JUPITER, FL - About 1,260 miles separates the Phantoms from Roger Dean Complex. That’s a 22-hour car ride or a three-hour flight.
So, what brings teams from so far away to the World Scout League tournaments? Head coach Keith Osik, puts it simply: “We love it.”
“We love this tournament,” said Osik, the head coach for the Phantoms 15U. “We look forward to coming back next year with a couple of teams throughout my organization. We feel like it’s been a great experience and a great tournament.”
A retired Major League Baseball player, Osik currently runs an indoor facility, Osik’s Major League Instruction, while coaching the Phantoms. His team, which includes his son, has played together since they were about 12 years old. Osik said he is proud of the way the Phantoms performed in Jupiter, Fla.
“We’ve probably exceeded our goals, as far as how we’ve played down here,” he said.
Although from the northeast, Osik said that he and his players are used to the high temperatures of Florida. The real obstacle for the team was the level of competition.
“The pitching was great here; it was tough to adjust,” said catcher Tyler Osik, 15, son of Keith Osik.
Tyler hopes to play baseball in college, specifically for the Southeastern Conference, he said. The coaches and the players of the Phantoms believe that the combine, a process run by Prospect Wire that evaluates and records specific skills for each player, will assist for the future in baseball for these teenagers.
“We love the combine,” Osik said. “It teaches the players and tells them where they stand compared to kids around the nation. We think it’s a great concept and we’ll spread the word back home in New York.”
A 16U team from Texas, Hustle Baseball, also traveled far and proved themselves at the World Finals East. With just one year together, they made it to the quarter-finals out of 28 teams.
“Our program goals are to just go out there, get better and compete,” said Mike Partida, head coach of Hustle Baseball 16U. “We’re just from League City, Texas, so all we really have are kids from that area. To finish sixth out of 28 teams, and to make it this far our first year, that was a big accomplishment for us.”
Partida refers to the Prospect Wire tournament as “phenomenal” and a “first class” event.
“We were very satisfied the way this tournament was run,” he said. “Everything was done first class: on time, the umpires were phenomenal and the competition level was great. When you come out here, you expect to play against the best. There were great teams.”
With just one year under their belts, Hustle views scouting tournaments, such as the World Finals East, as a significant element to their success as individual players, and as a team.
“For us to make it this far, it was a big goal for us and we’re very excited to be here. We’ll definitely come back,” Partida said.
Partida believes that the combine process is a huge opportunity to reveal the players’ skills to professional scouts and possible college coaches. They may not get this opportunity anywhere else, he said.
“Some of these guys might not play at the best high schools, and they might not get an opportunity like this. You’ve got to make the best of the opportunities that you have. The combine was great,” he said.
For teams like the Phantoms 15U, of New York, and Hustle Baseball 16U, of Texas, the players are just getting started with their potential careers in baseball. One thing is for sure - scouting tournaments and companies like Prospect Wire give them hope to succeed in the sport.
“We’re going to the top,” said Partida. “This is our first year, and I think we made a statement. We put Hustle on the map. I’m very proud of these kids.”