All 17 pools, A through Q, for the 2013 WWBA World Championship have been released and previewed below. Be sure to check out the Perfect Game homepage as well as the main event page for links to the full tournament schedule (when released), standings, playoff bracket, scout blogs and feature stories leading up to and carrying through this year's WWBA World Championship to be held at the Roger Dean Sports Complex in Jupiter, Fla., Oct. 24-28.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Champion: Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team
Year in and year out the Cardinals Scout Team/FTB enters the tournament as one of the favorites to bring home the championship trophy. They've run into hot pitchers deep in the playoffs frequently (including one from their own organization in 2011) that has prevented them from being able to finish the job. But there is no glaring weakness on this roster, and while it's impossible to predict what kind of matchups will shake out once the playoffs roll around, the Cardinals Scout Team has as good of a chance as anyone in the 85 team field. Thus they are my pick to finally break through and capture that elusive ring.
I'm going with the hot hand for this pick, and it wouldn't be the first time that the same travel ball organization wins both the Underclass World Championship and the World Championship in the same year (Marucci Elite was the most recent to do so in 2011). I really like the way this team has been built, with incredibly talented players from three different draft classes at nearly every position to fill nearly every role. There's no easy out in the lineup, and they have a deep stable of arms to turn to, always a key to making it through not only four pool games, but multiple levels of the playoffs.
Todd Gold's Projected Champion: Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Atlanta Blue Jays
With a pair of dazzling performances on the mound, leading to him striking out nearly everyone he faced while peaking at 97 mph and spinning his usual knee-buckling curve, Touki Toussaint was one of the impact stars on display at least year's WWBA World Championship pitching for the Atlanta Blue Jays. Toussaint and his high school battery mate Benito Santiago return this year with hopes of elevating their games to the next level after advancing to the second round of the playoffs in 2012. Sweet-swinging outfielder Luke Bonfield, who hits the ball harder, more consistently than any other player in class of 2014, joins the talented PG All-American duo and will prove to be a very tough out in the middle of the Blue Jays lineup. Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Blue Jays
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: South Florida Elite Squad
This squad has all the makings of a playoff team, with a talented middle infield (Jon India, Zack Kone), pitching depth, power (Daniel Reyes) and impact speed (Anfernee Seymour). They're a true ace away from being the favorite in this very difficult pool, and 2016 grad Anthony Molina shows the potential to develop into one.
Impact Matchup: Atlanta Blue Jays vs South Florida Elite Squad
Only one of these two supremely talented teams will make the playoffs, and this matchup will likely decide which one goes on and which goes home. Not only will there be high level prospects involved (and the potential for a Touki Toussaint vs Anthony Molina matchup), but the stakes will be high and both of these teams have experience with intense games.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Royals Scout Team
There's no shortage of recognizable names that have suited up for the Royals Scout Team in Jupiter in recent years, including Manny Machado, Carlos Rodon and Billy Hamilton. Of the 25 players that make up this year's team, 11 have committed to prominent D-I programs, and 14 different states are represented among the hometowns listed. This year's installment includes dynamic PG All-American outfielder Reese Cooley, who will be joined by other position prospects with loud tools, including Bobby Bradley's prodigious power and Matthew Railey's five-tool potential. 2015 lefthander Thomas Szapucki flashed a three-pitch mix that included a 89 mph fastball in Jupiter a year ago as a high school sophomore, and fronts a live-armed staff that includes righthanders Brandon Bielak and Donnie Everett. Reese Cooley, Royals Scout Team
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Florida Burn
Not only does this organization seem to win every tournament they enter, but they also have a lot of talent on their roster as well. They made a run to the second round of the playoffs last year with a team comprised primarily of underclassmen, and they even gave the Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler team a competitive game in that playoff loss. Now they're back looking to build off of last year's run and they have the horses to get it done. The Royals Scout Team has a ton of talent, but it wouldn't be a huge shock if the Burn can end up winning this pool.
