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2010 Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory: Recap

Wednesday

For the third straight year 36 talented high school baseball players descended on Chicago, IL for the Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory. Held each year at historic Wrigley Field, this year’s game featured a strong group of rising young stars from 17 different states, Canada, and the Dominican Republic. In front of family and friends, over 100 scouts and college recruiters and a live television audience, this special group of players demonstrated why they are the best in the nation.

The four-day event kicked off Wednesday, August 11, when players arrived in Chicago, IL. To their delight, a room filled with Under Armour gear greeted them; each All-American was outfitted head-to-toe in the latest apparel & accessories from Under Armour. For the remainder of the afternoon players spent time getting to know one another before heading to off to Wrigley Field for what has become a sort of opening night tradition. Dinner in the Stadium Club followed a personal tour of historic Wrigley Field for players and their families. Baseball Factory’s Steve Bernhardt, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, addressed the group, recognizing each player for their achievements through their young careers to-date. Cal and Billy Ripken also spoke, sharing their experience in baseball with a very willing audience.

Thursday

As part of an initiative to give back to the community, the Under Armour All-Americans traveled to Sedgwick Park, located just outside Chicago, to serve as mentors at a Ripken Baseball Youth Camp. The players worked one-on-one with campers on various aspects of the game, including pitching and defense. It was an enjoyable moment for both the youth camp attendees and the All-Americans, and each Ripken camper was invited to shag fly balls during the Home Run Derby Finals on Saturday.

With temperatures on the rise, players and coaches headed back downtown to take part in an afternoon workout at the University of Illinois, Chicago. As per the 2009 MLB Players workout, this year’s workout was led by many former MLB players including Dwight Smith, Brian McCrae, Billy Ripken and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. Players worked on position specific defense, pitching and hitting, which took place in the batting cages under the guidance of the Ripken’s. It was a great afternoon of instruction and hard work for the impressionable young All-Americans.

That evening players and coaches were treated to a playoff-like atmosphere at US Cellular Field, attending an important match-up between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins. Not only was it a great game to watch, but the Under Armour All-Americans were recognized on the scoreboard in center field. For some players it was their first ever Major League baseball game, and a moment of many from the event they won’t soon forget.

Friday

Day 3 of the event kicked off early with Under Armour group meetings, followed by one-on-one interviews with MLB Network to be used during their 2011 MLB Amateur Draft coverage. Receiving big league treatment wouldn’t be complete without media coverage, and players enjoyed getting in front of the camera for a little Q & A. The busy morning schedule wrapped up in time for the players to grab lunch before heading back to UIC for another hot afternoon on the turf.

While Friday afternoon promised to be just as hot as the day before, this workout would be far from the on-field walkthrough with the former Major League stars. With over 100 professional scouts and college recruiters in attendance, players were definitely feeling the heat. The All-Americans performed well during the showcase style workout, demonstrating their projectable tools and reaffirming why they were selected for the prestigious event. The workout concluded with players taking part in a preliminary round of the Home Run Derby to determine the eight who would advance to the championship round Saturday. Jacob Anderson, Dante Bichette Jr., Rookie Davis, Tyler Greene, Chris McFarland, Connor McKay, Mason Robbins and Bubba Starling all advanced to the finals. To wrap up another great day, the All-Americans were treated to dinner at a Chicago landmark, Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse.

Saturday

After three action-packed days, gameday finally arrived Saturday morning. Anticipation filled the air as players boarded the bus for Wrigley Field, this time as players, not guests. Just as they had all week, the All-American’s received big league treatment, arriving at the clubhouse to find their name and game day jersey’s adorning each locker. Team photos were taken in center field before players were led in a full group warm-up and stretch session with Major League Strength’s TJ Lopez. Batting practice, infield and outfield warm-ups and an autograph session with fans followed. Next the eight players who advanced to the Home Run Derby Championship took center stage. Launching a few bombs into the bleachers at Wrigley en route to solidifying a spot in the finals, Mason Robbins and Jacob Anderson were the final two standing. Anderson took home the trophy with a clinching homerun to left-center field.

As the first pitch drew closer, more and more fans began filling the field level section at Wrigley. From families and friends to scouts and coaches, along with various youth organizations including local Little League® teams, the Ripken Baseball campers and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chicago, all took seats at the Friendly Confines. An impressive list of over 100 professional scouts and college coaches claimed the area behind home plate, including five Scouting Directors, two Organizational Vice Presidents, three Assistant General Managers, 16 National Crosscheckers, the Major League Scouting Bureau and many more. All 30 MLB teams were represented at the Under Armour All-America game.*

The National team took the field first at 1 PM CST as the game was broadcast live on MLB Network. The home team sent local standout Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, IL) to the mound to start the game. The 6’4” hard throwing right-handed pitcher demonstrated why he’s a top prospect, striking out the side and topping off at 94 mph with his fastball. American’s outfielder Brandon Nimmo (Cheyenne, WY) doubled in the first run of the game in the second inning. Nimmo then scored on a wild pitch, giving the American team a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish. In a lopsided score the American team routed the National team 7-0 in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game. Burdi and Nimmo took home the Most Valuable Player award for their respective teams; Burdi struck out all three batters he faced and Nimmo went 2-4 with two RBI’s and two runs scored. This year the Kelly Kulina Award was presented to the player who demonstrated the most heart and enthusiasm, in honor of the late Kelly Kulina.  Connor McKay (Parker, CO) earned the 2010 Kelly Kulina Award after demonstrating these qualities both on and off the field.

Though only in its third year, the Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, has a rich history of building rising young stars. Out of the 71 players to participate in the 2008 and 2009 games, 60 went on to be selected in the MLB draft. Of the 2009 Under Armour All-Americans, five were taken in the first round of the draft. This year’s class of All-Americans promises to be just as talented as the players who’ve passed through Wrigley before them. Whether they continue their baseball careers at the collegiate or professional level, one thing is for certain, the 36 rising seniors and juniors from the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic have a bright future ahead of them.

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