While many in the nation are focusing on the BSC National Football Championship, there were ninety-eight high school baseball players in Phoenix, Arizona, for another reason – to win the 5th Annual POWER SHOWCASE International Home Run Derby. They understood that a good showing in the event could catapult them into a national spotlight and help their recruiting and their standing among the thirty Major League Baseball Clubs. It was also inspirational that the event was held in Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The crowd was not disappointed either in that ninety-six of the ninety-eight players hit at least one homerun at the event. They each made a memorable moment that will last them and their families a lifetime.
The POWER SHOWCASE is the brainchild of former professional player Brian Domenico. Domenico, now a high school coach at Olympic Heights Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, originally conceived the idea as a fundraiser for his baseball program. After a full day of washing cars for less than $200.00, he decided there had to be a better way. The rest is history, and the result of his vision has created an exceptional venue for high school age power-hitters to showcase themselves, play on a surface they dream of as future professional athletes, and competing among the best power-hitters, nationally and internationally. To date, not only has every state been represented, but also fifteen other countries have sent their best power-hitters to compete in this illustrious derby. From this writer’s perspective, the event was run professionally, efficiently and in a fun, but competitive environment.
The event began Tuesday, December 28, 2010, with a Scout Day and Skills Combine. Each player participated in a basic pro-style workout, running the sixty, measuring arm strength, and fielding and batting sessions. During the entire event, professional instructors were on hand to help assist players with mechanics and provide encouragement, including former University of Tennessee Head Baseball Coach Rod Delmonico and Professional Scouts. The Skills Combine ran from 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM before dismissing to clean up before the Welcome Dinner & Uniform Presentation Ceremony.
The honors banquet began at 6:30 PM with Domenico as the Master of Ceremonies and several guest speakers, including 2009 Power Showcase participant Bryce Harper, 4th Annual Power Showcase World Champion Travis Flores, Linda Ruth Tosetti (Babe Ruth’s granddaughter) and motivational speaker Steve Shenbaum. One of the highlights to the banquet was learning of the partnership with “Make a Wish Foundationâ” and POWER SHOWCASE’S own “Home Runs That Help”campaign. The Make a Wish Foundation has made a positive national impact in helping children who are suffering from a life-threatening illness enjoy a childhood dream. The Home Runs That Helpcampaign is a program that partners the players with a less fortunate individual in a mentoring situation. It is here where the first home run is dedicated to the individual, the ball is retrieved, signed by the player with the actual distance written on the ball, and later it is presented to that person. The speakers entertained the guests well during the banquet, most notably Steve Shenbaum of Game on Media. Shenbaum uniquely used players to demonstrate several of his points with each doing an admirable job responding to his questions, a few even making comical comments of their own. It was easy to see how Shenbaum has successfully helped thousands of professional and amateur athletes improve their self awareness and get the most out of their careers. Travis Flores, the 4th Annual Power Showcase World Champion and now Major Leaguer, Bryce Harper, both did exceptional jobs telling the audience what the showcase meant to them and how it had impacted their respective baseball careers. Harper, along with taking a BP session for the day two crowd, sat for hours signing autographs and talking with this year’s participants. It’s easy to see the reason for his success and the passion he has for the game. Maybe the highlight of the banquet came when Linda Ruth Tosetti unexpectedly honored the Power Showcase founder Brian Domenico with a bat awarded for his passion for helping youth and the tireless work he puts into this event each year. It was a well-deserved award. No doubt it was an honor just to have Mrs. Tosetti there in person to tell everyone about her granddad, Babe Ruth, and to relate her personal experiences with her grandfather. Mrs. Tosetti also presented the “Colossus of Clout Award” and the “Spirit of Babe Ruth” Award. The Spirit of Babe Ruth Award was presented at the banquet to the 2010 recipient, Dennis Mitchell, Phoenixville Area H.S. in PA. The Colossus of Clout Award was presented after the event to the 2010 winner, Daniel Vogelbach, Bishop Verot H.S. in Fort Myers FL, for his record setting 508 Ft. shot to right field. The Spirit of Babe Ruth Award is presented each year to the player who best shows the qualities of ability, strength, leadership, passion and respect for the game of baseball. The Colossus of Clout Award (Babe Ruth 54 oz. replica bat) is presented to the player hitting the longest home run during the derby. Once the speakers and dinner finished each player was honored with awards and uniform presentation. You had to come away from the banquet impressed with the professional manner in which it was run and the enjoyment most received being there.
