All American Game | Story | 7/19/2018

Tanner living PGAAC dream

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Logan Tanner (Perfect Game)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Six weeks have peeled off the summer of 2018 calendar since Logan Tanner completed his junior season at George County High School in Lucedale, Miss., and began a summer of fun, fun, fun playing with Team Georgia (GA) Baseball on the non-stop Perfect Game WWBA tournament circuit.

Most of that time was spent in the north Atlanta suburbs, usually playing games at PG Park-LakePoint in Emerson, Ga. Tanner started this most excellent adventure with an all-tournament performance at the 18u PG-East Cobb Invitational May 31-June 4 and stuck around to play in the 17u PG-EC Invite June 4-8.

At that point he must have thought ‘what the heck,’ and stayed another week, earning all-tournament recognition at the 17u WWBA National Championship Qualifier June 8-13.

The nationally No. 34-ranked 2019 catcher/right-hander and Mississippi State commit from Lucedale then decided to leave North Georgia for a week. He did so with the idea in mind of impressing scouts – which he most certainly did – at the PG National Showcase held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., June 14-17.

Perhaps homesick for the Georgia pines and all the comforts of home that PG Park-LakePoint affords, Tanner returned there in time to help Team GA/MBA 17u Gold win the coveted championship at the PG 17u WWBA National Championship held June 29-July 6; he was named all-tournament as both a pitcher and a batter.

So, where’s he at this week? Back in Mississippi resting on his laurels? Heavens, no. He’s at the Peoria Sports Complex playing for Team GA Baseball Gold at the 17u Perfect Game World Series, one of his final tournament stops of the summer.

“Just being able to play at these major league ballparks against all this great competition is awesome,” Tanner told PG Thursday afternoon from the Mariners’ spring training side of the complex (the Padres occupy the other side). “We’re looking forward to it; we have a great team.”

As important as the 17u PGWS is to Tanner, this is not his summer of 2018 end-all. On Wednesday it was officially announced that he would occupy one of 26 spots on the East Team roster at next month’s Perfect Game All-American Classic all-star event to be played Aug. 12 at the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park.

Tanner was at last year’s PG Underclass All-American Games in San Diego which are held the two days right after the Classic is played; he made sure he was sitting in Petco Park for the 2017 Classic.

“I was thinking, ‘I want to be here next year; that would be awesome,’” he said Thursday. “Now, I worked hard and it happened.”

Tanner is at the 17u PGWS as part of a very talented Team GA Baseball Gold roster that assembled by Team Georgia Baseball Academy owner/president Chris McRaney and his equally talented staff.

The roster, when in its entirety, is populated by 13 2019s – and one 2020 – that have committed to NCAA Division schools, including four others who will join Tanner at Mississippi State.

Eleven of the 2019s are ranked as top-500 national prospects, led by No. 4 PG All-American Jerrion Ealy (Ole Miss) – who is expected to join the team here in the desert on Saturday – the No. 34 PGAA Tanner, No. 98 Travis Odom (Auburn), No. 152 Kamren James, No. 192 Davis Rokose and No. 215 Michael Polk.

“We’ve been taking it event by event, but once we won the 17-year-old World Wood Bat (WWBA) we really started focusing on this event out here,” Team GA Baseball Gold head coach Taylor Morton told PG Thursday.

“We took a couple of days off but we’ve been preparing, and in terms of traveling the guys are really excited about coming out here and seeing what we can do; they’re excited about the opportunity, for sure.”

The 17u PGWS is the 22nd PG event Tanner has been a part of, and its been a decorated career. He has been named to 12 all-tournament teams – all while playing with Team GA Baseball – and was the Most Valuable Player at the 2017 16u PGWS playing with Team GA/MBA. He has played on three Team GA teams that won PG WWBA national championships, including the recently completed 17u WWBA National Championship.

An elite, PG All-American caliber performer at last month’s PG National Showcase, Tanner was also named to Top Prospect List/Team at the 2017 PG Junior National Showcase those 2017 PG Underclass All-American Games.

“You try to be the best and you come out here and nobody’s the best out here; everybody’s great,” he said. “You want to be better, and they push you to be better and you push them to be better and it’s just a great deal.”

