MARIETTA, Ga.’”At Perfect Game’s summer tournaments, many high school
players will use wood bats exclusively for their first time. This week
in suburban Atlanta, that hardware has come in handy, more often as
paddles than bats, however.
Hurricane Dennis and its remnants caused flooding across much of the
area, canceling the championship round of last week’s World Wood Bat
Association 17-Under tournament and postponing 95 percent of Monday’s
and Tuesday’s games in the 18-Under tourney.
The weather invented a whole new meaning of pool play, though all
109 teams entered in one of the summer’s most heavily scouted events
were able to begin play Wednesday. Most of the approximately 1,200
players in attendance were just glad to get out of their hotel rooms.
The afternoon’s highlight game featured righthander Shawn Tolleson’s
Dallas-based DBAT team versus All American Prospects, a club consisting
of a collection of South Florida’s best underclassmen, which also
played in last week’s event and finished as co-champions.
Tolleson, recently chosen to play for USA Baseball’s junior national
team, shook the rust quickly, airing out a 90 mph fastball on his first
pitch and dialing it up to 93 on his way to a thorough performance. The
rising senior from Allen (Texas) High struck out nine over six innings
while allowing three walks and a hit, dealing All American Prospects a
8-0 defeat. A couple of memorable moments during the outing were
Tolleson’s showdowns with Estero (Fla.) High’s John Tolisano, one of
the top players in the high school Class of 2007 and Tolleson’s
teammate in Mexico last summer on USA Baseball’s youth national team.
Tolleson twice retired Tolisano on strikes, once in the first on a 92
mph fastball and again in the fourth on an 82 mph slider, which he held
in reserve until the second trip through the lineup.
“I know him well and we had a chance to talk before the game. He’s a
great player,” Tolleson said following the game. “I’m pretty sure he
didn’t want to talk (afterwards).”
Though his delivery requires some effort, Tolleson breezed his way
through one of the event’s best lineups, doing so primarily off his
fastball alone, which sat at 89 mph in his final frame, touching 92.
“He just shut down a good-hitting team, a team that won it last
week. I didn’t think anyone here would come out and shut them down,” a
scout with a National League team said.
“There’s a lot of life on the fastball and he has the ability to control a game,” another scout said. “He was terrific.”
“I thought I threw well,” Tolleson said. “I had not thrown in a
couple of weeks so to come out with my fastball was important. Then I
worked in my offspeed stuff a little bit.”
Former major leaguer Chet Lemon organizes a competitive summer
league team, the Juice, each year, and the 2005 entry opened the event
with a convincing win Wednesday.
Kyle Maulbetsch, a rising senior from Jacksonville’s Wolfson High,
and Ryan Pushkar, a rising senior at Winter Haven (Fla.) High, combined
for six hits, three runs and three RBIs as the Juice knocked off one of
two Perfect Game entries, 8-0.
“We got here Sunday but everything was too wet to practice, but
we’ve managed to go to a field just to a throw a bit, run and hit
Wiffle balls,” Lemon said. “It’s important to make sure we stay
prepared, although there’s not much you can do when it rains like it
Some of the players found gyms to workout at, while video game marathons filled the time of others.
Justin Edwards, a 6-foot lefty entering his senior year at Orlando’s
Olympia High, tossed four shutout innings for the Juice, pitching at 86
mph with good control. His mid-70s breaking ball kept hitters off
balance for four innings. Edwards allowed one hit and a walk with five
• Though the rain deterred some scouts, more than 100 college and
junior college coaches and upwards of 50 professional scouts stuck
around despite the weather, and overall were pleased with the turnout
once play finally began. “Talent-wise it’s like it always is, the
talent has been exceptional,” a scout with an American League team
said. “It seems like this week a lot of the major ’06 guys from the
high school class are here and for us, it’s just invaluable to see
these guys going up against other top players.
“But later in the week is what we’re really looking forward to. You
get all these guys together going after that trophy–now that’s when it
really gets fun.”
• Chris Parmelee shook off an 0-for-4 afternoon Tuesday with
four hits Wednesday. The rising senior from Chino Hills (Calif.) High
has a good all-around package of tools with a good arm and powerful
swing from the left side, which he showed off with a home run and
• Coconut Creek (Fla.) High’s Matt Latos was establishing
himself as one of the top righthanders in the Class of 2006. At
6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Latos oozes projection and possesses good present
stuff, with a fastball that touched 93 mph Wednesday and a low-80s
slider. “He’s a tall, loose kid and it comes out of his hand real
easy,” a National League crosschecker said. “He wasn’t challenged much
today but a little later in the week in the championship rounds, when
he really has to tee it up, it will be fun to watch.”
• Two years ago at the fall installment of the WWBA championship in
Jupiter, Fla., the On Deck O’s made a surprising run deep into the
tournament and Chase Austin paced their bid early this week. A
lean, athletic 6-foot-2, 170-pound middle infielder from South
Mecklenburg High in Charlotte, N.C., Austin showed a nice, smooth
line-drive stroke from the left side. Jared Bard, a rising senior from Charlotte Christian High and the younger brother of North Carolina’s Daniel Bard,
has significant upside. Bard’s fastball sat at 86 mph Wednesday morning
and he pitched to both sides of the plate effectively. “He’s having
trouble with his breaking ball and it’s obvious he’s not as far along
as his brother was at the same stage,” said an NL scout who evaluated
both Daniel and Jared. “It looks like there’s something that that’s not
letting his arm come through, something preventing him from getting
that really good whip on his release. He definitely needs to go to
college, but he’s athletic and could really come on.