NEW YORK—After two days of play at Citi Field and Hofstra, all eight teams in the Metropolitan Baseball Classic converged upon the Mets home field on Sunday to determine a champion.
Team Elite advanced through pool play undefeated and topped CBA Marucci 2-1 in the title game to win the Classic for the second consecutive year, having compiled an 8-0 record in New York over the past two summers.
The Georgia-based Team Elite program won two of its three games in pool play by one run and advanced to the championship game after defeating the Orlando Scorpions 3-2. Team Elite boasted a deep pitching staff that was one of the key drivers to their victory.
“Our program is known for having quality pitching and being able to run out a bunch of high-quality arms,” Team Elite general manager Brad Bouras said. “At an event like this where you have four games in three days and the goal is to try to get everyone a matchup against the right team.”
After a short outing on Friday, Jonathan Gettys got the ball in the championship game one year after White Sox second-round pick Spencer Adams teamed with a reliever to throw a one-hit shutout in the title game. The lefthanded Gettys faced a CBA Marruci lineup that leaned heavily to the left in the middle of the order and had four lefthanded hitters in the first seven spots in the lineup. He is the younger brother of a key contributor on last year’s team, Michael Gettys, who went in the second round to the Padres.
The 16-year-old Gettys, the seventh-youngest player at the event, threw three scoreless innings while allowing three baserunners, two singles and a walk. He struck out six of the 11 hitters he faced while getting 13 swings and misses, with nine coming on his fastball. Gettys has an easy delivery with a fastball that sat 88-91 mph, touching 92 from a high three-quarters arm slot. His fastball offers angle when down, though he tended to miss up. His breaking ball showed depth and 1-7 tilt, with some showing more vertical tilt to righthanded hitters, garnering four swings and misses and flashing average. He threw one changeup at 79 mph in the outing and the pitch was elevated for a ball.
The 6-foot-2, 226-pound Gettys has an extra-large frame and a mature, burly and physical build with considerable strength throughout his frame.
“He kept begging me to pitch the championship game from day one,” Bouras said. “He almost didn't want to be burned in Hofstra the other day because he wanted to pitch this game. I gave him the ball and he was right around 60 pitches, so that was why we took him out. But he was on cruise control.”
Righthander Casey Mize of Springville (Ala.) High entered and did not allow a baserunner in two scoreless innings, striking out three on four swinging strikes. Although Mize had not been to many national showcases or been seen by many high-level evaluators, he showed well and will be on scouts’ follow lists next spring.
“He had an outstanding outing and that was the best I have seen him throw,” Bouras said. “The guys I try to target for this roster are players that have really have something to prove in the fall and players that are going to get out from under the radar from a draft perspective, guys like Casey Mize.”
His velocity was up from its typical standards and sat 89-91, touching 92 with glove-side run. Mize has a quick arm from a three-quarters arm slot with extension out front and some effort to his delivery that includes a headwhack and length in the back to his arm action.
“I am usually like 86-88, so this is a step forward,” Mize said. “I have touched 92 before but that is just where I have topped out at.”
Many of Mize’s fastballs were elevated in the first inning but he began to locate down more in his second frame. The Auburn commit showed feel for a 77-78 changeup that flashed average potential and frequently found the strike zone.
“I feel like I did pretty well,” Mize said. “I couldn't keep the ball low. That has been a problem lately but I have been working on it. My changeup looked pretty good. It is my favorite pitch to throw and I feel like I can spot it up anywhere I want it.”
He offered a curveball at 70-72 that was below-average and has a slider that he did not throw in game action. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Mize has a lean, projectable build and is young for the class, turning 18 one month before the draft. He plans on throwing this fall in Jupiter, Fla.
Lean, very projectable lefthander Jaret Hellinger (Ola HS, McDonough, Ga.) entered in the sixth. The first batter reached and scored and the third walked and reached second on a balk with the Nos. 3-4 hitters coming up for CBA Marucci.
But Hellinger struck out the heart of the order to preserve the 2-1 lead heading into the seventh inning. Hellinger worked in the mid-80s and touched 87 with a quick arm and mostly pitched off of his fastball.
Righthander Jake Lee served as the team’s high-leverage reliever, a role he was used in earlier in the event, and retired the only three hitters he faced in the seventh on nine pitches for the victory, working in the mid-80s with his fastball.
“He was the one we wanted at the end of the game with the ball in his hand from a composure standpoint because he throws a lot of strikes and nothing bothers him,” Bouras said. “That is what he has done all summer.”
Team Elite scored its first run in the second inning when right fielder Aaron Schunk (Lovett High, Marietta, Ga.) plated David Chabut of Loganville (Ga.) High on a single to right center field. Schunk drove in the second run of the game two innings later on another single to the right side that scored first baseman Cole Zabowski (Collins Hill High, Lawrenceville, Ga.).
Center fielder Jahmai Jones was one of the top offensive performers of the event, creating as much hard contact as any hitter. He had a single through the left side of the infield in his first at-bat before walking in his second. Jones smashed one of the hardest-hit balls of the event on a one-hopper directly at the shortstop his final time up, running 4.45 to first base.
The righthanded hitter had a standout day in two games Saturday. He had a double to left center field that one-hopped the right center field wall and a hard line-drive triple into the right center field gap, producing loud contact in three of his other four at-bats besides a walk.
“The first day was a little iffy for me and I had a couple of strikeouts,” Jones said. “After that I went into the cage and adjusted and tried to work on the things that I thought I was doing wrong. So I worked hard in the cage before each game and I think it paid off in the games. I felt like I swung the bat pretty well.”
Jones has above-average bat speed and hard-hit ability with a strong, powerful 6-foot, 210-pound build. He employed a pull-oriented stroke in batting practice and game action earlier this summer, but drove the ball to all fields over the last two days in New York.
“I was trying to pull the balls on the first day instead of working up the middle,” Jones said. “Then I worked more up the middle and I changed my approach to go up there with a new approach. I got the kinks out of my swing. It was nothing major but at the last minute I would pull out a little bit.”
The athletic Jones ran the 60-yard dash in 6.75 seconds at East Coast Pro and was a standout football player as an underclassman before concentrating on baseball, combining for more than 1,000 all-purpose yards as a sophomore. He played center field exclusively in New York, though many evaluators believe his long-term future is on a corner. The North Carolina commit played the game with as much passion and energy as any player at the Classic, showing leadership skills, verbal and non-verbal.
“Jones showed a lot of leadership, he is a high-energy guy and a very likeable player amongst the other players,” Bouras said. “He had qualities at-bats all week. He had a key triple and a couple laser-type line drives singles. Every at-bat the ball was jumping off his bat hard somewhere. He hit a one-hopper to the shortstop in this game that was one of the hardest-hit balls anyone has hit all year long. I was really proud of his performance and he really did a great job.”
Team Elite had a number of top performers who played critical roles in helping them reach the championship game.
“This was his first outing in about four months for (lefthander) Evan Steele,” Bouras said. “He is a Vanderbilt commit and had a fractured vertebrae. He lost a lot of innings over the summer and he had something to prove. He shut down the Scorpions for three innings. He has a big fall ahead of him and started it off on a great note. Righthander Brooks Crawford threw three pitches for strikes. We had 19 guys here on the roster and honestly everybody contributed in one form or another and everybody got the chance to play on Citi Field.”