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PG Select Baseball Festival | General | 9/1/2019

Players feted at Awards Dinner

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Drew Burress (Perfect Game)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – To simply make the observation that Drew Burress grew up in a baseball-centric environment is way too brief of a statement to tell his life story to date. But it does sum things up in a nutshell and it’s already starting to pay dividends.

Burress, the son of Five Star Baseball owner/president Andy Burress, was named the 2019 14u Perfect Game Diamond Kinetics Offensive Player of the Year during presentations at Saturday night’s PG 14u Select Baseball Festival Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort in Bonita Springs.

“Every day, day-in, day-out, my biggest thing is that I want to hit,” Burress told PG on Sunday while the 44 2019 PG 14u Select Baseball Festival players were getting photos taken on the jetBlue Park playing field, where the 4th annual 14u Select Fest game was to be played later Sunday.

“That’s the most fun thing to do in baseball. When you’re hitting well you’re having fun, no matter what else is going on in the game.”

The presentation of the 2019 14u Offensive Player of the Year was just one of seven awards handed-out during the annual dinner, during which all of the players were recognized for their play on the field and for their record-breaking fund-raising efforts that benefitted Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

Termarr Johnson, a 5-foot-9, 150-pound 2022 shortstop out of Atlanta who was co-featured in this piece on PG’s website Saturday, received the PG 14u National Player of the Year Award 12 months after he was named the 14u Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year at the 2018 Awards Dinner.

“That’s been my daily journey, waking up, going to sleep and then just baseball (in between),” Johnson told PG on Saturday. “I’ve been trying to develop and I’ve been trying to keep myself in position to even be looked at by these Perfect Game guys because they’re so selective, and for me to be good enough to even be looked at by them, it’s just a blessing for me. …

“My mind-set has basically been nobody can beat you but you’ve got to do better because you’re never good enough,” he added. “Just keep doing what you’re doing and try to be better every day.”

The 14-year-old Burress, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound 2023 centerfielder out of Perry, Ga., was also one of four finalists for the 14u PG Player of the Year Award. He played in 70 games for Five Star Baseball this past summer and could always be counted on for his steady presence in the everyday lineup.

Burress went 62-for-184 (.337) with 62 extra-base hits (5 HRs, 5 3Bs, 19 2Bs), drove in 43 runs and scored 69, and managed to steal 26 bases along the way; his OBP was .430 and is OPS 1.006.

“To me, you try to make hitting easy; it’s really complicated so you have to try to think as little as possible,” he said. “I’m always looking for a fastball in the zone to hit up the middle, and a lot of time my approach can get messed up, and that’s when I’m not hitting well.”

Jake Lankie, a 6-foot, 140-pound 2023 right-hander from McDonough, Ga., who celebrated his 15th birthday on Saturday, was named the 14u PG Pitcher of the Year. Playing with the GA Jackets, Lankie went 4-1 with a 1.20 ERA, giving up eight earned runs on 30 hits in 46 innings pitched, while striking out 62 and walking 18.

“With all the countless days of work that everybody’s putting into this, to be recognized as the best is more than anybody could ask for,” Lankie told PG Sunday, before adding this about the approach he takes on the mound: “I definitely want to throw strikes; all I want to do is pound the zone. I can’t beat myself out there, I’ve got to make the other team beat me.”

2023 shortstop Steven Milam, a 5-foot-6, 140-pounder from Las Cruces, N.M., was named the 14u PG Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year. Milam, who turned 15 on Aug. 10, played regularly for USA Prime this summer.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Milam said Sunday. “I thank my dad (also Steven) a lot for helping me and putting in the work every day, hitting me ground balls and being there to flip me balls when nobody else would. … It’s one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve had but I’m not done yet.”

He then spoke of his recognition of important it was to be mentally prepared when manning the shortstop position.

“The mind is the strongest muscle in the body so you have to be mentally focused, mentally ready all the time,” he said. “Anything hit at you’ve got to get to it, no matter what.”

Each of the young prospects invited to this year’s 14u Select Baseball have grown up around baseball and each one of them were deserving of the recognition they received Saturday night. To a man, they were grateful for the support of their families, and Drew Burress is especially appreciative of the opportunities he’s been given.

“(Five Star Baseball has) always had a bunch of good teams and I’ve always got to play with good competition and play against good competition just to continue to get better,” he said. “My dad always pushes me and I always know that I can strive to be better than I was yesterday.”

Here are this year’s PG 14u Select Baseball Festival award winners, with hometowns in parentheses:

PG Player of the Year: Termarr Johnson (Atlanta)

PG Pitcher of the Year: Jake Lankie (McDonough, Ga.)

Diamond Kinetics Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Burress (Perry, Ga.)

Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year: Steven Milam (Las Cruces, N.M.)

G-Form Unstoppable Award: Cam Collier (Austell, Ga.)

Re-Play 5-Tool Award: Nazier Mule (Paterson, N.J.)

PG 2-Way Player Award: Aidan Miller (Trinity, Fla.)

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