Impact Mathcup: Royals Scout Team vs Florida Burn
The two most talented teams on paper in this pool matching up would suggest that this game would likely produce a pool winner. While there's no certainty that will be the case, what is certain is that there will be plenty of prospects on the field, with a heavy concentration of talent from Florida. SS Dalton Guthrie is the draw for the Burn, while OF Reese Cooley of the Royals will also draw extended looks.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler
As if the Florida-based Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler squad wasn't talented enough, they decided to pick up the phone to see if San Diego, Calif. resident Alex Jackson would be willing to join their superstar lineup in an attempt to claim the WWBA World Championship crown. Jackson, ranked No. 3 in the class of 2014, naturally accepted, joining Nicholas Gordon, the No. 2 ranked player in the class. Jackson and Gordon re-join their PG All-American teammates Sean Reid-Foley and David Peterson, who will anchor the pitching staff. That staff has a seemingly endless supply of arms able to throw 90-plus, including Cre Finfrock, Alex Faedo and Ashe Russell. Milton Ramos and Ryan Mountcastle provide depth up the middle of the defense, while Jeremy Vasquez and J.J. Schwarz give the team two more impact bats in the middle of the order. Nick Gordon, Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Team Northwest
While they can't be described as loaded, Team Northwest features several very good under-the-radar players to go with some nationally ranked prospects. Catcher Joey Morgan is a prime example of a player who has not yet made his mark on the national stage, but has a chance to do so in Jupiter. Righthander Matt Mercer has the requisite velocity and movement on his fastball to not only grab the attention of scouts, but also keep them close against the overwhelming favorite in this pool, the Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler. Even if Team Northwest isn't able to steal the pool, they should be competitive throughout and win some games.
Impact Matchup: Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler vs Midwest Warducks
While the Warducks haven't announced their starting pitchers yet, they have a pair of intriuging arms in 2015 righthander Garret Hutson out of El Dorado, Kan. and 2014 righthander B.J. Myers, who has reportedly been sitting comfortably in the low-90s of late. Whichever of those arms they choose to send to the mound will create a lot of scouting interest against the Cardinals Scout Team's robust lineup.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Ohio Warhawks
Arguably the most intriguing team of those that will be in attendance in Jupiter, for the second year in a row the Ohio Warhawks are bringing a well known, yet lightly scouted fire-baller. After scouts got a good look at Northern California righthander Carlos Salazar in 2012 they will have the chance to do the same with Hawaiian lefthander Kodi Medeiros. Whatever game he takes the mound could be one of, if not the most heavily scouted game in the history of the WWBA World Championship, with many eager to see what Medeiros can do when stretched past 1-2 innings of work. Should another PG All-American lefty, Justus Sheffield, make the trip his game too will be heavily attended. Nolan Kingham, Dominique Key and Jonathan Teaney gives the team three more power arms to turn to, while two-way talents Ty Buck and Ke'Bryan Hayes will look to fuel a ongoing conversations as to where their futures best lie. Shortstop Cadyn Grenier of the Pacific Northwest adds yet one more potential impact player that will draw plenty of extended looks. Kodi Medeiros, Ohio Warhawks
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Palm Beach PAL
While the names on the back of the Chandler Baseball jerseys are impressive, anyone who has followed WWBA action closely over the years knows that Palm Beach PAL grinds out at-bats at every spot in the order, make intelligent decisions defensively and is not a someone that a team with title hopes wants to see in their pool.
Impact Matchup: Ohio Warhawks vs Chandler Baseball
This game will have the single greatest impact on the draft of the entire tournament. Kodi Medeiros will get the start for the Ohio Warhawks with a chance to vault himself to the top of draft boards. He has highly impressive stuff, that has been firmly established, but with his short track record most scouts have only seen him in 1-2 inning stints at showcases. This will be their first (and possibly only) chance to see him face a talented opposing lineup in a competitive environment as a starting pitcher. There are some scouts who have unfairly Medeiros pegged as a future reliever, which suppresses his value (and by extension, draft stock) in their minds, and this is his chance to change that by effectively navigating Chandler's lineup multiple times. While he will be watched in Hawaii this spring, he won't face another lineup with this kind of talent.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: CBA Marucci
With the exception of Texas native Luken Baker, a righthander that is currently ranked as the 62nd best prospect in the class of 2015, the CBA Marucci roster is compiled entirely of California players, 14 of which (of 21) hail from the 2015 class. Righthander Kyle Molnar, who has been ranked at or near the top of his class since the initial 2015 rankings, and catcher Chris Betts provide the star power. Molnar has been throwing in the low-90s since early in high school, and continues to improve as a pitcher, while Betts will be one of the hardest hitters in attendance, regardless of class. Bryce Fehmel, Niko Navarro and Jordan Pearce are proof that Betts is far from a one-man show in the lineup, while Brady Falter, Austin Moore and Kyle Robeniol do the same with Molnar and the pitching staff. Chris Betts, CBA Marucci
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Tri-State Arsenal
This is one of the deepest pools in the field, and it's tough to pass up the Reds Midwest Scout Team here, but the Arsenal just has too much firepower not to take them. PG All-American lefthander Devin Smeltzer leads a pitching staff that features one of the top 2016 pitchers in the class in righthander Tyler Mondile, who appears to be ready for the big stage after a big showing at the WWBA Underclass World Championship. 2015 shortstop and third baseman John Aiello is one of the premier prospects in that class and he should already make a big impact this year as an underclassmen.
Impact Matchup: Reds Midwest Scout Team vs Tri-State Arsenal
This should be the matchup that draws the most golf carts, as arguably the biggest powerhouse teams of their respective regions square off with significant pool implications on the line. Reds outfielder Jeren Kendall arrived on the national scene late and he will be an important player to watch for crosscheckers as he looks to build on his breakout showing at the Area Code Games.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Houston Banditos
Yet another successful travel team that is a prominent fixture of the WWBA World Championship, the Banditos this year will turn to a very deep stable of arms to help carry them through pool play and into the playoffs. Jarod Bayless, Brigham Hill, Jake Jarvis, Nick Kennedy, Ryan Cole McKay and Ricardo Salinas all have power arms with a history of success in prominent national tournament events. The sheer number of arms will help lighten the load on each other so that a handful may be turned upon more than once during the event's five-day run. PG All-American outfielder Stone Garrett serves as the heart and soul for the lineup, with shortstop Justin Twine providing the spark at the top. Stone Garrett, Houston Banditos
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Diamond Devils
Tough call here between two solid programs based out of the Carolinas, but the nod goes to South Carolina's Diamond Devils. While they've graduated most of the talent from last year's playoff run, shortstop Seth Lancaster is back this year and will be counted on to play a major role. This is traditionally a well coached team that typically outperforms their level of talent.
Impact Matchup: Houston Banditos vs Diamond Devils
On paper, this is a mismatch, as will be the case with every pool play game that includes the Banditos. But if they don't show up and execute then the Diamond Devils are fully capable of pulling the upset. The Banditos have several talented pitching prospects, but they don't have a true ace that can make this an even greater mismatch.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Dulins Dodgers/Rockies Scout Team
A young and diverse roster Dulins Dodgers, aligned as the Rockies Scout Team, converges once again to another WWBA looking to take home another championship. The organization claimed both the 15u and 18u WWBA National Championship in back-to-back weeks in late June and early July, and also took third place at both the 14u and 17u installments of the event. Many of the names are the same for the older age groups, and while the team does play very well as a unit, it also has nine Division I commits, six to SEC schools. Outfielder Clay Casey also takes to the mound when needed, while Austin Riley, the team's top pitcher, can also swing the bat. Trysten Barlow, Gray Fenter and Jake Mangum are also ranked in their respective classes while providing two-way talents. Reggie Pruitt, East Cobb Astros
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: East Cobb Astros
This is essentially title contender East Cobb Baseball's AA affiliate, as the players that populate the Astros roster will provide the core of next year's squad. These talented young players have not only played together for a significant amount of time, but they've done so against older competition in national level events throughout the summer and fall. They may not yet ready to contend for a championship, but they are to be taken seriously in this pool.
