Showcase | Story | 12/24/2013

2013 Year in Review: PG Events

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

As part of a four-part series Perfect Game will highlight the top 10 storylines from the 2013 MLB Draft (Patrick Ebert), from Perfect Game's Showcase and Tournament events as well as those from both College (Kendall Rogers) and High School (Todd Gold) baseball.

The 2013 Perfect Game showcase and tournament seasons conclude with the 7th annual PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event Dec. 28-30 in Fort Myers, Fla. It was another record-setting year for Perfect Game in terms of number of participants and number of events staged coast to coast and in Puerto Rico.

The 39 Perfect Game showcase 2013 season kicked off in Fort Myers, Fla., with the 16th annual PG World Showcase last January, and will conclude with the PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event. Other 2013 PG showcases were staged in such far-flung locales as McKinney, Texas, Kannapolis, N.C., San Diego, Calif., San Juan, P.R., and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The 41-event PG tournament schedule also kicked off last January but on the other side of the country in Glendale, Ariz., with the 14u, 16u and 18u Perfect Game MLK Championships. After dozens of stops in places like Fort Myers, Marietta, Ga., Tomball, Texas, and, yes, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it concluded with the 15th annual PG WWBA World Championship during a five-day run of glorious late October weather in Jupiter, Fla.

What follows is a look at some of the more newsworthy storylines to come out of 2013 PG tournament and showcase schedules:

West tops East at PG All-American Classic; Nick Gordon receives Jackie Robinson Award

The 11th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings was played on a calm and cool Southern California evening for the fifth straight year at the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park. The West team out-ran the East Team, 8-6, to take a 6-4-1 lead in the premier event’s all-time series.

In a nip-and-tuck affair that saw the West leading 5-4 after five innings and 6-5 after eight, the Westerners finally put the game away with a pair of runs in the top of ninth inning. West catcher Jakson Reetz from Hickman, Neb., was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after going 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a runs scored.

“I'm really honored to be one of the guys to get this (award), playing with the 50 best guys in the nation,” Reetz said after accepting his MVP trophy from Classic Honorary Chairman Trevor Hoffman. "This has been a great experience for me and I just have to keep working hard and keep going with my career. … I just had fun playing baseball with these guys and it was an awesome experience for me.”

Eighteen of the 19 pitchers that took the mound threw 91 or harder, with nine of those pitchers (Tyler Kolek, Dylan Cease, Touki Toussaint, Grant Holmes, Kodi Medeiros, Brandon Murray, Luis Ortiz, Sean Reid-Foley and Zack Shannon) touching at least 95 mph. Kolek's 99 mph fastball set an event record, previously set at 98 by Mychal Givens in 2008.

"It's a privilege and an honor just to be here," said East team coach Chan Brown, the head coach at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga. "Being around the talent that we're getting chance to see; just watching them take BP is a 'Wow!' factor just to begin with. You can't ask for anything better than coming here and seeing the talent and the facilities, and the way Perfect Game runs things, it's the way to go."

Shortstop/right-handed pitcher Nick Gordon from Windermere, Fla., received the coveted Jackie Robinson Award, which recognizes the Perfect Game Player of the Year. Gordon was stellar at 22 PG events between 2010 and 2013 and rose all the way to the top of the national class of 2014 prospect rankings.

"This is a blessing and I love it," Gordon told PG after accepting the award at the PG All-American Classic Awards Banquet the night before the game. "The feeling that I had when they called my name nothing can explain it except that it was pure joy. Thank you Perfect Game for this award and thank you for inviting me to this event; I love it."

The other finalists for the Jackie Robinson Award were Alex Jackson (San Diego), Jacob Gatewood (Clovis, Calif.), Grant Holmes (Conway, S.C.), Jack Flaherty (Studio City, Calif.), Dylan Cease (Milton, Ga.), Tyler Kolek (Shepherd, Tex.) and Michael Gettys (Gainesville, Ga.).

This year's other award winners were:

Kolek, Baseball America Pitching Prospect of the Year; Gatewood, EvoShield SWAG Award; Alex Jackson, Baseball Prospectus Prospect of the Year; Derek Hill, Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year; and Devin Smeltzer, Nick Adenhart Award.

