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Perfect Game National Showcase the Starting Line for Prospect Coverage
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Millions of dollars and countless man hours are spent by top college programs and professional teams identifying the top prospects in each year’s high school class well before it comes time to make decisions on these standouts, whether that decision involves the offer of a lucrative scholarship or an even more lucrative signing bonus.
But when it comes right down to it, the vast majority of the nation’s top prospects can be found at one single event, the annual Perfect Game National Showcase. Sure, there are other great events that have a large showing of top national prospects: Area Code Games, East Coast Pro, USA Baseball, the WWBA and BCS tournaments, etc. However, they are all held after the Perfect Game National Showcase.
Almost everywhere baseball fans look for coverage of the 2010 Draft, it is dominated by discussion of high school players who attended last June’s Perfect Game National Showcase held in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. In the case of top college draft prospects, a significant percentage attended previous PG National Showcases.
For Perfect Game, the most interesting and significant part of this distinction is that all these top prospects were invited to the PG National Showcase before they had even completed their junior year in high school! While these talented players are certainly known in their area of the country, it’s the PG National where they became well-known prospects nationally.
The Perfect Game National Showcase always has been the first national scouting event of the summer, held annually during mid-June (this year’s event is at Tropicana Field June 17-20). This puts tremendous pressure on the Perfect Game staff to get the right players to the event without the benefit of seeing some of them play beforehand, although many of these players have participated in previous Perfect Game or WWBA underclass events.
Most of the “major” showcase events held the rest of the summer occur in August, when there has been a chance to run tryouts and, more importantly, have the luxury to review the results of the PG National Showcase.
ESPN.com ran a draft blog piece at the beginning of the week of April 12 mentioning high school players 3B Kris Bryant, SS Manny Machado, OF Josh Sale and 1B Christian Yelich. Each one of those four standouts was at the 2009 PG National at the Metrodome.
That piece also mentioned a number of college players, including Arkansas 3B Zach Cox, Georgia Tech SS Derek Dietrich and LSU C Micah Gibbs. All three played at the 2006 Perfect Game National, along with current big leaguers such as OF Jason Heyward and RHP Rick Porcello. The importance of Gibbs, a potential first-round draft choice this June, participating in the 2006 National (after getting a last-second invitation based on his performance at the Sunshine South Showcase) was magnified by the fact that he didn’t play high school baseball as a senior.
Another national source recently came out with a list of top draft-eligible players at each position as part of their draft coverage. The three catchers were Gibbs, Yasmani Grandal and Bryce Harper. Grandal was also at the 2006 PG National with Gibbs, while Harper went to his first PG showcase at the age of 12 (!) and has been at numerous events since then. The two corner infielders mentioned were Cox and 3B Nick Castellanos, a 2009 PG National participant.
All three of the high school middle infielders cited on the list as top draft prospects, Machado, Yordy Cabrera and Garin Cecchini, were in Minneapolis last June. Two of the college infielders, Dietrich and Fullerton State SS Christian Colon, were at the 2006 PG National.
There were five high-school prospects listed among the 14 outfielders, and all five were at the PG National last June: Chevez Clarke, Michael Lorenzen, Josh Sale, Drew Vettleson and Austin Wilson.
The largest group of prospects listed was, not surprisingly, the right-handed pitchers. There were 11 high school right-handed pitchers listed and nine of them (Stetson Allie, Drew Cisco, A.J. Cole, Dylan Covey, Kaleb Cowart, Kevin Gausman, DeAndre Smelter, Jameson Taillon and Karsten Whitson) were at the Metrodome. The other two, Robbie Aviles and Cam Bedrosian, were actually on PG National rosters, but couldn’t attend the event. Both were later selected by Perfect Game as Aflac All-Americans.
Not surprisingly, at least to the PG staff, there were no high school left-handed pitchers highlighted for this article, as none were selected to the Aflac team last June by the PG staff. Of those worthy of being mentioned, nearly all of them were at the Metrodome last June.
There are an increasing number of top-prospect lists circulating on the web, and it should not surprise anyone in baseball to know that all of them are comprised of players who were on the invite list to the Perfect Game National Showcase, a list compiled 12-16 months prior to the draft. The other names on those lists are all players ranked by Perfect Game after seeing them play at PG events or other high- profile events.
