Tournaments : : Story
Sunday, July 10, 2011

Power arms pull in crowd at WWBA

Todd Gold         Ben Collman        
MARIETTA, Ga. -- True to its reputation for being a one-stop shop for scouts to see nearly all of the top prospects for next year's draft, the 17u WWBA National Championship has featured starts from the top two ranked players in the class of 2012. The duo of power arms, Lance McCullers and Lucas Giolito, highlighted a parade of power arms in the first two days of the week long event.

McCullers took the mound for the Tampa Bay Warriors in the tourney opener on Saturday. Today, Lucas Giolito toed the rubber for San Gabriel Valley Arsenal against South Florida Elite at the East Cobb Complex. Top ranked McCullers hit 97 mph on the radar gun a number of times in his four inning start against CCB, striking out six while allowing three runs. Giolito was up to 95 and allowed just one hit over three innings in a no decision.


Though both throw upper 90s heat, the two top level righties are different pitchers. McCullers has incredible arm speed, with an aggressive overpowering mound approach. Giolito uses his 6' 7" frame well to create good downhill leverage and create sink on his fastball. McCullers generally works a couple mph harder with his fastball and features a four pitch arsenal highlighted by a nasty mid-80s slider with hard tilt. Giolito uses a very hard 2-plane curveball with serious bite at 79-81 and shows good all around command for a young power arm.


Both players anchor teams that coming in to pool play seemed poised to make deep runs in the tournament. But as both teams found out, in a tournament with as much quality as the 216 team field for 2011 features; nobody is invincible. McCullers took a 4-3 loss against CCB 17u while Giolito's lone mistake of his first outing resulted in a no-decision.


McCullers' start drew a large crowd of scouts and recruiters who saw McCullers light up the radar gun and flash impressive offspeed stuff. What they also saw was CCB 17u RHP
Paul Blackburn (2012 Heritage HS, Oakley, CA) shut out a quality Tampa Bay Warriors lineup for five innings. When Giolito wasn't throwing mid 90s heat with a low effort delivery, the throngs of scouts in attendance watched lefty Michael Emigh (2012 West Broward HS, Pembroke Pines, FL) frustrate San Gabriel Valley's juggernaut offense with good command and pitchability for five innings. Emigh's Catcher, Zach Butler (2012 University HS, Lauderdale Gardens, FL) also made the most of the opportunity to play in front of a large crowd of scouts, turning around a 95 mph fastball from Giolito, driving it over the high left field wall on East Cobb Field 1.

It's a similar theme throughout the 17u WWBA National Championship, and a great benefit to both players and scouts. At an event like this, when scouts go to a field to watch a specific player, there is a good chance that they will find another highly talented player. It happened with a 5' 11" 140 pound RHP/SS in 2008...when pre-frosh Lance McCullers suited up for the Dawg Pound. It happened when scouts saw a right hander for the San Diego Show work 89-91 in 2006...by the name of
Stephen Strasburg.

There are a lot of high profile prospects playing in Marietta this week. There are many more who are in the process of making a name for themselves right now..
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