Showcase : : Story
Friday, January 29, 2010

PG National Showcases Moved to Tropicana Field

Jim Ecker        

The 2010 National Showcase and Junior National Showcase are changing domes.

These two premier Perfect Game events will be held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., this June, rather than at the Metrodome in Minneapolis as had been previously announced. The events had to be moved due to a scheduling conflict for one of the days in the Metrodome. Everything else remains the same, including the dates.

This will be the fourth time that the National Showcase will be held at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, joining previous trips to the Trop in 2001, 2002 and 2004. The domed field ensures against any weather-related delays.

The Junior National Showcase will be held on Tuesday, June 15 and Wednesday, June 16 for players who will graduate from high school in 2012. This event is for players who are currently sophomores in high school, and there will be approximately 60 to 80 spots for these top national-level underclassmen.

The 10th annual National Showcase will be held immediately after the Junior Nationals, starting on Thursday, June 17 and running through Sunday, June 20. The National Showcase is for players who will graduate high school in 2011 and will be draft eligible in 2011.

The National Showcase will feature approximately 220 of the top high school rising seniors in the nation and will be heavily scouted, as usual, by all 30 major league teams and hundreds of college coaches. The Major League Scouting Bureau also plans on having a strong presence at the events. And obviously, most of the top agents in the business also will be in attendance.

Perfect Game began extending invitations to both showcases in early January. The invitations are based on the opinions, recommendations and evaluations of Perfect Game scouts, major league scouts and college coaches.

The 2009 National Showcase featured an impressive array of talent last June in the Metrodome, including 37 of the 40 players who were eventually selected for the Aflac All-American game in August. Stetson Allie flashed his 98 mph fastball and Jameson Taillon wasn’t far behind with a 96 mph heater. A.J. Cole, Yordy Cabrera, DeAndre Smelter, Karston Whitson, Kevin Gausman and Aaron Sanchez all hit 94 or better on the radar gun as a string of powerful arms took the mound.

The 2009 National Showcase also featured a spectacular battle between Justin O’Conner and Kris Bryant in the Rawlings Home Run Challenge, with both players sending rockets all over the Metrodome. O’Conner edged Bryant for the title in a tiebreaker and finished with 15 homers, compared to 14 for Bryant.

Mitchell Shifflett dazzled everyone in the Dome with a 6.11-second clocking in the 60-yard dash, snapping the old record of 6.17 seconds set by Xavier Avery in the 2007 National Showcase. There were record-setting performances on defense as well, with Keenan Kish clocking 96 mph on his infield throw and Michael Lorenzen hitting 99 mph on one of his throws from the outfield.

It was quite a weekend in the Metrodome last June, but it was nothing new. The National Showcase has featured outstanding performances by some of the top high school players since the event began in 2001. That initial showcase at Tropicana Field featured Prince Fielder, B.J. Upton, Denard Span and Scott Kazmir, among many others who went on to become first-round draft picks and major league stars. That 2001 event also featured a young pitcher named Zack Greinke, who won the American League Cy Young Award this past season.

The 2002 National Showcase at Tropicana Field featured Chad Billingsley, Andrew Miller, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Lastings Milledge, all of whom became first-round picks (part of 11 first-round picks at that event). Oakland outfielder Ryan Sweeney was one of several second-round selections.

Tommy Hanson, who excelled as a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves this past season, participated in the 2003 National Showcase along with MLB All Star Justin Upton, Chris Davis of the Rangers and several others who have since made it to the Major Leagues. The 2004 Showcase featured 16 eventual first-round picks including Major Leaguers Cameron Maybin, Colby Rasmus, Chris Volstad, Buster Posey, Gerardo Parra, Jonathan Niese and Andrew McCutcheon, among others.

The 2005 PG National saw 14 players selected in the first round along with several second-round picks, including Oakland lefty Brett Anderson. The 2005 showcase might have been the best year for all-around athletes, with this year’s Heisman runnerup Toby Gerhart, Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper, LSU wide receiver Jared Mitchell and Florida State’s D’Vontrey Richardson all going to play college football while big-time football recruits like Derrick Robinson, Brent Brewer and Domonic Brown all signed pro contracts to play baseball.

Some argue which was better, the 2006 PG National or the 2007 PG National? The 2007 event was outstanding with talent like first rounders Eric Hosmer, Ethan Martin, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Skipworth and pitchers like Gerrit Cole, Tim Melville, B.J. Hermsen, Alex Meyer, Brett DeVall, Sonny Gray, Trey Haley, Jake Odorizzi, Robbie Ross, Brad Hand, Quinton Miller, Zeke Spruill, Jack Armstrong and many others. Also Tim Beckham, the first pick overall in the 2008 draft, starred at the 2007 PG National. Several of the top players from that 2007 event are presently starring in college.

However, our pick as the top PG National to date would be 2006. That year a record 17 PG National players were selected in the first round including Rick Porcello, Jason Heyward and Madison Bumgarner, while seven others went in the second round. There were many others, including position players like Christian Colon, Kentrail Davis, Hunter Morris, Kevin Keyes, DJ LeMahieu, Yasmani Grandal, Micah Gibbs, Derek Dietrich and Cameron Rupp that went on to star in college.

The same thing goes for several pitchers from the 2006 National. Tanner Robles, Greg Peavey, Matt Harvey, Erik Goeddel, Evan Danieli, Kyle Blair, Brian Dupra, Seth Blair, Josh Osich, Sammy Solis and Deck McGuire were among many who decided to attend college. After all is said and done, there could be as many as 30 players who attended the 2006 PG National who later became first-round selections.

That single event in 2006 has to rank as the top “individual” showcase in baseball history.
All told, the first eight National Showcase events (from 2001 through 2008) produced more than 100 first-round draft picks and more than 850 draft picks overall. The number of Perfect Game National players who went on to play at the nation’s top college programs is astounding.

Please remember, participation in the 2010 National Showcases is by invitation only.
For much more information and past stories about the Perfect Game National Showcase check out these links below.

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