General | General | 11/1/2003

East Cobb Tradition Continues to Grow

Perfect Game Staff        
WWBA World Wood Bat Championship Latest Success

The East Cobb Yankees, Astros and Braves have won numerous National Titles, but until this year the only PG WWBA title the East Cobb teams had under their belt was the 2002 Underclass World Championship. 2003 was another big year for East Cobb Baseball. The Yankees failed to make the final round of the Senior WWBA Championships, but went on to win the prestigious Connie Mack World Series title in Farmington, NM. The Astros once again won the 16 & Under National Championship. The Braves were crowned champions of the PG WWBA Junior Division. And then came the grand daddy of them all and the toughest of all to win, the PG/BA World Championship in Jupiter, FL.

Other than a third place finish 4 years ago the East Cobb teams had never done well in this tournament, labeled the largest scouting attraction in baseball. Some 600 scouts and college coaches on hand to see the best high school talent in the world. East Cobb put to rest all the skeptics as both the Braves and the Astros made the final 8. The Braves lost a 2-0 heart breaker to an inspired North Carolina On Deck O?€™s. The Astros, who made the final 16 as the only team not to win a pool, just kept winning and winning. After disposing the O?€™s they earned the right to play the Dallas Tigers in the Championship game. The Tigers were also the lowest seed in their bracket, but won two extra inning (tie breakers) against the #1 seed Wisconsin Blazers and again in the semi?€™s against a very strong Houston Heat club.

The Astros won the rings with a 5-2 victory in the final. Many wondered how two teams from the Atlanta area could be so strong. First of all, it should be mentioned that the Atlanta area might just be the #1 hot bed of high school baseball talent these days. A quick look at the East Cobb rosters is all it takes to substantiate that view. The Astros roster included tournament MVP Taylor Harbin (SC) who was picked up to fill the shoes of East Cobb star and one of the nation?€™s very best prospects in Chris Nelson. Nelson was the MVP of the nationally televised AFLAC Classic. Two other highly ranked East Cobb players Dexter Fowler and Brad Emaus also were selected as AFLAC All-Americans. The deep Astro pitching staff included nationally highly regarded prep stars like Tim Ladd, Michael Schlact, Luke Putkonen, Stephen Brock, Tyler Musselwhite, Ryan Schwartz and top juniors like Buster Posey, Nick Desilvio, Geoff Vandel and Brett Wiggins. Nearly all of these pitchers throw in the 90s. ?€?05?€? Posey was consistently in the low 90s, up to 93, in his 3 hit complete game shutout in the quarter finals. Add to the above that these guys are not just a bunch of hard throwers, but all have good secondary pitches and know how to pitch.

For any team to win the WWBA World Championship it takes some luck. No team has ever breezed through the tournament in dominating fashion. Often the team who has been crowned champions has just barely made the final playoff field. Pre-tournament favorites Baseball America and Team Florida USA found that out again this year. Both rosters were chuck full of some of the top prospects in all of high school baseball. Baseball America was soundly defeated in their first pool game by the SE Marlins Scout Team 9-2. BA played three good games after that, but were denied a spot on the playoffs when RHP John Lalor (TN) and the Dulins Dodgers played them to a 1-1 tie in the final game of pool play. Team Florida USA played very well until meeting co-pitching MVP Sean Morgan and the Houston Heat in the final 8. Morgan dominated the game throwing a 2 hit shutout against the powerful Team Florida hitting lineup. Another star studded roster was All Star Baseball Academy. The #1 nationally ranked prospect RHP Nick Adenhart (MD) had to match up against another top nationally ranked prospect in RHP Eric Hurley (FL) in their first pool game. Some 300 scouts watched Hurley?€™s Hitmaster team and Adenhart?€™s ASBBA play to a tie. Both Hurley and Adenhart were throwing up to 94 mph. Then All Star had the misfortune of being paired up against Team Florida in the playoffs. All Star?€™s lineup included several highly ranked prospects including SS Justin Upton (VA) who is the #1 ranked prospect in the ?€?05?€? class. Many of the best teams on paper made the final 16, but others besides Baseball America were edged out of the playoffs. Norcal (CA) had a star studded lineup that included many 90+ mph pitchers. They played well, but their 3-1 pool play record didn?€™t quite make the playoffs. So very much, the winner each year of the World Wood Bat Championship is a very talented club that was also very fortunate along the way.

East Cobb?€™s strong tradition and talented roster deserved to take home the rings by playing their best baseball during the 16 team single elimination playoffs. It takes 4 straight in the playoffs and none come easily. It would have been even better if East Cobb star pitcher and shortstop Chris Nelson were on hand. Nelson was rated the #1 prospect in the nation and he was named the MVP of the nationally televised Aflac Classic before undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Even without their star, it was the depth; talent and a few key pick ups that led East Cobb to the title.

Here is the East Cobb Astros World Wood Bat Championship roster:

Tim Ladd LHP Kell HS Marietta, GA
Brett Wiggins LHP Cross Creek HS Augusta, GA
Ryan Schwartz RHP McIntosh HS Fayetteville, GA
Geoff Vandel LHP Shaw HS Columbus, GA
Buster Posey RHP/SS Lee County HS Leesburg, GA
Stephen Brock RHP/3B North Gwinett HS Buford, GA
Tyler Musselwhite RHP Gainesville HS Gainesville, GA
Nick Desilvio LHP/1B Etowah HS Woodstock, GA
Luke Putkonen RHP Walton HS Marietta, GA
Michael Schlact RHP Wheeler HS Marietta, GA
Josh Clendenin C Harrison HS Acworth, GA
Jonathan Egan C/OF Cross Creek HS Hephzibah, GA
Neil Casey C Northgate HS Sharpsburg, GA
Ryan Peisel 1B Lassiter HS Marietta, GA
Brad Emaus MIF East Coweta HS Senoia, GA
Brandon May MIF Lassiter HS Marietta, GA
Taylor Harbin MIF Travelers Rest HS Travelers Rest, SC
Brad Feltes 3B Chattahoochee HS Alpharetta, GA
Andrew Crisp MIF Riverside HS Greer, SC
Adam Crisp OF/MIF Riverside HS Greer, SC
Eddie Prasch MIF/OF Milton HS Alpharetta, GA
Kieron Pope OF East Coweta HS Gay, GA
Dexter Fowler OF Milton HS Alpharetta, GA
Garrett Bullock LHP JH Rose Greenville, NC

As we continue to sift through some 170 games worth of score sheets and scouting notes, more information about this year?€™s PG/BA World Championship will become available. Most of this information can be seen at our sister WWBA site.

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