The most prep baseball talent on the same field is at the third annual Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic on Saturday, August 13. The game, which will be televised on FSN at 2:05 p.m. EST, takes place at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md. and features the top 38 rising seniors in high school baseball, including a handful of pitching prospects who have major league baseball scouts drooling.
Top pitching prospects Jordan Walden (Mansfield, Texas) and Matthew Latos (Miami, Fla.) headline the huge display of talent at the Aflac game, which is officially endorsed by Major League Baseball and considered by many to be the premier baseball showcase in the nation. Thirty-three of last year's participants have been drafted by a Major League Baseball team including No. 1 overall pick Justin Upton (Arizona Diamondbacks).
The game is played in an East vs. West format. Like any other All-Star game, the primary objective is to let the nation's top talent shine, so the game will be preceded by the Aflac Home Run Derby featuring the top prep power hitters including.
But the power won't end at the derby, as both teams feature some of the strongest young arms in baseball. The West is led by Walden, a powerful right hander who has scouts raving over his size, speed and mechanics and is considered by most to be the top prospect in the nation. The 6-foot-4 Texan dominates batters with his fastball and scares hitters with his big league breaking ball. He has consistently hit mid-90s on the radar gun and boasts a miniscule 1.04 ERA. Even scarier, Walden is a menace at the plate, hitting .516 with 44 RBIs this past season.
When Walden comes out, the East has to face another gun-slinging Texan in Kyle Drabek (Woodlands, Texas). The son of former major league pitcher Doug Drabek, Kyle has made a name for himself with his 11-1-1 record and 0.82 ERA (yeah, you read that right). Like Walden, Drabek can make a living at the plate, where he led his team in hits (46), on base percentage (.576) and batting average (.479) last season. Like his old man, Drabek is a winner, leading his team to a 28-6 record this past season and the No. 28 spot in Baseball America national rankings
The East will counter with two powerful right hand pitchers, New York's finest Dellin Betances and the Miami's Latos. Betances, who towers at 6-foot-9 and is the most likely to top the three digit mark on the gun, is the first ever New York City product to be selected to the Aflac game. Downright dominating, the southpaw is considered by many to be the second coming of the Big Unit. But he also gets his business done in the classroom, carrying a 85 grade point average.
Latos draws eerie similarities to Walden. Often mentioned as the second best player in the nation behind Walden, Latos is also right handed with a big build (6'5", 200 lbs) and likes to throw heat before he mixes in the finesse. He is considered to have three out pitches with his 88-90 mph fastball, 4-to-10 inch curve and a breaking pitch.
For baseball purists who vent about the lack of pitching, the nation's marquee prep baseball game will quiet the noise (even if it's just for an afternoon). The Aflac All-American game is a chance to go back to the future with tomorrow's rising pitching stars. So forget about all of the negative hoopla that surrounds America's pastime and focus on the best preps in the land Saturday as they throw their first coming out party courtesy of Aflac.