by Nathan Rode via www.baseballamerica.com
Under Armour has announced the date and initial player selections for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory. The game will be played Saturday, Aug. 24, at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and it will air live on MLB Network at 2:30 p.m. EST.
Many top prospects have played in the game, including Jameson Taillon, Bubba Starling and Byron Buxton, who were all selected in the top five picks of the draft. Seven players from the 2011 contest were drafted in the first round in the 2012 draft. Brady Aiken, Alex Jackson and Gareth Morgan will become the first players in the game’s history to be two-time participants when they take the field this summer.
In addition to playing in the All-America Game, players will participate in other activities as part of a four-day weekend. A formal workout will take place for amateur scouts to watch and the players will receive instruction from major league players while also giving back to the community by helping with a youth clinic for Chicago-area kids. As in previous years, there will be a home run derby with the preliminary rounds taking place after the workout and the finals coming before first pitch at Wrigley.
The Under Armour All-America Game showcases 36 of the best high school players in the country, who are selected by a committee of Baseball Factory scouts. The players will be split into two teams for an American vs. National matchup.
“Every year we scout worldwide to find the best high school players to represent Under Armour and Baseball Factory in the Under Armour All-America Game,” said Steve Bernhardt, Executive Vice President of Baseball Factory and Chairman of the Under Armour All-America Game Selection Committee. “We are thrilled to choose these nine initial players as we begin the process of filling the 2013 roster. An extremely talented group, we expect this class to meet or surpass the success that Under Armour All-Americans have found in previous years.”
Rosters are not finalized, but the first nine commitments have been named:
Brady Aiken, lhp, Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego
Aiken is a physical lefthander at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, and he’s part of a pitching staff at Cathedral Catholic that boasts five Division I signees. Verbally committed to UCLA, Aiken pitched in 2012 Under Armour Game and can sit in the high 80s with his fastball. He has a fluid delivery and good command of his pitches. He shows a good feel for a curveball and changeup.
Ryan Castellani, rhp, Brophy College Prep, Phoenix
A UCLA recruit, Castellani has an ideal pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with projection, long legs and broad shoulders. At his best, Castellani can sit 88-90 mph with his fastball while offering a solid set of secondary pitches. He has two breaking balls, a curveball and slider, and a solid changeup. His curveball showed sharper break in a recent outing, but Castellani says his slider is his go-to secondary pitch.
“You hear about the Under Armour All-America Game for football and now for baseball,” Castellani said. “Under Armour is a huge name in sports so it’s pretty cool to be able to play in their game with the best kids in the nation. And especially to get the experience at Wrigley Field, it sums up a baseball kid’s dream. You get to play with the best kids in the nation at a major league stadium.”
Stone Garrett, of, George Ranch HS, Richmond, Texas
At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Garrett stands out for his physical projection. He has a lean build with big shoulders and evaluators get excited about his ceiling. His swing seems effortless and the ball jumps off his bat for easy power. He would benefit from incorporating his lower half more, but it should be a minor adjustment for him.
“This means a lot,” Garrett said. “I’ve been putting the work in and hard work pays off. The night before I got the call, I put down my goals for 2013. One was to be in the Under Armour All-America Game and the next day I got the call.”
Jacob Gatewood, ss/rhp, Clovis (Calif.) HS
Along with Alex Jackson, Gatewood was one of a few underclassmen to stand out at last year’s Area Code Games. He has a loose and athletic frame with tons of projection at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds. He has excellent power, evident at the Area Code Games when he got his arms extended and hit a home run at the cavernous Blair Field. According to TrackMan, the ball’s exit velocity on the homer was 107 mph. The Southern California recruit has a strong arm and may move off shortstop because of his size, but would still profile while at corner positions.
Nick Gordon, ss/rhp, Olympia HS, Orlando
The son of Tom and brother of Dee, Nick has played on Olympia’s varsity squad since his freshman year and was teammates with Walker Weickel and Jesse Winker. He has quick-twitch athleticism that produces excellent bat speed in his righthanded swing and a quick arm on the mound. He has good actions at short with a strong arm. As a pitcher, he can sit in the high 80s with more in the tank and mixes in a good, hard breaking ball in the high 70s. He is verbally committed to Florida State.
Alex Jackson, c, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego
Jackson had a torrid showing at the Area Code Games in 2012 and was one of two underclassmen in last year’s game—along with Aiken. He simply punishes baseballs, registering an exit velocity of 102 mph on Easton’s Hit Lab with one of their metal bat models. He gets his pop from a physical, 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, and led California prep players with 17 home runs during the 2012 season. Scouts think he can stay behind the plate, but he has the athleticism and bat to handle a corner outfield spot.
“It’s one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had,” Jackson said. “Thinking about all the people and legends that have played in Wrigley Field, just being able to put yourself in their shoes, not a lot of people get to do that. To be able to go out there and live a dream at 16 years old. I can’t really describe the experience I had. Being able to come back again, do the same thing and take what I learned from the older guys of last year and help spread it out through all these guys—make sure that everything that was accomplished, how much fun was had, all the information that we were given by the coaches—we can take it and just give it to them.”
Gareth Morgan, of, North Toronto Collegiate Institute
A participant in the 2011 Under Armour Game, Morgan returns to headline Canada’s 2014 draft class. He is a physical specimen at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, with present strength that he has displayed with the Canadian junior national team. Morgan has plus power and a plus arm, giving him a future right field profile.
David Peterson, lhp, Regis Jesuit HS, Aurora, Colo.
Peterson is an intimidating presence on the mound with his 6-foot-6, 205-pound frame. His delivery has minimal effort and his fastball can touch the low 90s. He mixes in a tight curveball and changeup with sink for his secondary pitches. He is verbally committed to Oregon.
Touki Toussaint, rhp, Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy
Toussaint has long been on the radar, catching attention for his long limbs and highly projectable frame. He took a big step forward last fall, going from sitting 88-91 at the Area Code Games to touching 97 and sitting 90-94 at the World Wood Bat Tournament. He also mixed in a nasty downer curveball in the mid 70s. Already one of the top arms for 2014, Toussaint can stand above the rest by simply developing his command.