This is, of course a very talented team, but Morton is quick to point out that the rosters the other 34 teams that here this week are also very talented. He feels like the thing that sets the Gold apart is a team chemistry that the players share, and that chemistry grows and solidifies when one teammate is able to hold his other teammates accountable, and no one takes offense.

“That’s what I’ve seen here over the past couple months is them gelling, and it happens on the baseball field because of the conversations that take place off the baseball field,” Morton said.

Tanner is one of those players Morton was referring to when he talked about one guy holding another guy – and himself – accountable. The fact that he has been named to 12 PG all-tournament teams doesn’t surprise Morton at all because he always seems to elevate his game the deeper into bracket-play the Team GA squad that’s he’s play advances.

It’s all, in Morton’s opinion, a reflection of Tanner’s impeccable mental toughness which, in turn, leads to his excellent leadership skills and the popularity he enjoys amongst his teammates.

“Logan is one of the more special amateur players I’ve seen,” Morton said. “Just with his versatility behind the plate, and in my opinion he’s the best defensive catcher (class of 2019) in the country. And watching his bat develop over the last month has been really incredible. …

“He’s a tremendous leader; he’s as tough and as fierce as they get mentally,” he continued. “Look at him right now, he’s smiling and have a good time, but when he gets between those lines he’s locked in and he’s about his work.”

Tanner is part of a Mississippi prep baseball powerhouse at George County High School, a program under the direction of head coach Brandon Davis.

The Rebels played in the Class 6A state championship game two of the last three years, losing the best-of-three championship series 2-0 to Madison Central in 2016 and 2-1 to nationally prominent DeSoto Central this spring when they finished 27-6; they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in 2017.

When asked if there was anyone who has been instrumental in guiding his baseball career to this point, he first said his mom, Delanah Tanner, before adding the names of Davis and McRaney, his high school and summer ball coaches, respectively. Delanah, by the way, played softball at the University of Southern Mississippi during her collegiate years.

“They’ve all had a really big impact and it’s been a blessing,” Tanner said. He went on to say that he has never really tried to pattern his game after anyone, preferring to go out there and just be himself: “Nobody can be the same and I just want to be different and do the things I need to do to get better and progress.”

Tanner’s association with Team Georgia has obviously been very mutually beneficial, with Team GA helping Tanner develop and advance his game – along with providing exposure at PG events – and Tanner helping Team GA win PG national championships.

“I love Coach McRaney, I love Team Georgia; it’s one of the main reasons I got recruited the way I did,” he said. “(McRaney) has done so much for me and I just love Team Georgia; it’s the best organization in the country.”

When he committed to Mississippi State, Tanner said he talked with the coaches and they told him they would help and encourage him to remain a two-way player as long as he was comfortable doing both. He called Mississippi State his “dream school” and when they said they were good with him being a two-way prospect he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass by.

Tanner told PG on Thursday that he simply loves everything about the game, he loves to compete, and being a two-way guy only means he will be on the field more often than he’ll be off it. This conversation, of course, is not taking into consideration anything that might happen in the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft.

“I’ve gotten better for sure but everybody else is trying to get better too,” he said. “I still have a lot of things I need to work on. I need to get better behind the plate and I definitely need to get better on the mound; I just need to get better all-around with my game. But I feel good so far and I just need to get ready for the next thing out there.”

The month of August will be filled with many more memorable baseball-related events for Tanner, and while the schedule will not be nearly as non-stop as the one he took upon himself in June and July, it will still be filled with even more new adventures and life-changing experiences.

Perfect Game takes great pride in its philanthropic work and since the PG All-American Game’s inception in 2003, it has raised more than $1 million for use in the fight against pediatric cancer. Since 2005, more than $750,000 has been directed to San Diego Rady Children’s Hospital’s Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The PG All-Americans have annually paid a visit to the young patients at Rady and for the last several years the players have done fund-raising of their own; the 2017 PGAA’s raised nearly $60,000. That effort has caught Tanner’s attention.

“I’m ready to go to the hospital and meet those kids,” he said Thursday. “I’m going to have a great time with them; I really want to meet them.”

And while the seed was planted several years ago, it really took root last August when Tanner was sitting in Petco Park and got to dreaming about August 2018.

“It was one of my goals coming into this year to make that game and it’s been a blessing,” Tanner said. “I went and watched it last year and it looked like it was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to be there this year.”

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