Day two began with another skills evaluation of the Featured Group from 8:15 AM to 3:00 PM. Each player participated in a pro-style workout as well as batting practice before leaving for the day. The sixty was conducted by Ed Lovelace, Founder of Phewsioneering. Lovelace spent considerable time teaching and implementing speed techniques to every player running the sixty. Around 3:15 Bryce Harper dazzled the crowd for 45 minutes straight with a session of BP with a wood bat and later used metal for a few shots. At 5:00 PM the Underclassman (Babe Ruth Division) Power Showcase began at the stadium with players from 14 states participating. While each player showcased talent, several stood out, including eventual Underclassman Champion Joey Curletta (Mountain Point H.S., AZ) and Runner-up Nick Villar (El Toro H.S., CA). The 6’3″ /225 lb. Curletta was dominating and stood out during the event with several blasts over 450 feet. He finished the derby with 14 total homeruns, 10 in the preliminary round and 4 in the championship round. His longest home run was 462 feet. California’s Nick Villar was runner up with a total of 8 homeruns, 5 in the preliminary and 3 in the finals. He edged out Florida’s Avery Ramero (Pedro Menendez H.S. FL) who also hit a total of 8 homeruns, 5 in the preliminary and 3 in the finals. The two remaining finalist were Nico Darras (Juniper Serra H.S., CA) and Kyle Smith (Mount Juliet H.S., TN) who both hit a total of 8 homeruns, 6 in the preliminary round and 2 in the finals. Overall Babe Ruth Division award winners were:
WOOD BAT AWARDS
Longest Home Run with wood bat: Kyle Smith (TN) (429 ft.)
Most consecutive Home Runs with wood bat: Jonathan Camp (FL) (2)(Fort Meade H.S. FL)
Most wood bat Home Runs: Jonathan Camp (FL) (2)
Overall Home Runs: Joey Curletta (AZ) (14)
Most consecutive Home Runs with metal bat: Avery Romero (FL) (3)
Most Home Runs in a round: Joey Curletta (AZ) (10)
Babe Ruth Ward for longest Home Run: Joey Culetta (AZ) (462 ft.)
Babe Ruth Division Power Showcase Champion: Joey Culetta (AZ) (14)
Babe Ruth Division Finalists
|Player||PRELIMINARY ROUND||CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND||OVERALL|
|Joey Curletta (AZ)||10||4||14|
|Nick Villar (CA)||5||3||8|
|Avery Romero (FL)||5||3||8|
|Nico Darras (CA)||6||2||8|
|Kyle Smith (TN)||6||2||8|
The top ten distances in the Babe Ruth Event were:
- 1. Joey Curletta (AZ) – 462ft.
- 2. Colin Winters (CA) – 461ft.
- 3. Kyle Smith (TN) – 453ft.
- 4. Avery Romero (FL) – 449ft.
- 5. John Brue (NJ)Â – 436ft.
- 6. Joseph Duffin CA) – 434ft.
- 7. Matt Brown (MO) – 432ft.
- 8. Nick Villar (CA) – 430ft.
- 9. Jonathan Camp (FL) – 428ft.
- 10. Nico Darras (CA) – 418ft.
Day three began at 8:15 AM with the purpose of crowning the 5th Annual POWER SHOWCASE World Champion. At 8:00 AM player introductions were followed by the national anthem. Anticipation was high among many of the participants who had never competed in this type of event and the nerves were obvious with some of the ninety-eight participants. Tight muscled swings and over-aggression was obvious with a lot of pop-ups and fouled balls flying all over the park. The veterans stuck out and some even showed a been there, done that swagger as they took BP in cages and eventual hacks in the derby.
Several players stuck out early. In fact, the very first batter would hold the tournament lead until hitter #46. That hitter was Arizona’s own Shaun Chase, Desert Vista H.S. who was impressive with three wood bat and six metal bat home runs for a total of nine overall. Chase also held the longest blast at 482 ft., but only until the #5 hitter, Jack Prichard (Cheshire Academy CT), launched a 491 ft. shot that landed on the room of the Friday’s restaurant in left field. Pritchard was another impressive power hitter who finished the derby with five total home runs. But the night belonged to Florida’s Daniel Vogelbach who dazzled all present with a power hitting display of both numbers and distance. In fact, he would break three event records; the longest home run, overall total and consecutive by the end of the night. Daniel Vogelbach is for real! By night’s end, he had hit five-consecutive home run runs three times. His longest was a mammoth blast into right field that set a new derby distance record at 508 ft and the overall home run total of 30. According to some of the Diamondback’s staff, it was the longest ball ever hit in Chase into right field and maybe to any field in that stadium. It was an impressive shot! Equally impressive is the agility of this big guy. He ran a 6.96 sixty!
