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."
Before the at-bat, Martin received some advice from someone off of last year's Cardinals Scout Team—Cubs' second-round pick Dan Vogelbach, who was hanging out in the team's dugout.
"Since it was a slow lefty, he wanted me to load at the last second when the ball's coming out of his hand and let the ball get deep," Martin said. "I guess that's what he does a lot and it really helped me."
Martin has a small but muscular build. He's listed at 6 feet and 175 pounds, though he's probably a few inches shorter. He has quick-twitch athleticism which makes him a well above-average runner and gives him some whip at the plate. The Florida State recruit played football for three years as a running back and cornerback, but stopped playing this year to focus on baseball full time.
"This summer was really good with FTB Mizuno," Martin said. "It was like the best experience I've ever had. We went to a lot of good tournaments. We came in second in East Cobb and we should have won it, I thought. Other than that, it's just been a great experience playing with coach (Goodwin) and all these guys here. . . I really miss (football), but I think baseball will take me futher."
• FTB Mizuno/Cardinals Scout Team righthander Zach Eflin from Hagerty High in Oviedo, Fla., sat at 90-92 mph Sunday night, topping out at 93. There's a little effort in his delivery, but he mixed in a quality 80-83 mph changeup and an inconsistent 77-79 mph curveball.
• Outfielder Jesse Winker from Olympia High in Orlando hit two home runs during today's action—an opposite-field shot to left field and a towering blast to right-center.
• Back on the mound today was Clinton Hollon of Woodford County High in Lexington, Ky. Hollon's fastball was 89-92, touching 93 and 94. On the first day of the tournament, Hollon's fastball climbed to 96. His slider sat 78-79 with sharp break and depth. Only one changeup was thrown by Hollon—registering 84 on the radar gun with arm side fade and sink.
• Nate Mondou of Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma collected several multiple hit games throughout the tournament. The 2013 infielder has a balanced approach and a repeatable swing that produces consistent hard contact. While Mondou's forte is a line-drive swing, he has strength and bat speed to produce gap-to-gap power. Mondou is versatile in the infield but may find his home at second or third base in the future. He is a solid defender with first step quickness, soft hands and adequate arm strength.
• A scary moment occurred during an 8 a.m. game as two players collided going for a ball. Dallas Tigers outfielders Connor Fikes and Jared Wilson hit head-on and fell to the ground. Wilson was able to leave the field with a broken nose, but Fikes was unconscious. Paramedics arrived on the scene and called in a trauma helicopter, which landed in left field. Fikes was airlifted to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. Word spread later in the day that he would be fine and was being held overnight to be treated for a severe concussion.
CONTRIBUTING: Ty Boyles and Nathan Rode
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