SAN DIEGO – There is no guarantee that Cash Case will ever play so much as one inning of professional baseball. The day may never come when he performs one of his own piano concertos on the hallowed stage at Carnegie Hall. And finally, Case may never broker a ground-breaking deal with an equally shrewd Chinese businessman that helps establish strong relationships and economic ties between the leading movers and shakers in Washington D.C. and Beijing.
It’s far too early to predict what lies ahead for Cash Case, but the 2016 Perfect Game All-American has done about everything a 17-year-old from Mount Dora, Fla., can do to make sure he has as many bases covered as possible at such a young age. In the present, Case is living life large this weekend about 2,400 miles west of his Florida home in his role as a ballplayer, or more specifically, one of the top 50-plus ballplayers from the national high school graduating class of 2017.
A 6-foot-1, 195-pound, switch-hitting middle-infielder/utility prospect who is about to begin his senior year at The First Academy, a private Christian School in Orlando, is a member of the East Team at the 14th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic, to be played Sunday at 5 p.m. (PDT) at Petco Park.
“It’s really an honor to be here; it’s a blessing. Perfect Game really puts on a great event here,” Case said Friday during a short break in a practice session at Fowler Park on the University of San Diego campus. “I’ve known some other people who have been here like Josh Lowe (in 2015), and he told me it was one of the greatest experiences of his life. I feel real fortunate to be here and, so far, I’m just having a blast.”
The All-Americans kicked off their weekend’s activities on Friday morning with a visit to Rady Children’s Hospital, the beneficiary of all proceeds the Classic raises – PG’s primary philanthropic efforts are directed toward pediatric cancer research and treatment. Case found the visit to the hospital to be simultaneously humbling and eye-opening.
“I was able to see that whenever in my life I think I’m having a rough time, I just have to put it in perspective that I’m really fortunate compared to most kids,” he said. “To be able to go there and help out and put a smile on the kids’ faces, it was really inspiring to me.”
On the flipside, Case has a unique talent for proving to be inspirational to others, as well. His performances on the baseball field – he has risen to No. 53 in the national prospect rankings – can at times be inspiring, especially the way he has developed as a power-hitter.
But Case inspires in other ways, as well. He is a respected musician, accomplished in the guitar, piano and saxophone, having played all three since he was 6 years old. His parents, Garrick and Debbie Case, raised him in a music-loving home and he’s advanced his talents to the point that he writes his own music, including a piano concerto. Garrick Case is a retired public relations firm owner and executive and Debbie Case is an emergency room nurse.
“Having the music element in (my life) is just something different that a lot of athletes don’t have,” Cash Case said. “Being able to differentiate in that area and have a love for music and be able to play different instruments, you can have that your whole life. You can only play baseball for so long, but with music you can play that until you die.”
And there’s more. Case has spent four years learning to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently, and plans on using the online language site Rosetta Stone to further enhance his skills during his senior year. He explained that he started taking Chinese language courses because of his interest in international business. A University of Notre Dame commit, Case carries a 4.8 grade-point average at The First Academy.
“Having that background in a foreign language, especially with Chinese in today’s business market, is just something that gives you an edge,” he said. “Having that background is just something different—like my music – just something that I really want to stand out in as an individual and not just (be looked upon) as an athlete.”
It’s difficult to overlook his athletic skills, however, especially the ones he exhibits on the baseball field. He got his start at an early age by joining the Lakeland, Fla.-based Tiger Town-K2Pro developmental program, which at the time was under the direction of Kevin Bradshaw, now a coach in the Baltimore Orioles farm system; Garrick Case served as one of his son’s coaches during those early years.
Cash Case played in two PG events – one tournament, one showcase – in 2012 and then really ratcheted up his participation efforts in 2013 with six events, including three all-tournament and two Top Prospect List efforts at tourneys and showcases. He continued the onslaught and the PG All-American Classic is his 23rd PG event since that introduction in 2012.
Case came into this year’s PG National Showcase at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla., after having gained valuable showcase experience at the PG Junior National in both 2014 and 2015. Because he had performed so well at both Jr. National appearances, he was super excited in the weeks leading up to the National. He responded with a Top Prospect List performance – he hit the event’s only game-action home run – that in turn earned him his invitation to the Classic.
“Being at (the PG National) was one of the best moments in my baseball career,” he said. “Just being able to go out there with a bunch of good players and have a lot fun, it was just a great way to really start my summer in the right direction. … I really felt in my element and I was able to go out there and have fun; it was a great time.”
Following his PG National performance, Case exchanged emails with PG National Spokesman and PG national radio show host Daron Sutton, and Case expressed to Sutton just how much he has benefitted from the entire the PG experience. He wrote:
“I enjoyed doing the PG tournaments, because I got to compete against the best players in North America. … I enjoyed challenging myself against the best players, which is why I've played up 2-4 years since I started playing baseball. This is the first year that I've played against guys who are near my age and because I'm born in May, I'm still one of the youngest guys.”
The Florida kid also attended the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers, Fla., and the blockbuster PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., in both 2014 and 2015. He, like every other young prospect that attends the PG WWBA World, was completely blown away by what is recognized near and far as the “Jupiter experience.”
“Going out there with all those golf carts and all of those scouts, I was like, ‘Wow, this is really big-time,” Case said. “I knew this one of the biggest MLB amateur events, so the first year I went out there I just loved it, I just lived it up; I just had a great time. … It’s a great event – top-notch – just another great Perfect Game event. It really lets people like me just go out there and showoff their skills.”
Case was born a natural right-hander, both throwing and batting, and while he continues to throw from the right side he is listed as a switch-hitter. He started hitting from the left side when he was 9 years old, and then two years ago – despite his opposition – his dad turned him around and put him on the right side again. He injured a thumb in 2015 that has limited his repetitions from the right side for the last year, but he continues to work on his switch-hitting.
When Cash Case was a few years younger, he said he used to spend 2 hours each day working on baseball, and one hour each practicing the guitar, piano and saxophone. He doesn’t spend nearly that much time with his musical instruments these days, but his ability to play them with flair and fluency is a talent no one can take away.
“It’s something that’s great to have – I’d like me kids to play (musical) instruments someday – because it’s just something that you really should know and it’s something in your life that is something good to know,” he said. “I’m really proud to have that background.”
In his e-mail to PG’s Sutton in late July, Cash Case wrote that he was “honored” and “tremendously appreciative” to be given the opportunity to play in the All-American Classic. The day might arrive when he tops the experience with an at-bat in the big leagues, a performance at Carnegie Hall or the announcement of a mega-business deal on Wall Street, but right now the Classic is as good as it gets.
“I want to take away everything I’ve learned here, everything from the children’s hospital visit and knowing that I’m really fortunate, to also just knowing that you’ve played with the best,” Case said. “I want to keep everything in perspective and not get too overwhelmed by the big stage, and stay positive and be thankful while I’m meeting a lot of new friends.
“I have a lot of friends on the West team, believe it or not, because you play all over the country at these events,” he concluded. “Being able have friends from all over the country is neat because before (in years past) kids weren’t really able to have that. That’s really the neat thing with travel ball and showcases is being able to meet kids from all over the country; just having great relationships with a lot of kids.”