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Sunday, June 19, 2011

MLB, NCAA, PG team-up

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Major League Baseball and the NCAA teamed with Perfect Game to present two seminars aimed at educating top prospects and their parents about the myriad of rules they will have to follow as the players’ careers move to the next level.

Two hour-long presentations were held Saturday at City of Palms Park in conjunction with the 2011 Perfect Game National Showcase. Each seminar attracted well more than 100 players and their parents.

Chuck Fox, Specialist of Baseball Operations in MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s office, and John Pfeffenberger, Coordinator of Amateurism Certification for the NCAA Eligibility Center, conducted the seminars.

Regardless if a prospect decides to continue playing baseball at the professional level after being drafted next year or wants to continue on as an amateur on the collegiate level, he will be expected to follow strict guidelines imposed by both MLB and the NCAA.

“It’s a program that has grown in the last couple of years, and I think it’s important that we educate the players and educate the parents on the road ahead. ‘The Road to the Major Leagues’ is the title we give our portion of this presentation,” Fox told Perfect Game at the completion of the first presentation.

The NCAA presents more strident rules to perspective college athletes than MLB does, and Pfeffenberger said the idea behind these programs is to assure recruits and their parents there are people who can help them understand those rules.

“The main purpose is education and outreach,” he said. “We’re here to help these baseball prospects if they want to play in the NCAA – help them maintain their eligibility.

“The key for us is to provide as much education and outreach as we can in the hope that it gets to them, and hopefully there’s as much good information regarding the NCAA rules out there as possible.”

This is Fox’s second year with the Commissioner’s Office after spending the previous eight years with the Chicago White Sox as the area scouting supervisor in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

This was the first time the seminar has been conducted in conjunction with a Perfect Game event. The presentations have previously been held at the East Coast Pro Showcase and the Area Code Games, and they are also held for interested players in the summer collegiate Cape Cod League, and at other venues.

The Perfect Game National Showcase provided the perfect stage for the joint presentation.

“For us, it’s just trying to get in front of the right audience,” Fox said. “This (the PG National Showcase) is kind of the kick-off event – there are some great players here, and these are the players and their families we want to be speaking with.”

Pfeffenberger agreed:

 “This was a nice audience to talk to,” he said. “You’re talking to prospects who are very good baseball players, so these are the people that need to know this kind of information.”

Pfeffenberger said conducting the program alongside Fox was beneficial because they were able to present the amateur and professional angles from a singular stage.

“It definitely helps. It’s nice to have both sides of spectrum involved,” he said.

One frequently asked question that involves both the professional and collegiate sides of the coin is if it’s OK for a prospect to enroll in summer college classes after he has been drafted but before he has signed. The answer is yes.

“You get a lot of questions,” Fox said. “You might not get questions right in the room – I usually come in the day before or stick around the day after – and it’s amazing how many parents come up to me and sit down and say, ‘Hey, can I ask you this question,’ or I’ll get an email or a phone call during the year.”

That is all in a day’s work, he added:

“In my role in the commissioners’ office, I have to be a resource. My chief responsibility is to the 30 clubs and being their liaison … but it’s obviously also to help the (players’) parents as well. There is so much information out there (and) some of it’s good and some of it’s bad.”

Pfeffenberger and Fox agreed presenting their program at the PG National was a perfect fit.

 “This was a great opportunity for us, especially reaching the type of prospects we can reach,” Pfeffenberger said. “We want to help them, so at a venue like this Perfect Game (National Showcase), we are talking to kids who need to know this information.”

“The attraction of this is the audience we want to get in front of is here, and this specific event really satisfies our need,” Fox added.

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