JUPITER, Fla. — Marucci Elite made history by winning the 2011 World Wood Bat Association World Championship. The team beat the tournament's Cinderella story, the Central FL PG Royal team, 4-3
Marucci Elite became the first team to win both the WWBA World Championship and the WWBA Underclass World Championship in the same year. Marucci Elite won the Underclass World Championship last year as well.
"The level of play at this thing, I mean it's the best players in the country," Marucci Elite program director and head coach Chad Raley said. "So to win this thing is absolutely huge. It's special to win this thing because there's some extremely talented players at this event."
Infielder Chase Nyman from Pascagoula (Miss.) High plays shortstop and second base for his high school team, but had to move off those positions for a pair of talented juniors: shortstop Oscar Mercado from Gaither High in Tampa and second baseman Chris Rivera from El Dorado High in Placentia, Calif. Nyman, a Mississippi recruit, has a sweet lefthanded stroke and came up clutch for Marucci Elite today, getting the eventual game-winning hit in both of the team's games. [...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla.—The surprise of Sunday's action at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship was the Central FL PG Royal team knocking the FTB Mizuno/Cardinals Scout Team out of the playoffs.
It was a regular David and Goliath game, as the always-loaded Cardinals Scout Team featured a handful of top prospects for the 2012 draft.
The playoffs will pick back up Monday morning with the semi-finals in which Midwest Reds Scout Team takes on Marucci Elite and the Central FL PG Royal team facing off against the Texas Sun Devils.
Even though the event is a tournament, instead of strictly a showcase, the hundreds of scouts and coaches in attendance are more concerned with individual performances and tools rather than the results of the games.
One player that continued to make a name for himself today was FTB Mizuno/Cardinals Scout Team outfielder Jamal Martin from Forest Hill High in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Martin hit a home run in the team's clinching game before the playoffs.
"I was 0-2, so I just wanted to get good wood on the ball," Martin said after the game. "I let it get deep and I just drove it. I knew it was out because I hit it into the wind. It probably would have been a double, but I squared it up pretty good." [...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla.—The World Wood Bat Association World Championship has long been a place where high school prospects can establish themselves as elite players against high-level competition. Matt Smoral, a lefthander from Solon (Ohio) High has always been considered to be among the top pitchers in the country, but he may have solidified himself as the top southpaw with an impressive outing on Friday.
Smoral took the hill for the Midland Redskins/Royals Scout Team and lit up radar guns immediately, sitting 90-92 mph and touching 94 twice in the first inning. He remained in the low 90s for the first three innings before settling in at 88-91 in his final inning. He throws from a three-quarter arm slot and has a fairly easily delivery. His second-best pitch is a hard tilting slider in the low 80s.
"I felt great, I really wanted to come down here and show my stuff," Smoral said. "Show I've been working hard. My arm felt great. I had a little trouble commanding the fastball at times, but I tried to battle through it and get the team a W."
Smoral's command did come and go, and he occasionally got around his slider, making it more slurvy. He also flashed a changeup at 82. [...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — Texas Sun Devils catcher Peter Pizarro has a muscular 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame. The senior from Byrd High in Shreveport, La. has a strong arm behind the plate, recording a 1.83-second pop time to second base in Friday night's game at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship event.
But Pizarro also likely has something no other high school baseball player has. . . a wife.
Pizarro said he moved from San Juan, P.R. about two and a half years ago for a better education and more baseball exposure. After meeting at his new high school, Pizarro got married this summer to Brittany Lafitte, who played softball at Centenary in 2011.
"Everything started in high school," Pizarro said. "I went to Calvary Baptist Academy and that first look, you know, I fell in love with her. And she's also a catcher. She played softball at Centenary and she was amazing. She threw from her knees and threw runners out and I said, 'Wow! Who is that girl?' So, I liked the way she played and we became close friends and then after that I started feeling something for her."
The couple now lives together—with a baby on the way—in a house that Pizarro helped build as an after-school employee at his father-in-law's construction company.
Pizarro is hoping that playing in this event will get his name out there among scouts and coaches.
"One thing that I learned is that no matter what happens in my life, I just have to stay positive," Pizarro said. "Right now it's a challenge to be married and being in high school. It probably seems really hard for a 17-year-old, but it's going to work and I'm working hard to become a better baseball player."
