All American Game : : Story
Monday, June 06, 2011

From Classic to the big leagues

Jeff Dahn        

Just about four years ago now, then-17-year-old Eric Hosmer from Cooper City, Fla., slipped on his All-American Classic East uniform and trotted out to play first base at Tony Gwynn Stadium on the San Diego State University campus.

It was in August, 2007, that Hosmer played in the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings (formerly known as the Aflac All-American Classic), and a lot of good things have happened to Hosmer since that August night in San Diego.

He was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the third pick in the first round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft, only the fourth time in the last 34 years a club has used a top-three pick on a high school corner infielder.

On May 6, Hosmer made his Major League debut with the Royals after playing just two full seasons in the minor leagues. On May 11, he hit his first big league home run off the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett, and In his first 24 games with the Royals since his call-up from Triple-A Omaha, Hosmer hit .291 (30-for-103) with five home runs and 17 RBI.

That call-up also elevated Hosmer, 21, into the membership of a rapidly growing yet still elite club. He is now one of 40 All-American Classic alumni who have played in the Major Leagues (as of June 2) and the first of what is sure to be many more from the 2007 game.

There are already five alumni from the 2006 All-American Classic in the big leagues and nine from the 2005 Classic. Eleven big-leaguers played in the 2004 Classic and fourteen were participants in the inaugural Classic played in 2003 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.

And these guys haven’t been wallflowers. Quite a few of them have developed into impact-type players at the Major League level. As an example, last year’s National League Rookie of the Year voting turned into a two-horse race between the Giants’ Buster Posey and the Braves’ Jason Heyward.

Posey, who played in the 2004 All-American Classic with top prospects like the Mets’ Ike Davis, the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton and the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson, won the award after collecting 20 of 32 first-place votes in balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Posey hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI in 108 games for the World Series Champion Giants.

Heyward, an alumnus of the 2006 All-American Classic when he was on the field at San Diego State with the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, the Tigers’ Rick Porcello, his Braves teammate Freddie Freeman, and recently promoted Cubs infielder D.J. LeMahieu, finished second in the voting with nine first-place votes.

Heyward, who smacked a home run off the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano in his first Major League at-bat in 2010, hit .277 with 18 home runs, 29 doubles and 72 RBI in 142 games for the Braves. He gave the nation a glimpse of his potential at the 2006 All-American Classic with two hits, two RBI, two runs scored and a Classic record four stolen bases.

Davis finished seventh in the NL ROY voting with two third-place votes and was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2004 All-American Classic. The only other of the eight Classic MVPs to play in the big leagues is the Rockies’ Chris Nelson, the 2003 MVP.

Posey and Bumgarner teamed up to make a little All-American Classic history last Oct. 31 when they formed the Giants’ battery in Game 4 of the World Series in Arlington, Texas, a 4-0 Giants victory. The left-handed Bumgarner picked up the win after allowing three hits and striking out six in eight scoreless innings, and Posey, hitting cleanup, smacked a solo home run in the eighth inning.

The late Nick Adenhart was the first pitcher to throw a pitch in an All-American Classic in the inaugural 2003 game. Pitching for the Angels, he made his 2009 season debut on April 9, threw six scoreless innings and then was killed in a car accident a couple of hours after the game.

Here is a list of all 40 All-American Classic alumni who have graduated to the Major Leagues:

Nick Adenhart
Homer Bailey
Brad Emaus
Dexter Foxler
Luke French
Greg Golson
Giovanny Gonzalez
Javier Guerra
Eric Hurley
Chris Nelson
Troy Patton
Trevor Plouffe
Mark Rogers
Neil Walker

Ike Davis
Cameron Maybin
Andrew McCutchen
Buster Posey
Ryan Tucker
Justin Upton
Chris Volstad
Brett Wallace
Sean O'Sullivan
Jeremy Hellickson
Austin Jackson

Hank Conger
Kyle Drabek
Jeremy Jeffress
Ryan Adams
Brett Anderson
Chris Tillman
Cedric Hunter
Matthew Latos
Jordan Walden

Madison Bumgarner
Jason Heyward
Rick Porcello
Freddie Freeman
D.J. LeMahieu

Eric Hosmer

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