"It's been amazing," Gordon said. "It's been very competitive and a lot of hard work; everyday you've got to go out there and you've got to give your best and you can't go out there expecting to take a day off. Going out there and playing against these guys, it's tough every game you go out so you just have to go out and give your all."

Pitchers dominate at PG National Showcase; take over 2014 top-15

It had been known for at least two years that the high school grad class of 2014 was top-heavy with top-notch arms and dozens of those arms were put on display inside the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis in mid-June at the 2013 Perfect Game National Showcase.

Many of those arms were known commodities before they stepped out onto Mall of America Field. But at least three others used the PG National as their national coming-out parties and vaulted into the top-eight in the PG national prospect rankings.

Six-foot-five, 230-pound Texas right-hander Tyler Kolek smoked a 97 mph fastball while sitting 92-96 while also showing a “hard biting” slider that topped out at 81 mph. Kolek, who had pitched in only one other Perfect Game event almost a year before the PG National, was named the event’s top pitching prospect. His brother Stephen Kolek had been named the top pitching prospect at the PG Junior National Showcase only a few days earlier.

Tyler Kolek is ranked No. 4 nationally behind primary position players Michael Gettys, Nick Gordon and Alex Jackson. Gettys and Gordon are also accomplished right-handed pitchers, however, and both have delivered 94 mph fastballs at PG events.

Hawaii native Kodi Medeiros, a 6-foot, 180-pound left-hander from Hilo, provided the most discussion among scouts. Perfect Game scouts got their first look at the talented Medeiros when he walked out to the mound as the first pitcher at the showcase and promptly delivered a 94 mph fastball while also showing an outstanding slider.

Performing in front of hundreds of scouts, Medeiros vaulted into the national consciousness. The Pepperdine University recruit is now ranked No. 5 nationally and is regarded as the top Hawaiian draft prospect since the St. Louis Cardinals took 2007 PG National Showcase alumnus Kolten Wong in the first round of the 2011 MLB amateur draft out of the University of Hawaii.

“It’s been life-changing, really,” Medeiros said of the PG National Showcase experience while still in Minneapolis. “I didn’t really expect the kind of things that are happening to me right now. Just from me pitching and everything, just from that it’s really kind of changing my life.”

California right-hander Luis Ortiz was another kid that had attended only one other PG event before arriving in Minneapolis and that was an underclass tournament three years previously in 2010. He, too, flashed a fastball that sat 92-95 mph but it was his 84 mph slider that really had scouts salivating. He has leaped to No. 8 in the national prospect rankings.

Nine of the top 15-ranked prospects in the class of 2014 are primary pitchers and all of them pitched at the PG National Showcase.

When asked about the time he spent at the PG National, Ortiz said: “It was a great experience going out there and competing against the best players in the U.S.; it can’t get any better. You’re playing the top level and those are the guys you’re going to see later down the road.”

Gettys, Gordon, Jackson vault to top of 2014 rankings after PG National Showcase

Top of the line performances at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minneapolis in mid-June secured the top-three spots in the 2014 national prospect rankings for two-way standouts Michael Gettys from Gainesville, Ga., and Nick Gordon from Windermere, Fla., and for catcher Alex Jackson from Escondido, Calif.

Gettys, an outfielder and right-handed pitcher, rose to No. 1 after one of the most memorable performances in the PG National’s 13-year history, The Georgia recruit threw an event-record 100 mph from the outfield, delivered a 94 mph fastball, ran a 6.43-second 60-yard dash and showed “big over-the-fence power potential” at the plate.

"I had heard this was the biggest showcase with a lot of scouts here, along with the best players in the country," Gettys told PG. "It's great to get out here and show what you can do; it's just a blessing to be out here. … I came in here and I set my goals very high – be the fastest runner, throw the hardest from the outfield (and) be the best hitter."

Gordon, a shortstop and right-hander who spent some time in the No. 1 spot over the course of the year, threw 94 mph across the infield, produced a 92 mph fastball, ran the 60 in 6.68 and showed the ability to spray line drives all over the field. He is the son of former big-league pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon and a Florida State recruit.

