FORT MYERS, Fla – Miguel Frias is a junior outfielder at Lake Mary High School in Longwood, Fla., who plays for travel team powerhouse FTB Mizuno during the summer. Perfect Game has Frias ranked No. 418 in the national class of 2012 (No. 83 in Florida) so he has already caught the eye of people in the know.
Frias was at the Boston Red Sox 5-Plex Player Development Complex Wednesday (Dec. 29) to participate in the Perfect Game National Underclass Showcase-Main Event along with six of his Mizuno teammates.
This is a dead period for NCAA Division I recruiting, so there are no college coaches at the event. That didn’t seem to matter to Frias. He knew the value of being at the National Underclass-Main Event.
“It shows your skills and how you’re doing overall,” he said. “You get to show your speed and stuff and in games you (sometimes) don’t. “
FTB Mizuno coach Jered Goodwin understands the National Underclass-Main Event offers a player more than that, even during a recruiting dead period. In fact, Goodwin uses the Perfect Game event and skills videos produced by Skillshow for BaseballWebTV.com to assist his players and the absent college coaches.
“We have a lot of young kids here – freshmen and sophomores – and we tell them the biggest thing from a (college) recruiting standpoint is it’s very easy for me to go online and be able to send out the video,” Goodwin said.
“But even more important than that, hopefully we’re going to get some guys into the (2011) Junior National or National (showcases) and the big recruiting events, and the more practice you have at these different showcases the better you’re going to be in the long run.”
Again, the fact that college coaches can’t attend the National Underclass-Main Event is not a detriment to Goodwin, nor, apparently, to the more than 400 young players who turned out. As he stated, Goodwin uses the event to help his younger players get acclimated to a showcase enviroment before they step out on the big stage in front of coaches from the country’s top collegiate programs.
“This being a showcase where colleges can’t come, it still gives (the young players) the feel of seeing other players from all over the country,” Goodwin said. “You’ve got your eight swings, you’ve got your 60 (yard dash), you’ve got five ground balls and you’ve got to do it. You don’t have another one. You don’t have another try.
“We try to get them in as young as possible to get them into the (Perfect Game) database,” he contined. “And the big thing is to get them practice for when they’re in front of the people – colleges or pro scouts or whatever it may be. Getting them into a well-run event like this, hopefully it gives them that confidence down the road.”
The National Underclass-Main Event offers more than just skills sessions. Games are also played – the ones here were 10 innings apiece – and Goodwin thinks everyone like to see how players react in game-time situations.
“I think it’s important,” he said. “There could be a lot of 5 o’clock all-stars when it comes to baseball but you have to see them play. You have to see game speed, you have to see all those little things to be successful. You can’t just tell what type of kid or what type of player they are unless you see them when it matters against competition.
“I think you have to (have games) to run a good showcase, and that’s what Perfect Game always does. They run it so you get to see the tools and you get to see how they react in game situations.”
That’s not to understate the value of the skills sessions, which include batting practice, and running and defensive drills. The games just aren’t enough on their own in a showcase setting (as opposed to a large tournament) when each team gets only two games over the three-day showcase.
“Unfortunately, at an event like this when you may only get four or five at-bats you may never get a pitch to really hammer,” Goodwin said. “But you’re going to go to the BP session and get to see swing mechanics and things like that, so it’s going to be a little easier to evaluate those types of skills.”
And the fact that the more than 400 players who turned out for this year’s National Underclass-Main Event are still playing baseball in late December (and January and February) is something else Goodwin loves to see.
“A lot of the kids, if they weren’t here they would be sitting at home playing with their Christmas gifts or playing with their girlfriends or whatever it may be,” he said. “To me, it takes a lot for a kid to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to go down to an event and spend three or four days there and showcase, hopefully, what I have to offer.’
“This is the first time I’ve actually been to this showcase and it’s been a pretty neat event since I’ve been here.”