Last weekend’s trip to West Palm Beach, Fla., wasn’t a vacation for Austin Philips and Colin Moore.
The Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, participants competed on the MLB Breakthrough Series 2023 team in the 2019 World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) Freshman Championships at the Ballpark of Palm Beaches, the Spring Training home of the Astros and Nationals.
For Philips, the competition didn’t last as long as he had hoped.
In his first at-bat of the tournament, the switch hitter took a pitch in his left arm that kept him out of games for the rest of the weekend.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Philips said. “It was in the second game, on a 3-1 count, and he hit me in the wrist.”
It was still a learning experience.
“I know I should have hit lefty because it was a righty pitcher and I usually hit lefty on righties. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten hit if I would have hit lefty,” Philips explained.
As an eighth grader, Philips was on the younger side of the competitors in the elite tournament. He took the opportunity to size up the competition and think about what it means for his own baseball future.
“It shows me I need to start working harder and I need to be prepared for what’s to come in the future, because there are going to be a lot of good players,” Philips said. “The pitchers, I know they’re throwing harder now. There’s a kid that hit 90 out there.”
Video of Philips discussing his time at the tournament is available here: https://www.mlb.com/rangers/video/austin-philips-on-wwba
The level of pitching wasn’t lost on Moore, either.
“The last game we played Canes National 15U, which is No. 2 in the nation for 15U. I was just a little worried because the kid was throwing 91. That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen. Competition was high. And I just feel like being an all around being a good player is what I have to work on,” Moore said.
Philips and Moore impressed at the Hank Aaron Invitational this summer, earning spots among nearly 50 elite high school players selected from MLB Breakthrough Series programming to complete on two teams in separate age groups at the WWBA World Championships.
Their MLB Breakthrough Series squad was managed by former Major Leaguer Jerry Royster. And coaches included Anthony Manuel, son of former Major Leaguer Jerry Manuel, and former big leaguers Sergio Santos and Robert Sasser.
Moore, a Prospect High School freshman, admitted to struggling with the wood bat aspect at the Hank Aaron Invitational, but he spent extra time with the wood bat before the WWBA.
“At the Hank Aaron I was a little new to it, but coming back to the Breakthrough Series team I worked on using wood bat for like two months, so I felt real comfortable with it,” Moore said.
And the results proved it. Especially a particular at-bat during the scrimmage.
“I roped one over the wall, which was nice,” Moore said.
Moore is taking his baseball goals one step at a time – making his high school baseball team, playing at a good college, and getting drafted. He recognizes the importance of the opportunities afforded at the Academy along the way.
“It helps me a lot. It just shows me that this program is a lot bigger than I really thought it was when I first came. I thought it was just Rangers facility,” Moore said. “But they send you to big tournaments and showcases like this, and it opens your eyes to see there are a lot of kids just like me and even better than me.”
Video of Moore discussing his time at the tournament is available here: https://www.mlb.com/rangers/video/colin-moore-on-wwba
The WWBA Freshman World Championship Tournament is a Perfect Game event featuring over 70 teams. This marked the seventh year of the tournament, which has seen more than 62 former participants drafted to MLB teams and 1,238 former participants ink college commitments.
The fall RBI season is underway, with the Academy’s fall RBI league hosting eight softball teams.
City of Dallas Parks and Recreation will run and host the fall RBI baseball league, with support from the Academy in providing uniforms for the athletes.
Fall Programming Underway
Fall programming is underway at the Academy and runs through November 21.
Mondays and Wednesdays feature activities for 18U athletes from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays are designed for 12U athletes and also run from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
There will be no programming October 31. Registration is available at https://texasrangersya.leagueapps.com/camps.
The Rougned Odor Weight Room is available for 18U athletes to work out after school from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays by registering in advance at rangers.com/academy.