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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 encore: The Main Event

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The post-Christmas baseball extravaganza now nationally recognized as the Perfect Game National Underclass Showcase-Main Event opens what will be its 16th performance Thursday, Dec. 28, on the beautifully manicured fields at the jetBlue Park Player Development Complex.

The three-day PG National Under-Main Event has long been PG’s largest showcase in terms of participation. This year is certainly no exception, with more than 400 prospects from the high school classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021 – there also nine 2022s signed-up – gathering to compete underneath what is typically the warm, late December, Southwest Florida sunshine.

The Under-Main Event also sets the table for the following weekend (Jan. 6-7, 2018) when PG presents three more showcases at the Terry Park Sports Complex near Fort Myers’ historic Downtown River District: The World Showcase, the World Uncommitted Showcase and the National Underclass East Showcase.

This weekend’s Main Event will showcase 112 prospects from the classes of ’19, ’20 and ’21 that have already entered Perfect Game’s national rankings, while the other 300 or so will be looking to perform at a level that vaults them into the rankings.

The top 2019s include No. 77 third baseman Mykanthony Valdez (Davie, Fla.), No. 206 middle-infielder Spencer Keefe (Canon, Ga.), No. 224 outfielder Tyler “TK” Knierim (Weston, Fla.), No. 283 infielder Vaughn Grissom (Orlando, Fla.), No. 344 infielder Kameron Guidry (Snellville, Ga.) and No. 400 outfielder Austin Bradbury (Camp Hill, Pa.)

No. 5 outfielder Dylan Crews (Longwood, Fla.), No. 164 second baseman John Anderson (Grayson, Ga.), No. 248 shortstop Davis Meche (Lake Charles, La.), No. 273 corner-infielder Corbin Shaw (Conyers, Ga.), No. 292 middle-infielder Steven Ondina (Gurabo, PR) and No. 296 outfielder Andrew Bennett (Kennesaw, Ga.) are among the top 2020s.

The 2021 class is headlined by No. 38 shortstop Kristian Campbell (Marietta, Ga.), No. 50 third baseman Juhlien Gonzalez (Southwest Ranches, Fla.) and No. 63 infielder Brock Daniels (Chesterfield, Mo.).

The event traces its origins to the inaugural PG Underclassmen Showcase, held Jan. 4-6, 2002, at Terry Park. It was staged under a variety of names for the next five years before taking on the Main Event moniker in 2008. The showcase called Terry Park and the Lee County Player Development Complex home until moving to the newly opened jetBlue complex in 2012.

Nearly 730 alumni of the National Under-Main Event have been selected in the MLB June Amateur Draft since the event’s inception, and 102 have gone to make their big-league debuts.

Fifty-three of those prospects were first-round or first-round compensation picks, a number that includes notables such as Andrew McCutchen, Jason Heyward, Josh Donaldson, Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer and Kyle Schwarber. Anthony Rizzo and Scott Schebler are among other Main Event alumni who enjoyed fine big-league seasons in 2017.

Other first-round Under-Main Event alumni who look poised to make their major league debuts in the not too distance future include Michael Chavis, Nick Gordon and Brendan Rodgers.

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