PG Select Baseball Festival | General | 9/3/2021

International Flair in the Select Festival

Jheremy Brown     

Perfect Game is no stranger to playing host to some of the top international talent over the years, including the Boston Red Sox Rafael Devers who announced his presence in a big way during the 2013 World Showcase, a staple on the Perfect Game schedule that has served as a springboard for countless prospects over the years. While there have been several international prospects who’ve carved a path through Perfect Game which can be read here, only one has suited up for the Perfect Game All-American Classic in Mayky Perez during the 2012 rendition of the game as players typically sign once they turn 16 years of age.

Jump to the Perfect Game Select Festival, and since its inception in 2016, several players from abroad have donned the uniform from the 12u game to the 14u Festival, which is coming up on year six this weekend. It was the 14u game that started it all and the inaugural game had a pair of Castillo’s, slugger Estanli Castillo Abad and right-hander Starlyn Castillo, who were the first alum to ink pro contracts. Estanli signed for $325,000 with the Rays while the flame throwing Starlyn agreed to a $1.6 million bonus with the Phillies. The talent from the Dominican has continued to shine at JetBlue Park in subsequent years as Erick Pena signed for just shy of $4 million with the Royals and has since elevated into one of the top prospects in the system. 

The 2018 game made perhaps the biggest splash from the 14u circuit as three players signed professional contracts, though their signings were delayed due to the pandemic and the group grew by one, adding Rayner Rafael Castillo from the 2019 game. Shortstop Armando Cruz first made his PG debut in 2017 at the 14u National Showcase where he dazzled, setting the stage for the following summer where he came back even stronger while showing the same wizard-like skills with the glove which ultimately got him $3.9 million from the Nationals this past January. Also in that group was two-time 14u Select Festival alum Manuel Beltre, another coveted shortstop prospect who was no stranger to PG events and was one of the more famous names in this last international signing period before signing with the Blue Jays for $2.6 million. Both Andre Arthur of the Bahamas and Dominican right-hander Rayner Rafael Castillo put their names on the dotted line, as the speedy Arthur signed with the Miami Marlins while Castillo inked with the Tigers. 

Castillo wasn’t the only international presence in the 2019 14u Festival, as Bahamian shortstop Ryan Reckley made the trip to Southwest Florida and immediately dazzled with a variety of tools, from his fast-twitch athleticism to his skills in the dirt, as well as his ability to handle the barrel from both sides of the plate. Though he could’ve signed this past period, Reckley is set to sign this upcoming January and is expected to sign with the San Francisco Giants. 

While the 13u game may only be three years old, there has been some international flair in it all three years, first with a pair of Dominican middle infielders in Joaan De Jesus and Rafael Castillo Carmona, as the duo suited up for Team Bush in the inaugural 13u Festival at the University of Oklahoma. The 2020 game featured two of the best international prospects at their respective age group in shortstop Jose Perdomo and catcher Ethan Salas, a pair of Venezuelans with elite tools across the board who’ll be amongst the highest bonuses handed out during the 2022 signing period. Just last week we got to catch a glimpse of young shortstop Kevin Bruno on the East squad, a slick fielding defender who dazzled during the 13u National to ultimately earn his invite to Oklahoma City. 

Advanced defensive abilities appear to be in the Beltre genes as Manuel’s younger brother, Enmanuel Beltre, has already made his presence felt in a couple of PG showcases as well as this year’s 12u Select Festival. Playing alongside Beltre all weekend was the talented Francisco Renteria of Venezuela who is a talented bat and has already made a name for himself and impressed during his time in Georgia. 

The Festival has only been around for six years and has seen quite a slew of international prospects who are quickly racing up team’s top prospect boards, paving the way for the next wave of talent to make their way through before their signing period opens up.
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