In fact, anyone can go to the pgcrosschecker.com site and do a player finder search for a player’s history at Perfect Game and WWBA events. If you’ve seen the high school prospect’s name near the top of any list that has been released, the chances are overwhelming that he played at the Perfect Game National Showcase or at least some other PG event. You’ll also find that the player has been ranked by PG for a long time.
Nearly every list that has been produced will include nearly all of the following high school players near the top:
Jameson Taillon (TX), A.J. Cole (FL), Dylan Covey (CA), Karsten Whitson (FL), Kaleb Cowart (GA), Yordy Cabrera (FL), Josh Sale (WA), Justin O’Conner (IN), Manny Machado (FL), Nick Castellanos (FL), DeAndre Smelter (GA), Kevin Gausman (CO), Chevez Clarke (GA), Tony Wolters (CA), Kellen Sweeney (IA), Stefan Sabol (CA), Stetson Allie (OH), Aaron Sanchez (CA), Peter Tago (CA), A.J. Vanegas (CA), Griffin Murphy (CA), Mike Foltynewicz (IL), Kris Bryant (NV), Brian Ragira (TX), Drew Cisco (SC), Cam Bedriosian (GA), Robert Aviles (NY), Christian Yelich (CA), Andrew Smith (GA), Garin Cecchini (LA), Matt Lipka (TX), Marcus Littlewood (UT), Scott Frazier (CA), Kevin Ziomek (MA), Jesse Biddle (PA), John Barbato (FL), Bobby Wahl (VA), Jimmy Hodgskin (FL) … the list goes on and on.
Check out the reports from last year’s National on all the players above, most of whose names you’ll see drafted high on June 7: All but two of the above players were at the Metrodome last June at the PG National Showcase. The other two (Bedrosian and Aviles) were on PG National rosters but could not attend.
Imagine seeing all this talent in one place a full year before they become draft eligible. There’s a reason why most scouts and recruiters from the top college programs call the PG National Showcase the very best showcase event in amateur baseball. Those that would disagree just haven’t been to one yet. There is more talent assembled every year at the Perfect Game National than any other showcase event for individual players.
Check out these links for rosters from past PG National Showcases. It just keeps getting better.
2001 (Tropicana Field, St Pete) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=566
2003 draft – 16 first-round picks, 37 drafted in the first 5 rounds. Some of the top players from the 2001 National included Big League players… Jeff Clement, Prince Fielder, Alex Gordon, Scott Kazmir, Jensen Lewis, John Mayberry Jr., Lastings Milledge, Scott Moore, Cliff Pennington, Shane Robinson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Gabby Sanchez, Sergio Santos, Denard Span, BJ Upton, Joe Votto. Out of the 124 players attending in 2001, scouts had the opportunity to see around 25 future Big League players. 87 players from the 2001 Showcase ended up playing professional baseball. Nearly all 124 players were highly recruited by top DI colleges.
2002 (Tropicana Field, St Pete) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=407
2003 draft – 11 first-round picks, 36 drafted in the first 5 rounds. Some of the top players from the 2002 National included future Big Leaguers… Chad Billingsley, Eric Hurley, Matt Laporta, Wade LeBlanc, Mark Melancon, Lastings Milledge, Andrew Miller, Xavier Paul, Chris Perez, Sean Rodriguez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Sweeney, Chris Johnson, Wesley Wright and others. Nearly 70% of all those who attended that year went on to play professional baseball, some after a college career. Nearly every player was recruited by the top DI programs.
2003 (U of Nebraska) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=80
2004 draft – The 2003 National in Lincoln, Neb., will always be remembered as the least productive PG National by a large number. Only 3 first-round picks, 19 drafted in the first 5 rounds. Some 70 of the 120 players were drafted, though. Some of the top players from the 2003 National included future Big Leaguers… Tommy Hanson, Brad Bergesen, Chris Davis, Luke French, Jeremy Hellickson, Jacob McGee, James Parr, Esmil Rogers, Justin Upton. There are currently several in the highest levels of the Minor Leagues. Nearly every player was recruited by the top DI programs.