Impact Matchup: Dulins Dodgers/Rockies Scout Team vs East Cobb Astros
In a pool light on well known impact prospects, outfielder Clay Casey of Dulins Dodgers and 2015 center fielder Reggie Pruitt of the Astros will be the main scouting attractions. While the Astros will need to find a way to limit the damage Casey can do with the bat, the Rockies Scout Team's ability to keep Pruitt's speed in check will also be key, as he has gamechanging speed and can wreak havoc on the bases.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Marucci Elite
Marucci Elite claimed the WWBA World Championship just two years ago, although failed to make the playoffs last year. A team that always fields a roster stacked with impact-level talent, the last two years are proof that all-star type teams can soar just as easily as find things difficult to come together. This year's group plans on doing the former, with three PG All-Americans -- Greg Deichmann, Justin Smith and Marcus Wilson -- helping to power the team's offense. Joseph Dunand, Tristan Hildebrandt and Handsome Monica fill in another third of that offense, while Keith Weisenberg, Mitch Hart, Alex Lange and Branden Kelliher are among the team's more promising hurlers. And for icing on the cake, they also have secured several of the top prospects from the 2015 and 2016 classes as well -- Seth Beer, Justin Hooper, Jahmai Jones and Terry Shumpert -- to help bridge the gap to future success for the organization. Greg Deichmann, Marucci Elite
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Richmond Braves
While it looks like title contender Marucci Elite has a stranglehold on this pool (on paper), Richmond has a solid roster of it's own with 10 Division I commits and one of the best catching prospects in the 2014 class (Devon Fisher). Righthander Tyler Johnson has shown potential at PG events in the past and if he can put it all together in Jupiter the Braves have a shot to pull the upset.
Impact Matchup: Marucci Elite vs Chicago Scouts Association
In terms of draft prospects, this game will feature the best collection of any pool H matchup, as Marucci's three PG All-Americans will face fellow All-American outfielder Darius Day, an Arizona commit who highlights a very solid Chicago Scouts Association roster.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Chet Lemons Juice
The runner-up at last year's WWBA World Championship, the Juice always field a deep and versatile roster with players that contribute in a variety of ways. A year ago they rode the arm of their bulldog, Tyler Danish, to the championship game leading to Danish being named the MV-Pitcher. While Danish has since advanced to pro ball, Drew Carlton, who also starred last year in Jupiter, returns to take on the role as the team's staff ace. The key to the Juice's success this year may be how much a handful of talented high school sophomores step up to shoulder the load, including pitchers Andrew Baker and Kirby McMullen as well as position players Garrett Milichin, Ryan Olenek and Jake Sullivan. Drew Carlton, Chet Lemons Juice
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Team Elite
On the one hand, Team Elite will be without two-way uber prospect Michael Gettys, but the remaining core has several key upgrades that should be able to make up for that loss. The pitching staff was already strong with Spencer Adams and Clarke Schmidt, but the addition of lefty Willie Rios will give Team Elite a strong starting pitcher in every pool play game.
