WWBA World Underclass Championship -- Day 1
Play got underway Friday in Fort Myers, Florida with the first 39 games of the 2008 WWBA World Underclass championships. The weather was outstanding, if not a bit on the hot side, and the quality of play impressive.
The 65 team tournament is broken down into 13 pools of 5 teams apiece. The pool winners, plus the top 3 second place teams, will advance to a 16 team playoff pool that will begin play at 4 pm on Sunday.
Most teams played one game yesterday, but a number of top teams took the field twice, with four teams posting 2-0 records to get a jump on their pool. Both All American Prospects teams, Blue and Red, won both games, as did the highly talented KC Royals Scout Team/Midland Braves team and the East Cobb Astros Orange.
The top East Cobb team, the East Cobb Astros Gray, played two games but tied their second contest with the East Coast Gray, 3-3. The Astros were playing under a handicap, as they only had 10 players available due to football and school commitments back in Georgia.
One notable thing about the first day was the number of college coaches in attendance. The WWBA Underclass has always had a healthy but not overwhelming number of coaches through the years, but nothing compared to the numbers at events such as Jupiter or the WWBA 17U or 18U championships in Marietta in July. But with college recruiting reaching further and further down into the high school ranks, it’s obvious that the major and mid-level programs are hungry for information on potential prospects earlier than ever.
Some highlights from individual games …….
-- Orlando Scorpions RHP A.J. Cole is the #2 ranked prospect in the 2010 class and looked the part yesterday. The 6-5, 190 lb Cole threw 2 innings in the Scorpions 11-1 victory over the Team New York Cardinals, retiring all 6 hitters including 3 by strikeout. Cole pitched between 91-93 mph with a 78 mph curveball.
-- It was easy to pick a Player of the Game in the East Cobb Astros Orange 2-1 win over the St. Louis Pirates: 1B/RHP Tucker Simpson. The 6-6, 230 lb 2012 (!!!) prospect from Oxford, Alabama, hit a 2-run home run to account for both East Cobb runs and recorded the final 4 outs on the mound for the save, touching 86 mph with his fastball.
-- 14 year old 2011 shortstop Francisco Lindor was an unknown, at least to the PG staff, before yesterday, but no longer. Hitting in the 3 hole for the Apopka Black Sox, the 5-10, 155 lb switch-hitter blasted a home run in Black Sox 3-3 tie with the New Jersey Twins, along with showing advanced defensive skills.
-- East Cobb Astros Gray OF’er Dwight Smith, son of the former ML outfielder of the same name, had quite a day