FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Boston Red Sox decided to abandon their spring training Player Development 5-Plex here near the historic downtown area after the 2011 season. Perfect Game wasn't quite so eager to say its good-byes.
PG will host two of its long-running early summer showcases Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, at the 5-Plex: the 2012 Sunshine East Showcase and the 2012 National Academic Showcase, both of which attract their own unique type of top-prospect ballplayers.
First impressions aside, this is not the brainiacs versus the bat and ball guys. Most of the prospects here this weekend would qualify to play in either one, with 11 teams registered in the Sunshine East and five more in the National Academic. There will be two inter-showcase games played.
This is the 12th annual Sunshine East Showcase, and more than 180 prospects from the high school classes of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 are expected to be in attendance. Most of the prospects call Florida home, but scouts and college coaches will also get an opportunity to see young players who come from as far west as the state of Washington and as far north as New Jersey, as well as from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
As might be expected considering its 11-year run, the Sunshine East Showcase already boasts an impressive alumni list. Fourteen Sunshine East alumni have made it to the Major Leagues, including 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds, who played in the first Sunshine East Showcase in 2001 alongside Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacacchia.
Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale (2006) and Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (2005) are among the other notable Sunshine East alumni. In all, 151 Sunshine East alumni have been selected in the MLB amateur draft, eight in the first round.
The National Academic Showcase, in its ninth year, is unique in that it is designed to put on display the talents of prospects who have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA throughout their high school academic careers. The event was put together at the request of college coaches from some of the country's most prestigious academic schools, including those from the Ivy League.
More than 85 academically inclined prospects from 18 states, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are expected for this year's event. Two of the five teams will play a game against teams from the Sunshine East Showcase.
The prospects attending the National Academic Showcase are not only serious students but serious ballplayers, as well. Twenty-three event alumni have been drafted, including Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Alex Cobb. Cobb carried a 3.4 GPA at Vero Beach (Fla.) High School and had committed to Clemson before signing professionally when the Rays selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 MLB amateur draft.
More than 190 National Academic alumni went on to earn scholarship dollars from some of the country's most prestigious institutions, including 2011 alums James Charles (Johns Hopkins University) and Nicholas Locascio (MIT).
In addition to the two Fort Myers events, Perfect Game will also stage the Sunshine Northeast Showcase at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. N.J., and the Sunshine South Showcase at Baseball USA in Houston this weekend.