High School : : General
Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cleats Sports Classic Invite Preview

Todd Gold        
SCOTTSDALE, AZ-- The 2012 Cleats Sports Classic Invitational tournament will bring together 23 teams from schools in eight states as well as Canada.

Co-hosts Chaparral and Saguaro are both defending state champions in Arizona, with Saguaro having won back-to-back titles. Other host teams include 2011 5A semifinalist Desert Ridge,  the current No. 4 team in the Southwest Regional Rankings in 8-2 Desert Mountain, 9-0 Tolleson, and 9-2 Arcadia. Each host team won at least one playoff game in 2011 and are among the top teams the state of Arizona has to offer.

The host teams are joined by teams from Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.

The nation of Canada sends four teams, with Abbotsford Secondary School joining three club teams; the Calgary, Redbirds, Vancouver Cannons and the North Shore Twins. The other representative from the north is Houston High School from Big Lake, Alaska.

In addition to providing rare exposure to the large crop of players from Canada and Alaska, the Cleats will feature several players who have already made a name for themselves as prospects on the national level. 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic participant Mitchell Traver highlights a strong Houston Christian squad which has opened the season with an 11-5 record in spite of a very tough schedule playing in one of the most competitive areas of high school baseball in the nation.

Houston Christian has a combined staff ERA of 1.56 and TCU commits Traver and RHP Brian Trieglaff are joined by effective finesse lefty Hayden Treu, experienced senior Alan Norman and promising 2014 RHP Blake Richards.

Chaparral features the top ranked lefty in the field with Scott Diamond, an Arizona State commit. Junior Dillon Bigcrane Jackson gives the Firebirds another interesting LHP,  . The Firebirds have won nine state titles in the past 20 years, with four more championship appearances. The Firebirds have sent three players to Major League Baseball in recent years: Paul Konerko, Ike Davis and Brian Bannister.

Saguaro doesn't feature a pitcher of the caliber of Traver or Diamond, but their abundance of quality position players make them a legimate contender in this tournament. Led by CF/RHP Zach Gibbons and RF Chris Akmon, the SabertCats feature a dangerous lineup that can quickly jump out to big leads.

Other prospects who have caught the eye of the Perfect Game staff in the past include: Fort Collins SS JD Hammer, Chaparral teammates 1B Dylan Cozens and 3B Chance Adams, Montgomery Bell SS/RHP William Penn Murfee, Desert Ridge teammates MIF Riley Unroe and RHP Keaton Cenatiempo, Redlands East Valley 1B/RHP Jackson McClelland, Arcadia RHP Gary Cornish, Seton Catholic RHP/1B Troy Ruggiero, Marcos De Niza OF Nick Fatica, and Desert Mountain OF/RHP Jakob Goldfarb. By the conclusion of the tournament this list will have surely grown.

Perfect Game will provide live coverage during the tournament with real-time scouting info via twitter (@PGbcollman, @TGold_PG and @HighSchoolPG), with a post-tournament top prospect list as part of the  event wrap-up coverage. The semifinals and championship game will be scored live via GameChanger, allowing fans to follow the action online from anywhere in the world.

The Cleats Sports Classic is the first of five high school tournaments that PG will be covering live. At the conclusion PG will provide live coverage of the Coach Bob National Invitational in Phoenix, AZ, the USA Baseball National High School Invitational in Cary, NC, the San Diego Lions Tournament and the Hard 9 National Classic in Anaheim, CA.
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