Showcase : : Story
Friday, February 02, 2007

THE PERFECT GAME PITCHER/CATCHER INDOOR SHOWCASE Top Draft Pick and Future Major League Stars - Ever

David Rawnsley        
I’ve been to the past five PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcases, even before I went to work with Perfect Game, and have always been impressed with the quality of talent that the relatively small, and obviously off season, event draws.

Plus, it’s a fun event. All the players, scouts, coaches and PG staff are milling around the indoor cages at the PG facility, eating off the hot dog/chips spread Betty Ford puts out, and generally getting a little baseball fix in the middle of the upper Midwest winter.

The PG cages aren’t that big and the acoustics aren’t muted at all. When a pitcher is popping in a low 90’s fastball, it’s easy to hear but very difficult for the poor hitters to make contact with. That “POP” gets everyone’s attention quickly.

This year's event will be in Cedar Rapids the weekend of February 17-18.

Concentrating on the top pitchers each year, I decided to take a look back at those five years and highlight some of the top prospects.

C/RHP Jeff Clement: The power hitting catcher came to the event and threw 89 with a good breaking ball, but honestly it didn't matter. Clement showed that he was one of the top hitters in all of the country. He went on to be the 3rd overall pick in the 2005 draft, and is now a top prospect of the Seattle Mariners.

RHP Zach Hammes: The big right hander was steadily 91-93 mph with ++ life on his fastball. He eventually ended up as the Dodgers 2nd round pick (the Dodgers scout, Mitch Webster, was at the Indoor Showcase) and is now on the Dodgers 40-man roster.

RHP Jason Berken: Berken is one of the great PG success stories. He came to the Indoor in February without a DI scholarship offer and threw 88-89 mph with a killer CB. The PG staff got him hooked up at Clemson, where he went 18-6 over 3 years, served as co-captain and was a 6th round pick by the Orioles in the 2006 draft. All that from a small high school near Green Bay, Wisconsin and the decision to go to the Indoor Showcase.

The White Sox Ryan Sweeney was neither a primary pitcher, although he did throw 90 off the mound, nor obviously a catcher, but he always hit at the showcase because he would have been at the facility hitting anyway.

RHP Dan Kapala: The 6-5 Kapala didn’t develop at Notre Dame but got everyone’s attention when he threw 95 mph, the hardest velo ever recorded at the Indoor.

RHP Connor Graham: Graham was an unknown 2004 right hander but really stood out. He could be a top 2 round pick out of Miami (OH) this year.

RHP Will Jostock: The 6-7 Michigan RHP is now with the Mets organization. He threw 89-91 and moved quickly up the prospect charts after the Indoor.

The 2004 Indoor was easily the most talented in terms of depth. Four pitchers threw at least 92 and about a dozen threw at least 88-89 mph. Among the top 2004 arms were:

RHP Eric Cordier: The Royals 2nd round pick in 2004 topped out at 92 and did it with ease. RHP
Lucas Harrell: Now one of the White Sox top pitching prospects, Harrell threw 90-92 at the Indoor.
RHP Gary Perinar: A potential top round pick this year as Minnesota’s closer, Perinar threw lots of 92 and 93’s.
RHP Travis Sweet: Topped at 92 while striking out 8 of 9 hitters.
RHP Shaun Seibert: Now a top pitcher at Arkansas, Seibert was 89-91.

All eyes at the Indoor were on Jeremy Hellickson and he didn’t disappoint, showing his regular 90 mph fastball and nasty curveball despite coming straight from a basketball game. Hellickson is now a top prospect with the Devil Rays.

The top 2006 prospect came all the way from New York, LHP Glen Gibson, a 4th round pick in the 2006 draft by the Nationals. Gibson was outstanding and showed he was ready to take a big step forward.

Also impressive were RHP’s Nick Kurash and Craig Herrforth, who both threw 91 mph.

As with Hellickson, you often get basketball players in the middle of their seasons coming to throw. Such was the case with 6-7 LHP Anthony Butler last year. Butler was the top prospect at the Indoor and later became a third round pick of the Devil Rays and one of the sensations of 2006 minor league summer season.

Illinois RHP Seth Blair stood out from the 2007 class, throwing 92-94 mph with excellent life. He remains a top round possibility for the 2007 draft.
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