Jackson sits at No. 3 in the rankings and showed off his athleticism at the PG National by throwing 98 from the outfield and 91 from behind home plate with a 1.75 Pop time, while also running a 6.83 60 – very impressive for a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder. Jackson has committed to Oregon.

All three players were selected to play in the 11th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings.

EvoShield Canes’ strong pitching leads to PG WWBA World, 17u PG World Series titles

Armed with a pitching staff anchored by Perfect Game All-American Grant Holmes and 19 roster spots occupied by the same top NCAA Division I prospects, the Virginia-based EvoShield Canes claimed prestigious Perfect Game national championships at the PG WWBA World Championship and the 17u Perfect Game World Series.

Additionally, the underclass EvoShield Canes 16u beat the EvoShield Canes North 16u in the championship game to win the PG WWBA 16u National Championships, giving the organization four top-two finishes at three PG national championship events in 2013.

Winning the exclusive 85-team PG WWBA World Championship title in Jupiter, Fla., the final week of October was the Canes’ crowning achievement. They finished the tournament with a 7-0-1 record after beating the Florida Burn, 4-3, in the championship game. The average score of their eight games, including a 1-1 tie, was 4-1.

The storyline was much the same at the elite 16-team 17u PG World Series played in Goodyear, Ariz., in late July. The Canes started out pool-play with a 2-0-3 record before rattling off four wins over the course of 24 hours, including a 2-0 win over the South Florida Elite Squad-Louisville Slugger in the championship game. The pitching stat lines at both tournaments were telling.

Canes general manager-owner and head coach Jeff Petty used 13 pitchers to work 58 innings at the 17u PG World Series, and they combined to give up 10 earned runs (1.21 ERA) on 32 hits with 76 strikeouts and 29 walks. At the PG WWBA World Championship, 11 pitchers combined to throw 52 sparkling innings, giving up six earned runs (0.81 ERA) on 35 hits with 54 strikeouts and 25 walks.

Lanky left-hander Ryan Avidano, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound high school senior from Fayetteville, Ga., and a Georgia commit, earned MV Pitcher honors at the PG WWBA World Championship. Avidano was the winning pitcher in the championship game against the Burn, and pitched six innings overall, allowing one earned run (1.17 ERA) with 12 strikeouts and no walks.

“We have a great (defense) behind us and they really pick us up when we’re down,” Avidano said. “It’s a team effort, really. Coming down here and playing for such a big team like the EvoShield Canes, you expect to go far but sometimes the championship still feels like a dream.”

Holmes, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander from Conway, S.C., who is ranked No. 6 overall in the class of 2014 PG national rankings, was named the Most Valuable Pitcher at the 17u PGWS. He won a pair of decisions while working eight innings, and allowed one earned run (0.88 ERA) on two hits with 16 strikeouts and three walks.

"It was a lot of good baseball and a lot of hot weather, and I felt better than I ever did before," Holmes said of the PGWS experience. "This is my first year playing with (the Canes) and it really paid off."

2014 right-handers Blake Bivens and Brett Daniels joined Holmes and Avidano as the Canes to earn all-tournament pitching recognition at both tournaments. Third baseman Charlie Cody, a 2014 Virginia recruit from Chesapeake, Va., was named the 17u PG World Series Most Valuable Player. The Canes’ roster also included 2013 PG All-American Justin Bellinger.

“These kids play together every weekend (during the summer) so they’re like brothers,” Petty said after the PG WWBA World Championship. “They travel all over the East Coast together; they probably played 100-plus games together this year. It’s a grind on the parents traveling every weekend, but it’s a really close-knit, family type group.”

The EvoShield Canes 16u and EvoShield Canes North 16u finished a combined 23-1 after meeting in the championship game at the PG WWBA 16u National Championship in Marietta, Ga., in July. They combined to place 15 prospects on the all-tournament team, including MV Player Danny Blair and co-MV Pitcher and left-hander Logan Allen from the Canes 16u.

