BC 18U Selects Battle Million $ Arm
They were called Los Bachateros and their roster included at least seven ex-pros. One of their pitchers, Carlos Martinez, fired bullets from a classic See How Easily you Can Throw Hard delivery. And he definitely threw hard, spitting out fastballs bordering on 90 mph like a machine gun. He had the rhythm of Gene Kelly dancing and the power of Marshawn Lynch slashing through a hole off tackle.
And this was the opening game for the B.C. 18U Elites in Tucson.
Martinez, who began as a shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization, played six years as a pro, converting into a pitcher late in his career. Los Bachateros GM Nicholas Saint-Hilarie says Carlos signed for almost a million dollars. And he was only one of the potent weapons in the Los Bachateros arsenal.
Still, the 18U’s held their own, putting some good swings on the ball against great pitching even though this was spring training and their first trip to the plate in game conditions.
Los Bachateros are not only outstanding athletes but very gracious, honouring the dignity of the Latino familia culture. When the doubleheader was in the books they insisted on a group picture and kept wishing our young men good luck, a great way to kick off the week in Arizona.
This B.C. team was so young it often seemed more like 16U against the world, competing with Junior College players three, four and even five years older, definitely a monumental challenge.
After a rocky start against a couple of JC’s, things did a 180 on Tuesday when Brendan Fee took to the hill. The right hander tossed four brilliant innings against Marian University of Wisconsin, showing good command of his fastball and a tight curveball. Brendan was in charge throughout and only left because of pitch count. His solid performance set the tone for the whole day.
Jayden Marsh finished the doubleheader by dominating Concordia, another Wisconsin JC, for three plus innings in a game we eventually lost 5-2. Think about that. Jayden is 15 and he handcuffed 18 and 19-year-old college hitters with an explosive delivery, a blue chip fastball, and a nasty breaking ball. Overall Jayden threw eight exceptional and professional innings in Arizona in three appearances.
A JC coach went out of his way to watch both ends of that DH and came away impressed. “Your pitchers were outstanding,” he said the next day during a half hour we spent talking baseball. “You guys are doing it right.”
He also took special note of lead-off hitter Gus Wilson, who was hampered by a leg injury but didn’t miss a beat. Gus has a fluid swing with classic rotation and extension, a competitive spirit, and he’s unstoppable. He made consistent contact in virtually every at bat and crushed one fastball over the left fielder’s head for a double.
Jayden and Gus are two of five players from Jordan Blundell’s Nanaimo team who were in Tucson. All five are still only 15 years old. That includes versatile Dylan Kirby, who caught, played short and even pitched two frames, and Nicholas Yu and Bryce Casorzo, who both showed emerging power at the plate and seemed to improve by leaps and bounds.
It went like that.
Ryan West, one of the best prospects in B.C. Minor, was an ironman, catching five games and playing solid third base. Ryan showcased his picture swing and, to top it off, he took to the mound twice with fastball command, a sharp curveball and a snakey change-up.
Zach Bessler and Jeevan Hayre both got off to slow starts on the hill, which was expected for all our pitchers considering their first appearance of the spring was against JC hitters swinging metal. But Zach and Jeevan, who developed a biting cutter, both bounced back with a vengeance, posting exceptionally strong performances in our last game in Tucson. They also showed promise of being outstanding hitters.
Will Beh battled on the hill and swung the bat well and Connor Stockli overcame a sore hip to get some good AB’s and throw well. Matt Greer, Liam Andrews and Owen Barry all had promising at bats against strong pitching, which will help them in the future. And Joseph Okrafta arrived late but was on base a lot and had one exceptionally good AB where he hung in with two strikes.
Overall the Midgets had some defensive road bumps, mostly due to the inexperience of a very young team. But the pitchers never let that stop them. And the hitters took some great cuts, which was surprising for their first time out of the gate with a limited amount of BP compared to JC teams who have been hitting steadily for three months.
Consider this. The 18U’s were essentially puppies tackling Big Dogs as much as five years older. And the Big Dogs were wielding metal sticks while B.C. hit with wood. Metal is a huge advantage, like brass knuckles against bare hands.
But over and over coaches and spectators said how much they respected our guys for battling and showing class against JC athletes. “It was really fun watching your boys compete against some of the older teams,” said Randy Jacob, one of the tournament organizers, “especially when they played Los Bachateros.”
In fact, the kids grew faster than a colt in Kentucky. And they came home knowing they had some very good swings against a million dollar Dominican pitcher with a remarkably smooth and dynamic delivery who cut it loose like he was still firing in pro baseball.
That kind of experience is invaluable and can’t be bought. It has to be earned. And our young men earned it.
—Dave Empey, head coach, 18U Development