Showcase | Story | 4/18/2013

Spring Top Show this weekend

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Largely viewed through its 10-year run as a platform for Iowa high school players to perform in front of the national scouting community, the Perfect Game Spring Top Prospect Showcase has in fact grown into an international happening.

The 11th annual Spring Top will take place at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday and Sunday and will feature prospects from 12 states alongside players from the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba, as well as the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Close to 120 players in the high school classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015 will be attendance for the two-day event.

The prospect likely to garner the most interest this weekend is 2013 Missouri left-hander/outfielder Jacob Brentz, a University of Missouri recruit from Ballwin who has jumped to No. 7 in Perfect Game’s national prospect rankings. Brentz is currently playing in the PG Iowa Spring Wood Bat League and recently had his fastball gunned at 97 mph, the highest velocity ever recorded for a prep left-hander at a PG event.

Players from Iowa continue to dominate the rosters of the seven teams that comprise this year’s Spring Top, and the talent pool is deeper than ever.

Iowa’s top-ranked prospects in the classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015 will be in attendance: 2013 left-hander/first baseman and 2012 Perfect Game All-American A.J. Puk from Cedar Rapids (ranked No. 19 nationally, Florida signee); 2014 right-hander/first baseman Keaton McKinney from Ankeny (No. 61, Arkansas); and 2015 outfielder/ Trey Beckman from Cedar Rapids.

2013 Iowa No. 2-ranked right-hander Derek Burkamper from Muscatine (No. 259, Nebraska) and 2014 Iowa No. 2 righty Mitch Keller from Cedar Rapids (No. 211, North Carolina) will also be at the showcase.

Catcher Slade Heggen, a 2014 from Missoula, is the No. 1-ranked prospect in his class from Montana, and will be attendance, as will 2014 Montana No. 2 Brac Warren from Rosebud. South Dakota top-ranked 2014 shortstop Joshua Baumgart will represent his state.

The top Canadian in attendance will be 2014 shortstop Matt Lloyd from Okotoks, Alberta, the province’s No. 3-ranked prospect in his class. This will be his third PG showcase appearance. 2013 catcher Eduanuel Hernandez from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, will make his first stateside appearance at a PG event after previously attending the PG Caribbean Showcase last November.

The PG Spring Top Prospect Showcase is primarily designed to give professional scouts and college coaches an opportunity to see and evaluate players who not play spring high school baseball, although everyone is welcome. The Iowa High School Athletic Association offers only a summer season, and that is the reason so many Iowa prospects attend the Spring Top every year.

Four Spring Top alumni eventually climbed the ladder to the major leagues, with Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson – who attended the Spring Top in 2003, ’04 and ’05 – the most accomplished. A fourth-round pick of the Rays out of Des Moines (Iowa) Hoover High School in 2005, Hellickson won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2011.

Future big-leaguers Ryan Sweeney from Cedar Rapids; Anthony Watson from Grimes, Iowa; and Tyler Clippard from Trinity, Fla., joined Hellickson at the 2003 Spring Top.

Iowa City’s Jon Gilmore attended the Spring Top in 2005 and 2007 and was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2007, the only first-rounder to come out of the event. Three second-rounders have come out of the event to date: Ryan Sweeney in 2003, his brother Kellen Sweeney from Cedar Rapids (’08, ’09, 10) in 2010 and Alec Rash from Adel, Iowa (’10, ’12) in 2012.

As Brentz ascended the national prospect rankings, his draft stock has risen proportionally so that now he is projected as a possible first-round selection. Puk is projected as a second-round pick.

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