SAN DIEGO – It seems reasonable to assume that television viewers who tune into the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings on Sunday night will be seeing a sizeable collection of first round selections in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
There could be as many as 20. Or, thinking even bigger, perhaps more than that.
The Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings, known as the Aflac All-American Classic during its first eight years of existence, will be played Sunday, Aug. 14, at beautiful PETCO Park, the downtown home of the San Diego Padres.
Forty-six of the nation’s top prospects in the class of 2012 will be out on PETCO’s field most of the day Sunday in anticipation of the all-star game’s 5:08 p.m. (PDT) first pitch. The game, which is expected to attract thousands of fans and hundreds of members of the MLB scouting community and an assortment of college coaches, will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
The PG All-American Classic is nothing if not a scouting gold mine.
A record 18 All-American Classic alumni were first round or first round compensation selections in the 2011 draft and 13 of those 18 played in the 2010 game. A total of 98 All-American Classic alumni have been first round or first round compensation selections since 2004.
Gerrit Cole became the fifth All-American Classic alum to be taken with the No. 1 overall selection in the draft, joining Matthew Bush (2004), Justin Upton (2005), Tim Beckham (2008) and Bryce Harper (2010).
Forty-two All-American Classic alumni have already landed on major league rosters.
When Aflac decided to discontinue its title sponsorship of the event over the winter, Perfect Game decided to take control. The event was too important to abandon.
“Year after year I am impressed with the extraordinary high school talent this All-American Classic brings to the forefront of the baseball world,” PG President Jerry Ford said in a June 6 news release. “These young athletes have the ability to become major league stars of the next generation.”
Dave Gardiner, president of Blue Ridge Sports & Entertainment, Inc., which is coordinating the event with PG, agreed it is significant.
“This event is the best high school baseball All-American game in the country, which is evident when you look at the celebrated alumni that have played in it,” he said in the same release. “This event provides a unique opportunity for the players to learn on and off the field through various community events and the baseball activities.”
This year’s Classic lineup is star-studded beyond even the 46 players who will play for either the East or West squads.
Major League Baseball all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, who spent 16 of his 18 MLB seasons with the Padres, will serve as the Classic’s Honorary Chairman. He follows Hall-of-Famers Ozzie Smith (2007, ’08, ’09), Reggie Jackson (2006), Cal Ripken Jr. (2004, ’05) and Stan Musial (2003) in the role of Honorary Chairman.
As part of his responsibilities, Hoffman will present the 2011 Jackie Robinson Player of the Year Award to one of eight deserving nominees for the honor.
Tommy John, a standout left-handed pitcher who played 26 seasons in the big leagues, will present the coveted Perfect Game Nick Adenhart Award, an award that recognizes character, sportsmanship and citizenship.
Twenty-three of Perfect Game’s top-25 nationally ranked prospects (2012) dot the two rosters, including 14 on the East Team. No. 1-ranked right-hander/infielder Lance McCullers from Tampa, Fla., will suit up for the East, and No. 2-ranked right-hander Lucas Giolito from Santa Monica, Calif., will go for the West.
The East Team boasts right-handers Taylore Cherry from Dayton, Ohio, and Walker Weickel from Orlando, Fla., (ranked Nos. 3 and 7, respectively) in addition to McCullers, and the West counters with right-handers Joey Gallo from Henderson, Nev. (No. 4) and Rio Ruiz from Covina, Calif. (No. 9) and lefty Hunter Virant from Camarillo, Calif. (No. 10).
Stuart Chester, the long-time head coach at Cartersville (Ga.) High School, will serve as the East Team’s head coach, and Bishop Amat High School (La Puente, Calif.) head coach Andy Nieto will be the head coach of the West Team. Chester will be assisted by Kevin Maris and Omar Washington, and Nieto by Cecil Espy and Manny Hermosillo.
The players at this year’s Classic will start checking in and getting fitted for uniforms for the event on Thursday at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley hotel to begin a full three days of activities leading up to Sunday’s game.
Friday’s busy schedule includes a morning practice session and scrimmage at the University of San Diego’s Cunningham Field and lunch at the Randy Jones All-American Sports Grill (owner Randy Jones won the 1976 Cy Young Award while pitching for the Padres).
The day’s highlights come in the afternoon when the players and coaches will stop by Rady Children’s Hospital – the event’s beneficiary – where they will meet and visit with young cancer patients, then head out for a tour of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.
Another practice session and the first round of the Home Run Derby will take place Saturday morning at USD. The evening will be capped with the Awards Dinner at the San Diego Hall of Champions, in which the Pitcher of the Year, PG Nick Adenhart, SWAG, Reebok Offensive Player of the Year, Rawlings Defensive Player and Jackie Robinson Player of the Year awards will be presented.
Sunday’s on-field activities at PETCO begin at 1 p.m. with BP, and the finals of the Home Run Derby are set to begin at 4 p.m.