Tournaments : : Story
Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Top talent invades WWBA Under

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This week's 2012 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship will be like one big all-you-can-eat buffet for talent-hungry college coaches and recruiting coordinators. They'll be able to pull up a seat and get their fill watching the best underclass teams and prospects from across the country, Puerto Rico and even Mexico perform in front of a captive audience.

The 11th annual PG WWBA Underclass World Championship will showcase at least 23 prospects ranked in the top 30 nationally in the high school classes of 2014 and 2015. Many of those top guys have yet to make their college commitments.

Those elite athletes will be joined by hundreds more who will fill the rosters of the 168 teams that will compete for the WWBA Underclass World Championship title Thursday through Monday at 13 venues in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Port Charlotte.

Play begins Thursday night with 10 games at Terry Park and City of Palms Park, and continues will full days of pool-play and playoff games Friday through Sunday.  The two semifinal games and the championship game are scheduled for Monday (Oct. 15) at the jetBlue Player Development Complex in Fort Myers, the sparkling new spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.

As of early this week, 13 of the top 30 national prospects from the class of 2014 were on rosters of teams at the national underclass event; 10 of the top 30 from the class of 2015 were also named. Those include two of the top 10 in the '14 class and four of the top 10 in the '15 class.

Marucci Elite, based in Baton Rouge, La., won the last two PG WWBA Underclass World Championship titles, and head coach Chad Raley is bringing another blockbuster unit to southwest Florida this year.

His roster includes shortstop/third baseman Gregory Deichman (2014, Metarie, La.), ranked No. 9 nationally in his class; outfielder/right-hander Justin Smith (2014, St. John's, Fla.), ranked No. 23; and shortstop Nicholas Shumpert (2015, Lone Tree, Colo.), ranked No. 9 among the nation's sophomores.

Deichman has committed to Louisiana State, Smith to the University of Miami and Shumpert -- the son of 14-year ex-major-leaguer Terry Shumpert -- to Kentucky.

East Cobb Astros teams won WWBA Underclass World titles in 2002, '04, '05 and '06, and the EC Astros Texas Orange and head coach Guerry Baldwin are bringing another roster filled with top-ranked sophomore talent this year.

Outfielder Dazmon Cameron (2015, McDonough, Ga.) -- the son of former MLB 17-year veteran Mike Cameron -- is ranked No. 3 nationally; left-hander Max Wotell (2015, Marvin, N.C.) is ranked No. 19 and right-hander Jonathan Hughes (2015, Flowery Branch, Ga.) is No. 29.

All three of those prospects are uncommitted.

EvoShield Canes Baseball also has three highly ranked prospects on their roster: first baseman/left-hander Justin Bellinger (2014, Weston, Mass.) is ranked No. 15; left-hander Jeff Harding, Jr. (2014, Cambridge, Md.) comes in at No.. 26; and right-hander Jacob Bukauskas (2015, Asburn, Va.) is No. 7 in his class.

Bellinger is a Vanderbilt commit, Harding, Jr. has committed to South Carolina and Bukauskas to North Carolina. EvoShield Canes Baseball has seven other prospects on its roster that have also committed to NCAA Division I schools.

A pair of highly ranked 2015s -- left-hander Thomas Szapucki (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and outfielder/right-hander Kyle Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) -- will be suited up for the All-American Prospects West. Szapucki is ranked No. 2 nationally in the 2015 class and Tucker No. 15, and both have committed to Florida.

The highest ranked prospect from the class of 2014 expected to play this week is No. 3 Nicholas Gordon, a shortstop and right-handed pitcher from Windermere, Fla., who is on the FTB Chandler roster. Gordon is the son of another former big-leaguer, Tom "Flash" Gordon, and also hasn't made a college commitment.

Other top-20 2014 prospects on one of the tournament's rosters include No. 12 1B/OF Braxton Davidson (Arden, N.C.), a North Carolina commit with the Dirtbags; No. 18 LHP/OF Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma, Tenn.), uncommitted, Knights Baseball; and No. 20 RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs, Fla.), Miami commit, SF Elite Squad Underclass White.

This event already boasts 33 alumni who have made their major league debuts, including former first-rounders like the Angels' Mike Trout (2007), the Royals' Eric Hosmer (2005, '06) the Braves' Jason Heyward (2004, '05), the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (2003) and the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton (2002).

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