Allen, ranked 108th nationally, also earned all-tournament honors at the 17u PG World Series. He shared the MV Pitcher award at the PG WWBA 16u National with Canes North 16u left-hander Connor Eason, the No. 94-ranked prospect in the 2015 class.

Orlando Scorpions win three PG national championships, four titles overall

The Florida-based Orlando Scorpions organization made 2013 “The Year of the Scorpion” by collecting Perfect Game national championship rings at the PG WWBA 17u National Championship, the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship and the 16u Perfect Game World Series. It picked up a fourth championship at the PG WWBA 18u Labor Day Classic.

In addition to the four titles, the organization also snagged runner-up trophies at the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship and the PG WWBA 18u East Memorial Day Classic, and was third at the prestigious PG WWBA World Championship.

The Scorpions’ organization’s overwhelming desire to achieve greatness was never more evident than at the PG WWBA 17u National Championship. Unrelenting rain forced PG officials into making the premier event a 280-team single-game elimination tournament and the Scorpions Prime responded with nine straight victories to claim the championship. Three of those wins came by one run, including a 3-2 victory over FTB Chandler in the title game.

“We’ve won several Perfect Game events but we’ve never won this event, and we talked about that going into it – how we wanted to get a banner so that when every walks in (to their headquarters) they see that banner – and we did it,” Scorpions owner and head coach Matt Gerber said. “They’re a great group; they compete and have fun.”

Another defining moment for the organization came at the PG WWBA Underclass World when the Orlando Scorpions ’15 Prime met the Scorpions ’16 Purple in the national championship event’s title game. The ’15 Prime – basically the same team that won the 16u PG World Series – came out on top, 14-2, after rolling through the stout field with an 8-0 record.

“When I walked (into jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla.), I felt like a proud dad,” Gerber said. “This (2015) group is obviously very talented. They won the (PG) 16u World Series and we came into this with one thing in mind, and that was to win.”

Catcher Nick Fortes from Deland, Fla., a Mississippi recruit ranked 46th nationally, enjoyed a terrific summer and fall with the Scorpions ’15 Prime and was named the Most Valuable Player at both the 16u PG World Series and the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship. He was also all-tournament at the PG WWBA 17u National, the PG WWBA Florida Qualifier and the PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classic.

2015 right-hander Logan Crouse from Valrico, Fla., was named the MV Pitcher at the 16u PG World Series.

Shortstop Brendan Rodgers from Longwood, Fla., a Florida State commit ranked the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2015, was stellar all summer and fall and was named to all-tournament teams at four events, including the PG WWBA 17u National and the PG WWBA World Championship.

“I’m just basically looking forward to getting better; I want to show off my talent and the things I’ve been working real hard for,” Rodgers said at the PG WWBA Florida Qualifier in early October. “I want to represent the Scorpions (well) by showing everyone that we’re trying to be the best team we can be.”

Other top performers included 2014 outfielder Adam Haseley, all-tournament at both the PG WWBA World and PG WWBA 17u National; 2014 middle-infielder Logan Warmoth, also all-tournament at both the PG WWBA World and PG WWBA 17u National; and 2014 left-hander Foster Griffin, the Most Valuable Pitcher at the PG WWBA 17u National and a PG All-American.

2016 southpaw Drew Parrish was named the MV Pitcher at the PG WWBA Underclass World while pitching for the Scorpions ’16 Purple and was named to three other all-tournament teams throughout the summer.

Banditos dominate younger age groups; Dodgers, Pats strong there, too

The Texas-based Houston Banditos behind organization founder, owner and head coach Ray DeLeon, ruled the roost at PG’s younger age-group tournaments, only to be pushed time and again by Tennessee-based Dulin Dodgers and Texas-based Dallas Patriots teams.

Young Banditos squads won championships at the 14u Perfect Game World Series July 30-Aug. 3, in Fort Myers, Fla., July 30-Aug. 3, and at the 13u PG BCS Finals June 20-26, also in Fort Myers. They were second at the 14u PG BCS Finals July 4-10 (Fort Myers), and third at both the 15u PG World Series July 30-Aug. 3 (Fort Myers) and the PG WWBA 15u National Championship June 21-28 in Marietta, Ga.

