NEW YORK—After two days of pool play at several sites, the eight teams at the Metropolitan Baseball Classic wrapped the event with a tournament at Citi Field, home of the Mets. Team Elite earned the championship of the inaugural event by defeating the Evoshield Canes in the title game 6-0 to finish an undefeated weekend.
“It was a true national championship for this time of year,” Team Elite general manager Brad Bouras said. “To me the Canes are the best program in the nation. They are what we are shooting to be as a program. This means a tremendous amount to our program and would like to thank the Mets for this opportunity. They hit a gram slam with this event.”
Championship Game: Team Elite 6, Evoshield Canes 0
After some of its top pitchers were unable to attend the Metropolitan Baseball Classic, Team Elite entered the tournament with eight pitchers, the fewest of any team. Lefthander Tucker Baca tossed a two-hit shutout in the opener against the Orlando Scorpions, who defeated Team Elite in the 17U WWBA tournament on their way to winning 17U National Championship at the East Cobb complex in July. Baca logged all seven innings and was able to save the staff for the two Saturday games, freeing righthanders Spencer Adams and A.J. Moore for the title game.
“In the end, it came down to who had the most depth,” Bouras said. “I felt really confident going into the day that we had the arms to get by.”
Adams and Moore combined to for a one-hit shutout and allowed only three baserunners (two walks).
“At the sweet 16 of WWBA, I pitched and I ended our summer for us, as I didn’t do very well,” Adams said. “It was a once in a lifetime chance to play on a big league field and I didn’t want to end this game like I did that one. I really focused and threw to the best of my ability.”
The 6-foot-3, 171-pound Adams stymied the Canes with his deep repertoire, changed speeds effectively and pounded the strike zone, registering four strikeouts and one walk in five innings. Adams is the prototypical example of a projectable pitcher with a lean, angular and large frame featuring wide shoulders and a trim waist leading to long, lean legs. The Georgia commit from White Country High (Cleveland, Ga.) has rare athleticism that shows up in his delivery, quick arm and strike-throwing ability. With compact arm action, Adams hid the ball well, getting downhill plane from a three-quarter slot and the ball jumped out his hand. In the early innings, Adams sat 89-91 mph with above-average movement both vertically and horizontally and settled into the high-80s in the later frames.
Adams threw three offspeed offerings for strikes, complimenting his typically strong slider-changeup combo with a mid-70s curveball with vertical tilt and depth that he hasn’t used frequently on the showcase circuit this summer. He has strong feel for a low-80s changeup with tumble that flashed plus. At its best, his slider with three-quarter tilt sits in the mid-80s and touched 86 against the Canes. The lone hit Adams surrendered was a single to D.J. Burt.
Moore relieved Adams to start the sixth and generated four groundouts and one strikeout against one walk in two innings to win the championship. With sloped shoulders, a tapered chest and strength throughout his frame, the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Moore has solid build with room to carry more weight. His 89-91 mph fastball had sink from a three-quarter arm slot. The Kennesaw State commit from Mountain View High (Dacula, Ga.) relied on his low-80s slider with three-quarter tilt against same-side hitters and changeup against lefthanded hitters.
The versatile Willie Rios, a switch-hitting outfielder and lefthanded pitcher who struck out seven the day prior, was the offensive difference-maker for Team Elite. Rios went 2-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and drove in four of the six Team Elite runs. The Maryland commit crushed a double to left field in his first at-bat with men on second and third. With the bases loaded in the fourth, Rios pulled a first-pitch offering off the outside part of the plate to right field to drive in the runner from third. Rios put the final run of the game on the scoreboard with a single to right in his last plate appearance.
After collecting a few base hits the day before, Canes outfielder Trent Stokes, who is also committed to Maryland and is slated to room with Rios, made the defensive play of the game on a diving catch in center field.
For the championship game, the Jumbotron to displayed each player’s photo and accompanying team logo.
“Playing at Citi Field with the player photos and logos on the screen was an experience that exceeded everyone expectations,” Bouras said. “Our guys will remember this for the rest of their lives.”
The Canes started Hanover High (Mechanicsville, Va.) righthander Derek Casey, who got four outs. Casey has a quick arm and got two strikeouts but walked three of the nine hitters he faced. His delivery was not in line to the plate and showed an occasional head snap. But the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Casey is a good athlete with a slender, well-proportioned and athletic build that has a lean lower half with room to fill out. From a high three-quarter arm slot, Casey’s fastball sat 89-91 mph and touched 92. The Virginia commit struggled to throw his low-80s changeup for strikes but showed feel for spinning his 77-80 mph curveball with 11-5 tilt.
Third-Place Game: Northeast Mets Scout Team 4, Orlando Scorpions 3
This game was in instant classic and ended in dramatic fashion. Trailing 2-0 entering the seventh, the Scorpions got a three-run homer by Dash Winningham, a Florida Gulf Coast commit from Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic. It was the second three-run homer of the event for Winningham, a big, physical 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who hit both of his homer to left field. This one was a mammoth blast, landing in the Mets bullpen well beyond the left-center field fence, and sounded like a gunshot off the bat.
“I was sitting on first pitch fastball, but then he threw a curveball and a slider,” Winningham said. “So I thought a fastball was coming and he put it low and down the middle and I hit that ball as well as I could.”
Down a run in the bottom of the seventh, Mets middle infielder Isan Diaz drew a one-out walk and infielder Will Toffee reached on an error. Both runners advanced to into scoring position with infielder Dante Ricciardi at the plate.
“I was just thinking about hitting the fastball and trying to get those two guys in,” Ricciardi said. “I saw a fastball I liked and wasn’t going to let it go.”
Ricciardi drove a single into left field to plate both runners and give the Mets a 4-3 victory.
“This is unbelievable for 16 and 17 year old kids to be able to go out here and play on this field,” Ricciardi said.
Dante is the son of J.P., who currently is a special assistant to the Mets general manager and was general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001-2009. The elder Ricciardi was in attendance to for the game. A member of the 2015 class, Dante is a 5-foot-9, 160-pound lefthanded hitting middle infielder from Worcester (Mass.) Academy.
Weston Davis, who attends Manatee High (Bradenton, Fla.), started for the Scorpions. A tall, lean righthander with long limbs and a projectable build with room to fill out his lanky upper body, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Davis has a long, loose arm action and throws from a slot at or a tick above side arm (depending upon the pitch). His 88-90 mph fastball touched 91 and had plus sink that is expected of low slot pitchers. His 73-76 mph slider had sweepy break and threw a 79-91 mph changeup with considerable armside fade. The Florida commit struck out two and walked one in his lone inning.
Another tall, lean and projectable Florida righthander, Jesse Lepore, entered in the second. At 6-foot-4, 185-pounds, has a lanky build with long, lean legs and considerable physical development remaining. Working from the far third-base side of the rubber, Lepore creates tough angles and hides the ball well from a high three-quarter arm slot. The Trinity Catholic ( Beverly Hills, Fla.) product struggled to throw strikes a day after logging a few innings and walked two of his first three hitters and plunked the other. He ended his outing on a high note with three strikeouts to finish his inning. A Miami commit, Lepore threw an 87-90 mph fastball and 72-74 mph curveball.
Fifth-Place Game: St. Louis Mets 8, Long Island Titans 3
The national stages provided the opportunity for St. Louis Mets outfielder Elijah Dilday, a Nebraska commit from Frances Howell High (St. Charles, Mo.), to emerge over the course of his three days in the Big Apple. Dilday went 4-for-5 over the last two games of the tournament with a pair of triples.
Dilday broke his nose when he collided with a teammate in the field in a Missouri semifinal playoff game. Doctors had to wait three weeks for the swelling to subside before they could reset it. Therefore, Dilday missed the Area Code Games tryouts and other showcase opportunities, making the Metropolitan Baseball Classic his first national showcase. He tried his best to make up for the lost time by making consistent hard contact all weekend.
“It was great to do well here because it was a big stage and I didn’t get to go to PG National or the Area Code Games, and I knew there were going to be a lot of scouts here,” Dilday said.
The lefthanded-hitting Dilday has an aggressive, pull-oriented approach, hitting a pair of triples into right-center field in consecutive plate appearances, followed by a single to right in his final plate appearance.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Dilday has a strong, physical and compact build with developed shoulders, a muscular chest and strong wrists. He has posted above-average 60-yard-dash times. Dilday is still getting used to center field, having transitioned from shortstop this season.
Seventh-Place Game: Marucci Elite 4, Texas Scout Team Mets 4 (tie)
The only member of the 2016 class to attend the event, Marucci Elite outfielder/righthander Seth Beer, continued his hitting onslaught, going 3-for-6 with two extra-base hits over the last three games. He finished with a line-drive single to center and walk in three plate appearances in his final game.
“If Beer wasn’t on follow lists before this tournament, he is definitely now,” a scout at the event said. “He has really swung the bat well.”
Scouts praised Beer, who attends Lambert Hgh in Suwanee, Ga., for his ability to hit to all fields. At 6-foot-3, 180-pounds, Beer has a tall, large frame with further room to fill in his upper body and long, solid legs. Beer, 16, showed a patient approach at the plate. He has a pronounced weight distribution on his back leg and has some loft to his swing path. On the mound, the righthander touched 87 mph and sat in the mid-80s from an over-the-top arm slot. His mid-70s overhand curveball showed 12-to-6 shape. Beer is currently uncommitted.
Another underclassman starred for the opposition, righthander Beau Burrows from Weatherford (Texas) High. An extremely athletic 6-foot, 180-pound Texas A&M commit, Burrows logged eight strikeouts against one walk four innings. He allowed four hits and one earned run to go with another unearned run. Burrows came out in his first inning brandishing 92-93 mph velocity and then settled into the low-90s. Burrows has a high leg kick and creates substantial momentum toward the plate with his athletic and flexible delivery. His arm slot is nearly over-the-top.
From the stretch, Burrows struggled to get the ball down but hitters couldn’t lay off his elevated fastballs. Burrows complimented his heater with a hard changeup that got as high as 85 mph and 79-81 mph breaking ball. He looks like one of the top arms in the 2015 class.