On August 10 at Petco Park in San Diego, 54 of the elite top high school prospects played in the 12th Annual Perfect Game All-American Classic (PGAAC). This East vs. West match-up is another opportunity for scouts to see the “cream of the crop” in preparation for the June 2015 MLB Draft. Sunday’s 7-0 victory for the West gives them a record of 7 wins, 4 losses, and 1 tie in the 12 years of the Classic.
Those who watched the live PGAAC broadcast on the MLB Network saw that for all but one inning, this was a pitching-dominated game. Given the strength of each team’s starter - LHP Justin Hooper (San Ramon, CA) for the West and RHP Ashe Russell (Indianapolis, IN) for the East – this was to be expected.
Until the 6th, each team had only one runner on base: Russell gave up a hit to Chris Betts (Long Beach, CA) in the bottom of the 1st inning; while the West’s RHP Joe DeMers (Martinez, CA) allowed a hit to Jahmai Jones (Roswell, GA) in the top of the 4th. Then, in the home-half of the 6th, the West broke the game open with five runs on two hits and two walks. The West scored two more runs in the bottom of the 8th off of RHP Austin Riley (Hernando, MS) for a final score of 7-0.
Local RHP Drew Finley (San Diego, CA) pitched a scoreless 6th inning and was given the win. LHP Hogan Harris (Lafayette, LA), who also took the mound in the 6th, gave up five runs and earned the loss. LHP Kolby Allard (San Clemente, CA) was named the MVP.
After the final out, both teams rushed the mound for a double dog pile. A sign of unity among all players celebrating as one team? Great! But it was also, and more importantly, a chance for accidental injury: boys being boys. Those in the Press Box held their collective breath upon first sight. The voice of youth reasoned, “Don’t worry, nothing is going to happen!” Thankfully, that was true.
Official attendance of 6,438 was announced. An easy breakdown of those numbers would be: 45% parents, family & friends; 45% scouts; 10% media & wanna-be-scouts.
That was the game: the event that culminated a weekend of preparation, competition, and celebration. But the Perfect Game All-American Classic is more than a game.
Go back to Sunday, July 20th. The rosters for the 12th Annual PGAAC were announced via webcast by Daron Sutton, former television broadcaster of the Arizona Diamondbacks and also the son of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton. Each of the 54 young men whose names were called knows the name “Perfect Game” very well. It’s prestigious, it’s top of the line, it means something if you are selected to participate in anything related to Perfect Game. Each young man was impressive when extolling the virtues of playing in this game. However, the understanding of exactly what Perfect Game is, was a little unclear.
Let’s clear it up.
The Perfect Game organization scouts, tracks, and showcases the best amateur baseball players in the United States. They boast having the largest scouting department, and largest database of amateur players, in all of baseball. Additionally, they are “devoted to furthering the development and career of the talented amateur baseball player.” Whether by individual showcases, such as PGAAC, or team tournaments, Perfect Game gathers the elite amateurs in one place for the baseball scouting world to evaluate at one time, in one place. Efficient, time-saving, cost-saving. What’s not to like about that?
The Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings at Petco Park in San Diego, (PGAAC) is the organization’s summer showcase. Though the name changed (2003 – 2010 AFLAC All-American), location, too (2003 – 2009 Fort Myers, FL; Aberdeen, MD; San Diego, CA; Los Angeles, CA) the quality of amateur players has always been the highest.
Names on the inaugural 2003 showcase roster in Fort Myers, included MLB players Neil Walker (PIT), Homer Bailey (CIN), Trevor Plouffe (MIN) and Nick Adenhart (LAA), who had just burst on the MLB scene when his life was taken by a drunk driver in April 2009.
Each year produced rosters of young men who would be among the first drafted the following June. A small sample includes:2004: Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Austin Jackson
2005: Mat Latos, Brett Anderson, Chris Tillman
2006: Freddie Freeman, Rick Porcello
2007: Eric Hosmer, Ethan Martin (a pitcher, who also won the Home Run Challenge)
2008: Ian Krol, Max Stassi, Scooter Gennett
2009: Bryce Harper (yeah… because he needed the exposure), Stetson Allie, Yordy Cabrera
2010: Javier Baez, Jose Fernandez, Dylan Bundy, Austin Hedges, Tyler Marlette, Archie Bradley
2011: Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson, Corey Seager, Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, Carlos Correa, Albert Almora and Jameis Winston (yes, that one)
2012: Billy McKinney, Dustin Driver, Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows
2013: Brady Aiken, Alex Jackson, Grant Holmes, Touki Toussaint, Jacob Gatewood and Nick Gordon
Thursday night’s “Welcome Reception” signaled the start of the PGAAC weekend. Uniforms, agendas, “goodies” were distributed to the players as they embarked on a busy weekend. Item number one on the agenda for Friday was a tour of Rady Children’s Hospital, in San Diego: a place that the young men had become very familiar with in a short period of time.