“This is our future; this is one of the best teams in our organization,” DeLeon said after the Houston Banditos beat the Georgia Jackets in the championship game at the 14u PG World Series. “These guys are the guys and they’ve got to learn to be in the grease at an early age. Perfect Game enables us to come out here and who that we’re the best in the country; we can honestly say that we are the best team in the country today.”

2016 outfielder Tyler Hicks from Spring, Texas, was named the 14u PGWS Most Valuable Player while 2016 right-hander Landon Miner from Tomball, Texas, earned MV Pitcher honors. They were two nine Banditos named to the event’s all-tournament team.

Miner, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore at Bryan High School ranked No. 92 nationally in the class of 2016, was also named the Most Valuable Pitcher at the 14u PG BCS Finals. In five starts at those two PG national tournaments, Miner combined to pitch 24 2/3 innings and gave up one earned run (0.28 ERA) on 15 hits with 34 strikeouts and just two walks.

The Houston Banditos Black shared the 13u PG BCS Finals championship with Chain Stealth after rain and lightning forced the cancellation of the tournament during the playoffs’ semifinal round. The Banditos and Stealth were named co-champs because they were leading their semifinal games comfortably late and because they were the playoffs’ top-two seeds.

Staying in the younger age groups, the Dulin Dodgers won the title at the PG WWBA 15u National Championship June 21-28 in Marietta, Ga., and got a third place finish from Dodgers team at the PG WWBA 14u National Championship June 29-July 4, also in Marietta.

Riley Self, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound 2016 right-hander out of Grenada, Miss., earned Most Valuable Pitcher honors at the PG WWBA 15u National. He was one of seven Dodgers named to the event’s all-tournament team.

The Dallas Patriots won the 15u Perfect Game World Series national championship behind the play of tournament MV Player Mike Neustifter (2016, Carrollton, Texas) and MV Pitcher Alex Scherff (2017, Colleyville, Texas). A total of eight Patriots were named to the all-tournament team.

“Our guys, at the end of the day, they just played as a team,” Patriots founder and head coach Logan Stout said. “We don’t pick guys up, we just bring our group and it’s a group that has been part of our program all year. I’m just proud of how they executed; they just played together as a group of people all trying to accomplish the same goal.”

In the older age groups, the Banditos won the PG WWBA South Qualifier; the Dodgers won the PG WWBA 18u National Championship and finished third at the PG WWBA 17u National Championship; and the Patriots were runners-up at the PG WWBA South Qualifier and ran third at the 16u PG World Series.

Perfect Game/EvoShield National Championships continue to grow out West

What has become an annual gathering in the west Phoenix suburbs for most of the top upper class and underclass teams from the western Plains states to the Pacific Coast on consecutive weekends in September, continued to grow in size and stature in 2013.

The Perfect Game/EvoShield Upper class National Championship and the PG/EvoShield Underclass National Championship have emerged in the past three years as the premier PG tournaments for West Coast teams that don’t want to travel to Florida and Georgia for other PG national championship events.

Played on first-rate, major league spring training fields in Goodyear and Glendale, these events have become “must do” for many elite level teams in just three years time.

This year’s PG/EvoShield Upper field consisted of a record 76 teams from 12 states and Canada, with 44 of those teams from California. Garciaparra Baseball Group (GBG) Marucci Navy, based in Los Angeles, slipped by the two-time finalist So Cal Bombers 2014 Black in the championship game to complete the tournament with a 7-0 mark.

GBG 2014 left-hander Kyle Smith from Torrance, Calif., was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher while 2016 infielder/right-hander Spencer Steer from Long Beach, Calif., earned Most Valuable Player honors. Twelve GBG prospects were named to the all-tournament team, with Steer being named as both a hitter and pitcher.

“I’m really, really proud about this (championship) because every single player that played in this one was a player that was from our program,” GBG founder and head coach Mike Garciaparra said. “We didn’t borrow (players) from any other team … and my father (Ramon) and I – and we as a staff – are extremely excited that every single one of these players GBG players from the start of the summer until now.”