2004 (Tropicana Field, St Pete) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=202
2005 draft – The 2004 National in St Pete will always be remembered as one of the most productive showcases ever. 17 players became first-round picks, 37 were drafted in the first 5 rounds. 109 of the players were drafted. Some of the top players from the 2004 National included future Big Leaguers… Cameron Maybin, Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Jonathan Niese, Gerardo Parra, Buster Posey, Colby Rasmus, Chris Volstad, Tyson Ross, Austin Jackson, Brett Wallace, and others. There are currently several in the highest levels of the Minor Leagues. Nearly every player was recruited by the top DI programs.
2005 (Turner Field, Atlanta) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=44
2006 draft – The 2005 National was held in Turner Field and also will be remembered as one of the most productive showcases ever. 14 players became first-round picks, 42 were drafted in the first 5 rounds including the Oakland A’s lefty Brett Anderson, who went in the 2nd round. Phillies #1 prospect Dominic Brown lasted until the 20th round. 153 of the players were drafted. Some of the top players from the 2005 National included many of the top current prospects in professional baseball, all destined to be future Big Leaguers… Nearly every player was recruited by the top DI programs. The event at Turner Field was the year for football stars as well… Riley Cooper (U of Florida), D’Vontrey Richardson (Florida State), Jared Mitchell (LSU), Dominic Brown and Derrick Robinson were also football stars but signed with pro baseball clubs. Then there was an outstanding outfielder who went to Stanford and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, Toby Gerhart! Lots of great athletes played at that event and there have been many others at PG National Showcases.
2006 (U of Arkansas) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=252
2007 draft – The 2006 National was held at the U of Arkansas and many high level scouts have called it the greatest showcase in history. 17 players became first-round picks and several others went to college and are first-round projections for this year’s draft. 36 were drafted in the first 5 rounds. Some of the top players from the 2006 National included many of the top prospects in professional baseball, all destined to be future Big Leaguers… Rick Porcello, Jason Heyward and Madison Bumgarner have already appeared in Big League games. Nearly every player was recruited by the top DI programs. When it is all said and done, this single showcase event in 2006 could end up having as many as 50 or more Major League players
2007 (U of Cincinnati) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=416
2008 draft – The 2007 National was held at the U of Cincinnati and it was another huge success. 9 players became first-round picks in a bad year for HS draft picks and several others went to college and are first-round projections for this and next year’s draft. 33 were drafted in the first 5 rounds. A total of 114 players from that event were drafted the following June. Some of the top players from the 2007 National included many of the top prospects in professional baseball, all destined to be future Big Leaguers… Nearly every player was recruited by the top DI programs.
2008 (Metrodome, Minneapolis) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=542
2009 draft – The 2008 National was held at the the Metrodome in Minneapolis. 12 players became first- round picks the following June and several others went to college and are first-round projections for upcoming drafts. 35 were drafted in the first 5 rounds. A total of 117 players from that event were drafted the following June. Some of the top players from the 2007 National include many of the top prospects in professional baseball, destined to be future Big Leaguers… Nearly every player was recruited by the top DI programs.
2009 (Metrodome, Minneapolis) - http://www.perfectgame.org/players/?tn=691
We think it was one of the best. Check the list of players against any draft or prospect list you come across. Nearly all the top guys were in attendance! Better yet, check it after this year’s draft.
2010 (Tropicana Field, St Pete) – Coming Soon! Another DOOZY! Will this one be the best ever?
In just the past 8 MLB drafts, Perfect Game National players accounted for 99 first-round draft picks…. That is an average of 12.4 first-round picks a year. In those 8 years there have been 105 High School players drafted in the first round. 99 of them attended the same event (PG National Showcase in various years) a full year before they were drafted. Some were supplemental first rounders, but it’s easy to figure out where to go if you’re interested in seeing the following year’s top draft picks and future Major League stars. It’s one-stop shopping for the MLB Clubs and top college programs. Of course, those people already know that.
This June will mark the sixth year that the Perfect Game National Showcase will be held in a domed Major League ballpark (i.e. no threat of rain delays!) and the seventh time that it’s been held in a Major League ballpark.
There are two guarantees that you can count on from the 2010 Perfect Game National Showcase. One is that the very best high school talent in the country will be there, showing their skills and athletic ability and competing against one another.
The other is that many writers about top high school prospects over the next year, whether they’re writing for a national audience or for their own small blog universe, will not acknowledge that the majority of the players listed were all seen first on, June 17-20 at Tropicana Field and the first list mentioning those prospects was the Perfect Game player rankings.