Shortly after being selected to play in the PGAAC, each participant learned the details of a different type of competition they would engage in; not for personal achievement, but one that would make the world a better place for those in need. Each member of the 2014 PGAAC was on the clock to see who would raise the most money to help pediatric cancer patients at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
In one month, using the online fundraising program Kintera, the players solicited friends, family, and social media “friends” to donate to Rady’s using his specific link. Organizers set the first year goal of $20,000 total, to be raised by the 54 participants.
These young men are so accustomed to exceeding expectations, they even carried it over to fundraising: the actual amount raised will be more than twice the projected amount. They have raised more than $50,000.
Willie Burger, an outfielder from Maytown, PA, is responsible for raising $5,900 – that’s more than 10% of the combined total, and almost one-third of the projected goal for all! There is no doubt that when the players, coaches, and PGAAC staff toured and spent time interacting with the young patients at Rady Children’s Hospital, there was an intimate sense of pride of the fundraising efforts.
FIRST: HELL’S BELLS & MAHI MAHI, THEN: PRACTICE
After a meaningful morning spent at Rady Children’s Hospital, the caravan headed to the beach for lunch. But they weren’t going to just any ol’ place for lunch: they were headed for Trevor Hoffman’s Oceanside home for some mahi-mahi tacos and a little beach volleyball afterward. Hoffman, the legendary closer for the San Diego Padres, whose presence was signaled by the playing of AC/DC’s “Hells Bells”, has served as the Honorary Chair of the PGAAC since 2011. Hoffman doesn’t simply lend his name to the Classic, he opens his home and his heart to the young ball players.
Friday night, 6:00pm. Time to get to work. The University of San Diego’s Fowler Park/Cunningham Field was the home for PGAAC on-field activities prior to the game on Sunday. After each team practiced, they held a scrimmage before calling it a day. They would return to the field Saturday morning for more practice and to complete the first round of the Home Run Challenge.
Finalists for Sunday’s Home Run Challenge, each of whom hit six home runs in the first round, were: Luken Baker (Spring, TX), who is listed as a pitcher and also won the high school home run derby at the 2014 MLB All Star Game in Minnesota, SS Brendan Rodgers (Longwood, FL), and Sunday’s eventual winner, 1B Brant Stallings (Buford, GA).
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE HALL OF CHAMPIONS
In the last event leading up to the PGAAC Game on Sunday, the stars, and awards, came out on Saturday night. The annual dinner banquet was held at the San Diego Hall of Champions; a long-standing partner in the PGAAC.
The San Diego Hall of Champions is the nation’s largest tri-level, 68,000 sq ft multisport museum in Balboa Park. In addition to a stellar facility, the SDHOC is to be commended for the professionalism and expediency of their staff – especially, Nicole LeBlanc. A million thanks for all you do!
The Awards below, were presented after dinner; Daron Sutton was the host/ master of ceremony for the evening, and Honorary Chair Trevor Hoffman, was, of course, in attendance, as well.
Jackie Robinson Player of the Year Award: Daz Cameron
Louisville Slugger Most Outstanding Offensive Player: Greg Pickett
Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year Award: Brendan Rodgers
EvoShield SWAG Award: Chris Betts
Baseball Prospectus Prospect of the Year: Justin Hooper
Baseball America Pitcher of the Year: Ryan McKay
Perfect Game Nick Adenhart Award: Jahmai Jones
From all accounts, the evening was spectacular!
THE BIG DAY
The gates of Petco Park opened to scouts and the media at 1:00pm. The players warmed up on the field, enjoyed participating in, or watching, the final round of the Home Run Challenge (won by Brandt Stallings) until it was time to prepare to take the field and compete.
Some names on the line-ups below have MLB in their genetic composition, including:
Daz Cameron – father Mike Cameron 17 year veteran
Isiah Gilliam – cousin of the late Dodger great, Jim Gilliam (even wore Jim’s #19)
Kolby Clemens – son of 7x Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens
Lucas Wakamatsu – son of Toronto Blue Jay’s bench coach, Don Wakamatsu
Elih Marrero – son of current AZL Reds field manager and 10 year MLB veteran, Eli Marrero
A weekend of events to be remembered by all involved!
CREDIT TO PERFECTGAME.ORG
Head Coach: Tim Lowery, Cosby High School (Midlothian, VA)
1 - Jahmai Jones, LF
2 - Daz Cameron, CF
3 - Brendan Rodgers, SS
4 - Daniel Reyes, RF
5 - Brandt Stallings, 1B
6 - Cornelius Randolph, XH
7 - Ryan Mountcastle, 3B
8 - Kep Brown, EH
9 - Isiah Gilliam, DH
10 - Nick Fortes, C
11 - John Aiello, 2B
Head Coach: Brett Kay, Junipero Serra High School (San Juan Capistrano, CA)
1 - Nick Shumpert, XH
2 - Mitchell Hansen, CF
3 - Chris Betts, C
4 - Greg Pickett, DH
5 - Devin Davis, 1B
6 - Ryan Johnson, RF
7 - Kody Clemens, 2B
8 - Josh Naylor, EH
9 - Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B
10 - Cadyn Grenier, SS
11 - Kyle Dean, LF
For a complete boxscore from the game, click here.