JUPITER, Fla.—Several marquee pitchers drew large masses of scouts to their games today, as the World Wood Bat Association World Championship kicked off with an abbreviated schedule.
One standout pitcher, however, was relatively new to the scene: lefthander Anthony Seise from West Orange High in Winter Garden, Fla.
Seise, who is currently uncommitted, is a bit of a pop-up since he didn't pitch at many other big events this summer. He also missed all of last summer with shoulder soreness, but said everything feels fine now.
With an athletic, 6-foot-3, 185-pound build, Seise sat in the 89-91 mph range with his fastball and mixed in a 12-6 curveball that showed sharp break at times. He also threw a couple changeups, though he admitted after the game that it's his third-best pitch.
Seise showed a nice line to the plate, threw his fastball for strikes to both sides and was aggressive with pitching inside.
"I felt good, I felt really good, I felt like I controlled everything," Seise said. "The first couple innings my curveball wasn't working, but then I calmed myself and my curveball was working good."
Despite his athletic build, Seise has always been focused only on baseball—a sport he's loved since he was 5 years old.
"If I'm not playing baseball, I like to help little kids develop and become a little better," Seise said. "My high school has some camps during the week, so I just help with them. It feels good." [...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz.—Many players give up football to focus on baseball. Some, like Matt Kemp, give up basketball. Tom Glavine chose pitching over a professional hockey career and Twins prospect Aaron Hicks was a talented golfer before he starred on the diamond.
Chris Shaw from Holy Trinity High in Calgary, Alberta, gave up curling to focus full-time on baseball.
"It's always been on the back burner to baseball, but it's something I do with my friends," Shaw said. "It was two times a week in the winter to just keep me busy because we get all the snow in Manitoba, but my dream has always been to become a professional baseball player."
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound catcher stood out over the past few days at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic with his strong hands behind the plate and a quick righthanded bat.
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Shaw moved to Okotoks, Alberta, last month to train at the Okotoks Dawgs training complex under former California catcher Brett Thomas. [...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz.–Fernando Perez will be moving schools again, but he's already proven he's up to the challenge.
The third baseman from Otay Ranch High in Chula Vista, Calif., said he has enough credits to graduate early and will be enrolling at Central Arizona JC in January.
"I really want to challenge myself," Perez said. "So I want to go there and play with older guys and wood bats and the longer season."
Perez will share the left side of the diamond with an old friend. Central Arizona's shortstop, Jorge Flores, is also from Mexico and he and Perez played together when they were younger.
Changing schools and challenging himself is nothing new for Perez.
Originally from Ensenada, Mexico, Perez first started playing baseball when he was 8 years old. He said he comes from a baseball family–his father and uncle played semi-pro baseball in Mexico.
PEORIA, Ariz. — Each of the 61 teams at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic have talented players, but the teams with the biggest collections of talent are generally the regional teams organized by scouts.
Such was the case today when the SC Rays Scout Team rolled out a trio of intriguing righthanders–Nolan Gannon from Santa Fe Christian High in Solana Beach, Calif.; Jake Pintar from San Juan Hills High in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; and Zach Jemiola from Great Oak High in Temecula, Calif. [...] Continue Reading »
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Chris Kohler originally committed to Southern California as a hitter back in January. But this weekend at the Baseball America Scout Ball Tournament in San Bernardino and Upland, Kohler showed why his pitching stock is on the rise.
Kohler, a junior lefthander at Los Osos High in Rancho Cucamonga, has been overpowering for the Red Sox Scout Team this fall. A week after he struck out 13 batters in five innings in a start, Kohler fanned eight in three innings of work against an overmatched Cardinals Blue team on Saturday. His out pitch was a sharp 71-73 mph curveball that he can throw for strikes or use as a chase pitch.
"My curveball was working good. It's usually my strongest pitch," Kohler said. "Usually I start batters off with that pitch, then go to the fastball, then maybe finish with the curve again. I brought the fastball up a little high, but felt good overall. I tried to elevate it on some, because they were chasing it."
Kohler has an easy delivery and plenty of projection in his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. He sat around 85-86 mph on Saturday and topped out at 87, but he figures to add significant velocity as he continues to get used to pitching and keeps maturing physically. [...] Continue Reading »
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