Making the PG Dean's List

Photo: Emanuel Dean (Perfect Game)

Jeff Dahn
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The scene on the playing field and in the stands at San Diego’s Petco Park at the conclusion of the Perfect Game All-American Classic is always one of celebration, camaraderie, hugs and high-fives. Players from both teams exalt in their accomplishments, friends and family members scramble to get photos and kids – there are always hundreds of kids – try to gain the attention of their favorite player.

That was certainly the way it unfolded at last year’s 16th annual PGAAC after the West topped the East, 4-2, for its seventh win in the last eight years. West outfielder Emanuel Dean was anxious to join his teammates at the postgame party, but there was a little business he wanted to take care of first.

Dean, who lives in Anaheim Hills, Calif., and is a senior at Servite High School, went over to the stands and presented a young boy – whom he did not know – with one of his PGAAC personalized bats. It was a classic moment in the history of the Classic.

“Throughout the game I was giving out all my stuff, all my equipment, for some weird reason,” Dean told PG during a telephone conversation last week. “I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to give something back to somebody and expecting nothing in return; that’s the true joy. I just want to give back to people and inspire kids.

“I had multiple Perfect Game bats that I got from that event, and after the game I thought, OK, I’m just going to go up and give this kid a bat,” he added. “I gave him the bat and it was just a great feeling because he looked so happy; it was just so much fun.”

It’s difficult to imagine another player in either dugout who enjoyed the Classic experience as much as Dean did, and not only in the moment but to this day, as well. He’s a bright, affable, 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander with 6.68-second speed (60 yard dash), a strong arm (93 mph from the outfield) and a 101 mph exit velo off the bat. PG ranks him the No. 46 overall prospect in the class of 2019.

But there’s more to Dean than running and raking, as he showed with his selflessness at the Classic. He carries a 3.2 grade-point average at Servite – an all-male Catholic prep school in Anaheim – and has signed a letter-of-intent with UCLA.

His mother, Senetha Dean, is an emergency medical technician who played college softball at Cal State Fullerton and she was the one who sort of pointed her son towards baseball. She’s enjoyed watching him grow and not only learn to play the game with a passion.

“This whole time, I just always wanted him to get better, and I always tell people that,” Senetha told PG over phone last week. “To see where he came from to (where he is) now is amazing. He put in all that hard work and we’re just enjoying that journey.”

Senetha Dean raised Emanuel and his younger brother, Elijah, pretty much on her own, and Emanuel is appreciative of her efforts and sacrifices, almost beyond words.

“She’s probably the strongest woman I’ve ever known,” Dean said of his mom. “She’s been there for me since day-one and she brought me into baseball and taught me the foundation of this game. … She’s the one that’s been there for me through the hardships and everything and I truly love her for that.”

There have been bumps in the road and the biggest one came in early February when Emanuel’s father, also named Emanuel Dean, died unexpectedly. The elder Dean was a musician/songwriter/record producer who worked on records for noted artists like Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre, among others.

“Emanuel is very strong and he tries to keep things in, but as a family we’ve been talking about it a lot lately,” Senetha said. “At first, he did take it pretty (hard) but then he went out and played his next game; he didn’t miss it.”

“It was difficult because it was two days before our season started,” Dean said. “It was hard for me because he was always working and he didn’t really get to see me play baseball or any sports, but he was so proud of me. … We were just talking about him coming to watch one of my baseball games but unfortunately he passed away.

“It broke my heart, it really did, but it also inspired to me to work even harder and get better,” he added. “Every day is not promised and you’ve just got to out there like it’s your last day and have fun with life because you never know what’s going to happen – that’s what I took away from it.”

His overall experiences at Servite HS and his baseball experiences at Perfect Game have helped shape the young man Dean has become. The Servite Friars play in the CIF Southern Section Trinity Baseball League, one of Southern California’s strongest. Other league members include traditional national powers like Orange Lutheran (No. 1-ranked in the PGHS Top-50 National Rankings) and JSerra Catholic. But again, there’s more to his high school experience than just baseball.

