Prodigious Power and Pitching Prowess on Display by Titans in Panama City, FLA

by Jim Stewart

The Titans’ First Annual Excursion to Florida for Spring Training was a smashing success, based on great results both in the batter’s box and on the mound. 

Titans Coaches Lawrence Vera, Denis Bailey, and Jeremy Uylenbroek were particularly pleased with the individual hitting performances of their three teams in Panama City. They highlighted the prodigious production of Johnny Mantia who had 7 RBI and batted .538; Tarek Emara's 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 RBI complemented by a sizzling .545 BA; Mitchell Crowley's .429 BA with 4 RBI and 2 doubles; Alex Strapko who hit .462, scored 4 runs, and drove in 4; and brothers Jake and Tyson Rozario who averaged. 400 and .455, respectively.  Noteworthy numbers were also earned by Isaac Duva and Austin Maxwell who lead all Titans with a .500 BA during Spring Training games.

The veteran skippers also singled out these Top 5 Titans pitchers for their masterful March Break mound work:

  • Marquez Allard--10 strikeouts and 6 hits over 6 IP;

  • Sam Puttock--8 strikeouts and 2 hits over 5 IP;

  • Cameron Byers--7 strikeouts and 2 hits over 5 IP;

  • Eric Lanoue--6 strikeouts and 3 hits over 5 IP; 

  • Kairon Hernandez--6 strikeouts and 2 hits over 3 IP.

Titans Director of Player Development and Baseball Operations Lawrence Vera noted the cross-organizational satisfaction with all three teams during the eight days in Panama City:  "Over my 15+ years of coaching, I can honestly say this was the best trip.  From the players to the coaches and even the parents that made their way down, it was a pleasure working with them. The boys definitely made memories that will last a lifetime." In addition to their fine work on the field, the Titans comported themselves equally well. "Our boys received many compliments throughout the trip-- at the airport, hotel, and diamond-- about being respectful to everyone around them. Our charter plane crew gave us rave reviews regarding the boys’ behavior and cleanliness," added Coach Vera.

Equally effusive in his praise of the Titans’ on-field results in Florida was 18U Head Coach and College Placement Officer Denis Bailey. He elaborated on five performances that caught his eye in Panama City last week. Coach Bailey started with CPBL All-Star Tarek Emara: "Tarek flat out hit everything he saw. He was the catalyst for us offensively and showed extremely well all week. Ran a sub-7 60 as well. Hitting .545 was impressive for his first week out, but the gap-to-gap power is what stood out the most." The pitching of Eric Lanoue also impressed the 18U Titans bench boss:  "His first outing wasn't his best, but Eric rebounded and showed he doesn't get phased. Outing #2 was a CG shutout on 74 pitches. Eric mixed his off-speed and fastball extremely well. He was in command." Coach Bailey was also complimentary about Lanoue's battery-mate Giancarlo Bernardo who is committed to the D1 Rend Lake College Warriors: "G controlled the pitching staff tremendously all week. He showed maturity behind the dish and showed off his arm by throwing out almost everyone he saw. Offensively, he continued to clutch up and give us big hits when it counted."  Another big bat that caught Coach Bailey's eye belonged to Jake Rozario: "Jake came in and showed heart and grit. He flashed raw tools and truly was a great team guy. Jake hit .400 on the week and was a guy who also clutched up when needed." Finally, Coach Bailey praised the prodigious production of Johnny Mantia: "Johnny was another guy who was a hitting machine, finishing the week batting .538. Playing multiple spots on the field defensively, he also didn't miss a step out there. 7 RBI's as well led the team and the organization."

Similarly, 16U Coach Jeremy Uylenbroek offered detailed analyses of five Titans that impressed him in Florida. He opened his formative assessments with the pitching of Sam Puttock: "In 5 IP, Sam held his opponents' average to .111, averaged 3.4 pitches per batter over20 batters faced, and yielded only 2 hits and 2 BB while whiffing 8, thus accruing a 0.8 WHIP and a 0.00 ERA. Pottock led our pitching performances over the week with his dazzling start for Team White.  He faced Canes Canada and Sammy piled up an amazing 8 strikeouts.  Many of those K’s came on his devastating hook.  Three things that I particularly liked were Sam’s tempo, attitude, and composure."

Coach Uylenbroek was also happy with the hitting performances he saw, especially the impressive numbers piled up by Alex Strapko:  "What an impressive line:  .462 AVG,  .533 OBP, 1.149 OPS, 615 SLG,  6 hits including 1 triple, 4 RBI, 4 RS, 2 walks, and 2 stolen bases, Strapko lead off the week on absolute blanca fuego! He also played solid defense all week and never committed an error. His numbers speak for themselves. In addition to crushing a triple, Strapko also walked twice and only struck out once all week.  What can't Strapko do?" 

Also meriting praise from the veteran Titans Coach was the hitting of Tyson Rozario: "He averaged .455  with a .526 OBP,  1.084 OPS,  .545 SLG and has 5 hits including 1 double as well as 2 walks. Tyson did it all for Team White during our trip. He knew when to say something and also when not to which is difficult for people of any age, let alone his. I can see Tyson becoming a good team player and leader among his teammates, if he isn’t already. Tyson showed great versatility as well playing 3B extremely well and making diving plays, adapting to the outfield when we had injuries and he even played the hardest position in the game and caught very well for us.” Coach Uylenbroek lauded Tyson’s “Great athleticism--all that and he didn’t even make an error in playing so many different positions. Tyson was the total package and a pleasure to coach all week.”

Coach Uylenbroek also lavished words and statistics of praise on Austin Maxwell who earned eye-popping numbers such as a .500 average, 1.100 OPS, .600 OBP, and four hits, three runs, 1 RBI, and 2 walks: “Maxwell was a Ninja in Florida. He took a few shots early on, but didn’t show defeat and finished the week hitting a team-leading .500 from the box. Wow!!!  Way to go, Maxwell!”

Michael Alexiou’s work in Florida drew plaudits from Coach Uylenbroek:  “Alexiou had an obstacle set in front of him during our trip and was asked to play 2B, SS, and OF. This is no easy task, but not only did he succeed, he was outstanding with some fancy glove flips and solid defense. He also brought his bat with him, hitting a solid .429. He drove in 2 while working 3 walks and only struck out once all week. His speed also had him on base 60% of the time. His batting line of.429 AVE, .600 OBP, and 1.029 OPS showed his levels of productivity.”

All in all, the First Annual Titans Excursion to Florida was a triumphant week for the dozens of players and coaches who participated in Spring Training 2022 in Panama City.