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Friday, January 5, 2018

PG World tops busy weekend

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Carl Crawford made his way to the Terry Park Sports Complex in the winter of 1998. Zack Greinke was there in both 2000 and 2001, and Adam Jones and Andrew Miller were both present and accounted for in January 2003.

Justin Upton showed up with bat and glove in hand a year later in 2004, and Carlos Correa made his smashing Perfect Game showcase debut in January 2011; Correa returned for an encore performance in 2012.

Those six players were all budding, top-tier prep prospects when they arrived in Southwest Florida in their respective years, as were 119 other alumni of the Perfect Game World Showcase that went on to make their debuts in Major League Baseball.

The World Showcase, which itself debuted at Terry Park in late December 1997, is Perfect Game’s longest running national showcase event; the 21st annual PG World Showcase will run Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 6-7 at the TPSC.

It is not a stand-alone event, with the PG World Uncommitted Showcase and the PG National Under Class East Showcase running simultaneously at Terry Park. And there’s more: the PG National Underclass West Showcase and PG West Uncommitted Showcase will be held Saturday and Sunday at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.

More than 400 prospects from the high school classes of 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 will put their talents on display in front of Perfect Game’s expansive scouting department personnel at the five showcases combined.

The PG World Showcase has grown to be a truly international event over the last two decades, and this year is no exception. While 20 U.S. states will be represented – players are coming from as far away as California, Nevada and New Mexico to the west and New York, Connecticut and Vermont to the north – there will also be at least 30 Puerto Rican prospects in attendance.

Two each from the Dominican Republic and Alberta, Canada, will be on hand, as well as one from Panama. Top-600 2018 right-hander/first baseman Chad Schuch Jr. attends Matthew C. Perry High School at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan.

The Puerto Ricans certainly standout amongst the more than 100 prospects at the PG World, with six of the 30 ranked in the top-367 nationally in their respective classes. That group is led by 2018 shortstop Kevin Vargas, a PG All-American and Florida International signee ranked No. 67 nationally.

Other top 2018s from Puerto Rico include No. 187 outfielder Erick Rivera, No. 302 outfielder/third baseman Ezequiel Pagan and No. 361 middle-infielder Kenen Irizarry. No. 367 shortstop Francisco Reynosa is tops among the PR 2019s while No. 75 outfielder Mario Zabala heads the 2020s.

Illinois right-hander/infielder Francois Castillo (No. 343) and outfielder Tyler Acosta (No. 468) are among the top 2018s from the states that will be in attendance. Others include Georgia catcher Connor Pavolony (No. 127) and Connecticut outfielder Dillon Lifrieri (No. 293).

Georgia shortstop Nasim Nunez (No. 51) and Florida third baseman Mykanthony Valdez (No. 77) are the top 2019s expected; Valdez, a Miami commit, is coming off a Top Prospect List performance at last weekend’s PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event. No. 94 Florida left-hander/first baseman Adrian Figueroa will be the top 2020 from the states in attendance.

The PG World Showcase is an important one for the high school seniors (2018s) because it provides one of the last opportunities to perform in front of a large contingent of MLB scouts and front-office personnel before the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft; 819 PG World alumni advanced their careers by being selected in previous MLB drafts.

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