FORT MYERS, Fla. – They’ll come from Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico, Ohio and Ontario, Minnesota and Massachusetts, Wisconsin and West Virginia. They’ll arrive from towns with names like Harper Woods and Warner Robbins, Port Washington and Grand Island, Yorba Linda and Beverly Hills, Victoria and Marvin.
They’ll all gather here en masse in the days immediately after Christmas for the 2012 Perfect Game National Underclass Showcase-Main Event, the most heavily attended showcase event on PG’s annual calendar. What’s not to like and enjoy about baseball and sunshine during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day?
More than 400 of the top high school sophomores and juniors (classes of 2015 and 2014) will gather at the jetBlue Player Development Complex for the three-day event. More than two dozen high school freshmen (2016s) have also been accepted into the Underclass-Main, which runs Friday through Sunday (Dec. 28-30). All workouts and games will take place exclusively at jetBlue, the state-of-the-art spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.
More than 30 of the prospects in attendance are ranked in the top-150 nationally in the classes of 2014 and 2015. The top-ranked 2014 will be No. 3 Nicholas Gordon from Windermere, Fla., and FTB Mizuno, while the top-ranked 2015 is none other than No. 1 Dazmon Cameron from McDonough, Ga., and the East Cobb Astros.
Gordon, the son of former big-league closer Tom “Flash” Gordon and the brother of Dodgers shortstop Devaris “Dee” Gordon, is a 6-foot-1, 165-pound shortstop/right-hander who will be attending his third PG showcase event in the last 12 months – he was at the PG National Underclass Showcase-Session 3 last January and at the prestigious PG Junior National Showcase in June. He has also played in 13 PG WWBA or BCS Finals tournaments in the last two years and has committed to Florida State.
"These are beneficial to every kid that gets the opportunity to come out here and showcase their talents," Tom Gordon said at the Junior National. "What I've always enjoyed about Perfect Game is that not only do they bring everyone in, but they bring in the best talent and also the kids that want to be seen and get an idea of where they are with their talents."
Cameron, the son of long-time former big-leaguer Michael Cameron, is a 6-foot, 186-pound outfielder who rocketed to the top of the 2015 rankings late in the summer. He was at this same event last year as 14-year-old, and was named to the top-prospect list.
“Here you get a chance to see everything and it’s kind of good to see where these guys are and what kind of talent they match up against,” Michael Cameron said at the 2011 Underclass-Main. “The one thing about baseball is, you can only get better by playing, and these guys play enough to get better.”
East Cobb Baseball will be well-represented at the showcase. Top 2014s Michael Chavis, the No. 27-ranked national prospect from Marietta, Ga., and Kel Johnson from Palmetto, Ga., ranked right behind Chavis at No. 28, both played for the East Cobb Braves in 2012. Chavis is committed to Clemson and Johnson to Georgia Tech.
At least eight 2015s that played for the East Cobb Astros in 2012 will be on hand, including Cameron; No. 23 left-hander Max Wotell from Marvin, N.C.; No. 27 outfielder Reggie Pruitt from Kennesaw, Ga.; No. 58 catcher/right-hander Kyle Davis from Brewton, Ala.; and No. 67 catcher/right-hander Tyler Stephenson from Kennesaw, Ga.
The Orlando Scorpions are sending many of their top guys, including 2014s Jesse Lepore and Jonah Girand, and 2015 Brendan Rodgers.
Lepore is a right-handed pitcher from Beverly Hills, Fla., and a Miami commit ranked No. 80 in his class; Girand is a catcher/third baseman from Maitland, Fla., ranked No. 93; and Rodgers is a middle-infielder from Longwood, Fla., who is ranked No. 8 in the 2015 class.
Other top guys from the 2015 class who will be in attendance and play for the South Florida Elite Squad include No. 31-ranked shortstop Jonathan India, a Florida commit from Coral Springs, Fla., and No. 63 Dominic DiCaprio, also from Coral Springs.
The first PG National Underclass Showcase was held in 2002, and six future first-round draft picks were in attendance. The National Underclass ran as a single event through 2007 before splintering into three separate events in 2008 – the PG National Underclass Showcase-Session 1, the PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event and the PG National Underclass Showcase-Session 3.
The 2012 PG National Underclass-Session 1 was held Dec. 1-2 in the Phoenix area and the 2013 PG National Underclass Session 3 will be held Jan. 5-6 here in Fort Myers.
Forty-one PG National Underclass Showcase alumni have already made their major league debuts, and 540 have been drafted in the first 10 rounds of the MLB amateur draft. Current big-leaguers like the Braves’ Jason Heyward, the Royals’ Eric Hosmer, the Reds' Matt Latos, the Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez and the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo were all at the event between 2004 and ’06. Pittsburgh MLB All-Star Andrew McCutchen was at the first National Underclass in 2002.