The Perfect Game League Story

High School : : General
Perfect Game Staff        
Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How the times have changed

It was only 15 years ago that it was rare to see an Iowa High School player drafted or even leave the state to play college baseball. The few Iowa high school players who did leave the state most always attended colleges in neighboring states. Very rarely did a player from Iowa ever get the opportunity to play for baseball powers in the South or the Southwest. Even more rarer were the Iowa high school players that were selected in the MLB draft.

This all started to change dramatically in the mid 90s when Perfect Game started it’s Spring and Fall leagues for the state’s top players. Then the PG Predraft Camp followed, and has grown into the #1 predraft event in the nation.

Iowa players were at a distinct disadvantage because Iowa is one of the few states that play their High School season in the summer rather than the traditional spring season. In nearly every case, the senior season played no part in recruiting and it was especially worthless for the draft which is held in early June each year. This all meant, that players from Iowa had to be identified during their sophomore year in most cases. Since the beginning of the PG Leagues, all but one of the Iowa High School players that were drafted played in the PG Spring and Fall leagues. That makes it something like 60 PG League players drafted… 1 non PG League player drafted in that period of time. Hard to argue against results like that!

The big disadvantage turned into a very big advantage over other parts of the country. Scouts were able to go to weekend games and see all the top players from the state of Iowa. The league turned Iowa into one of the most heavily scouted states in the north. Scouts no longer had to go to 20 games to see the top 20 players in the state. They could attend one weekend of the PG Spring or Fall Leagues and see all 20 of the top players. Then they could see them all the next week and the next. They would get a very good read on Iowa players without traveling all over the place. Another big advantage was they got to see these players compete with and against the top talent in the state, rather than whoever the high school team was scheduled to play. The top players and the best competition became a natural draw for scouts.

Probably the most telling thing about the PG Spring and Fall leagues is the number of players getting an opportunity to play college baseball. The in-state colleges got a better read on the top players in the state, but these days those opportunities for the players are no longer limited to in-state colleges. In fact, just over the last few years, Iowa players have signed with many of the nations top college baseball programs.

Players from The Perfect Game Spring and Fall Leagues have signed with the following DI programs in the past 6 years. This shows no signs of letting up as the 2008 class has a player signed to attend TCU and two time defending national champion Oregon State inked two Iowa high school players, both recognized as High School All Americans.

Here is a list of a few of the out of state DI programs that Iowa players have signed with out of the PG Leagues. Many others have signed with Iowa and UNI as well.

Oregon State
Southern Cal
Arizona State
Georgia Tech
Louisiana State
Wichita State
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M
San Diego State
Notre Dame
Kansas State
College of Charleston

The top Iowa players are now being heavily recruited by the top DI colleges and top Juco programs from coast to coast. The doors of opportunity have opened wide. All because the biggest disadvantage turned into a great big advantage for talented baseball players in the state of Iowa. One of the hardest states to scout and evaluate talent became the easiest, and perhaps most accurate, state to cover. Iowa players were receiving more recognition than ever before. You don’t have to travel far and wide to see the best prospects in Iowa, all of them are at one or two locations every weekend. There are no more big surprises in the state of Iowa, it’s nearly impossible that some unknown player might be a possible draft pick or highest level college prospect.

The facts can be very revealing.

The list of players who played in the Perfect Game Iowa Leagues is pretty impressive. Here’s just a few of the best….

Jeff Clement – C - Marshalltown HS – Went to Southern Cal and became a consensus All American – Became the third pick, first round of the Seattle Mariners, signed for around $3.5 million and has already made his MLB debut.

Ryan Sweeney – OF – Xavier HS – Signed with Tony Gwynn (San Diego State) but was drafted and signed by the White Sox in the 2nd round, has already spent parts of two seasons in the Major Leagues and was traded to the A’s during the off season.

Joel Hanrahan – RHP – Norwalk HS – Signed with Nebraska, but was drafted and signed by the Dodgers in the 2nd round, made his MLB debut with the Washington Nationals last year.

Jon Gilmore – 3B – Iowa City HS – Signed with Wichita State, but was drafted and signed with the Atlanta Braves in the 1st round last year. He is one of the Braves top prospects.

Matt Macri – SS – Dowling HS – Turned down a big offer out of high school to attend Notre Dame. He then was drafted out of Notre Dame and he is now in Triple A with the Twins.

Zach Hammes – RHP – Iowa City HS – Signed with Iowa, but was drafted and signed by the Dodgers in the 2nd Round, he is knocking on the door in Triple A.

Brad Nelson – 3B/OF – Bishop Garrigan HS – Signed with Nebraska, but was drafted and signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 4th round. He has spent the last couple years in Triple A.

Zach Schreiber – RHP – Xavier HS – Signed with Duke and was then drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of Duke. He is also knocking at the door in Triple A.

Nic Ungs – RHP – Dyersville Beckman HS – Signed with UNI and was drafted by the Marlins out of UNI. He has spent the past couple years doing well in Triple A.

Jeremy Hellickson – RHP – Hoover HS - Signed with LSU, but was drafted and signed by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 4th round. He is already one of the Rays top pitching prospects.

Zack Daeges – OF – Harlan HS – Signed with Creighton where he became an All American. Then was drafted and signed with the Red Sox in the 6th round. He had one of the best years of anyone in the minor leagues last season hitting .330 with 21 HRs and 113 RBI in High A.

Tony Watson – LHP – Grimes HS – Signed with Nebraska and became an All American there. Then was drafted and signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates where he is an outstanding prospect.

Darin Naatjes – OF/RHP - West Lyons HS – One of the nation’s most highly recruited athletes, he passed up the MLB draft and went to Stanford where he was a two sport athlete (Football and Baseball). He then was drafted out of Stanford and played minor league baseball.

Zach VonTersch – Cedar Falls HS – Still in college… Signed with Georgia Tech and is now one of the top pitchers in college baseball.

BJ Hermsen – RHP - West Delaware HS – Still in high school… Aflac and Rawlings All American signed with two time defending champion Oregon State. Also a potential early pick in the 2008 draft.

Brent Warren – OF – Xavier HS – Still in high school… Aflac All American who has also signed with Oregon State.

Brance Rivera – SS - Muscatine HS – Still in high school… Very talented player signed with TCU.

There are many other former Iowa PG players scattered all over the country in college and professional baseball and there are many more to come.

The PG Leagues have proven to be very important over the years and this year should be no exception. Now if it would just warm up so we could get started.
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