2017 Saladino Tournament Preview

All of the best baseball talent around Hillsborough County will all be in action over the next week for the 2017 Saladino Tournament. 

Let's take a look at each pool and see how teams have fared through the first part of the season, what players have stood out and what their prospects are to win this whole thing. 


Steinbrenner - The Warriors started out the season with five straight wins, but now sit at 5-2 coming off of losses to Plant and Hillsborough, two of the better teams in the county. Despite the recent setbacks, the defending Saladino champs are a mentally tough group who are easily one of the favorites in the tournament. TC transfer Jordan Lala has been on a hitting tear to start the season, batting .500, and Patrick Morris has as many wins on the mound as he does home runs at the plate (2). 

East Bay - The Indians have wins sandwiched around four losses and look to keep the momentum rolling after a 3-0 win over Plant City on Thursday night. Sophomore Bryce Visscher has been a real bright spot for the team with his 1-0 record and 0.60 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. 

Jefferson - The Dragons averaged just under 12 runs a game in their first five contests before falling to Durant on Thursday night. Robby Martin has been just as good as advertised batting .435 and leading the team in hits (10) and tied for the lead with RBI (7). Jack Rodriguez has been masterful going 3-0 and not giving up a run in his 13 innings on the hill. 

Chamberlain - The Chiefs have yet to pick up a victory on the 2017 season but there have been a couple of bright spots at the plate with Greg Santana (.352) and Mo Hanley (.312) supplying some pop. 


Alonso - A team who started the season with two extra-inning losses, Coach Faedo's Ravens have now won four in a row and are determined to get back to the championship game, where they fell to Steinbrenner in one of the best games of the 2016 season.  This a senior-laden squad who has been led by Jared DeSantolo (.350), Jose Ciccarello (.312 and 7 steals) and one of the best players in the state, Jordan Butler, who is hitting .316 with one home run at the plate, and has a 2-0 record with a 0.50 ERA on the mound. 

Brooks-DeBartolo - It's been a rough go of it for the Phoenix as of late, but they are playing a lot of close games against some pretty tough teams. Johnny Diaz has been a force at the plate hitting .333, while Xavier Rodriguez has been a horse on the mound throwing 15 1/3 innings and sporting a nifty 1.83 ERA. 

Durant - With four of their first five games decided by only one run, the Cougars were in a ton of nail-biters before their 8-0 victory over Jefferson on Thursday night. The story of the season so far has been do-it-all senior Jonah Scolaro who has a miniscule 0.68 ERA over 10 1/3 innings on the hill and a monstrous .444 average at the plate.  

Middleton - The Tigers have had a tough start to the season but they did score a season high in runs against Blake on Tuesday night and will look to build on that momentum heading into the tournament. 


Riverview - Coach Bill Leiby's club has lost only two of their first six games this season and are a perfect 4-0 in district play so far. Garrett Thompson (.533) and Josh Rulli (.500) have absolutely mashed at the plate and Freddy Tarnok has yet to give up a run in two starts, both wins. 

King - A lot of people have asked me about the Lions this season. Are they the team that has scored 46 runs in the first six games in the season? (All wins) Or are they more like the team that's scored only one run in the last three games? (All losses) I tend to think they are more like the former and I'm eager to see what the next few days hold for the club. Greg Barone has been a huge part of the team's success, batting .562 and Brian Lee has been solid on the mound, going 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 innings. 

Wharton - The Wildcats defeated Freedom on Thursday night in the first leg of the Battle of Bruce B. Downs (The Patriots host the return match on April 4th), and will look to use that energy to win arguably one of the toughest pools in the entire tournament. Drew Ehrhard hit some of the hardest balls I saw last year and is doing his thing again this season, batting .429 with 2 homers and 13 RBI. Austin Appel switched from behind the plate to on the mound and Coach Hoffman is certainly pleased with his 3-0 record and .088 ERA. 

Wesley Chapel - The only Pasco county team in the tournament picked up a big win over rival Land O' Lakes on Thursday night and look to make a big impact in Tampa the next few days. Malik Melvin has been the hot bat hitting .444 and the Wildcats boast a dynamic duo on the mound with Jovani Diaz and Colton Bierly. 


Plant - Coach Braun and the Panthers come into Saladino on a four-game winning streak and seem to always be one of the final teams standing as the week progresses. This is a deep that can beat you in a number of ways. The offense is led by AJ Hubbard (team-leading .458 average), Connor Scott (batting .440 with three dingers) and Chase Sanguinetti (.391 with one homer) and the pitching staff is anchored by two guys who haven't given up an earned run yet this season, Ethan Richards (4-0) and Brock Fagler (1-0). Keep an eye out for the Panthers. 

Plant City - The Raiders will look for revenge in their first tournament game as they face the team (Plant) they lost to in the season opener. Austin Eldridge is one of the catalysts of the offense with a batting average of .455 and an OBP of .538. Senior Jake Koisa leads the pitching staff in innings pitched and picked up the victory in the team's big victory over Bloomingdale on Tuesday night. 

Hillsborough - This team never seems to play a boring game and they already boast three wins over some of the better teams in the county (Alonso, Gaither, Steinbrenner). Terence Doston has been a welcome addition to the club, leading the team with a .471 average and swiping three bags. Patrick Puentes has been his usual solid self on the mound going 2-0 so far. Jarrod Cande and Nick Romano are big factors in more than one area with each player hitting a long home run and picking up a win on the hill this season. 

