Lantana, FL - Championship Sunday’s are always exciting! Just like Saturday, I scouted plenty of talent on championship Sunday at USSSA's Palm Beach Holiday Bash. I will have pictures of the champions and different action shots of the tournament up soon!
Again, I want to let coaches, parents, and players know that I may have made mistakes with player’s names, jersey numbers, positions, etc. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the player’s full name or correct information. Thanks.
Something I wanted to address before I got started on player evaluations was an incident that occurred on Sunday during a game. If I didn’t express my thoughts on this particular incident, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a scout or reporter. I felt strong enough about the incident to write about it. If I offend anyone then I apologize in advance but what I’m writing is the truth as I was right there during the incident.
Is it really about the kids?
During the middle of one of the championship games, a coach and umpire started to get into an argument over balls and strikes. Normally, it’s not a big deal as typically both sides argue for a minute or two and then the game resumes. The argument escalated to the point where there were 12 adults on the field at one time arguing. It was coaches, tournament staff, and umpires. The game was delayed 30-45 minutes. From what I witnessed, an umpire acted inappropriately snatching a lineup card from a team mom and crumbling the paper and throwing it through the fence on the ground. That umpire was replaced for the rest of the game, but his actions resulted in upsetting fans of that team. I began hearing racially motivated statements made towards the umpire. At one point one of the teams was going to walk off the field and leave the park, luckily that didn’t happen. As I watched this out of control display happening, all I could think about was, “aren’t these tournaments for the kids and not the coaches and umpires?” After 45 minutes of screaming, arguing, and finger pointing among the adults on the field, it was clearly NOT about the kids. On a brighter side, during this unexplainable nonsense the kids were smiling, laughing, and playing games amongst themselves in the dugouts and outfield. The kids seemed like they weren’t even paying any attention to the adults disrupting THEIR championship game. I’ve been working in either the professional or amateur levels of baseball for the past 15 years of my life and have never seen something like that on a baseball field with 12 year old kids. It was disappointing. If it’s truly about the kids, then make it about the kids. If coaches and umpires disagree on calls, that’s part of the game. Get over it, get past it, and continue to play. It didn’t matter who was right or wrong in that situation, what mattered was that as adults we are supposed to set good examples for our kids to follow, aren't we? I’ve seen more arguing amongst coaches and umpires and coaches screaming at players at the 9U-12U age levels than at the professional level. Coaches are running the risk of their players losing the love of our national past time over winning a trophy. Kids are kids, not adults and shouldn’t be treated as if they are on scholarship at a college or making $125 million over 5 years like Josh Hamilton.
I apologize again if I’ve offended anyone with my comments but I had to say what I said. My comments are strictly my opinions on what I witnessed. I’m definitely not painting all youth coaches with the same brush, as I’m sure there are plenty of great ones out there. In fact, there were plenty at this tournament.
A Great Event
From a tournament perspective I thought it went really well.
I have a pretty good knowledge on how tournaments work considering Prospect
Wire's tournaments are all over the country with some having as many as 110 teams. I can’t
thank the Stealth and Anthony Russo enough for inviting Prospect Wire to cover
the tournament, and I’m excited about covering the spring USSSA tournaments in
south Florida. I did think that the younger kids are,
the more the coaches would care about developing the kids not only as players but teaching them the right way to play the game as they transition into their adolescent years. A coach can have a MAJOR impact
on a young kid during the coaching process and for years there after, sometimes for life.
As far as the baseball action on Sunday, it was fantastic!
Honoring the Champions
I want to congratulate all the champions on Sunday. In the 9U Championship, the Stealth beat the Okeeheelee Braves 12-1. The Stealth outscored their opponents 31-3 over the three games in the tournament. Stealth ace pitcher Gavin Conticello pitched 6 innings giving up only 1 hit in the first game and went 4 for 7 with two doubles at the plate in the two pool play games. Conticello had 7 stolen bases in the two games as well. Most impressive was Conticello throwing an incredible 53 pitches in his 6 innings of work, that’s less than 9 pitches per inning. Will Epstein went 2-5 with 3 rbi’s and a run scored in the pool play games as well.
