2018 Perfect Game WWBA: Day 4 Notebook
JUPITER, Fla.—Ironically, crowds tend to slim down at Perfect Game's World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) World Championship as the championship game draws nearer. As teams progress through pool play on Day 4, scouts begin to trickle out of the Roger Dean Sports Complex, catching flights to get back to watching various college scout days and scrimmages.
The play on the field, however, gets more lively and more competitive, with championship hopes being taken away with just one loss. After all games were played Sunday, just four teams were left standing: Canes National, East Coast Sox Select, Florida Burn Platinum and GBG Marucci.
With the semifinal round and championship game slated for Monday morning, here are glimpses at a few players who stood out on Day 4:
Ben Rozenblum | C | Calvary Christian HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Committed: Florida International
Rozenblum was one of several hitters who stood out on the Giants Scout Team/FTB club Sunday, with a particularly impressive showing in a first round playoff matchup against Team Elite Prime.
Rozenblum went 3-for-3 and came a double shy of hitting for the cycle with a single in his first at-bat, followed by a no-doubt home run to left field in his second at-bat and a triple in his third and final at-bat.
The Florida International commit stung each ball he hit, with exit velocities of 98 mph, 101 mph and 92 mph, respectively. The 6-foot, 185-pound catcher has plenty of strength in his frame, and he made consistently loud contact in this game, as evidenced by the speed of the ball coming off of his bat.
Jovan Gill | RHP | Southwest Florida Christian HS, Fort Myers, Fla.
After getting the bats rolling in an 11-5 win over Team Elite Prime in its first game of the day, Giants Scout Team/FTB relied on a quality pitching performance from Gill to get a 2-1 victory over MLB Breakthrough Series in round two.
Gill, a 6-foot-4, 209-pound righthander, threw his fastball in the 85-89 mph range, but it was his plethora of solid secondary pitches that kept hitters off-balance and allowed Gill to rack up nine strikeouts. He allowed just one hit and no walks over five innings.
After showing a promising 75 mph changeup and 71 mph breaking ball in a 1-2-3 first inning, Gill broke out a 66-70 mph knuckleball in the second, which he used to get a couple swings and misses and also managed to locate in this frame. He didn't go back to the pitch much at all, but the fact that he broke it out in the first place and used it to some success speaks to his feel for his offspeed offerings.
He mainly used the changeup—which ranged from 72-74 mph—and curveball to stymie hitters over the remaining three innings. The former had plenty of tumble and caused batters to get out in front and swing over the top of it routinely throughout the game, while Gill seemed to get a better feel for the shape of his curveball as the game progressed. Early on it was loopy and humped out of his hand, but in the later innings the breaking ball tightened up and showed sharper, 11-to-5 shape with impressive depth.
Kelvin Bender | LHP | Serra HS, Gardena, Calif.
Committed: UC Santa Barbara
A 5-foot-11, 155-pound lefthander, Bender's name is fitting, as he had plenty of scouts intrigued with his sharp, high spin-rate breaking ball. He gave the MLB Breakthrough Series club 3.2 innings of four hit, two run ball, with six strikeouts and no walks. The whiffs primarily coming against a 72-77 mph curveball with three-quarter shape and a spin rate that ranged from 2600-2900 rpm.
The pitch blended from a standard, three-quarter shape to a more sweeping, slurve offering but was routinely sharp and used effectively as a chase pitch and a backdoor curveball against righthanders. Bender showed solid feel to locate the offering for strikes throughout, but there were a few instances where he got around the outside of the pitch, rather than on top of it, and had it back up on him.
He pitched off of the breaking ball, but also threw a mid-80s fastball that touched 88 mph and mixed in an occasional changeup in the 70-74 mph range.
Aaron Roberts | RHP | Desert Oasis HS, Las Vegas, Calif.
Roberts pitched one inning of relief for MLB Breakthrough Series after Bender's outing, and he showed premium stuff out of a high-effort but fairly controlled delivery.
Roberts touched 95 mph with his fastball—that hardest pitch of the day. While he touched 95 mph just once, he sat in the 91-94 mph range throughout his outing, with as many 94s on the radar gun as 91s.
Roberts begins his delivery by slowly stepping back with his left leg and leaning over the rubber with his upper half, tapping his left foot as he does so, before rising into a high leg kick and exploding off of the rubber with an overhand slot. He has a stabbing action in the back of his arm path and some effort in his delivery, but none of this hindered him in this outing. He didn't allow a baserunner and struck out two batters with ease.
