With the final days of 2019 upon us, it’s not too hard to find year-end lists, reviews and summaries on what happened throughout the year. For BPA, 2019 was another banner year. From players breaking through at the next level, both collegiality and professionally, multiple standout individual and team performances on the field, and the organization’s continued growth off, the prior 52 weeks saw BPA entrench itself as a premier and nationally-recognized baseball development organization.
And if one doesn’t want to take our word on it, Perfect Game, the foremost authority in travel baseball, highlighted multiple BPA players and teams among the best in the country. With a quip of “[s]mall but mighty, So Cal-based BPA continued to send ultra-competitive teams out on the field this past summer and fall,” Perfect Game recognized BPA as one of 29 organizations Perfect Game highlighted in its roundup of top travel team successes.
Here’s what led to PG recognizing BPA with a rundown of team rankings and PG Tournament All-American teams.
Alderman named 17u Player of the Year
No player put as much fear in the heart of opposing 17u pitchers in 2019 as Kemp Alderman. The BPA backstop from Decatur, Miss., hit .440 over 69 plate appearances in Perfect Game competition, racking up four doubles, a triple and five home runs, to produce an .860 slugging percentage. For good measure the Ole Miss-signee added eight stolen bases.
With Alderman holding a second to none title, speaking on the pop in his bat he carries, he said to Perfect Game “A lot of it is pure strength, but a lot of it is mechanics, too,” he said. “I work out a lot and I try to get my mechanics right. I put a lot of emphasis on that…I’ve got a God-given body, but I actually work out a good bit and I got blessed with good genes.”
Alderman’s standout summer included recording an event-high 108 MPH exit velocity at Perfect Game’s National Showcase, as well as pitching 10 innings, allowing one run with 10 strikeouts during BPA’s stay in the World Wood Bat Association National Championship.
“Coach Jared was like, ‘Kemp I think you need to start pitching and playing first base,’” Alderman said. “When I was younger, I kind of hurt my arm so I quit pitching for a while, and then I went out there one day and I was throwing 88-90 [mph], so they thought they could do something with that. Coach Jared kept helping me and we worked on my mechanics. Last summer I threw hard, but I wasn’t a pitcher. This summer, he developed me into more of a pitcher.”
Allen, Pernetti and Santos receive first-team honors
Joining Alderman as a first-team 17u Tournament All-American were two BPA teammates.
Fellow catcher, Josh Pernetti, joined BPA for the World Wood Bat Association World Championship in Jupiter and completed a strong 2019 year to earn a spot on the team. Pernetti batted .458 with six doubles, two triples and four home runs over 61 plate appearances for BPA and Prospects National Team.
A BPA player from the start, Jack Allen went out in style in his last Perfect Game event. Already selected to the WWBA World Championship All-Tournament team, in part due to posting the tournament’s fourth-best batting average, Allen’s .436 batting average earned him a spot on the first team.
The third BPA player named a tournament All-American comes from the 15u ranks.
Left-handed pitcher Oliver Santos was named one of the top players in the country after sporting a spotless record in PG events. Going 3-0, the 2022 graduate from Mater Dei logged 17 innings and did not allow an earned run. Santos surrendered only seven hits as he struck out 17 batters.
BPA fields three national top 45 teams
The individual showings from Alderman, Allen, Pernetti and Santos helped BPA teams rank high. Ranking the best travel teams in the country, Perfect Game placed a BPA team among the top 45 teams in each of the 15, 16, and 17u age divisions. With the best at the youngest age, giving BPA a bright future.
No California team ranked as high as BPA’s No. 18 slotting in the 15u national rankings. In reaching the third round of the WWBA National Championship, BPA’s class of 2022 team went 7-2 in PG competition.
The 16u team held their own, going 12-3 in Perfect Game competition, advancing to the second round of the playoffs in their WWBA National Championship and reaching the semifinals of the West National Championship. BPA’s 16u team finished with a No. 27 national ranking, No. 2 in the West Regional.
Checking in at No. 42 nationally is BPA 17u. The class of 2020 club reached round two of the playoffs at the WWBA National Championship before reaching the playoffs at the PG World Series, losing in the first round in a tiebreaking-setting to eventual champion Canes National. BPA concluded their PG showing with a 1-1-1 pool record at the WWBA World Championship in October.