Impact Matchup: Chet Lemons Juice vs Team Elite
These two perennial powerhouses both enter this tournament with a realistic shot at playing on the final day every year. Factor in the Florida-Georgia rivalry amongst the prospect ranks to the fact that these are the top two teams in the pool, and as such the matchup is likely to produce a winner, and an intense high-stakes matchup should be expected.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team
The Scorpions have been filling up the trophy case this summer with numerous PG-based tournament championship crowns, most recently claiming the Underclass version of the World Championship in Fort Myers, Fla. Although PG All-American lefthander Foster Griffin will not pitch during the event, the Scorpions have combined all of their top players from their upperclass and underclass teams to field one of the most impressive collections of talent in Jupiter. Carl Chester, Tate Blackman and Brendan Rodgers will help set the table for the heart of the order, with big bats including Nick Fortes, Adam Haseley, John Jones, Logan Warmoth and Dash Winningham ready to drive them in. There's no shortage of pitching on the staff as well, even without their PG All-American ace. Alex Carpenter, Logan Crouse, Weston Davis, Andrew Karp, Jesse Lepore as well as Carson and Cole Sands are all among some of the top-rated pitchers in their respective draft classes. Tate Blackman, Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scouts Team
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Sandlot Scout Team
This pool appears (on paper) to be the Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team's pool for the taking. While none of the other four teams can boast the kind of firepower that the Scorpions organization will be sending to Jupiter, there are several solid teams in this pool. The Oklahoma based Sandlot Scout Team has similar upside to the underclass prospect-laden Mid-Atlantic PG Orange, but with more experience they get the edge as the pick here as most likely to be able to pull a major upset. Their roster of seven D-I commits is highlighted by righthander Braden Webb, who sat 90-92 at the Area Code Games and certainly has the talent to steal a win against the Scorpions and put Sandlot in the driver's seat in this pool.
Impact Matchup: Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team vs Sandlot Scout Team
The Scorpions will be a draw every time they take the field, but this game will be an even larger scouting draw if Sandlot's pitching lines up to allow them to send ace Braden Webb to the mound against the Scorpions. It also will be the biggest obstacle for the Scorpions' playoff aspirations, the organization has had a strong year and anything short of a deep playoff run will be a disappointing end, and while they have the horses to make it happen, they're going to have to execute in this matchup.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Dirtbags
Always a force to be reckoned with at national tournament events, the Dirtbags are made almost entirely of players from North Carolina, and once again bring a strong roster to Jupiter with hopes of taking home the championship trophy. Braxton Davidson has been the heart and soul of the batting order for a few years now, one of the most polished overall hitters in the country that can change the outlook of any ballgame with one mighty swing of his bat. A pair of 2015 bats, third baseman Steven Oakley and outfielder Brandon Riley, will help ignite the offense on a team that knows how to grind out runs in high pressure situations. Righthanders Hansen Butler and John Creel will be turned upon to carry the team through pool play and into the playoffs. Braxton Davidson, Dirtbags
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Texas Scout Team Yankees
This is arguably the most talented darkhorse of the entire field. True to form, the Texas scout team is loaded with power arms and power bats, while they have both in the form of lefthanded pitcher and outfielder Alex Verdugo. Flame-throwing 2015 grad Beau Burrows is joined by one of the more advanced arms in the 2014 class in Turner Larkins to give them two highly prominent pitching prospects to lead a very strong staff. Righthander Garrett Fulenchek is still a bit under the radar on the national stage, but has a chance to change that in a big way in Jupiter.
Impact Matchup: Dirtbags vs Texas Scout Team Yankees
Dirtbags top prospect first baseman/outfielder Braxton Davidson is going to be a big draw throughout the tournament. Match him up against a power arm and there's likely to be a traffic jam of golf carts to get a good spot for this matchup.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: GBG Marucci
The GBG program continues to improve, and once again bring a strong roster to Jupiter made up largely of players from California. The offense will have no problems scoring runs thanks to a trio of PG All-Americans in Sean Bouchard, Trenton Kemp and D.J. Peters, and will be joined by other notable position prospects including Denz'l Chapman, Luke Dykstra and Josh Morgan in the lineup. Strong-armed catchers K.J. Harrison and Tommy Pincin will help direct a strong pitching staff led by righthander Tylor Megill and lefthanders Quinn Brodey and Kyle Hatton. Trenton Kemp, GBG Marucci
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team
The highlight of their roster is power hitting shortstop Jacob Gatewood, but the offensive firepower certainly doesn't end there. Despite the fact that this is a roster of players from all over the country who have little to no experience playing together, the amount of power in the lineup coupled with a very solid pitching staff gives them a very good chance to wrestle the pool away from GBG.
