WWBA tournament inspires lifelong friends

October 12th, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Chicago natives Cameron Collier and Zion Rose were rivals from the age of 10, with Rose's teams coming out on top in most, if not all games played between the two.

Fast forward a few years and they have developed a friendship and are now the best of teammates. So much so, that the high school freshman are already verbally committed to Louisville. That friendship has only been enhanced as the two have become teammates through the MLB Breakthrough Series.

This weekend, Collier and Rose once again find themselves teammates, this time for the MLB Breakthrough Series 2023 team at the WWBA Freshman Championship (15-and-under) and held at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the Spring Training facility for the Astros and Nationals.

The WWBA World Championship (18-and-under) opened Thursday with a 92-team field and will run through Monday in Jupiter, Fla., at the Spring Training facility of the Marlins and Cardinals.

Collier and Rose were among the nearly 50 elite high school players selected to complete two teams in separate age groups at the WWBA World Championships. Players were selected by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to participate in the tournaments, which are operated by Perfect Game.

Collier, a third baseman/pitcher, is ranked No. 4 overall in the 2023 class by Perfect Game. He began playing baseball at the age of 3 in the backyard with his dad, former Major Leaguer Lou Collier. Although his father wanted him to become a shortstop, Cam Collier has excelled at the hot corner.

As far as pitching goes?

"I just like striking people out," said the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, who added that there specific goals in mind for this particular tournament. "I want to work on being more of a team player, knowing the game is not just about me, it's about my team."

Collier and Rose, a catcher, agree that they hope to gain not only an improvement of their skills on the baseball field this weekend, but also relationships with their teammates, who come from all across the country.

"That's the whole point of this, for us to get together -- some of the best players -- and become friends for life," said Rose, who has been behind the plate for nearly all of his baseball life, and has become a natural leader on the field. "I like blocking balls and making sure my team is in order, being the leader of the whole team."

The MLB Breakthrough Series 2023 team coaching staff is top notch, starting with manager and former Major Leaguer Jerry Royster. Coaches include Anthony Manuel, son of former Major Leaguer Jerry Manuel (who is the manager of the MLB Breakthrough Series 2020 squad) and former big leaguers Sergio Santos and Robert Sasser.

The freshmen duo were supposed to open pool play Friday at the prestigious 76-team tournament, but rain postponed that start.

The MLB Breakthrough Series 2020 (18-under) team, which is among the favorites to win the WWBA World Championship, improved to 2-0 in pool play on Friday with a rain-shortened 9-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Scout Team, and will conclude pool play in Jupiter on Saturday, facing the 2-0 Northeast Pride Scout Team.

John (Tre') Morgan collected three hits, drove in two runs and scored two more to pace the 10-hit attack. He was one of five players on the team to deliver extra-base hits. CJ Johnson also drove in two runs and scored twice. Marquis Jackson went 1-for-3 with a triple and run scored and is now hitting .400 (2-for-5) through two games.

Starting pitcher Tyler Roche went two innings, striking out five, and reliever Gabriel Starks topped out at 94 mph on his fastball. Ty Collins and Armari Paula combined for two innings of one-hit shutout relief.