BOYNTON BEACH, FL - The 2nd Annual 16U Florida State Finals kicks off Wednesday at the Santaluces Complex in South Florida.
The defending champs PW 16U will open up on Thursday, while the runner-up Gatorball Baseball Academy (formerly Florida Hardballers) will open up on Wednesday.
PW head coach Leo Dominguez returns to the dugout to manage a different crop of players. Last year's team featured Baby AFLAC participant Dominic Jose, 2011 draft sleeper Roche Woodard, and UF signee Kyle Smith. While Dominguez's team does not field the same type of firepower this year due to injury, they do have plenty of next level players such as SS/RHP Alex McGathey. Missing from the action is RHP/IF Seth McGarry, who was 84-86mph at the PW tryouts and injured his hamstring in the first tournament of the summer.
Gatorball starts an interesting left handed pitching prospect on the mound on Wednesday, as 2013 grad Kirby Snead will take the mound for the Gainesville, FL baseball academy lead by former Gator standout Stephen Barton. Snead was 81-83mph at the Junior Olympics from a deceptive low 3/4 arm slot.
The Florida Bombers 16U and Florida Pokers 16U White continue their rivalry on Wednesday in one of the headline games. The Bombers and Pokers have played very interesting games over the years in PW Tournaments and are a local rivalry. In the 2008 4th of July Classic, the Pokers had multiple coaches ejected in a controversial call by the umpire during the semi-final game at FIU. The Pokers went on to win that game and that tournament with Luke Guarnaccia being named MVP. To add more fuel to the rivalry, Pokers head coach Josh Starr was the former recruiting coordinator for the Bombers, so this should be a fun game to watch between two talented teams.
The Bombers steam-rolled their way through pool play last year, 10-run ruling almost every team they played lead by then head coach Tommy Duenas. The Bombers lost in the first round of tournament play to the eventual runner up Gatorball program. Denis Pujals has taken over for the squad now, and the Bombers have a few interesting players such as Cain Spangler.
USA Trials invitee Ivan Peleaz gets the start for the super-talented South Florida Elite Black squad on Thursday. He is a very interesting prospect featured in a great game between the Elite and the young but talented All American Prospects Red team.
New programs to the tournament this year include Ostingers Baseball Academy, Jacksonville Warriors, Almendares Baseball, Falcon Baseball Club, Bullets Baseball, NCF Baseball, CBC Storm, Southeast Bluesox and the Game Time Baseball Academy.
Check back during the week for updates, articles, boxscores, tournament leaders and more as we see who takes home the rings this year.