Tournaments : : Story
Saturday, October 26, 2013

'Just another day at the office'

Matt Rodriguez        

JUPITER, Fla.- In the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship, where 90 mph fastballs and towering home runs are something of a normalcy, Keith Weisenberg managed to direct the attention of hundreds of professional and college scouts exclusively on him. In a Saturday afternoon showdown between All-American Darius Day’s Chicago Scouts Association and the always heavily loaded roster of coach Chad Raley’s Marucci Elite squad, it seemed the usual two-way traffic of golf carts doing their best impersonation of I-95 was only flowing in one direction – Marlins Field 5.

A few pitches in for the right-handed pitcher Weisenberg and scouts were looking around at each other to make sure their radar guns were reading right. They were. Weisenberg’s fastball was touching 95 mph, his personal best. It couldn’t have come at a better time than at amateur baseball’s most scouted event.

For four innings, Weisenberg impressed those watching with a fastball that sat between 89-93 mph and touched 95. It wasn’t just his fastball that impressed; he showed a late breaking 85 mph slider and excellent command of an 86 mph changeup with run.

“I was feeling good,” said Weisenberg. “I was just trying to use my legs for the most part and just let my arm come through. When I go out there I just wanna get ahead with my fastball and just let my defense work, really. Fastball location gives you all the power.”

“I like to get ahead with the fastball, but I like to mix it up a lot with the changeup and slider,” Weisenberg said when asked about his situational game plan. “It goes batter-to-batter what my out pitch is.”

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound righty was hit around a little bit the first few innings against an exceptional lineup, but he showed improvement and made adjustments to finish his outing strong.

“At the beginning I was a little shaky. I would’ve liked to have come out a little stronger,” Weisenberg said. “I figured it out a little bit so I trusted my defense more. I knew that they had my back the whole time and I just pitched that way.”

“He still hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he’s gonna be. He looks really good and he’s gonna be really good,” said Raley. “To me, he’s the type of guy that if somebody takes a chance on him and drafts him high enough and signs him, he would be a good pick. Or he’s gonna go to college and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s one-one (first overall draft selection) in three years. He’s got that type of potential.”

“He’s a really good competitor. He’s a tough kid. All the guys like him. He’s a good kid.”

Perfect Game’s 55th ranked player in the 2014 class isn’t sure yet of what baseball has in store for him come this time next year, but he expressed great excitement as to what it could be.

Weisenberg is a Stanford University commit. If he chooses to go to the prestigious Califonia institution, the Seminole, Fla. native would be nearly 3,000 miles away from home.

“I love the academic and athletic balance they have,” said Weisenberg. “I’ve always loved that place.”

A school that has produced a number of professional baseball players, including pitchers Mike Mussina, Jeremy Guthrie, and the first pick in this year’s MLB Amateur Draft, Mark Appel, seems fitting for a pitcher with such a high ceiling.

Weisenberg seems eager to join such an accomplished baseball program as Stanford’s, listing off numerous reasons as to why he would like to play his college ball there.

“I like everything,” said Weisenberg about the baseball program at Stanford. “I like that they’re no nonsense out there. I like that they’re very cerebral in the way that they play that they can use their brains to give them an advantage on the field.”

Just because he is committed to Stanford doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel the pressure to perform in front of a plethora of professional scouts in attendance at the Roger Dean Complex this weekend. It sure helps that Weisenberg has played in a number of highly anticipated and competitive events before.

“It definitely is nerve-wrecking at the beginning, but you settle in and get used to it,” said Weisenberg, a former PG National Showcase standout who spent the summer traveling coast to coast for baseball. “You start to not let it get you out of your rhythm and then it’s just a regular day at the office.”

Weisenberg’s 13-event PG résumé is impressive to say the least. Decorating it are event like the Jr. National and National Showcases, the 17u WWBA National Championship, the WWBA Underclass World Championship, and now the WWBA World Championship, the cream of the crop. Other standout event include the East Coast Professional Showcase and USA baseball, both of which he participated in this summer.

“These guys (Perfect Game) run great events, great tournaments,” said Weisenberg. “I’m really appreciative of everything that they’ve done for me. PG events definitely make you play up to the competition and definitely give you the ability to be seen and show off what you have.”

When asked what his favorite Perfect Game event has been, Weisenberg said it was close between this one and the National Showcase.

“The greatest memory I have at Perfect Game is probably all the fun we have at Nationals (National Showcase) in Minneapolis. It’s so much fun just being with the guys.”

This Saturday afternoon likely marked the last time the hard-throwing ace would take the bump at a Perfect Game event.

Raley reflected on when he first remembered seeing Weisenberg pitch. “The first time I saw Keith was two years ago at the Underclass. He came in and threw an inning of relief against us,” he said. “The hitters came back and were saying ‘Hey coach, this guy’s pretty good. He’s got a slider. He’s tough to see.’ I think he was up to 88 mph that day as a young underclassman.” Raley quickly scooped him up for Marucci.

“He’s a part of the family,” Raley said. “We love having him.”

Although Weisenberg’s main goal at Jupiter was to “win with the guys,” he’s just as happy to have the opportunity to play ball with the ‘family’ one more time.

“I just wanted to show the scouts what I have and just hang out with the guys one last time before we go our ways.”

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