Second place was a battle between Nick Williams (Ball H.S. TX), Shaun Chase (Desert Vista H.S. AZ) and Gabe Craven (Summerville H.S. SC). After the preliminary round it became obvious to most that unless someone made a major run it was Vogelbach’s to lose. Vogelbach hit nineteen of his thirty homers in his preliminary round, then closed it out with eleven more in the final round, including his record breaking shot. Below is a breakdown of how the contestants finished:
|1.||Daniel Vogelbach (FL)||19||11||30|
|2.||Nick Williams (TX)||9||5||14|
|3.||Shaun Chase (AZ)||9||4||13|
|4.||Gabe Craven (SC)||8||4||12|
|5.||Ryan Wagner (CO)||8||0||8|
The Featured Group Award Winners were:
WOOD BAT AWARDS
Longest Home Run with wood bat: Shaun Chase (436ft.)
Most consecutive Home Runs with wood bat: Hunter Lockwood (2) * tie breaker
Most wood bat Home Runs: Levi Scott (4)
Most Home Runs in a round: Daniel Vogelbach (19)
Babe Ruth award for longest Home Run: Daniel Vogelbach (508 ft.)
Most consecutive Home Runs: Daniel Vogelbach (5) * done three times!
Longest Distance in preliminary round: Jack Pritchard (491ft.)
Most overall home runs: Daniel Vogelbach (30)
5th Annual POWER SHOWCASE Home Run Derby WORLD Champion: Daniel Vogelbach
The longest home runs in the Featured Division:
- Daniel Vogelbach (FL) – 508ft. *New International Record!
- Jack Pritchard (CT) – 491ft.
- Omar Williams (Caribean) – 485ft.
- Nelson Rodriguez (NY) – 483ft.
- Shaun Chase (AZ) – 482ft.
- Kayden Porter (UT) – 479ft.
- Nick Williams (TX) – 477ft.
- Mattew Rossi (GA) – 467ft.
- Zach Fish (MI) – 467ft.
- Gabe Craven (SC) – 465ft.
- Elliot Richoux (TX) tie – 462ft.
- Joey Curletta (AZ) tie – 462ft.
There were several other underclassmen who stood out included Fernelys Sanchez (George Washington H.S. NY), Nelson Rodriguez (George Washington H.S. NY), Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei H.S. CA), Colin Winters (La Costa Canyon H.S. CA), Matt Brown (St. John Vianney H.S. MO) and Charles Guillory (West Brook H.S. TX). There is little doubt that these also will be among the players to watch for next year’s event. In fact, all participants played well and an impressive ninety-six of the ninety-eight hit at least one homerun in the derby. That in itself is impressive. Who among their peers can say they hit a dinger out of Chase Stadium, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks? Not many can! Fernelys Sanchez (George Washington H.S. NY) is likely one of the top five-tool players in the country. He also has size at 6′-4″/205 that makes him a solid draft prospect. He hits with power from both sides of the plate. Keep your eyes on this one he could go early in June 2012. Nelson Rodriguez (George Washington H.S. NY) is another impressive 2012. He flashes impressive power and bat speed. His longest homer was 485 ft. and a no doubter when it left his bat. He also has nice size at 6′-2″/230 which gets your attention quickly. He has solid pop times in the 1.82 range with arm strength and athleticism. Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei H.S. CA) was the only 2013 invited to participate with featured group, but proved his right to be among the rest quickly. He is 5′-11″/195 backstop with athletic, arm strength and a power bat. He is a no-brainer for any school and is a solid MLB prospect. His pop times range in the 1.82 to 1.85 range as a 2013 high school graduate. He hit eight homeruns with his longest at 435ft. Colin Winters (La Costa Canyon CA) was another impressive 2013. He hit three homers with a longest at 461ft. and shows nice bat speed. He also runs well posting a 7.01 sixty, which is likely much better under better running conditions. Matt Brown (MO) is a nice looking 3B out of St. John Vianney High School in St. Louis, Missouri. He is athletic with signs of serious conditioning habits. He hits well and has nice defensive skills. Charles Guillory (West Brook H.S. TX) is another 2013 quality prospect. He shows above average bat speed with a nice power stroke. His pop times were in the 1.95 range with online, accurate throws. Equally impressive as a five tool player is Texan Nick Williams. Finishing second behind Vogelbach was impressive enough with numbers to win the event in most years, but to watch him over three days is to appreciate his athleticism and skills. This kid can play with anyone and has a very projectable body at 6-3/190. Expect big things from him in the future. Kayden Porter (Spanish Fork H.S. UT) is the type player that immediately catches your attention at 6-5/230. After watching him play you recognize he is more than an eye-catcher. His future is yet to be determined as a power hitting first baseman or pitcher. Either position suits him. He has arm strength throwing 87-89 mph across the infield and hit with impressive power. Kyle Smith (Mount Juliet H.S. TN) is another impressive underclassman. He is athletic, smooth and has arm strength defensively. He also hits very well with a stroke more typical of a gapper, than big banger. He will hit his share of diggers, but this one will hit for average too. Arizona‘s Kyle Jorgensen (Corona Del Sol H.S.) also had a solid showing at the event as did Tanner Rahier (Palm Desert H.S. CA).