Sixty-four teams – up from 48 in 2012 – competed for the PG/EvoShield Under title, and perhaps one of the finest underclass teams ever assembled for a PG tournament proved to be too much for the rest of the field, including the So Cal National Travel Team, which it edged 4-3 in the championship game at Goodyear Ballpark.

The SACSN National Team, a team constructed specifically for this tournament by program founder and head coach Frank Torre Jr. and loosely based in Palm Beach County, Co., started the tournament with a roster that included seven 2015 prospects ranked in the top-58 nationally. Outfielder Dazmon Cameron, the class of 2015’s No. 1-ranked prospect, was among them.

SACSN left-hander Max Wotell from Marvin, N.C., ranked No. 58 in the 2015 grad class, was named the tournament’s MV Pitcher. So Cal NTT catcher Jack McPherson from Mountain Brook, Ala., was named the Most Valuable Player.

Top 2015s, ‘16s make gains at PG Jr. National Showcase; PG Underclass All-American Games

While No. 1-ranked 2015 prospect Dazmon Cameron decided to not attend any PG showcase events in 2013 – he was on rosters at 11 PG tournaments held between early June and late October, helping the East Cobb Astros to the 17u PG BCS Finals title – several other top 2015s and 2016s climbed the rankings due to their participation in the premier 2013 PG Junior National Showcase and PG Underclass All-American Games Showcase.

Florida shortstop Brendan Rodgers and Georgia outfielder/shortstop Jahmai Jones were both terrific at the Junior National at the Metrodome in Minneapolis in mid-June, and climbed to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the class of 2015 PG national rankings. Jones made the biggest splash as the Junior National provided him with his first big-time exposure in front of the scouting community, and he didn’t disappoint.

“I’m just glad that I was fortunate enough to be invited to go to this showcase; it’s just been a blessing to be here,” Jones told PG in June. “I just thank my parents and my coaches and everybody that’s been around me for helping me get here right now.”

2015 Colorado shortstop Nicholas Shumpert attended four PG showcases between early June and early December – the Rocky Mountain Showcase, the Junior National Showcase, the Underclass All-American Games Showcase and the National Underclass Showcase-Session 1 – and was named to the Top Prospect List at all four. The University of Kentucky commit rose to No. 8 in the national rankings.

Texas catcher and Oklahoma recruit Michael Hickman climbed to No. 12 in the class of 2015 national rankings after showing exceptional power hitting potential at the PG Junior National.

Shumpert wasn’t the only top 2015 prospect make some hay during the PG Underclass All-American Games at the University of San Diego in mid-August. Pennsylvania shortstop John Aiello, a Wake Forest commit, made the long trip to the West Coast and was named the event’s Top Prospect; he jumped to No. 5 in the national rankings.

Las Vegas right-hander Nolan Kingman was rated as the top pitcher at the Underclass All-American Games and moved up to No. 11 in the 2015 rankings.

No. 3-ranked Georgia outfielder Seth Beer and No. 15-ranked Utah right-hander Dakota Donovan were the top 2016s to come out of the Junior National Showcase. No. 5-ranked California outfielder Blake Rutherford was among the top 2016 prospect at the Underclass All-American Games.

Perfect Game launches PG Super25 tournament series

On June 3, Perfect Game announced the creation of the PG Super25, a nationwide series of qualifying, regional and super regional tournaments that will culminate in the crowning of a true national champion in nine age groups, 9-and-under through 17-and-under.

By the first of November, the first three of what will eventually be 225 teams had already earned berths in their respective PG Super25 National Championship tournaments held at five sites in late July and early August, 2014.

The Perfect Game Super25 tournament series is distinctive in that it emphasizes the concept of “TEAM” in that the same roster must be adhered through the entire series process, from qualifier tournaments all the way to the nine 25-team national championship events.

"The Perfect Game Super25 mission is simply to keep baseball a 'Team Sport' for decades to come,” Perfect Game founder and president Jerry Ford said. "By keeping teams together from the qualifying tournaments through the regional tournaments and onto the National Championships, the Perfect Game Super25 emphasizes team commitment, integrity, chemistry and the reward of winning as a team.”

