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Caribbean showcases take stage

Showcase : : Story
Jeff Dahn        
Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013

Elite Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa never had the opportunity to attend the Perfect Game Caribbean Showcase – it didn’t make its debut on the PG showcase calendar until after he had moved on to the coveted “next level.”

Correa instead had to rely on his appearances at the 2011 and 2012 Perfect Game World Showcase, the 2011 PG National Showcase and the 2011 PG All-American Classic to become the first Puerto Rico native to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, a distinction he earned when the Houston Astros took him first overall in 2012.

Today’s young Puerto Rican prospects now have an additional stepping stone at their disposal that wasn’t available to Correa two years ago, and as many as 150 of them are expected to take advantage of that opportunity this weekend.

The 2nd annual Perfect Game Caribbean Top Prospect Showcase and the inaugural PG Caribbean Underclass Showcase will run consecutively at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, P.R., over four days beginning Friday. The Caribbean Top Prospect is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16, with the PG Caribbean Underclass slated to run Saturday through Monday, Nov. 16-18.

The two San Juan events provide an ideal launching pad for the 2013-2014 Perfect Game showcase winter season. The Caribbean showcases take the calendar into a Thanksgiving break, after which the Camelback Ranch spring training complex in Glendale, Ariz., will host the 2013 PG National Underclass Showcase-Session 1 and the 2013 PG West Uncommitted Showcase Dec. 7-8.

There is another break just short of three weeks while everyone gets through the Christmas holiday before four premier showcase events take place from Dec. 28, 2013, through Jan. 5, 2014. All four of those showcases will be staged at current or former MLB spring training facilities in Fort Myers, Fla.

The first is the blockbuster PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event, annually the most heavily attended showcase on Perfect Game’s schedule with more than 500 participants. The Main Event begins its three-day run on Dec. 28 and concludes on Dec. 30, just before the New Year is rang in.

The 2014 PG World Showcase, PG World Uncommitted Showcase and PG National Underclass Showcase-Session 3 run concurrently on Jan. 4-5 in Fort Myers.

The PG World Showcase was the first national-level showcase run by Perfect Game back in 1997 and provides upper class prospects an excellent opportunity to perform in front of the MLB scouting community while also enjoying a little January sunshine courtesy of Southwest Florida.

Ninety-nine PG World Showcase alumni have made their big league debuts, including the likes of Justin Upton, Ian Desmond, Pedro Alvarez and Zack Greinke.

It was at the 2011 PG World Showcase that Correa first burst upon the scene and it was at the 2012 World that he further established himself as a credible No. 1 overall pick. Class of 2013 Puerto Rican shortstop and 2012 PG All-American Jan Alexis Hernandez was at both the 2012 and 2013 PG World Showcase and parlayed those appearances into a third round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2013 MLB amateur draft.

Hernandez was also the star of the inaugural PG Caribbean Showcase, held a year ago at Roberto Clemente Stadium in Carolina, P.R. Ten prospects that attended the event were drafted in 2013 and 31 committed to colleges.

Eight of the top 12-ranked Puerto Rican prospects from the class of 2014 had committed to the PG Caribbean Top Prospect Showcase by mid-week and it is anticipated that the other four will be in attendance before registration is cut off.

Puerto Rico’s No. 1-ranked 2014 prospect, outfielder Marco A. Rivera Rios, is ranked 163rd nationally (U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico) and has committed to the event. So has shortstop Alexis Pantojas (No. 2 P.R./No. 182 nationally); shortstop Jose Antonio Rodriguez (4/193); catcher Michael Arroyo (5/335); shortstop Yamil Pagan (6/top-500); outfielder Felix Javier Hernandez Mercado (7/t-500); outfielder Francisco Sanchez (10/t-500) and shortstop Kevin Rivera (12/t-500).

2015 middle-infielder Luis Diaz-Santa, ranked No. 2 in Puerto Rico and No. 315 nationally, was the top prospect registered for the PG Caribbean Underclass at mid-week.

Many of those players will follow in the footsteps of Correa and Hernandez and be at the 2014 PG World Showcase in January.

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