All American Game | Story | 7/17/2013

Reactions to Classic selection vary

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

SAN DIEGO -- It is sometimes difficult to determine who is more excited about being invited to the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings four-day weekend: the top-ranked prospects that have been extended the invitation or their still-young-at-heart and very proud dads.

"My stomach is up in my throat and it's so exciting," Robert Medeiros, father of West Team selection Kodi Medeiros, said when informed that his son had been selected to take part in next month's PG All-American Classic. "It makes you wonder what's next? I mean, how do you top this? We're just enjoying the moment and to see your son's dreams come true, it's just a once in a lifetime experience."

The two 25-man rosters for the 11th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings were officially announced Wednesday night but most of the top prospects in the national high school class of 2014 learned of their selection as early as a month ago.

This year's Classic, to be played at the San Diego Padres' Petco Park for the fifth straight year, is set for Sunday, Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. CDT and 5 p.m. PDT) and will be televised live on the MLB Network.

Kodi Medeiros, a left-handed pitcher from Hilo, Hawaii, who is the No. 15-ranked overall national prospect, punched his ticket to the Classic with a head-dropping performance at last month's Perfect Game National Showcase. He certainly shared his father's excitement with being named.

"It means a lot to me; all that I've worked for is paying off now," Kodi Medeiros said. "That I actually made the team makes me feel very blessed and I'm grateful that I did well in the (PG National) showcase and I was chosen. Now I can go beyond the showcase and play in the Petco game and then go even further from there."

Weston, Mass., first baseman and Vanderbilt commit Justin Bellinger -- ranked the No. 39 overall national prospect -- received an invitation to be a member of this year's East Team based on an outstanding body of work capped by a strong performance at the PG National Showcase. The prestige that accompanies the invite wasn't lost on Bellinger's father, Brian Bellinger.

"It's awesome to have everything culminate with that," Brian Bellinger said. "When he was a freshman, (Perfect Game) invited him to the National Games (in San Diego) so we were out there for that, and we got a little bit of a taste for what (the All-American Classic) was about when some of the older players came through.

"He did well in those games and I remember I said, 'If you work harder you'll be invited to the next level of this,' so that's what he's been striving for and working for is to play in that game."

Shortstop and right-hander Nick Gordon from Windermere, Fla., will go into the Classic as the nation's No. 2-ranked prospect in his class. A Florida State commit, he is already highly decorated and projected to one day play in the major leagues, just like his father, Tom "Flash" Gordon, did for almost 20 years.

"I was super excited," Nick Gordon said when asked about his reaction when he received his invitation to the Classic. "I ran into the kitchen and I told my mom (Yolanda), and as soon as I could I went and hugged my little sister (Cameron)."

Father Flash Gordon shared that excitement.

"(PG national tournament director) Ben Ford and I talk a lot and we've become really close friends; we played together and he's always been a class act," Tom Gordon said. "He talked to me a little bit about it and we've been dreaming of that moment; we can't wait to get out (to San Diego) and we're really excited about it."

Top outfield prospect Gareth Morgan from Toronto will become the first native Canadian to play in the All-American Classic when he steps out onto the Petco Park field on Aug. 11. That in itself is special for Morgan, ranked the No. 23 national (U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico) overall prospect.

"It's a great honor," he said. "I heard that I was the (first) Canadian, so that's also an honor to be able to represent my country of Canada. I've watched a lot of videos on it and it looks like it's a really good (event) and I can't wait to get down there and start playing."

Morgan's father, Giles Morgan, added: "We are real excited because we've always thought that was kind of the premier event in North America for any kid in high school. To be given the opportunity as the first Canadian chosen, we're very excited about the whole thing."

There is much more to the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings then just the game, of course; in fact, the game simply puts the capper on four days of activities for the All-Americans.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children's Hospital and the annual visit to Rady's to meet some of the young cancer patients is always the highlight of the weekend for the standout ballplayers.

Braxton Davidson, the No. 10-ranked national prospect out of Arden, N.C., and a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill recruit, has been working with physically and mentally handicapped children through a program at T.C. Roberson High School, where he will be a senior in the fall.

"It means a lot to me, being able to be a part of that whole weekend," Davidson said. "Just getting to help out with the kids at the hospital will be special for me. Back at home I play for the kids who can't play -- the handicap kids -- so that's something I'm looking forward to because I like helping out people and giving back to the community."

West Team third baseman and UCLA commit Sean Bouchard (ranked No. 36) from San Diego; West catcher and Oregon commit Alex Jackson (the nation's No. 1-ranked overall prospect in the 2014 class) from nearby Escondido, Calif.; and West left-hander and UCLA recruit Brady Aiken (No. 18) from Cardiff by the Sea, Calif., are already engaged in fund-raising activities for Rady Children's Hospital, as detailed inthis article by PG intern Matt Rodriguez.

“The experience itself is going be something surreal: all the scouts, all the players, all the talent that’s going be out there. Playing in a big league park’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully the experience is going to be a good one," Bouchard said.

"Me and my parents and my little brother -- we're very happy that I was selected," Jackson said, noting that he and his family were in Las Vegas when he received the invitation. "We just want to go out there and have fun and compete with the best players around. It’s definitely going to be a great time.”

Some players spoke of the excitement they felt when the invitation to play to was extended:

“That’s pretty sweet. I’m excited because I’m going to be with my teammates and I’m ready for the experience; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity," said No. 27-ranked East right-hander and North Carolina commit Joe Gatto from Hammonton, N.J.

“I’m really excited; I saw the game last year on TV and I wanted to play there," national No. 16-ranked East right-hander and Florida State recruit Cobi Johnson from Holiday, Fla., chimed in. "It’s the best of the best competing out there and you want to see what you can do out there. So it will be fun."

Others were simply shocked to learn they would be attending, but also proud that all the work they've put in over the last decade or more of their young lives had paid off. Like Johnson, they also looked forward to taking the field with their peers that have indeed been recognized as the "best of the best."

“That will be a lot of fun playing with the best players from the east and against the guys from the west. It will be fun catching up with all of them," said East left-hander and No. 12-ranked Georgia recruit Mac Marshall from Lilburn, Ga.

"The fact that I got selected for the Perfect Game All-American (Classic), that was a big thing for me," East outfielder and No. 43-ranked Reese Cooley from Orange Park, Fla., said. "Ever since I've been in high school I always wanted to do that; it means the world to me right now.

"When you work hard for something and you finally get it, it's like, 'Wow, it was all worth it'. Instead of regretting that I (didn't put the work in) I'm definitely glad that I did it and I'll never look back."

And all of this year's PG All-Americans should heed a word of advice from 2012 PG All-American Rowdy Tellez, a 30th-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays in June's MLB amateur draft who signed for $850,000 right on the deadline.

“Have fun," Tellez advised. "It was a blast, so just have fun and meet new people and leave it all on the field. This might be the last time you ever step on a big-league field."

Editor's note
: Perfect Game interns Matt Rodriguez and Sam Brazenas contributed to this report.

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