Among the upperclassmen several stood out. Among them was Nick Delmonico (Farragut H.S. TN). Delmonico is athletic and could make the move to any position on the field. He has played infield and caught most of his life. He showed definite skills at the event behind the dish. He did not hit many home runs in the derby, but his swing is prototypical of a left hander’s stroke and is more of a gap-to-gap style than power hitter. He is the real deal and signed already at the University of Georgia. He likely will have a decision in June after the MLB Draft like his two older brothers did. Oklahoma‘s Cisco Factor (Yukon H.S.) was another solid prospect 6-5/210 that confused me at the event. It is hard to see why some of the Midwest D1 schools have not wrapped this one up. He is the real deal and a five tool player. Florida Gulf Coast University has a solid signee in Granden Goetzman (Palmetto H.S. FL). He displayed athletic actions all three days with a nice smooth stroke. He runs well enough and has the bat to be an early lineup type player for them. At 6-4/195 he has the frame to develop more and likely will fill out to become a middle lineup guy later. Matthew Rossi (Northside H.S. GA) was another solid upperclassman. He showed good hands and quick transfers out of hand. His speed will likely move him to right field, but his arm strength will handle the position well at 86-87 mph. His solid LH bat will get him into someone’s lineup. While Zach Fish (Gull Lake H.S. MI) didn’t have the showing he hoped for with only two home runs, but this one is solid. Oklahoma State has picked up a solid one that will likely get into their lineup early. The same could be said of LSU signee John Eierman (Warsaw H.S. MO). Eierman was smooth, polished and showed a lot of pop in his bat. Maybe the biggest surprise to me at the event was Tennessee signee Jared Allen (Polk H.S. TN). In the workouts he was making solid runs with power shots to left field. He just never seemed to get into a rhythm, but rest assured this young man has a future for the Volunteers. Cole Lankford (Houston Lamar H.S. TX) lit things up with five total home runs with a 460 ft. blast. He is nice looking 6-1/190 catcher/third baseman out of Houston Lamar High School. While Michael Vigliarolo (North Broward Prep FL/NY) only had three total homeruns the ones he hit were IMPRESSIVE. The state of Washington can also be proud in the showing of their two representatives Michael Conforto (Redman H.S. WA) and Clinton Coulter (Union H.S. WA). Both competed and showcased well.
Several of the international players were eye-catchers. It was disappointing that Gabriel Rosa (International Baseball Academy – Puerto Rico) was unable to attend due to a family death. He is a player who would have competed well at the derby. Omar Williams (Lake Worth Christian FL – Caribbean) performed well, hitting seven home runs and a long of 485 ft. He has definite defensive skills and runs well enough for his position at third base. Jovan Robinson (El Bucko H.S. Netherlands) also had a solid outing as did Daniel Devonshire of (ACG Parnell – New Zealand).
As things closed out on the field I listened and watched as players cordially expressed to the staff their appreciation for all who had worked at putting the event together. They also expressed the honor of being invited. One young man said, I didn’t compete very well, but I had a GREAT time. If I never make it to the pros, at least I can say I played on the turf at Chase Stadium.But, the event’s experience could really be summed up in listening to Vogelbach’s interview afterwards. You had to be impressed with his maturity, competitive nature and sense of purpose. Two statements he made still linger with me as I write this article; when asked what was the difference this year as compared to his experience last year, he said. I had something to prove this year. I didn’t do too well last year and was determined to do better this time and when asked what was his best moment he responded, Making friends for a lifetime! The University of Florida’s Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan has signed a jewel, but he has a big problem now – keeping Vogelbach out of the early rounds of next year’s draft. That could be a real problem for the University of Florida baseball program after this past week in Phoenix!
Greg Legg is a National Director for Baseballclearinghouse.net and InsiderBaseball.net.
Full scouting reports on all players can be found at www.baseballclearinghouse.net and top prospect reports at the event at www.insiderbaseball.net.
www.power-showcase.com is the events web site.