The WWBA 17U/18U National Championships (number of teams)
and WWBA World Championships (number of coaches/scouts) get plenty of attention
due to their unique size but there is another event on the Perfect Game
calendar that stands out as well, the PG National Underclass Showcase (Main
Held every year in Fort Myers, this event has averaged
over 500 players for most of the last decade.
We know of no other full showcase, Perfect Game or otherwise, that can
come close to this amount whether it is in sheer numbers or in the consistency
In fact, the National Underclass Showcase has been so
popular over the years that it has spawned smaller Perfect Game “National
Underclass Showcases” at different sites around the country, causing this
gathering to be retitled the “Main Event.”
Players from all 50 states and 5 countries have participated in the
National Underclass Showcase over the years.
The National Underclass is a special event for the
Perfect Game staff as well. It’s the
first event after a rare 1 ½ month layoff and gives everyone a chance to get
out of the ice box of the Upper Midwest and down to usually sunny south
Florida. The event also usually
coincides with a University of Iowa bowl game appearance in the Sunshine State.
The list of Alumni from the National Underclass is
understandably impressive. It includes
17 future Major League players, over 30 future first round draft picks and
close to 50 Aflac All-Americans! Those
numbers are sure to grow quickly in future years.
Heyward made his first appearance at a PG event as a 15 year old
at the 2004 National Underclass but his report from the 2005 National
Underclass stands out.
Heyward is a 2007 1B/OF/P from Henry County High School in McDonough, GA, with
a 6'4'', 215 lb. frame. Named to the Top
Prospect Team at the event. Heyward has
a big league body, with some pro level tools.
He put on a performance in Ft. Myers showing why he is one of the best,
if not the best, in the 2007 class. At
the plate he was more aggressive and he attacked the ball in batting practice
and the showcase games. Heyward hit
everything hard showing power to all fields, and making it look easy. Heyward has the ability to hit with big time
power, and at the same time hit for a high average. He is listed as a primary first baseman, but
his arm strength and athleticism in the outfield is impressive. Not only can he hit, hit with power, show arm
strength, and field well in the outfield and first base, the big guy runs a sub
7.00 sixty. There isn't much he can't
do, and he is a great kid as well.
Tremendous upside to this young player.
He will get huge draft interest next year.
San Diego Padres RHP Matt
Latos, one of the top young pitchers in baseball, also made his PG debut at
the 2004 National Underclass. Although
his mid-90’s fastball didn’t emerge until the next summer, it was obvious the
potential was there.
is a 6-5, 200 lb junior right handed pitcher from Florida who was one of the
top prospects at the World Underclass Showcase.
In addition to his pitching ability, he would also make the prospect
charts as a hitter/athlete as well.
Latos has a long, angular body type, with long legs, a slender waist and
sloping shoulders. There is plenty of present
strength in his body but the potential to get plenty stronger. Latos has a long, flowing and quick arm
action and solid delivery mechanics. He
works quickly and throws strikes with all his pitches. Latos’ fastball was solid in the 86-89 mph
range and is very projectable to move into the low and maybe even mid-90’s in
the future. He maintains good downward
angle on his fastball from a ¾’s release point.
His curveball lacked ideal velocity at 66-69 mph but he got good depth on pitch and spotted it effectively. Latos also showed a feel for a 68-70 mph
change up. As a hitter, Latos really
showed some nice power potential and showed it in games against live pitching
as well as in batting practice. He has a
wide stance with a good hand load, a short path to the ball and very good
extension out front. With nice 7.2/4.37
speed for his size and obvious arm strength, Latos is a DI level corner
infield/outfield prospect, too. Highest
The one high school player who was the biggest surprise
in the first round of the 2010 draft was Georgia outfielder Jake Skole, who went to the Rangers
with the 15th overall pick.
Look at his report from the 2007 National Underclass, a full 2 ½ years
before he become a first round pick.
Skole is a 2010 OF/2B with a 6'1'', 170 lb. frame from Woodstock, GA who
attends Blessed Trinity HS. Plus
athletic build, lean and strong. Calm
hitter, very quick hands, plus bat speed, hits hard to all fields, polished
hitter with high level hitting tools.
6.88 speed, plays faster, excellent baserunner. Quick OF actions, good arm strength for
age. Left handed bat could be
special. Good student. He was named to the top prospect team at this
Probably the most noteworthy aspect of the National
Underclass Showcase is the chance to see and evaluate so many talented young
players for the first time, players like Heywood, Latos, Skole and many, many
more future big leaguers, college All-Americans and future top draft picks.
Be sure to follow the up to the minute blogs from Fort
Myers on www.perfectgame.org as
tomorrow’s standouts are evaluated next week.