes they don't know how to handle it. When the guns go up and the scouts come out it's just another game.”

You can always get better,” Shore added. “Every little situation, every little incident, there's always room to improve.”

This year the Blizzard brought three teams to Eastern Iowa, including the program's Black and Red teams. While winning the tournament is the reason all of the teams attend, Barta recognizes that his teams serve a bigger function for his players.

There's a lot of exposure for all of our kids. Most of these guys haven't signed yet, so our primary goal for this tournament, aside from trying to win it, is getting them in front of scouts like there were here today. That's the ultimate goal, bridging the gap from high school to college, or for some of our guys, pro ball.”

After winning the first game on Saturday and having their second game against Bo Jackson Silver end in a tie, the Blizzard Blue team enters Sunday with a 1-0-1 record, tied with the Bo Jackson Silver for the lead in their pool. Since Mouton went the distance in the first game, they still have left-hander Zach Muckenhim and right-hander Luc Henke for Coach Barta's squad to turn to.

One more win and they may just advance to the playoffs, one step closer to the Kernels Championship and an automatic bid to the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., the prize everyone in attendance is aware of.

It's always a great deal to come down to this tournament,” Mouton said, participating in his second Kernels Championship. “There's always great competition here, it's a lot of fun to compete against other top guys from other states and other high schools. It really brings up not only my ability to play well but all of the other teams. It's definitely a great place where everybody exhibits their skills.

It would be huge to win this. A lot of us have here before and if we can put it all together and get a win and go to Jupiter it would be a great moment for all of us.”

The video below if of Logan Shore during his one inning appearance at the 2012 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship.

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