Impact Matchup: GBG Marucci vs Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team
This matchup will be a must-see for every Northern California area scout in Jupiter with most of the region's top prospects residing on one of the two rosters. Additionally, there are four PG All-Americans on the two rosters combined in Gatewood, Kemp, Peters and Bouchard, along with several other high level prospects.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: East Cobb Baseball
Never bet against the defending champs, not to mention one of the most accomplished travel ball organizations in baseball. While last year's MVP Wesley Jones, as well as ECB stalwarts Travis Demeritte and Josh Hart, have graduated to the next level, Daz Cameron, the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2015, is one of the most dynamic young talents in the game that should have no problems igniting the offense. PG All-American Kel Johnson, who has a knack for coming up with big hits at PG tournament events, gives the team another notable, big bat in the middle of the lineup. Jonathan Hughes, Brock Love and Max Wotell are three of the most accomplished arms in the 2015 class, and should help carry East Cobb Baseball back to the playoffs in Jupiter. Daz Cameron, East Cobb Baseball
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: South Charlotte Panthers
This is a very strong pool as the talented Panthers join the defending champion (and perennial powerhouse) East Cobb Baseball, while Syracuse Sports Zone is a threat to emerge as a surprise pool champion as well. But the Panthers core group plays together year 'round over several seasons, so not only is it a talented roster that includes 15 Division I commitments, but also a cohesive team.
Impact Matchup: East Cobb Baseball vs Syracuse Sports Zone
So long as the schedule lines up, Syracuse has a chance to throw ace righthander Scott Blewett, who was impressive at several high level events this summer, looking to knock off the defending champs. The pool is East Cobb's to lose, but a strong performance on the mound could knock them off and make the race wide open, and the best chance for that to happen is against Syracuse Sports Zone.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: EvoShield Canes
Every player on the Canes' 22-man roster has committed to play at notable D-I powerhouses at the college level as the EvoShield program annually puts together one of the most impressive collections of talent in attendance. That makes them a favorite not only to win their pool, but also the entire tournament. PG All-American East starting pitcher Grant Holmes, who was named the Most Valuable Pitcher at the 17u PG World Series this past summer, combines an aggressive approach with swing-and-miss stuff and will be difficult to score upon in whatever game(s) that he takes the mound. Fellow PG All-American Justin Bellinger provides a big, power bat in the middle of a stacked lineup. Grant Holmes, EvoShield Canes
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Ontario Blue Jays
The Blue Jays' months long barnstorming tour through the United States taking on college teams concludes as they come back to Jupiter coming off of a second round playoff run last year. They return several significant pieces of that team. The have plenty of thump in the lineup with 1B Josh Naylor, 3B Robert Byckowski, OF Gareth Morgan and OF Owen Spiwak all posing a threat to punish opposing pitchers.
Impact Matchup: EvoShield Canes vs Ontario Blue Jays
The EvoShield Canes all-prospect pitching staff will ensure that every one of their pool play matchup will be well scouted, and their toughest test will be against the Blue Jays' deep lineup will be the best opportunity for scouts to evaluate the Canes pitching prospects against. This matchup also has a strong chance to produce the pool winner.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Marlins Scout Team
Although 14 of the 20 members of the Marlins Scout Team hail from California, the team has done a good job filling in some of the blanks with talented players from across the country. The team's top two players, catcher Michael Curry and lefthander Patrick Sandoval, are both members of the 2015 class. They also have a trio of talented 2016 players on their roster, including outfielder Dominic Fletcher, who was ranked 87th in PG's initial ranking of the class. With a versatile roster full of players that both pitch and play a position on the field, the Marlins Scout Team should have no shortage of arms to turn to with hopes of advancing deep into the playoffs in Jupiter. Michael Curry, Marlins Scout Team
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Midland Redskins
On paper this pool looks like it will be decided in a Marlins Scout Team vs Midland Redskins clash of the titans. Both of these national powerhouses feature rosters drawing highly talented prospects from all over the country. But a lot of all-prospect teams don't perform up to the sum of their parts due to pre-determined pitcher/bullpen usage and highly talented prospects finding themselves playing at an unfamiliar defensive position with teammates they just met. While teams of this caliber don't always dominate the way their roster would suggest, the bottom line is that Midland has way too much talent not to pick them, as they're more of a co-favorite than a darkhorse.
