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Tournaments  | Story  | 4/17/2013

PG All-American Championship

Jeff Dahn     
Photo: Perfect Game

The Perfect Game All-American Classic has firmly cemented its image as the premier high school all-star showcase event in the country throughout its 10-year run. The top prospects in the class of 2014 that will be playing in this summer’s game have had the opportunity to watch all 10 Classics on national television ever since the inaugural event in 2003, when most of them were 6 or 7 years old.

This year, hundreds of young ballplayers, their families and coaches will get the opportunity to watch the 2013 Perfect All-American Classic live and in person at PETCO Park in San Diego simply by way of their participation in the inaugural Perfect Game All-American Championship.

The PG All-American Championship will run Aug. 8-12 with games played on San Diego-area fields, and will consist of four age-group tournaments – 9u, 10u, 11u, and 12u – featuring only the most elite teams from across the country. The four PG All-American Championship tournaments will utilize aluminum bats and each team will be guaranteed five games.

Interested teams can go the 2013 PG Tournament Schedule at perfectgame.org to request an invitation. PG tournament officials will ultimately hand-pick which of those teams the invitations are extended to.

The PG All-American Championship will walk hand-in-hand with its older brother, the PG All-American Classic. Everyone – players, parents, coaches and their family members – associated with the Championship will be invited to attend the Classic practice session on the Friday evening before the game.

Once there, they will be given the opportunity to meet the Classic players, secure some autographs and basically just rub shoulders and shoot the breeze with the nation’s most elite high school-aged prospects, all of whom are certain to be early round selections in the 2014 MLB First-Player Draft.

If that isn’t enough, everyone involved with the PG All-American Championship will receive complimentary tickets to the 11th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic at the San Diego Padres’ PETCO Park. Each team and its entire entourage will receive as many free tickets to the game as they care to request.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for these younger players to meet the future big-leaguers face to face,” PG All-American Championship tournament director Matthew Bliven said. “How cool would it be for a kid to say that he saw Bryce Harper or Justin Upton play when they were in high school? This is the first time we’re doing this and we want to reach out to the younger ages, and these teams are going to be the best of the best.”

All of the PG All-American Classic performers from the last several years have spoken of watching the game on television and dreaming of one day playing in the game. Chris Rivera, a 2012 PG All-American from Fullerton, Calif., spoke last summer about becoming a huge fan of former Cal State Fullerton star and first round draft pick Christian Colon after watching him grab MVP honors at the 2006 Classic.

"My favorite player is Christian Colon and ever since I saw him play (in the Classic) I always wanted to be in the All-American Game," Rivera said.

The idea behind the PG All-American Championship is to allow the young players to enjoy an even more up close and personal interaction with the older Classic All-Americans than even Rivera was able to experience.

Perfect Game All-American Classic alumni have had a significant presence in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player drafts through the years. Since the game’s inception in 2003, 117 alumni have been selected in the first round, including six No. 1 overall picks: Carlos Correa (2012), Gerrit Cole (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Tim Beckham (2008), and Justin Upton (2005).

A record 19 Perfect Game All-Americans were taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, 16 of whom played in the 2012 game. The game has produced 61 players who have made their MLB debuts.

The Classic is also about a lot more than one baseball game. PG All-Americans have made an annual visit to the Rady Children’s hospital in San Diego each of the last four years and Rady’s will once again be the event’s beneficiary.

According to a PG statement, “All players are in good academic standing and display redeeming qualities off the field that embody the ideals of the sport of baseball,  including leadership, discipline, determination and commitment.”