The Inside Pitch
While in preparation for our 10th appearance at the Perfect Game WWBA National Championships in Jupiter, FL, the Arizona Rays Scout Team was informed that we would not be receiving a spot in the event in 2017.
We began this endeavor a decade ago with the assistance of then Rays Scouting Director RJ Harrison, who helped secure the bid for us. The Rays have provided jersey and hats every year we have attended.
We have been very fortunate to align with the Arizona Major League Alumni Association and President Lou Klimchock, who has overseen our substantial fund raising effort.
Former big leaguer Dave Hilton has been the Head Coach since day 1, and Dave and I have worked together to form the roster every year.
We have had 97 players go on to play Division 1 baseball and 39 players go into professional baseball.
Over the last decade, we have raised approximately $150,000 to support this effort. This money has gone to cover most of the costs of the trip, and to also allow for a scholarship program. Without this financial help, a boatload of players would have never been able to experience this trip.
We have always traveled as a team, and players have formed friendships and had an absolute blast attending this event.
I would be lying if I said this news came as a total shock.
In addition to knowing a bit about the game of baseball, I know a bit about business.
Make no mistake about it, Perfect Game is a business… it has become a monolithic enterprise over the last decade, with its tentacles expanding into virtually every area of the game of baseball.
PG has led the way in creating the “bigger is better” mentality when it comes to events.
As an example, the 2017 PG 17U National Championship, held in the state of the art Lakepoint Complex in Georgia, featured an astounding 441 teams. If you do the math that is a jaw-dropping $1.2 million and change in entry fees alone.
So with the explosion of baseball academies around the nation that feature teams from 10U to 18U that attend multiple PG events at multiple ages, our single event efforts are apparently insignificant in the bigger picture.
PG feels the need to support this academy pipeline, and the Rays have become collateral damage in the process.
It’s very unfortunate for a lot of future Arizona players. Our travel team scene here has always spread the talent out among many different groups, and the Rays were always able to take the most deserving players off multiple teams. Those days are done apparently.
A heartfelt thank you to the players who have attended in the past and to the coaches who have given their time. Thank you, as well, to all the individuals and organizations that have provided financial help to make this endeavor happen.
We are firmly in the “shoulder season” between summer and fall baseball, so I took the opportunity to catch up with some AZ alums in professional baseball:
Dustin Peterson (Gilbert) is playing outfield for the AAA Gwinnett Braves in the Atlanta Organization. He is hitting .265 with 29 RBIs on 74 games.
Jamie Westbrook (Basha) is playing for the Jackson Generals (AA) in the DBacks organization. Through 86 games he is hitting .276 with 7 homers and 52 RBIs.
DJ Peterson (Gilbert) was recently claimed off waivers by the White Sox. He is playing for the AAA Charlotte Knights. And is hitting .269.
Cole Tucker (Mountain Pointe) was promoted to the AA Altoona Curve in the Pirates organization. Through 68 games at Hi A Bradenton he was hitting .285 with 32 RBIs.
Jordan Zimmerman (Red Mountain) is playing for Hi A Inland Empire (LA Angels) in the Cal League. He is hitting .277 in 113 games with 7 homers and 63 RBIs.
Seth Martinez (Sunrise Mtn/ ASU) is at Class A Beloit in the Athletics organization. He has a 3.87 ERA in 69 IP.
Gary Cornish (Arcadia) is at Class A Columbia in the Mets organization. He has 64 Ks in 54 IP with an ERA of 2.65
Nate Easley (O’Connor) is Class A Fort Wayne (Padres) hitting .257 in 191 Abs.
Joel Kuhnel (Sunrise) is at Class A Dayton (Reds) He has a 4.78 ERA in 52 innings with 50 Ks.
Zach Gibbons (Saguaro/U of A) is at AA Mobile (Reds) and is hitting .297 for the year with 33 doubles in 538 ABs
Jeremy Wolf (Chaparral) is at Class A Brooklyn (Mets). He is hitting .250 in 80 ABs
Scot Kingery (Mountain Pointe/U of AZ) has been promoted to AAA Lehigh Valley (Phillies). In 2017 he is hitting .307 with 24 HRs, 24 doubles and 60 RBIs in 459 ABs.
Dylan Cozens (Chaparral) is also at Lehigh Valley and has 23 homers and 64 RBIs in 416 Abs.
Blake Perkins (Verrado) is at Class A Hagerstown, MD (Nationals). He is hitting .257 with 7 homers and 24 doubles in 421 Abs.
Chance Adams (Chaparral) is with AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre (Yankees). He is 9-3 in 17 starts with a 2.31 ERA and 88 Ks in 93 IP
Luke Leftwich (Desert Vista) is at Class A Clearwater (Phillies). He has 82 Ks in 68 IP and an ERA of 3.03
Donny Sands (Salpointe Catholic) is now a catcher in the Yankees organization and is at Class A Tampa. He is hitting .272 with 20 doubles and 50 RBIs in 313 ABs.
Austin Byler (Sunrise Mountain) is at Class A Visalia with the DBacks. He is hitting .258 with 29 doubles and 6 homers in 103 games.
Ryan Castellani (Brophy Prep) is with AA Hartford (Rockies) In 23 starts on the mound he has a 5.27 ERA with 108 Ks in 133 IP.
Alex Verdugo (Sahuaro) is with AAA Oklahoma City (Dodgers) and is hitting .316 in 395 ABs with with 6 homers and 25 doubles.
James Farris (Highland/ U of AZ) is at AAA Albuquerque (Rockies). IN 49 IP between AA and AAA he has a 3.49 ERA with 58 Ks in 49 IP.
Scott Squier (Greenway) is with Class A Jupiter (Marlins) where he has a 3.57 ERA in 116 IP with 86 Ks.
Kevin Cron (Mountain Pointe) is with AA Jackson (DBacks). He is hitting .284 in 440 ABs with 22 HRs, 32 2B and 82 RBIs
Spenser Watkins (Horizon) is with Class A West Michigan (Tigers) wher e has thrown 94 innings with a 3.23 ERA and 70 Ks
Mitch Nay (Hamilton) is with Class A Lansing (Blue Jays) He is hitting .225 with 31 RBIs in 187 ABs.
Jordan Kipper (Mountain Pointe) was traded to the Orioles organization and has split time between AAA and AA. He has a 3.85 ERA this year in 114 IP and 59 Ks.
Drew Stankiewicz (Gilbert) is with AA Reading (Phillies) where he is hitting .305 in 95 ABs.
Tyler Viza (Desert Vista) is at AA Reading (Phillies). He has a 5.19 ERA in 118 IP and 84 Ks.