PG Select Baseball Festival | General | 8/29/2019

4th 14u Fest on tap at the Fort

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Nicholas Perez (Perfect Game)

See also: 14u PG Select Roster Preview | MLB.com Live Video Stream

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Perfect Game 14u Select Baseball Festival will be held this Labor Day Weekend at the jetBlue Park Player Development Complex, and the fourth rendition of the popular event is looking to be better than ever.

The 44 top prospects from the national prep classes of 2022 and 2023 invited to the PG 14u Select Fest are wrapping up their fund-raising efforts that benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and will begin checking in at the host Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Hotel in Bonita Springs, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 29.

The players will take part in a variety of activities on Friday and Saturday – including the annual visit to Golisano Children’s on Friday afternoon – leading up to the all-star game’s first pitch at jetBlue Park at 7 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 1; it will be televised live on CBS Sports and live-streamed on MLB.com.

Perfect Game is once again extending free tickets to the game to all families who reside in Lee County. New this year is a free youth kids camp for youngsters 12-and-under to be held at jetBlue Park Sunday morning from 8-11, open to the first 300 local kids who register; former big-leaguers and PG personnel will offer the instruction,

This year’s two teams will be coached by former MLB pitchers Tom “Flash” Gordon and Tanyon Sturtze; this is the second year the long-time PG booster Gordon has coached one of the teams. He obviously enjoys interacting with the young ballplayers.

“You see it that these kids now are starting to get a good grasp on what it is that they do very well,” Gordon told PG last year. “You help them by enhancing what they can do and by giving them information about what to look for down the line. When I get a chance to be around kids – it doesn’t matter what age – I’m trying to see what I can do to help them and give them some words of encouragement.

“They ask a lot of questions, and that’s what you always want,” he added. “I’ve always told them that no question is a bad question … so just ask all the questions that you want.”

There are nine class of 2022 prospects ranked in the top-200 nationally, including shortstop Termarr Johnson from Atlanta at No. 3; shortstop/right-hander Nazier Mule (Paterson, N.J., No. 26); catcher Karson Bowen (Anaheim Hills, Calif., No. 28); shortstop Nicolas Perez (Isabela, P.R., No. 40) and Matthew Matthijs (Greenville, N.C., No. 190) from Team Sturtze.

Top Team Gordon 2022s include third baseman/right-hander Demitri Diamant (Las Vegas, Nev., No. 69); outfielder Nolan Schubart (Durand, Mich., No. 126); outfielder Devan Meran (Aventura, Fla., No. 183) and right-hander Kevin Jaxel (Congers, N.Y., No. 197). Most of the 33 class of 2023 players rostered here this weekend are ranked as a top-550 prospect at this point in their careers.

All the players in attendance will be trying to build on a legacy established by the players that performed on this national stage the previous three years.

Maurice Hampton, an alumnus of the inaugural 2016 PG Select Baseball Festival became the first player to become a PG All-American when he was selected to play in the 2018 Classic. Eight more alumni from the 2016 Festival – including MVP Calvin Harris from Peosta, Iowa – were at this year’s PG All-American Classic in August, as were four alumni – Blaze Jordan, Carson Montgomery, Alejandro Rosario and Mario Zabala – from the 2017 Festival.

Robert Moore from Leawood, Kan., and Alex Freeland from Cape Coral, Fla., also became PG All-Americans after taking part in the 2016 Select Fest.

“You take everything one day at a time … and those two games (the Festival and the Classic) are unbelievable accomplishments; just very cool,” Moore told PG this summer.

Added Freeland: “I’ve been playing this game for a while and I’ve been around these kind of guys. We’ve all grown up playing against each other, playing with each other. It’s kind of cool to see that we’re all coming to the same events, especially some of the  guys that were in the 14u (Select Festival).”

Festival participants raised more than $80,000 for Golisano Children’s Hospital in the first three years and nearly $30,000 had already been raised by this year’s players by early this week. Lee County Health Foundation Senior Special Events Manager Jason Powella told PG last year that the PG Cares Foundation’s partnership with the hospital has beneficial for everyone.

“I think it has actually been an incredible fit,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have each of these (players) who are coming to play at this (event) raise money on their own with their family and friends.”

The game itself has been also been an excellent fit for the young prospects who have been able to participate. 2022 outfielder/right-hander Riley Stanford out of Gainesville, Ga. – now the No. 5-ranked prospect in his class – was named the MVP at last year’s Festival after stroking a triple and a double and throwing one hitless, scoreless inning for Team Gordon. The Festival experience is something he’ll never forget.

“That’s my game right there and hopefully I can continue to do it in the future,” Stanford told PG during postgame comments last Labor Day Weekend. “This has been amazing. I’m with the best players, and not only are they the best players but they’re the best people.

“And the best coaches are here, also,” he added. “Not only have they taught me to be a better baseball player but they’ve also taught me how to be a better person in general.”

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