Blake - After scoring only six runs in their first four games, the Yellow Jackets have scored a total of 24 in the last two, including a win over Middleton on Tuesday. Elijah West is the player to keep an eye on for Blake. He's got a .545 avg. and a 2.80 ERA. 


Brandon - Another solid start to the season for Coach Stallbaumer and the Eagles. Their only loss was an extra-innings game against Tampa Bay Tech, but they've been on a roll as of late giving up only one run in their last three games. The offense is led by sophomore Nico Saladino (.500) and senior Teddy Flynn (.381). As far as the pitching staff goes, if you don't know BJ Carter, after this week you will. The senior righthander has yet to give up a run in 17 innings and he consistently goes right after hitters with his big-time fastball.  

Carrollwood Day - Coach Rodriguez and the Patriots have been some road warriors so far this season winning all three games away from home. Keep an eye out for sophomore Blake Hooker who is a factor not only on the mound, but at the plate as well. 

Tampa Prep - The Terrapins have six losses in their first seven games but half of those losses were by one run, so this team is a LOT more competitive than what their record shows. Aaron Muench is leading the team in hitting with a .292 average and London Schabes is hitting .273 with a 1.66 ERA on the mound. 

Spoto - The Spartans have given up double-digits in each one of their losses and will look to put a collar on that as the tournament approaches. Juan Lopez (.636) and Nicolas Ariezaga (.455) have been two of the bright spots at the dish early on this season. 


Strawberry Crest - the last remaining undefeated team in Hillsborough County has opened a lot of eyes the last couple of weeks. Sophomore Jacob Heath not only leads the team in batting average (.471), but also hits (8) and RBI (7). Damien Torres has been lights out on the mound with a 3-0 record and a 0.38 ERA. 

Leto - Keep an eye out for the Falcons over the next week. They are 3-1 in arguably one of the best districts in the county with huge wins over King and Hillsborough. Jacob Ryley has been a force on the mound and Andres Morales is the guy leading the charge at the plate. 

Bloomingdale - It's been a little bit of an up-and-down season so far for Coach Wilken and the Bulls, but they are one of the teams that is always one to keep tabs on at this time of year. Freshman Brock Wilken has been a pleasant surprise, leading the team in hitting with a .333 average. Vladimir Zavala (1.17 ERA) and Andrew Tubb (1.66 ERA) are two seniors who are hoping their hot starts carry over to their final Saladino experience. 

Tampa Bay Tech - The Titans have only one win on the season, but ironically enough, it was the only defeat that Brandon has suffered all year so Tech certainly has the talent to be more successful as the season progresses. Nine different players have toed the rubber for the club, including junior Malcolm Boyd, who sports a nifty 1.97 ERA. 


Freedom - The winless Patriots will look to the tournament to try and notch their first win of the season starting on Saturday. Regardless of the team's record, senior Zack Booth is doing all he can to lead the team with a .385 batting average. 

Robinson - After a big win over King the Knights have suffered back-to-back losses to Jesuit and Plant heading into the tournament, but will look to turn things around on Saturday against Freedom. Senior Mathew Chowning leads the club with a .353 average and Pete Feinman sports a miniscule 0.40 ERA despite having a 1-2 record.  

Newsome - The Wolves have started the season strong with a 5-2 record and is one of the four clubs who have the pleasure of hosting pool play at their field. Trey Cruz and Zach Sharper are two of the main cogs on offense and Will Ohme is doing his thing, once again, on the mound. 

Armwood - The Hawks have won two of their last three games and hope their improved play of late will help them advanced to the next round of the tournament. Not only is sophomore Chris Tavarez batting .389, but he's also swiped six bags as well. Gareth Johnson has given up seven runs on the season, but only one of them is earned, so hopefully he will have better luck the second half of the season. 


Jesuit - The Tigers have only given up TWO runs over their first six games and both of those scores happened in a tight 2-1 loss to Venice in late February. Second baseman Alex Mocny and shortstop McGuire Weaver have identical .429 batting averages and provide what could be the best middle infield in Tampa. Joel Brewer is a speedster who leads the team with seven steals and plays an outstanding center field. Jack Anderson, Drew Martin, Jeff Hakanson. Pick your poison. They all throw well and make Jesuit one of the favorites. 

Sickles - The Gryphons broke their five-game losing streak to start the season with a big 11-0 win over Spoto on Thursday night. Freshman Trey Bacon has been a stud, hitting .368 and following in the footsteps of his brother Troy who is making a huge impact up at Santa Fe College. 

Lennard - The Longhorns are 4-1 and are one of the surprises of the season so far this year to everyone outside of Ruskin. Eli Wilborn is batting .538, Yazael Nunez is hitting .400 and Bubba Herrick is sporting a 0.84 ERA. 

Gaither - The Cowboys didn't have the greatest performance in last year's tournament, but they used that experience to vault them towards a State Championship. Chipper Holland has been an absolute monster at the plate, hitting .524 and leading the team in doubles, triples and RBI. Tyler Tipton and Julian Lopez both have two wins each and the Cowboys are certainly one of the clubs to watch starting on Saturday. 

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