Impact Matchup: Marlins Scout Team vs Midland Redskins
Midland has the luxury of choosing from a pair of PG All-American righthanders in Cameron Varga and Zack Shannon when they face the Marlins. Regardless of who they go with, this will likely determine the pool winner, giving this game the potential to be the kind of high intensity, high stakes prospect-laden matchup that makes Jupiter a special event.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Baseball U
The Northeast-based Baseball U team will ride a pair of arms, as well as a pair of big bats, with a strong complement of players throughout their roster, which boasts 11 Division I commits. Marvin Gorgas is the staff ace, who performed as a high level for the 18U USA National Team last summer, not allowing a single earned run in five appearances, three of which came in international play at the IBAF AAA/18U World Cup. Evelino Ruibal is another strongly built righthander with a propensity of throwing strikes and stepping up his game in high-pressure situations. Shortstop Jonathan Meola and Jake McCarthy will set the pace for the offense. Grant Bodison, Upstate Mavericks
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: SWFL Carrera
While Baseball U comes in as the favorite, this pool looks to be well within the reach of at least three teams. The Upstate Mavericks certainly have a shot as a solid core of talent that has played together with several solid additions. But the edge in pitching staffs goes to SWFL, and with the option to start Thad Ward and Troy Bacon in their two most difficult matchups in pool play against Baseball U and Upstate gives SWFL a very real shot to emerge.
Impact Matchup: Upstate Mavericks vs SWFL Carrera
This matchup could have big pool implications, as Pool P appears to be a three-team race between Baseball U and these two. One of these two teams will be able to avoid facing Baseball U ace Marvin Gorgas, and if it's the team that wins this matchup, they will be the favorite in the pool.
Patrick Ebert's Projected Pool Winner: Homeplate Chilidogs
With a deep, versatile roster, the Homeplate Chilidogs very well may be Georgia's answer to last year's tournament runner-up, Chet Lemon's Juice. The majority of the team's prospective pro and D-I talent comes from the class of 2015, highlighted by hard-hitting outfielder Bryant Harris, who could use the big stage that Jupiter offers to officially make a name for himself with a loud statement at the plate. With a nice collection of both lefties and righties that throw strikes while throwing in the mid- to upper-80s, they should have enough arms to make it through the five-day event. 2014 lefthander Daniel Gooden, a Georgia Tech recruit whose fastball creeps toward the mid-90s, will likely be turned upon both early and late in the tournament to help carry the Chilidogs to the playoffs. Bryant Harris, Homeplate Chilidogs
Todd Gold's Dark Horse: Team EvoShield
Nearly half of the 21 players listed on Team EvoShield's roster (10 to be exact) are underclassmen. And while that puts them at a bit of a disadvantage, their high level of talent erases most, if not all, of that age/experience disadvantage. As an added bonus, the core of this team plays together throughout much of the summer and fall as part of the EvoShield Canes organization, with several talented acquisitions to bolster what was already a strong roster. There is a strong enough group of run-producing bats (highlighted by first baseman Desmond Lindsay) and plenty of pitching depth, giving ample reason to believe that they are capable of making a playoff run. It would be difficult to pick against a team with 18 Division I commitments.
Impact Matchup: Team EvoShield vs 9ers Baseball Club
This matchup not only has the potential to feature a deep Team EvoShield lineup facing an interesting pitching prospect from the 9ers (in the form of either Brian Dobzanski or 2016 grad Gian Luca Dalatri), but has the added bonus of regional rivalry. Team EvoShield draws players from all over the country, but featues a larger contingent of players from the Mid-Atlantic region, while the 9ers are comprised entirely of players from New Jersey.