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PG alumni flavor All-Star Game

Jeff Dahn

Published: Sunday, July 07, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There seems to be a synergy of sorts working between four teammates on the 2013 National League All-Star Game roster that was announced Saturday night. The four teammates -- two from the national high school class of 2004 and two from the class of 2006 -- are certainly following the same career path to Major League Baseball stardom.

The 84th MLB All-Star Game will be played at the Mets' Citi Field in New York on Tuesday, July 16 and will be televised live by FOX Sports. A review of the initial rosters that were unveiled Saturday shows 25 Perfect Game alumni -- 16 from the National League and nine from the American League -- will take part in the event on the 16th, with the possibility of two more being named from the final online fan vote.

Four American League starters and three National League starters -- with a real strong possibility of a fourth -- launched their careers by playing in PG events while attending high school.

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey -- the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2012 NL Most Valuable Player -- and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen were both named as reserves for manager Bruce Bochy on the NL squad. New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey -- likely the NL's starting pitcher -- and Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner were selected to be part of Bochy's pitching staff. It is not the first time these two sets of players have been teammates.

Posey, making his second straight All-Star Game appearance, and McCutchen, making his third straight, were both at the 2004 Perfect Game National Showcase in St. Petersburg, Fla., and about two months later were East squad teammates at the 2004 Perfect Game All-American Classic in Aberdeen, Md. Now they have five MLB All-Star Game invitations between them.

"(The PG events) gave me the opportunity to play against some really good competition," Posey told PG during spring training in March. "It allows you to step outside your comfort zone a little bit, and I have really fond memories of those days, doing the Perfect Game events and the All-American Classic."

The Mets' Harvey, in his rookie season, and Bumgarner, in his fourth full big-league campaign, are both first-time All-Stars -- at the major league level, anyway. Following Posey and McCutchen by just two years, Harvey and Bumgarner were both at the 2006 Perfect Game National Showcase in Fayetteville, Ark., and two months later teamed-up for the East squad at the 2006 All-American Classic at San Diego (Calif.) State University.

"I went to the (PG National) down in Arkansas and that was my first time ever doing anything like that," Bumgarner said in March. "I was playing high school and (American) Legion ball and then I went to do (the PG National). It was different experience and it was a lot of fun, especially getting to see all the different talent that they had there. It's a good thing to get you out there and get you exposed and let all the scouts get to see you."

With this year's All-Star Game there also seems to be a tunnel that leads from Perfect Game to the Baltimore Orioles to American League starter. Slugging Orioles third baseman Chris Davis -- with 33 home runs and 85 RBI in 87 games this season, the same totals he put up in 139 games in 2012 -- shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Adam Jones all have a history with Perfect Game and all will be in AL manager Jim Leyland's starting lineup. Davis performed at the  2003 Perfect Game National Showcase in Lincoln, Neb., Hardy played in the 2000 PG WWBA World Championship and Jones is an alumnus of numerous PG events, including the 2003 Perfect Game World Showcase here in Fort Myers.

The other American League starter with Perfect Games ties is Los Angeles Angels standout Mike Trout, who will be making his second All-Star Game appearance. Trout, who is enjoying another terrific season on the heels of his record-breaking AL Rookie of  Year season in 2012, played in eight PG WWBA tournaments with the Tri-State Arsenal and New Jersey Super 17s in 2007 and '08.

"Those were great experiences," Trout said, also speaking during spring training in March. "Just to get out of Jersey and see the competition from all across the country and to compete against other players that were doing the same things you were trying to do -- get to the professional level. It was just good to get that exposure."

Washington Nationals outfielder and 2012 National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper headlines the group of three NL starters with PG resumes. Harper was active in 11 PG events -- four showcases -- including the 2009 Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in San Diego. Harper first appeared on the PG radar when he attended the 2005 So Cal Pre-High Showcase in Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif., as a 13-year-old.

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (2001 National Showcase) and Mets third baseman David Wright (1999, 2000 PG WWBA World Championship) are the other NL starters with PG pasts.

Notable reserves for the AL include Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder, who was at that first PG National Showcase in 2001 in St. Petersburg, Fla., right alongside Votto. And then there's the youth movement, represented on the AL side by third baseman Manny Machado, who attended the 2009 PG National Showcase in Minneapolis, eight years after Fielder and Votto were on the PG National Showcase stage.

And speaking of a youth movement, there is also 20-year-old Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who was at the 2010 Perfect Game National Showcase in St. Petersburg and the 2010 Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego. Fernandez made his major league debut in April and will be making the first what is sure to be many more MLB All-Star Game appearances.


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