The year 2013 will always be remembered as the year the PG Super25 tournament series was launched. Look for the PG Super25 to firmly establish itself in 2014 and beyond.

17th annual PG World Showcase sets 2013 showcase calendar in motion

Keeping with a tradition that began at Terry Park in 1997, the Perfect Game World Showcase got the PG showcase ball rolling for the 17th straight year Jan. 5-6, 2013, right back at venerable old Terry Park near historic downtown Fort Myers, Fla.

Nearly 700 alumni of this event – designed as a wintertime holiday season getaway for high school seniors where they can once again perform in front of the MLB scouting community – have been drafted during its long run, including 27 2013 attendees who went on to be selected in MLB First-Year Player Draft six months later.

Five of those top 2013 prospects were selected in the first 10 rounds of the draft, and all five of them signed: catcher Jon Denney, third round, Red Sox; shortstop Jan Alexis Hernandez, third round, Phillies; right-hander Cory Thompson, fifth round, Reds; shortstop Malik Collymore, 10th round, Cardinals; and third baseman Ian Hagenmiller, 10th round, Braves.

A pair of 2013 alumni from the Dominican Republic – Jose Almonte and Jacob Constante – signed amateur free agent contracts after the event. Almonte, an outfielder, agreed to a $1.8 million signing bonus from the Rangers and Constante, a left-handed pitcher, received $730,000 from the Reds.

More than 100 2013 PG World Showcase alumni committed to colleges, including many of the players that were drafted.

The PG World Showcase is not restricted to only high school seniors and top Latin American prospects. Counted among the top 2014 prospects in attendance last January were No. 2-ranked Nick Gordon and No. 31-ranked Milton Ramos, a pair of standout middle-infielders who played alongside each other during the summer and fall for FTB Chandler.

Florida’s Venice Senior High School wins inaugural PG High School Showdown

Perfect Game put on its first PG High School Showdown in Fort Myers, Fla., in early April and Venice (Fla.) Senior High School proved why it had climbed into the top three in PG’s National High School Rankings.

The PG High School Showdown debuted as an eight-team event, with four of the top programs from Florida squaring off in head-to-head competition with four counterparts from Georgia. The four Florida entries were Venice, Montverde Academy, Mater Academy and Sarasota. Parkview, Blessed Trinity, Cartersville and Savannah Christian represented Georgia.

Each team played a single pool game against the teams from the other state and Venice was the only team to sail through with a 4-0 record. Sarasota and Mater Academy were both 3-1 against their Georgia foes and Florida wound up dominating the tournament with an overall record of 11-5.

Venice Senior, which finished the season ranked No. 2 in PG’s National High School Rankings, not only went unbeaten at the Showdown but also un-scored upon. The Indians outscored their four opponents by a combined 19-0, including a 9-0 win over Blessed Trinity in what turned out to be the championship game.

Eight Venice pitchers combined to allow no runs on 14 hits in 28 innings, with 25 strikeouts and 10 walks. Just as impressively, the Venice defense committed only two errors in 112 chances in four games, and its base-runners stole 11 bases.

Five Venice Senior players were named to the all-tournament team, including 2013 standouts Nick Longhi, Colton Lightner and Tyson Albert. Highly ranked 2014 prospects Dalton Guthrie and Michael Rivera were also named.

Guthrie and Rivera, both Florida signees, were among at least eight Venice Senior High players that helped the Mark Guthrie-coached Florida Burn teams win four Perfect Game tournament championships in the past two years, including the 18u PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classic this year.

Current Venice seniors Guthrie, Rivera, Brandon Elmy, Ryan Miller and Kade Hunkapiller were on the Florida Burn roster that finished as runner-up to the EvoShield Canes at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., in late October.

Rivera, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound catcher, is among the most decorated PG performers over the past two years. He was named to the all-tournament team in nine of the last 14 events in which he’s played, including the PG WWBA East Memorial Day Classic, PG High School Showdown, 17u PG BCS Finals, PG WWBA Florida Qualifier and PG WWBA World Championship in 2013.

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