JUPITER, Fla. -- The start of the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championship on Thursday set in motion a five-day stretch that will see 88 teams composed of 2018 graduates or younger battle across 22 pools of four teams, with each squad guaranteed to play four games.
Held annually in Jupiter, Fla. at Roger Dean Stadium, the Spring Training home to both the Cardinals and Marlins, the prestigious event is the culmination of a long high school summer showcase circuit and is scouted heavily by every Major League organization as well as countless college programs.
The 19 previous editions of the tournament have featured 4,472 players who have gone on to be selected in the Draft, with 636 of those players ultimately reaching the Major Leagues.
Many former participants are currently on the display in the 2017 postseason, including Greg Bird, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Todd Frazier, Clayton Kershaw, Lance McCullers and Chris Taylor. Other alumni include Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado, Buster Posey and Mike Trout.
Here's a look at some of the top prospects and other notable standouts from Thursday's opening day of action, with all data courtesy of TrackMan Connect.
Aidan Maldonado, RHP (Rosemount, Minn.)
The 6-foot right-hander showed promising stuff in his start for the Reds Midwest Scout Team against a deeply talent Team Elite Prime lineup as he attacked hitters with a 90-93 mph fastball that topped out at 94, the day's third-best velocity. The ball jumps out of his hand thanks to an athletic and well-paced delivery that culminates with lightning-quick arm action. He's committed to Illinois.
Will Banfield, C (Lawrenceville, Ga.)
The Vanderbilt commit showed exactly why he's regarded as one of the premier 2018 prep prospects with a strong performance on both sides of the ball for Team Elite Prime. His feel to hit was evident in a 2-for-3 effort at the plate that saw him turn on a single to left field before staying back on a full-count curveball and driving it to the opposite field in his second at-bat. Behind the plate, the defensive standout threw out a pair of attempted basestealers to end the top of the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. Banfield was No. 6 on Jonathan Mayo's Top 10 list of 2018 high school Draft prospects in August.
Lane Flamm, RHP (New Richmond, Ohio)
Though undersized at 5-foot-10, 168 pounds, the right-handed Flamm showcased mature stuff as he piled up 10 strikeouts while throwing 77 percent strikes in his start for the Midland Redskins. The Xavier commit mostly sat in the low 90s and bumped 93.4 mph in the outing while also showing advanced feel for a sharp curveball as well as a slider, both registering in the upper 70s.
Christian Franklin, OF (Overland Park, Kan.)
The Arkansas-bound outfielder went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs out of the leadoff spot to lead St. Louis Pirates/Elite Baseball Training to a win. His hits produced two of the day's top exit velocities, too, as his 104.3-mph contact on a fastball and 97 mph on a breaking ball both ranked third among hitters for those specific pitch types.
Parker Meadows, OF (Grayson, Ga.)
Teammates with Banfield on Team Prime Elite, and the younger brother of Pirates top prospect Austin Meadows, the Clemson commit is mighty impressive in his own right. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Meadows stands out for his combination of physical strength, athleticism and tools, all of which he displayed Thursday. His quick, explosive stroke from the left side of the plate produced a 93-mph single to his pull side, and he also showed good wheels on the basepaths and in center field. Video: PDP: Parker Meadows from Grayson, GA
Seth Halvorsen, SS/RHP (Plymouth, Minn.)
Halvorsen, a 6-foot-1, 198-pound right-hander, recorded the day's top fastball velocity at 95 mph and sat 91-93 over four innings in his start for MN Blizzard Elite. The Missouri commit also showed the makings of a good curveball and slider in the outing, throwing all three pitches for strikes.
Blaze Jordan, 1B (Southaven, Miss.)
One of the top prospects in the Class of 2021, Jordan showcased his right-handed power in a night game for the Dulin Dodgers when he turned on a 77 mph curveball for a solo home run to left field that had an exit velocity of 97 mph. Already committed to Mississippi State, Jordan undoubtedly will be a name to follow closely in the coming years.
Nate Lamb, LHP (Chesnee, S.C.)
Starting opposite of Flamm for the Upstate Mavericks, Lamb worked 4 2/3 scoreless frames, allowing three hits and two walks while fanning seven. The Clemson commit has plenty of projection remaining in his athletic 6-foot-5, 196-pound frame, and it's easy to envision him tacking on more velocity to his present 89-91 mph running fastball as he becomes stronger and learns to better repeat his delivery.
Robby Martin, OF (Tampa, Fla.)
A very projectable 6-foot-3, 185-pound outfielder who is committed to Florida State, Martin showcased an explosive left-handed swing when he ripped a 99.6-mph RBI single back up the middle in the Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team's first game.
Mitchell Parker, LHP (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Starting under the lights on the Marlins backfields, Parker turned in the day's top performance as he recorded each of his 15 outs via the strikeout over five innings for Canes National. The Tennessee commit allowed one unearned run on two hits and two walks. A 6-foot-4, 200-pound left-hander, Parker operated at 90-92 mph with his fastball in the outing and showed that he knows how to keep hitters off balance with his mid-70s breaking ball.
Owen White, RHP (Mt. Ulla, N.C.)
White's power arm was on display in a dominant start for the South Carolina Panthers 2018 squad in which he fired seven scoreless frames of one-hit ball with 13 strikeouts. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander, a South Carolina commit, operated at 91-92 mph with his heater while bumping 92.8, the ninth-best recorded velocity of the day. His breaking ball was equally impressive, thrown at 76-77 mph with late, sharp action thanks to one of the Thursday's top spin rates (2729 rpms).
Cole Winn, RHP (Orange, Calif.)
Winn, a Mississippi State commit, took the loss is his start for the Houston Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad despite giving up only one run on two hits with five strikeouts in three innings. His top fastball velocity of 93.9 mph was the fourth-best on the day, while his 92.1 mph average velocity paced all hurlers. A veteran of the event, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder pitched at 89-92 mph for the Astros Scout Team in 2016.
Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP (Houston, Texas)
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Woods-Richardson knows how to use his size to create downhill plane towards the plate. He showed that much in his outing for the Texas Scout Team Yankees, as the Texas-bound right-hander hit 93 mph with his heavy fastball and complemented it with a promising mid-70s curveball. Working four innings, he allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out four. Video: PDP: Simeon Woods-Richardson from Houston, TX
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero