Photo: Perfect Game

PG adds dash of Caribbean spice

Showcase : : Story
Jeff Dahn        
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perfect Game provided elite 2012 Puerto Rican prospect Carlos Correa with numerous opportunities to showcase his skills, including the 2011 and 2012 PG World Showcase, the 2011 PG National Showcase and the 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings.

The exposure proved sufficient enough for Correa to become the top overall pick of the Houston Astros in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft and earn a place in Puerto Rican baseball history. But Correa never had the opportunity to perform at a Perfect Game showcase on his home island – he simply arrived on the scene one year too early.

The inaugural Perfect Game Caribbean Showcase will run Friday through Sunday (Nov. 16-18) at Roberto Clemente Stadium in Carolina, P.R. The showcase will draw close to 120 of the top players from Puerto Rico in the high school classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015, along with a handful of players from the Dominican Republic and the state of Florida.

Edwin Rodriguez, the club director and manager at Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico, said in a telephone conversation with PG earlier this week that the Puerto Rican baseball community and the scouting community are abuzz about the event. He expects all 30 Major League Baseball teams’ scouting departments to be represented, including scouting directors, cross-checkers and, of course, all the area scouts.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for the kids here in Puerto Rico that in the past have wanted to go to a Perfect Game event and they didn’t have Perfect Game coming here,” he said. “Perfect Game (provides) the largest scouting events in the U.S., so this gives (the PR prospects) an opportunity to get into the Perfect Game database and get their info in there as far as their abilities as a ballplayer.

“And it’s a lot cheaper for them to have Perfect Game here then getting on a plane and going over (to the mainland), so this helps out a lot of kids.”

Just about all of the top high school-aged Puerto Rican prospects expected to attend are already seasoned Perfect Game showcase veterans. Among the island’s top 30-ranked prospects, seven attended June’s PG National Showcase; four were at January’s PG World Showcase; 13 were at the 2012 PG World Underclass Showcase-Session 3 in January; and one was at the PG Junior National Showcase.

Several others attended the 2012 Sunshine East Showcase in Fort Myers June 2-3. All have played in PG WWBA and PG BCS Finals tournaments for a wide range of teams, including Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School (PRBAHS), Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy and several FTB squads.

Six of the top-seven ranked 2013 Puerto Rican prospects were at the PG National in Minneapolis. That group is led by PR top-ranked (No. 18 nationally) shortstop Jan Alexis Hernandez, a 2012 PG All-American who was the recipient of this year’s prestigious PG Nick Adenhart Award, which recognizes character and commitment. He is projected as a potential 1st-round pick in the 2013 MLB draft.

Hernandez, who attends the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, has been identified as an elite talent. He was officially introduced to the MLB scouting community at the 2012 PG World Showcase where he earned a top 10.0 rating. His scouting report described a prospect with an “excellent athletic build” and “very sound hitting mechanics” that showed an “aggressive approach with present bat speed.”

Six months later he was at the PG National Showcase where he again earned the highest 10.0 grade rating. His report from that event reiterated much from the World report but also noted his “loose quick hands, big leverage at contact, big power potential.” It cited his “easy athletic defensive movements” while noting he “will garner comparisons to … Carlos Correa, not completely unfair, either.”

Those eye-catching performances led to his selection to the PG All-American Classic where he started at second base for the East Team and doubled and walked in three trips to the plate.

No. 2-ranked catcher Carlos Diaz, No. 3 right-hander Joe Jimenez, No. 4 catcher Rene Melendez, No. 6 middle-infielder Roy Morales Rivera and No. 7 shortstop Angel Alicea-Nieves were also at the PG National, as was No. 16 catcher Walter J. Vives. Shortstop Edwin Diaz moved into the 2013 PR rankings at No. 5 after making his PG debut at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., last month and will be at the Caribbean Showcase this weekend.

Puerto Rico No. 8-ranked shortstop prospect Johneshwy Fargas, No. 9 shortstop/right-hander Angel Perez and No. 10 catcher Milton Miranda are among the other top PR prospects that have committed to the event. Carlos Diaz is ranked 214th nationally, Jimenez 228th, Melendez 251st and Edwin Diaz 260th.

The number of prospects that have signed up for the event came as a pleasant surprise to Perfect Game organizers. Rodriguez said when the idea of staging the event reached the discussion stages officials were hoping to bring in around 60 participants. The number of committed prospects inched toward 120 early this week, with a proliferation of middle-infielders and catchers.

“It’s a thing that I’m sure next year or the years in the future it’s going to be a lot bigger. Once it’s established that it’s going to be on a yearly basis, I’m sure in the future the numbers will go up to maybe even 150,” Rodriguez said.

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