The 11U Championship game was a tense game until the last
out. It was basically 1-0 until late in the game. The Piranaz ended up coming
out on top 4-1. The Piranaz starting pitcher #3, a lefty started and finished
the game. He made a potentially game saving play snaring a line drive with the
bases loaded and 1 out and then doubled off the runner on first to get out of a
jam late in the game. On the mound, the kid was pretty dominant showing a 60mph
fastball and keeping the Colts hitters off balance with two types of breaking
balls. One breaking ball was more of a slider he threw at 56-58mph and another
was more of a traditional curveball he threw at 52-53mph. #10 on the Piranaz, a RHP started the semi-final
game and was a treat to watch. A bigger kid, he had one of the better arm actions
as at the tournament and his velocity showed it. His fastball was up to 65mph
and his curveball sat around 56mph. The delivery and mechanics are already
there for this kid. I think if he can work on his body and get stronger over the next
several years he can become a legitimate prospect as a pitcher. #44 showed some big time
power hitting a 3-run homer. #24 showed a quick bat, ran well, and displayed
solid defensive actions with a strong arm. #7, a left-handed hitter showed great bat control driving a ball into the left center field gap and ran a 4.28 on a turn, he can really run. #4 showed great athleticism and can really really run with a quick bat.
For the Colts, #31 Kayfus a lefty on the mound and at the plate showed a 60mph fastball with a very loose arm. At the plate, Kayfus delivered a big hit in the championship game. Overall, he’s a good athlete and one to watch. #12 Mills hit the ball hard and hustled down the line with a 5.03 time to first base. #33 Steuerer came in and pitched for the Colts showing a fastball that touched 60mph and a curveball that sat around 53mph. #13 Garcia also pitched on Sunday was 56-59mph with his fastball, Garcia seems to be a good athlete with an aggressive approach at the plate.
I wanted to mention that after the game was over and awards were being handed out, the head coach of the Colts acknowledged what a classy and competitive program the Piranaz have. This coach, in my opinion displayed the type of sportsmanship that all coaches should display after getting beat in a tense game for 6 innings. This coach showed his players a great example of sportsmanship and the right way to handle a loss at 11 years old. I commend him for that.
I’ve already mentioned earlier what happened in the the 12U Championship game, with that aside congratulations to the Stealth for persevering through and winning the championship over the Wildcats 8-2. There were a couple of homeruns hit in this game that made me say, “Wow!” Ryan Rivera hit a ball that two hopped the shopping center across the highway and earlier in the day Rivera hit a rocket out to center field. T.J. McKenzie hit a ball that is probably still in orbit. McKenzie closed out the semi-final game on the mound showing a 66mph fastball with a live arm and a 12 to 6 hammer for a curveball at 57-58mph. #18 Jonathan Sasson could be a good two-way player showing some power earlier in the day hitting a long home run to left center with effortless power and then flashing a 61mph fastball and mixing in a 55-56 mph curveball keeping hitters off balance. Sasson has a thick lower half which is will help him sustain his velocity as he gets stronger.
Even though the Wildcats lost 8-2, they are stacked with talent. One of the highlights of the tournament was watching #2 Urena a lefty, pitch the first couple of innings in the championship game. In the semi-finals Urena threw an absolute laser from center field after a base hit up the middle to get a kid out at first base by a half step.
When I saw him take the mound for the championship game, I knew the Stealth could be in trouble. Urena mowed down the heart of the Stealth lineup the first two innings throwing nothing but fastballs at 64-65mph with tremendous life and electricity. Impressive for a kid that probably isn’t 5 feet tall yet and probably maybe weighs 100lbs. He worked the Stealth hitters like a major league veteran changing their eye levels with fastballs down and away and then climbing the ladder essentially blowing great hitters away. Make no mistake about it either, the Stealth are without question one of the better offensive teams I’ve scouted at the 12U level which is what made Urena’s performance so impressive. Finally, in about the 3rd or 4th inning Urena ran out of gas after throwing all fastballs and a 45 minute delay. I felt if Urena had mixed in change ups to compliment his fastball it would’ve been more effective against the Stealth and maybe allowed him to pitch into the 5th or 6th inning with less stress on his arm. Urena’s fastball went from 65mph in the 2nd inning to 55-57mph in the 3rd inning. That’s when the Stealth began hammering away.
Earlier in the day, #3 started for the Wildcats and showed a 62mph fastball with a projectable pitchers frame. #8 also pitched and was up to 68mph which matched the top velocity at the event for the 12U age group. I really really liked #7 Sosa and #34 Romero Jr., they can both really swing the bat. Sosa has a chance to have light tower power and uses all fields which is rare for a kid that age. He takes a big hack but rarely swings and misses. Romero Jr., swings and misses at times but has a pretty good approach at the plate. Behind the plate, Romero Jr. has quick hands and feet and plenty of arm strength.
Congratulations to all the champions! I will be coming out with a rankings list of the top players I scouted at the tournament. Some of the players on the rankings list I may have not mentioned in my articles previously, but they indeed were scouted. The list will be subscription only, but Prospect Wire has agreed to cover as many tournaments in the spring as possible for USSSA in south Florida. With a subscription you’ll be able to follow all of our reports and rankings throughout the year.
Rankings will be published shortly!