GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Five age-group Perfect Game WBBA tournaments will be held over the upcoming four-day Memorial Day Weekend May 23-26 – three under the desert sun in Arizona and two others under the sunshine offered on the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast.
The 18u, 16u and 14u PG WWBA West Memorial Day Classics will be contested over four days at the Goodyear Ballpark Complex (the Cactus League spring training home of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds) and the Camelback Ranch Complex (Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox) in Glendale. Games will also be played at the Red Mountain Baseball Complex and the Gene Autry Complex, both in Mesa.
The 18u and 16u PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classics will be played at Southwest Florida venues in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Port Charlotte, including the jetBlue Park Player Development Complex (Grapefruit League spring training home of the Boston Red Sox), the Lee County Sports Complex (Minnesota Twins), Terry Park, the Player Development 5-Plex and City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.
The two World Wood Bat Association events on both ends of the country officially kickoff the annual Perfect Game spring, summer and fall tournament schedules, and a total of 296 teams will jump-start their seasons at the five tournaments this Memorial Day Weekend.
18, 16u, 14u PG WWBA West Memorial Day Classic
This is the fourth year Perfect Game has brought this event to the Phoenix suburbs and it has grown in size, stature and relevance each year. Eighty-six teams were at last year’s three tournaments and that number has grown to 117 for this weekend’s play.
Forty-five squads from Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas and British Columbia, Canada – up from 28 teams in 2013 – will compete for the 18u West Memorial Day title, which a year ago was claimed by the AZ Athletics 18u Black from nearby Peoria, Ariz. The AZ A’s Royal Love was named the Most Valuable Player and Brick Paskiewicz was the MV Pitcher.
The AZ Athletics have a 17u and 18u team in this year’s field but all eyes will be on the Phoenix-based Arizona Diamondbacks Elite Scout Team. The D-backs Elite feature a roster of highly ranked 2014s, 2015s and 2016s, nine of whom have already committed to NCAA Division I universities.
Those players include top 2014s Cole Tucker (ranked No. 90 nationally, Arizona recruit) and Andrew Shaps (No. 311, Arizona State); 2015s Tyler Williams (No. 75, uncommitted), Luke Eigsti (No. 150, UAB) and Alejo Lopez (No. 167, Arizona), and 2016 Jordan Williams (No. 159, uncommitted).
Uncommitted 2015s that will lead the Arizona Prowlers include shortstop Tyler Wyatt (No. 124 nationally), shortstop/catcher Rudy Karre (No. 216) and third baseman Antonio Coronado (No. 454).
The 16u and 14u PG WWBA West Memorial Day Classics are always an entertaining crapshoot with every team looking to find its early season footing while the top prospects try to rise above their peers.
The 16u West Memorial Day will feature 40 teams from Arizona, California, Arkansas and Colorado. The So Cal Sox from Huntington Beach, Calif., conquered the 32-team field last year, and the Sox’s Logan Pouelson was named MV Player and Noah Davis was co-MV Pitcher. Chaz Montoya from the AZ Prowlers shared the MV Pitcher award with Davis.
The top prospect in this year’s 16u field is 2016 catcher/outfielder Aaron Greenfield, who plays for the Los Angeles-based CBA Cavs and ranked No. 152.
This weekend’s 14u West Memorial Day field includes 32 teams from Arizona, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Washington, up from 26 last year. The East Bay Bombers from Hayward, Calif., won the 2013 championship while Lasorda University from Gilbert, Ariz., finished as runner-up. Lasorda has an entry in this year’s 16u West Memorial Day.
18u, 16u PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classic
This is the sixth straight Memorial Day Weekend Perfect Game has brought these two Classics to Southwest Florida, and like their counterparts out west, they continue to grow.
This year’s 18u East Memorial Day field has grown from 80 to 84, with teams coming from Florida, Texas, New York and South Carolina. The 16u East Memorial Day is up to 95 teams from 80 a year ago, with squads arriving from Florida, New York, South Carolina and the Virgin Islands.
The Florida Burn Orange from Sarasota won last year’s 18u East Memorial Day to kickoff the organizations’ second straight summer and fall of astounding success. The Orlando Scorpions Prime from Altamonte Springs, Fla., finished as runner-up which led to a summer and fall of almost unprecedented success for that program.
The Burn’s Michael Rivera – projected as an early round draft pick in the upcoming MLB June Amateur Draft – was named the MV Player and the Burn’s Tyson Albert was the MV Pitcher.
The Florida Burn organization has three teams entered in this year’s 18u East Memorial Day while the Scorpions do not have a team in the field. There are probably as many as 15 teams that could legitimately contend for the 18u title, but two in particular jump off the page.
Perennial powerhouse FTB Chandler out of Orlando boasts an eye-popping lineup that features 15 players that have committed to D-I schools and seven prospects ranked in the top 73 nationally in the classes of 2015 and 2016.
The top 2015s include shortstop Ryan Mountcastle (No. 12 nationally, Central Florida commit); left-hander Juan Hillman (No. 18, Central Florida); catcher Wyatt Cross (No. 23, North Carolina); left-hander Mitchell Hansen (No. 36, Stanford); middle-infielder Jonathan India (No. 50, Florida) and first baseman/right-hander Jason Heinrich (No. 73, Central Florida). Middle-infielder Bo Bichette, who is uncommitted, is ranked No. 20 in the class of 2016.
The Pembroke Pines, Fla.-based Elite Squad 17u Prime – one of three Elite Squad 17u teams in the 18u field – should be among FTB Chandler’s top challengers. The Prime sport a roster with 10 D-I commits from the class of 2015, and four of them are ranked in that class’s top 93 nationally.
Any discussion of the Prime’s roster has to start right at the top: right-hander Anthony Molina from Pembroke Pines, a Miami recruit who is the No. 1-ranked national prospect in the class of 2015. He is joined by outfielder Daniel Reyes (No. 29, Florida); shortstop Zack Kone (No. 89, Duke) and third baseman/right-hander Julien Infante (No. 93, Vanderbilt).
Another top prospect at the event that will be drawing a lot of attention from scouts is 2014 right-hander Garrett Fulenchek from Howe, Texas. Fulenchek is a Dallas Baptist signee ranked No. 42 nationally in his high school class who is also ranked No. 52 overall among the top 2014 MLB draft prospects. He will be pitching for ABD Texas out of Dallas.
The Scorpions 2016 Prime from Orlando look especially intriguing among the 95 teams in the 16u East Memorial Day field with five 2016 prospects ranked in the top 135 nationally. They are third baseman Joe Skinner (No. 19, Central Florida), right-hander Drew Mendoza (No. 24, Florida State), left-hander Cole Ragans (No. 109, Florida State), catcher/outfielder Marc Coffers (No. 114, Ole Miss) and outfielder Chase Cheek (No,. 133, Duke).
Other top 2016 prospects expected include right-hander Austin Bergner (No. 3, uncommitted) from the Florida Burn 2016 Pennant; right-hander Rylan Thomas (No. 35, Central Florida), Florida Burn Pennant, and righty Ryan Mejia (No. 16, uncommitted) from SCORE International 16u in Tampa.
SWFL 16u from Fort Myers won the 2013 16u Memorial Day championship and South Florida Elite Squad Louisville Slugger 16u from Pembroke Pines was the runner-up. SWFL’s Zuriel Collins was the MV Player and Elite Squad’s Gentry Fortuno was the MV Pitcher.