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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Propping up his PG Profile

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top 2014 prospect Bret Maxwell spent his last three baseball seasons at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the last three summers playing in Perfect Game tournaments learning a new position while watching important decision-makers grow more and more impressed with his game.

Maxwell was a shortstop and third baseman until his freshman year at Northeast HS when that 2011 squad had a junior that was pretty much entrenched into the starting shortstop position. The team did need a catcher, however, so Maxwell jumped behind the plate and worked hard at learning the position.

"It's weird thinking about it now, but I think I've found my spot," Maxwell said. "I love it."

Maxwell was at the former Boston Red Sox Player Development 5-Plex Saturday morning, one of 188 young prospects participating in the two-day Perfect Game Sunshine East Showcase. Another 130 were on hand for the two-day PG National Academic Showcase, which runs concurrently.

This is the first PG showcase event Maxwell has attended, although he's played in six PG tournaments since he was a 14-year-old in 2010. He has already committed to Florida State, one of only two prospects at this year's PG Sunshine East who has verbally committed to an NCAA Division I school.

"I really just want to get my name out there again," Maxwell said Saturday morning when asked his reason for attending the showcase. "I took the fall off last year and I want to work out and try to get stronger. I'm kind of easing into my schedule a little bit this summer to just try to keep it up and keep playing, and also be able to work out at the same time."

Maxwell's name is already fairly established, as his commitment to FSU likely indicates. He came into the Sunshine East as the No. 321-ranked overall prospect in the national class of 2014, along with being the No. 45-ranked catching prospect. He is considered Florida's No. 62 overall prospect in his class and the state's No. 7 catching prospect.

Bret's father, Greg Maxwell, himself a Florida State graduate, feels it's important that his son continue to get in front of as many eyes as possible.

"We've never come down to a Perfect Game showcase -- we've played in a lot of Perfect game tournaments -- and he's never had any Pop times or anything like that recorded on (PG's) website," Greg said Saturday morning. "Even though he's played in a lot of games, he really doesn't have that (workout information) so we kind of wanted to update his profile.

"He's already committed to Florida State but you never know what the pro scouts are looking at, so that's kind of what we're looking for."

Maxwell did enough in his morning defensive workout session to warrant a comment from a PG scout. The report noted that Maxwell "stays down in his stance, shows good mobility behind the plate, good arm strength and smooth transfer and release."

"It's definitely important for me to be out here this weekend," he said. "It shows the people that I'm up against that I'm kind of up there in the running. In high school, there are (talented) guys here and there but this is definitely full-out competition right here; harder pitching and just kind of seeing what I'm going to be up against in the future."

Greg Maxwell isn't really sure how is son caught the baseball bug, but catch it he has. Greg said he played baseball as a youngster but nothing after high school.

"We lived on the water so we were more boating and skiing and wake-boarding as kids," he said, smiling at the memory. "We played ball and we were pretty good at it but we just had other interests; baseball wasn't our top priority."

It is his son's top priority, however.

Maxwell played in the 2010 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship with Chet Lemon's Juice, the 2011 14u PG BCS Finals with Meteors Baseball and the 2011 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship with SWFL Baseball 16u.

Last year he got hooked up with Mark Guthrie's burgeoning new program, the Florida Burn, and played in the 16u PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classic, the 16u PG BCS Finals and the PG WWBA 2014 Grads or 16u National  Championship, all with the Florida Burn Silver (the Burn's 15u team).

He played in last weekend's 2013 18u PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classic with the Florida Burn 18u squad, one of three Florida Burn teams that advanced to the 16-team playoffs at the event. The powerhouse Florida Burn Orange won the tournament, their fourth Perfect Game championship in the last 10 months.

"I love playing for the Burn," Maxwell said. "They definitely run a big-time program, very good, with Mark Guthrie. I was with the Silver last year and now I'm with the 18s, and we made it out of pool-play. It was fun; I love my team."

He also loves the Florida State Seminoles. He calls himself a "diehard" fan who pestered the Florida State coaching staff with phone calls throughout his sophomore baseball season. Maxwell then attended an FSU camp last summer and upon its conclusion was offered a scholarship from assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr.

"(Bret) grew up as a Florida State fan, and I was elated (with the offer)," Greg Maxwell said. "It was a dream of his come true ... and you  love to see your kids do good and accomplish their dreams and this is his first step. This has been great. It's so exciting and he's having a ball playing and that's what it's all about. We're having a lot of fun."

Maxwell will use this summer and fall trying to make sure the Seminoles never live to regret their interest and trust in his abilities. It started at last weekend's PG WWBA 18u Memorial Day Classic, continued this weekend at the PG Sunshine East Showcase and will carry over into a summer playing with the Florida Burn 18u.

"I know I have a lot more work to do," Maxwell said. "I've started working with a trainer real hard this year -- I've kind of had one here and there throughout the last couple of years -- and this year my schedule isn't going to be quite as crazy (as last summer). I'm trying to focus on getting bigger and stronger and try to get quicker in my legs and my footwork. I'm still working up to it, though."

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