“I feel like I’ve developed more as a person than as a ballplayer,” Dean said. “”I’ve gotten more mature over the years, just learning life lessons from my teachers and my coaches. That’s probably the biggest take-away from Servite is becoming a man and learning how to use my emotions and focus on things, and time management, which is very big for me. I make sure I plan out my day and then go at it 100 percent each and every single day.”

His mom couldn’t be more proud: “If I had to do it all over again I would have still sent him to Servite,” Senetha said. “He changed into a gentleman, an amazing, polite young man. I’m so thankful for Servite; his experience there has been great.”

Dean excelled at PG showcases the last several years and earned Top Prospect List recognition at the 2015 and 2016 West Coast Underclass, and the 2017 PG Underclass All-American Games. He also shined at the 2018 PG National Showcase which ultimately led to his invitation to the Classic.

“It gave me so much exposure in front of scouts and colleges in general,” Dean said of those showcase experiences. “It really helped me out with my baseball career so far, so I really do appreciate (PG) giving me the opportunity to go to these showcases and show what I can do.”

Dean also played in several PG WWBA tournaments in addition to his showcase experiences, and was named to a couple of all-tournament teams, most recently at the 2016 15u PG WWBA National Championship in Georgia. His last tournament was the 2018 PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., where he was a member of the MLB Breakthrough Series team.

“It’s been beneficial us to get out and see other players from across the country, and he’s made so many friends,” Senetha said. She was quick to add that Emanuel’s younger brother, 11-year-old Elijah Dean, will soon be following his brothers’ footsteps down the Perfect Game path.

“I’m always telling people that I’m going to be going through this all again,” she said with a laugh. “There might be some of the things that I won’t do but we’re going to do showcases, for sure.”

Emanuel Dean is in the process of finishing up his final season of high school ball and Servite is holding its own in the tough Trinity League. “I’m having fun, especially since it’s my last year of high school,” he said, “and that’s what it’s all about.”

By signing with UCLA, Dean can already look forward to what should be a very exciting next chapter of his athletic and academic life. It is also expected that his name will be called in the upcoming MLB June Amateur Draft but he tries not to dwell on that scenario since it’s not something he can really control; UCLA, on the other hand, is a lock. It is worth noting that his PGAAC West teammates Corbin Carroll and Darius Perry have also signed with UCLA.

“It’s the best fit for me program-wise and education-wise, because that’s very important,” Dean said. “I looked at the program and it felt very similar to my high school program. … I just really fell in love with it and the guys there are great, and I couldn’t pass up on it.”

The first Perfect Game event Dean participated in was the 2013 12u All-American Championship in Poway, Calif., near San Diego. That tournament was held Aug. 8-12 at the same time as the 2013 Classic, and the young Dean had the opportunity to attend the game.

“I told myself that this is what I want to do; I want to make this event,” he said. “That’s when it really started for me and then getting selected to play in the game was absolutely amazing; the guys, they were insane. It was like a dream for me that came true and I had a great experience.”

It seems as if every PG All-American will tell you that the highlight of the long weekend is the visit to Rady Children’s Hospital where the players are given the opportunity to interact with several of the young patients, bringing smiles by the miles to their faces.

“That was the biggest for me, just seeing those kids, it reminded me to not take anything for granted,” Dean said. “Seeing kids that are less fortunate than me, it just breaks my heart. I’m over here playing baseball with God-given abilities … and I want to make sure I don’t take anything for granted and be grateful for what I have.”

And, speaking of smiles, Senetha Dean recalled how thrilled her son was when he was first invited to the Classic and how a smile never left his face for four straight days in San Diego.

Senetha also noted that she really didn’t get much of a chance to interact with Emanuel while they were in San Diego simply because of the demand put on the players’ time. There are baseball-related seminars and practices wrapped around the much-anticipated visit to Rady’s and Hall-of-Famer Trevor Hoffman’s Pacific Ocean beach house.

So, due to that lack of contact, Senetha didn’t know of her son’s plan to give one of his bats away, although it was a fairly spontaneous act anyway. When she found out what he had done, she wasn’t the least bit surprised because she has raised him to be a caring, sharing young man; she’s obviously done a pretty good job of that.

“You see your kid at these amazing events and it’s just like, ‘Wow!’,” Senetha said. “We’re very spiritual and we just thank God for the whole process. It’s been cool … and I’m just so proud of him.”

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