FORT MYERS, Fla. – Participation numbers at the Perfect Game Jr. National Showcase have grown steadily since its inception in 2006, and next week’s 2014 edition will be the most highly attended in the event’s nine-year history.
More than 170 promising prospects from the high school graduating classes of 2016 and 2017 will be at JetBlue Park over the PG Jr. National Showcase’s expanded three-day run Monday through Wednesday when the prestigious underclass event returns to an outdoor venue for the first time since 2011 when it was held here at City of Palms Park. The number of participants is up from 151 in 2013.
The prospects – most from the class of 2016 with six from the class of 2017 – are divided into eight showcase teams and will take part in workout and batting practice sessions, and play in two six inning games and one eight inning game during the two days each is at the event.
Thirteen of the top 27 nationally-ranked 2016 prospects will be in attendance, including nine of the top-16 and six of the top-seven. Seven of the top 16-ranked 2016s are primary right-handed pitchers: No. 1 Anthony Molina (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), No. 3 Austin Bergner (Windermere, Fla.), No. 5 Gregory Veliz (Key West, Fla.), No. 6 Dakota Donovan (Washington, Utah), No. 7 Anthony Holubecki (Elburn, Ill.), No. 14 Bobby Nicholson (Charlottesville, Va.) and No. 16 Reid Schaller (Lebanon, Ind.).
No. 4-ranked Seth Beer (Suwanee, Ga.) is a primary outfielder but also pitches from the right side. Beer, Donovan and Schaller are making their second straight appearances at the PG Jr. National after attending last year’s event at the now demolished Metrodome in Minneapolis.
A lot of scouts’ eyes will be trained on Molina, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound sophomore at Somerset Academy Charter School who plays summer ball for Elite Squad Baseball and has verbally committed to the University of Miami – as has Veliz.
“Fifteen-year-olds aren’t supposed to be this polished,” Perfect Game national crosschecker-scouting coordinator Frankie Piliere said after watching Molina pitch at last month’s 18u PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classic. “Molina already has a feel for three big-league average or better pitches, and the velocity improves every time we see him. The polish he’s going to have by the time he’s a senior is a scary thought for hitters.”
Other highly ranked and regarded 2016 prospects joining the pool of talented right-handers include shortstop Nicholas Quintana (Las Vegas, Nev.), a Southern Cal commit ranked No. 12; third baseman/shortstop Joe Skinner (Heathrow, Fla.), Central Florida, No. 19; shortstop/right-hander Drew Mendoza (Minneola, Fla.), Florida State, No. 24; third baseman/right-hander Joey Polak (Quincy, Ill.), uncommitted, No. 26 and outfielder Josh Stephen (Chino Hills, Calif.), Southern Cal, No. 27.
Molina and Beer will stick around Fort Myers for a few days after the conclusion of the PG Jr. National as the only two 2016s to take part in the this year’s Perfect Game National Showcase, which will run Thursday, June 12 through Monday, June 16, also at JetBlue Park.
Five alumni of the PG Jr. National Showcase – including first-round draft picks Matt Davidson (2007), Christian Yelich (2008), Bryce Harper (2008) and Dylan Bundy (2009) – have made their Major League Baseball debuts and 179 have been drafted. Thirteen alumni of the 2010 Jr. National were either first-round or first-round compensation picks in the 2012 MLB June amateur draft, and 26 2010 alumni were selected in the first 10 rounds of the 2012 draft.
Here is the list of players taken on the first day (rounds 1-2) of the 2014 MLB June amateur draft -- which includes the No. 1 overall selection, Brady Aiken -- that have previously attended a PG Jr. National Showcase event: