JUPITER, Fla.—After about 60 hours at Roger Dean Stadium over the past five days, the 2009 World Wood Bat Association World Championship event is finally in the books. It was a long (and hot) five days, to be sure, but there was a lot of good baseball, a lot of good people and a lot of fun along the way.
With 85 teams and games being played on 13 fields simultaneously, the event is a well-oiled machine and a good opportunity for colleges and major league organizations to see many of the top players in the country. That’s why teams typically have 10 or more scouts on hand for the event, and if you don’t show up early for a prime pitching matchup, it can be difficult to even see the field through the mobs of scouts, coaches and their respective golf carts.
Of the teams we spotlighted before the tournament, none of them won its respective pool, but the finalists were in our "Others to Watch" section. The Texas Scout Team Yankees were without righthander Jameson Taillon but still went 3-1. East Cobb Baseball also went 3-1. Its only loss came to the Louisiana All-Stars, and ended up being the tiebreaker that sent Louisiana to the playoff bracket.
The winner this year was the Braves Scout Team, who defeated the Orange County Boxers, 7-1. It was a win-win situation for Southern California’s ABD Academy, as both teams were mainly composed of players from the prestigious program. The Braves Scout team won another WWBA championship in 2007, and the ABD Bulldogs won in 2008.
We wound up keeping lots of eyes on the ABD Bulldogs and the Braves Scout Team. The Braves Scout Team featured all underclassmen, including 6-foot-5 lefthander Henry Owens from Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif., who was named the tournament’s most valuable pitcher, and outfielder/lefthander Daniel Camarena from Cathedral Catholic in Bonita, Calif., the tournament’s most valuable player.
The Bo Jackson Five-Tool Championship event held on Saturday lasted an excruciating four hours, but the top three player performances belonged to outfielder Wagner Mateo (Dominican Republic), outfielder Chevez Clarke (Marietta, Ga., HS) and third baseman/righthander Kaleb Cowart (Cook County HS, Adel, Ga.). The event was a good idea, but still has some kinks to be ironed out. Most of the scouts left after players ran their 60-yard dashes and threw from the outfield because they had no interest in watching two rounds of metal-bat BP. But there were some interesting highlights like Mitchell Shifflett‘s (Cosby HS, Midlothian, Va.) running a 6.38-second 60-yard dash, Cowart’s 100 mph reading from right field and Mateo’s epic home run.
Mateo, a free agent, hit an absolute laser that bounced off the Cardinals’ offices beyond the right-field wall that was rumored to have hit Jeff Luhnow’s window. The Cardinals signed Mateo for $3.1 million over the summer, then voided the contract, citing his eyesight. Mateo later blasted one that landed on the roof of the building.
Seven prospects on our current 2010 high school Top 25 were not in attendance. Despite having three BA staffers in attendance we were able to see almost all of the Top 25 players who were in Jupiter plus more than 100 others for the 2010 draft class and beyond.
Keep checking back to BaseballAmerica.com, as we’ll have a lot more information and treats in store from our time at the tournament in the coming weeks.
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