Academy hosts All-Star Game12/15/2007 9:00 PM ET By Ben Platt / MLB.comCOMPTON, Calif.–
Southern California is probably the only place in the United States where in the middle of December 60 of the top high school baseball prospects in the state can gather together and play a game in front of more than 150 scouts, scouting directors and baseball executives.
That’s just what happened on Saturday when The Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy (UYA) played host to the Jesse Flores Memorial All-Star Game. The inaugural event was named after Jesse Flores, who was the first Mexican-born player to pitch in the Major Leagues, playing for the Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians.
Flores then served as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins, where he signed players such as Bert Blyleven, Lymon Bostock, Rick Dempsey, Reggie Smith, Graig Nettles, Jesse Orosco and Paul Abbott. The game was organized by scouts in the Southern California area to help showcase the rich baseball talent currently coming out of the area. “This is the opportunity right before the holidays end to really have these kids put themselves on the map,” said Vince Sagisi, an area scout for the Indians, who helped organize the game.
“It’s really for them to showcase their abilities. Our association, the professional baseball scouts of Southern California, started talking about doing something like this and we just ended up putting it together.
So it’s a real credit to the area scouts who got it off the ground.” The game drew some highly touted young talent, including catcher Kyle Skipworth, pitcher/outfielder Aaron Hicks, outfielders Isaac Galloway, Anthony Gose and Tyler Chatwood, pitching prospects Matt Lollis, Miles Reagan, Ryan O’Sullivan and Ricky Oropesa and infielders Clark Murphy, Tyler Rahmatulla and Cutter Dykstra.
“This is a terrific opportunity for these kids and for us scouts to have everybody in one spot here at the academy,” said Bob DeJarden, the area scout for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who also served as one of the coaches for the South team while Sagisi worked with the North team. “We get to be up close and personal with these kids and we get to know them a little bit.
The kids playing here today were the ones that were voted on the most by our association and we’re happy they all came out.” For some of the kids, taking part in the game is both fun and a great honor. “This is awesome because you may never play for this many scouts again,” said Dykstra, the son of former Major League All-Star Lenny Dykstra who attends Westlake High School. “It’s a great opportunity to put on a show for the scouts, show everyone what you can do and put yourself in a position to get drafted next year.” “It’s fun playing with all the same guys, ” said Skipworth, who’s talent as both a hitter and catcher has him ranked high in numerous baseball publications. “This is something we are going to remember for a long time. It’s fun to say you played against the best all the time in high school.
It’s something a lot of kids don’t get to do.” Skipworth has gotten used to seeing scouts at almost every game he plays in. “At first, I was really nervous seeing them,” said the catcher, who also showed off his throwing arm during pregame outfield drills that showcased all the participants fielding talent for the scouts in attendance and for the Major League Scouting Bureau and MLB.com video cameras.
“Once I got used to it, it’s just like another day at the ballpark. You do get used it and now for me it’s fun. “I see and read the publications, but you can’t let it affect you because you know there’s someone behind you who’s going to work twice as hard to put themselves in the same spot.
You just keep working hard and hopefully get blessed that something good will happen.” For the scouts, executives and player representatives attending the workouts and game was a great way to to see the highly touted players like Skipworth, but also a look at other players in the game who have shown improvement and move a notch on the Draft list.
“That’s the reason why you see so many scouting directors, so many top evaluators across the game here today,” said Dan Evans, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who joined the agent ranks as the new president and CEO of West Coast Sports Management, LLC. “For those of us who live in Southern California it’s just a real treat to come here to the academy that a couple of years ago wouldn’t have this environment and generates so more excitement for the game in the middle of December. I think it’s a great thing for the sport in general.
” The final score really wasn’t on anyone’s mind. The most important thing was that all who attended had a chance to see and be seen by the people who will give them a chance to fulfill their dreams of a professional career in baseball.
And if a player didn’t do as well as he wanted to on this day, he’ll get another chance on Feb. 4 when the second annual scouting combine will take place at the academy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Our Softball players/Broadcast girls registering all the Scouts and Media
The Trophy for the winning team