08/11/10 10:00 AM ET
Future draftees hit summer showcase circuit
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
While much work is being done in terms of trying to sign this year's draftees before Monday night's deadline, a balance between that and seeing next year's class in action must be struck by the scouting industry.
There are numerous opportunities for the top high school players of the Class of 2011 to be seen by scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors. The summer showcase circuit has become an important, albeit exhausting, gauntlet for players and scouts alike.
"At times, it's been a little bit overwhelming with the travel and everything," said right-handed pitcher Hudson Boyd, who hails from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, Fla. "But it's been fun, probably the most fun summer I've ever had. It's fun to get to know the other top guys. You get to talk baseball with other teenagers. It was fun knowing they are like me. I don't know why people consider me to be as good as them, there are some terrific players."
Boyd is being modest, particularly after a good performance at the East Coast Pro Showcase, the four-day event in Lakeland, Fla., Aug. 1-4. But that was Boyd's third event of the summer, with one more to come at this weekend's UnderArmour All-American Game at Wrigley Field. That's four opportunities to perform in front of a lot of discerning eyes. It's great to be seen, but can there be too much of a good thing?
"If they are going to draft me, they are going to draft me," Boyd said. "I think there is the case for over-exposure, but only if you're doing badly. I'm not trying to hide anything. I don't want them to see me perform well once and then have me back away after that."
And Boyd isn't even doing the complete circuit. Right-hander Tyler Beede, who hails from Lawrence Academy in Auburn, Mass., will end up attending five events, culminating with Sunday's AFLAC All-American Game at PETCO Park in San Diego. For someone like Beede, the summer schedule looked like this, finishing off with one of the two All-American Games:
June 17-20: Perfect Game National Showcase, Tampa, Fla.
June 28-July 3: USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, Cary, N.C.
Aug. 1-4: East Coast Professional Showcase, Lakeland, Fla.
Aug. 5-10: Area Code Games, Long Beach, Calif.
Aug. 14: UnderArmour All-America Game, Chicago
Aug. 15: AFLAC All-American Game, San Diego
"At the beginning of the summer, I was trying to find some space to be home and hang with my friends," Beede said. "I thought it was too much. Once you're doing this, they are all great experiences. You get experience that helps propel you to the next level. It makes you better as a player and a person. I don't regret doing too many. I love doing them."
Dante Bichette Jr. will end up at three events: The Tournament of Stars, the East Coast Pro showcase and the UnderArmour game. The son of the former big leaguer has been playing in summer tournaments since he was 13 or 14, and prefers the events that allow him to show what he can do in game situations for an extended period of time. After facing the top pitching the country has to offer, rather than the opponents from his high school league in Orlando, Bichette feels as though he has improved.
"At the beginning of the summer, a goal was to get as much playing time as I could," said Bichette, echoing what the other players said about seeing an improvement in their play. "Being able to play with higher caliber players was a plus. Every time you step on the field with those better than you, or just as good, it raises your level of play."
That kind of improvement over the course of the summer does not go unnoticed by those who run around the country to witness all these events. Scouts don't want to take too much from any one event -- summer performances will be part of a larger file for each player -- but what happens now might help dictate priorities of who to see when next spring rolls around.
"My biggest concern is with how they play the game," D-backs scouting director Tom Allison said. "You get glimpses of them. Some showcases do a better job: East coast Pro Showcase, five days at Area Code, the Tournament of Stars, when you're playing for something. Those are the top three to me.
"UnderArmour and AFLAC, they are more of a job interview. There are pluses and minuses to it on both sides."
That's even true for the scouts. It's a definite plus to see these elite players against top competition repeatedly over the summer. But the grind of seeing them all can take its toll.
"Some get pushed to the limit," Allison said. "The volume of players you see certainly is great. But you ask yourself, 'How's your body holding up? What time zone are you in?' But ending up in Long Beach or San Diego, that isn't such a bad place to be."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.