Although his delivery could cause him trouble down the line, right now it adds some deception to his already plus stuff, which also included a sharp, 71-73 mph curveball that fell of the table on one occasion and could give him a pair of plus offerings in the future. Roberts look like a reliever at this point because of the effortful delivery, but there's plenty to get excited about when the 6-foot-3, 215-pound righthander toes the rubber.
Edinson Renteria Jr. | 3B | Flanagan HS, Miramar, Fla.
On the back fields of the Marlins' spring training facility, the nephew of former All-Star Edgar Renteria showed off a nice profile on the last day before championship games. He drew a walk, got a base hit and scored a run in his team’s 8-6 victory over the US Elite 2019 National team.
Like his uncle, Renteria Jr. plays with a quiet confidence and is highly intelligent. This is seen in his ability to do the little things on the field, showing a great feel for how the game is played. He has a good frame and thick lower half. He generates good torque at the plate, even though he was out in front on a few pitches during the game. His hands generate good bat speed, with a direct bat path that stays in the zone. This skill, in addition to his pitch-tracking ability, show that he can be a good hitter with time. His defense is also of note, as he plays a solid third base and features a plus arm that has good carry and accuracy.
The tools aren’t very flashy, but he is a solid all-around player and brings a high level of focus to the game.
Alexander Ayala | LHP | Brito Miami Private School, Doral, Fla.
While his team did lose on Sunday, Ayala put on quite a show in limited action. While he did surrender a hit and a walk, Ayala struck out three batters on 17 pitches after entering from the bullpen.
Ayala is a lanky lefthander who stands at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds on the mound. He was able to repeat his delivery for the most part, featuring two quality pitches. His fastball topped out at 89 mph, mostly getting swings and misses up in the zone with occasional two-seam, arm-side action mixed in. He also used a curveball that had good shape to it, reaching as high as 78 mph. He had much better fastball command than breaking ball command, but his propensity to throw both was impressive.
There is a lot of room for growth with Ayala, making him an exciting player to watch.
Blake Pivaroff | RHP | Laguna Beach (Calif.) HS
Committed: Arizona State
BPA lost a close game against the D-backs Langley Blaze team on Sunday, but Pivaroff did manage to shine on the mound. He threw 5.2 innings, scattering three hits while striking out seven batters. He threw 68 percent of his pitches for strikes, attacking hitters aggressively throughout the performance.
His stuff doesn’t pop out on first glance, but it is very effective and plays. His fastball got up to 86 mph and featured some cutting action at times. While he does have a three-quarter arm slot with plunging action in the back, it doesn’t affect his ability to get his arm through his pitching motion on time. His curveball was effective, with 11-to-5 movement that he could throw for strikes. He also used a nice changeup, registering in the low 80s with good sinking action. While he wasn’t able to throw it for strikes, it did get some swings and misses when used off his fastball.
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Day 4 Stat Leaders
- Yan Contreras — 4
- Jordan Sweeney — 3
- Benjamin Rozenblum — 3
- Daylen Reyes — 3
- John Tyler Mounce — 3
- Jimmy Obertop — 3
- Cody Freeman — 3
- Anthony Volpe — 3
- Eddie Micheletti — 3
- Kyle Bork — 3
- Hayden Dunhurst — 3
- Keagan Vance — 3
- Felix Diaz — 3
- Devin Hack — 3
- Tripp McKinlay — 3
- Mason Mcleod — 3
- Kip Fougerousse — 3
- Austin Brinling — 3
- Josh Mrozek — 5.000
- Stanley DeMartinis — 4.000
- Jordan Sweeney — 3.700
- Benjamin Rozenblum — 3.700
- Izaac Pacheco — 3.500
- Joshua Rivera — 3.200
- Alec Gonzalez — 3.000
- Evan Sleight — 3.000
- Justin Wishkoski — 3.000
- Peyton Chatagnier — 3.000
- Tomas Frick — 3.000
- Jacob Lojewski — 3.000
- Sayer Diederich — 3.000
- Joseph Mize — 3.000
- Justin Looney — 3.000
- Taisel Yahiro — 11
- Nolan Crisp — 11
- Dominick Madonna — 11
- Alex Vera — 10
- Tyler Nesbitt — 10
- Cooper Benson — 9
- Jovan Gill — 9
- Riley Bishop — 8
- Ricky Tibbett — 7
- Blake Pivaroff — 7
- Campbell Holt — 7
Max Fastball Velocity
- Aaron Roberts — 95
- Tyler Chadwick — 94
- Evan Vanek — 94
- Cameron Bye — 94
- Nolan Crisp — 93
- Christian Ruebeck — 93
- Tyler Nesbitt — 93
- Alex Edmondson — 93
- Jack Crowder — 93