Tournaments | Story | 10/7/2012

Elite Chain of command

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Just to get things started, Brad Bouras and Andy Burress put their heads together. Then the two former professional ballplayers and administrators/general managers/head coaches of two of Georgia's most successful travel ball organizations put their teams together.

Bouras, the General Manager at Team Elite, and Burress, the President at Chain Baseball, joined forces and put together a formidable team for the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship, which enjoyed its fourth day of play Sunday. The squad, armed with five top-200 prospects from the class of 2014, is playing under the Team Elite Chain (TEC) banner.

After winning its three pool-play games by a combined 25-3 on Friday Saturday, Team Elite Chain earned the playoffs' No. 10 seed and a first-round bye. It beat the No. 23-seeded Dallas Patriots Sherard, 10-5, in its second round game and was set to play No. 7 Royals Scout Team/Midland in a round-of-16 game late Sunday afternoon.

The quarterfinals, semifinals and championship games are scheduled for Monday.

Burress and Bouras first started talking about mixing and matching talent and putting teams together for the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship this weekend and the PG WWBA World Championship Oct. 25-29 in Jupiter, Fla., when they were at the East Coast Pro Showcase in Syracuse, N.Y., this summer.

"We got to looking at it, and he had eight or 10 guys who were D-I guys and I had eight or 10 guys who were D-I guys, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to get together," Burress said Sunday morning  from the jetBlue Player Development Complex. "Brad runs a great organization and has a lot of respect in our state (Georgia), and I think we do, too."

It would have been impossible to not respect the roster the two men put together for the WWBA Underclass World.

Left-side infielders Montrell Marshall (2014, Snellville, Ga.) and Dylan Cease (2014, Milton, Ga.) are ranked Nos. 21 and 67, respectively, in the nation, and neither have committed to a college. Right-hander Spencer Adams (2014, Cleveland, Ga.), a Georgia commit, is ranked 44th.

Adams was particularly impressive in Team Elite Chain's 6-1 win over NJ Super 17/Diamond Backs in the tournament-opener Friday morning when he tossed a seven inning one-hitter with 15 strikeouts.

Right-hander/outfielder Michael Gettys (2014, Cordele, Ga.), another Georgia commit, is ranked 112th; outfielder and Florida State commit Matthew Railey (2014, Tallahassee, Fla.) comes in at No. 155; and catcher Josh Day (2014, Valdosta, Ga.) is yet another Georgia recruit and is ranked 205th. Other highly ranked prospects with Team Elite Chain include a couple of right-handers in Logan Moseley (2014, Hoschton, Ga.) and A.J. Moore (2014, Dacula, Ga.), ranked 190th and 173rd, respectively.

Several PG scouts have commented privately on how impressed they've been with the play of Gettys over the past four days, both on the mound and at the plate.

It's not coincidental that many of these prospects come from rural communities, or at least smaller towns and cities. It is those young ballplayers Burress and Bouras make a point of reaching out to.

"They have a lot of the same backgrounds, a lot of the same types of upbringing," Burress said. "A lot of them are smaller-school kids who are kind of a big fish in a little pond, so to speak. They get here, and you really find out the guys that really want to be here and can make that jump. When they get to this big stage, we like to see them step up.

"Our whole goal is just to give some of these rural kids that opportunity they normally wouldn't get," he continued. The game of baseball has given me and my family a lot, so now I have the opportunity to give back."

Burress said it's also important to get the uncommitteds playing with the committeds, and he pointed to Marshall as an example.

Marshall is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound physical specimen who a PG scouting note said possesses "very good all-around tools that really project well." He has been to eight PG events, including two prestigious showcases, and has risen to No. 21 in the 2014 national rankings.

"Montrell is a guy that is a big up-side guy, very athletic who does a lot of things well," Burress said. "A lot of colleges are waiting to see if he makes that next little jump because he definitely could be a top-round guy.

"We have guys who are sophomores that have not committed and you put them around these guys that are going to Georgia and Florida State and Alabama and Clemson and South Carolina, and those guys rise because they know they're going to have to compete to be at this level."

Burress guessed that are at least five players on the Team Elite Chain roster who will be drafted in 2014, and there again is area where he and Bouras can be of some help. The players might come to them for advice on who should represent them during contract talks because of Burress's and Bouras's experience in professional baseball.

Burress was selected in the 6th-round of the 1995 MLB amateur draft by the Reds and played nine seasons of minor league ball for the organization. Chain Baseball has been around since 1985, and Burress played for the organization in 1993 before getting into administrative and ownership roles in 2007.

Bouras was a 21st-round draft pick of the Cubs in the 2001 draft and played three minor league seasons. Under his leadership, Team Elite has grown into one of the most prestigious travel ball organizations in the country.

"A lot of people don't have that background of playing in the minor leagues," Burress said. "Everybody thinks it's all glamour, but it's tough. We can sit down with some of the parents and weigh that option between college and the pros. Some of these guys just aren't ready to jump out there and be on their own at 17 or 18 years old and we try to help them make as educated of a decision as they can."

The joining of the Team Elite and Chain Baseball forces seemed to work pretty well here over the last four days, or at least through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Scouts and college coaches can expect to see an older and more mature version of the coupling in a couple of weeks in Jupiter.

"When we play each other we're competitive, but when you get on a national stage, you can't compete nationally with just the local guys," Burress said. "So we said let's try it and see how it works, and this is the first time we've done this and it's worked real good.

"It's been really good for us, because you can just put them out there and let them play, these guys of this caliber."

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