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Sunday, June 10, 2012

PG Jr. National invades Metrodome

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

MINNEAPOLIS - It was only three years ago in June of 2009 that young Oklahoma right-hander Dylan Bundy walked out onto the artificial surface at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis and made his presence known at the 2009 Perfect Game Junior National Showcase.

The 2012 PG Junior National returns to the Metrodome Tuesday and Wednesday (June 12-13) for its sixth incarnation, and while Bundy won't be present - he's pretty busy these days tearing up the Class A Carolina League after a promotion from the low Class A South Atlantic League - there will be plenty of other underclass (2014 and 2015) prospects on hand here to get some valuable face time.

The PG Junior National is, after all, a place where many underclass prospects first get noticed on a national scale and begin to establish themselves as a players college coaches and professional scouts should take notice of.

Bundy is a perfect example. He was not an unknown by any means when he appeared at the 2009 Junior National, but after pitching and hitting at the event his reputation gained added traction. A PG scouting report after that '09 event noted that Bundy was a "highest level pitching prospect" who "commands all of his pitches."

The Baltimore Orioles made Bundy, a 2010 PG/Aflac All-American, the fourth overall pick of the 2011 MLB amateur draft and in 11 minor league starts at two Class A levels through Sunday, he sat 3-1 with an 1.00 ERA with 58 strikeouts and just six walks in 45 innings.

Not every alum of the PG Junior National goes on to excel at the level Bundy has so far, but at least one has surpassed him. Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the 2010 overall No. 1 pick in the draft,  played at this event in 2008 and went on to play in the 2009 Aflac All-American Baseball Classic alongside of Bundy.

This year's PG Junior National provides a two-day lead-in to the 2012 Perfect Game National Showcase, which runs June 14-18 at the Metrodome. The PG National showcases the top seniors-to-be in the nation and is a huge draw for professional scouts and college recruiters looking to entice prospects into their 2013 recruiting class.

The PG Junior National has a prominent reputation of its own; its 2010 class produced 13 first round or first round compensation picks in the 2012 MLB draft conducted earlier this month. 2009 alumni selected in the first round in addition to Bundy were Francisco Lindor, Kevin Comer, Travis Harrison, Michael Kelly and Jesse Winker. More than 30 future first round or first round compensation picks have attended the Junior National since its inception in 2006.

This year's class look especially stout. Professional scouts and college coaches will be able to see at least five top-seven nationally ranked prospects from the class of 2014, including No. 1 overall prospect Drew Ward, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound shortstop from Leedey, Okla.

No. 4-ranked shortstop Nicholas Gordon, No. 5 catcher Ryder Ryan, No. 6 right-hander Cameron Varga and No. 7 right-hander Jake Jarvis will also be putting their talents on display inside the Metrodome. All told, 23 of the top-40 ranked 2014s in the country will make their way to the Metrodome on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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