Tournaments : : Story
Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chandler World pack a heavy punch

Matt Rodriguez        
EMERSON, Ga. – The All-Star lineup of Chandler World set the bar high in the first game of the 17u WWBA Elite Round Robin, displaying the hit tool in full effect from one of the best 2015s in the country in Greg Pickett, while also showing off some impressive stuff on the mound with a combined no-hitter.

“It was a good start for us,” said Chandler World head coach Greg Kinneman. “We were excited to get out here. It’s the first time all summer that we’ve had our full crew here. We’ve had guys at the Perfect Game National Showcase, Tournament of Stars, all over the place. For us to get our full roster out here is exciting just for us to be together and to come out and play pretty well and pitch pretty well.”

This performance is the kind of performance you could almost expect to be of a regular occurrence for Chandler World as they begin their summer circuit before wrapping up in Jupiter, Fla. at the WWBA World Championship in October.

“The idea behind the World team started last year in Jupiter, Fla. when they sent a team to the WWBA World Championship and that was really the first time they played together,” Kinneman said. “Our idea coming into this year was that we wanted to get these guys together at the beginning of the summer and play all the way through to Jupiter.”

Chandler got off to a fast start, offensively. Recent Perfect Game National Showcase standout Greg Pickett pulled a 2-2 fastball over the right field fence to drive in two runs and really set the pace for Chandler World. It took Pickett little time to adjust to the tournament setting, finishing the game 3-for-4 with a home run, double, three RBI, and two runs scored.

“Greg Pickett is a great player and he can really swing it,” said Kinneman. “He got a couple pitches he can hit and whenever he gets a pitch in his zone he really drives the ball. The other thing I thought he did really well today was he actually fouled off a handful of pitches that were not his pitch, waited till he got something he could drive, and he did a really good job today driving the baseball.”

Another PG National standout, Devin Davis, is credited with the team’s only other extra-base hit when he drove the baseball about 370-something feet for a one-hop double off the fence in center field. He finished the game 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored.

“He’s just an all-around great player,” Kinneman said. “One of the things I’m most impressed with about Devin Davis is he’s arguably the best defensive first baseman in the 2015 class, for sure.”

Davis and Pickett are just two of the names that pop out when looking at the ultra-talented Chandler World lineup, which includes 17 players in Perfect Game’s Top 500 for the 2015 high school class, and three in the Top 100.

Williamsport, Penn. native Kyle Datres showed scouts why he might deserve a higher ranking than his current No. 399, lighting up the strike zone for five innings without allowing a hit or a walk and striking out four. He sat at 86-89 mph (miles per hour) off the bump and displayed good feel for his breaking ball, keeping hitters guessing all five innings.

“Kyle Datres is a phenomenal athlete; a three sport guy,” said Kinneman. “His baseball team in Pennsylvania just won back-to-back state titles, in large part thanks to him. He’s actually an All-State baseball, basketball, and football player back in Pennsylvania.”

The Chandler World roster is made of top talent from all across the country in which assistant coach and Jeff Sullivan recruits during various events throughout the year. This roster is made up of players from Pennsylvania, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Washington, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Colorado, and California.

“Within Chandler Baseball last summer, we had eight of our kids who are in the 2015 class committed to go to school already so we decided that we were going to recruit players around them,” Kinneman said. “Jeff Sullivan did a great job of going out and finding players from all across the country, most of whom are already committed to go to school, so that we could put them in front of as many pro scouts as we could.”

Chandler World is sponsored by David Chandler of Chandler Bats, who has been sponsoring Chandler Baseball teams for about three or four years, according to Kinneman.

“Without David Chandler and his support and without Jeff’s help in finding these guys we wouldn’t be here,” said Kinneman. “As good as we played today on the field, the most impressive thing is that we’ve got a lot of really great kids.”

The tough part about having a team of players scattered from all across the country is that it could be challenging to build team chemistry, which often goes a long way towards winning an intense Perfect Game tournament. Although, Kinneman said a bunch of the guys were able to bond for a few weeks during the National Showcase and Tournament of Stars.

“We had a meeting this morning at the hotel and did some team-building stuff,” Kinneman said. “We figured we would come out and let the baseball stuff take care of itself.”

The 17u WWBA Elite Round Robin serves as a great opportunity for the Chandler World roster to learn about each other’s tendencies on the field before the start of the 17u WWBA National Championship on Friday.

“This round robin is huge just to be able to get down here, play four games, get our pitchers all out on the mound for three or four innings apiece, and get our hitters seeing live pitching,” said Kinneman. “It’s hopefully gonna pay dividends for us come next Friday when the 17u WWBA begins.”

It also helps to have the talents of Pickett and Davis, two players who made huge impressions at the Perfect Game National Showcase, which took place at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. earlier this month.

“It was great being at the PG National and going against the top players in the country,” said Davis. “To go out there and play against some other kids you haven’t seen and some pitching that you haven’t seen was a little different.”

Davis made his presence known in a big way on day two of the showcase when he “absolutely crushed a ball in the fifth inning that banged hard off the Nike ‘The Future Gets Faster’ banner hung at the top of the replica Green Monster”.

Current teammate and Aurora, Colo. native Greg Pickett also made a big impression at the showcase, which is always heavily attended by college coaches and professional scouts.

One Perfect game scout noted that Pickett “looks like he was born to hit the ball hard, routinely peppering the gaps with towering shots as a left-handed hitter”.

“The PG National is awesome,” said Pickett. “You get to face the best pitchers in the country, the best players in the country, get a lot of exposure there, and that’s what I came there to do.”

Next on Davis and Pickett’s baseball list of ‘things to do this summer’ is to get invited to the prestigious nationally televised Perfect Game All-American Classic, played at PETCO Park in San Diego, Calif.

“That’s just always been a goal of mine that I’ve always wanted to achieve since before I started high school,” Davis said.

“If I got invited I would be really honored to play in probably the biggest event in amateur baseball,” said Pickett.

Both players stand out physically, with Davis listed at 6-foot-2 210 pounds and Pickett at 6-foot-4 220 pounds. Their bats fit well with their positions. Davis is a primary first baseman, while Pickett is a primary outfielder. First basemen and corner outfielders typically have powerful bats in the Major Leagues. Power is the top tool for both of these players.

It should come as no surprise then, when Pickett said he models his game after Miami Marlins star and power-hitting standout Giancarlo Stanton, known for hitting some of the longest home runs in the game today.

“I love his power and his athleticism,” said Pickett. “He’s big, just like me, so I try to play like him.”

“The person I model my game after is Mike Trout,” Davis said. “I love Mike Trout’s swing, his power, how he goes for the ball, his athleticism, everything.”

Both players have entranced onlookers with their tremendous power at the plate, which has kept scouts busy so far this summer after some impressive power displays at the National Showcase. They are doing an excellent job mimicking the swings of their MLB heroes and could possibly have a chance to do it on a national stage in August if invited to the All-American Classic.

This Chandler World team contains one of, if not the most, electric lineups in the country and Davis and Pickett, their three and four hitters, pack a heavy punch.

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