2012 Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory Recap
Wednesday, August 15
The top 38 high school prospects from across the US, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico arrived in Chicago on Wednesday, August 15 for the start of a four-day event, culminating with the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. It was immediately clear to the young stars they would enjoy professional treatment at this event. Their first stop upon arriving in Chicago: event headquarters at the W Lakeshore – Chicago and a hospitality suite courtesy of Under Armour. Additional groups were involved this year to make it the most exiting arrival to-date, including Gatorade, EyeKing, BiteTech and Bowman Trading Cards. Along with gearing up head-to-toe in Under Armour gear, players posed for their very own trading card with Bowman before rejoining their teammates in the hospitality suite for the first of many ping-pong tournaments.
Players and parents departed for Wrigley Field later that evening, where they took in the storied history of the stadium. Going behind the scenes at Wrigley included an on-field photo opportunity prior to the welcome dinner in the Cub’s Stadium Club. Steve Bernhardt, Executive VP of Operations at Baseball Factory, welcomed families to the event and introduced the impressive group of young players. Jaron Madison, the Cub’s new Scouting Director, spoke to the players about what the Cubs are looking for when analyzing prospects and helped get the All-Americans excited to play at Wrigley Field. Returning team managers Larry Bowa and Bill Ripken followed as the evening’s keynote speakers.
Thursday, August 16
In what has become one of many traditions throughout the All-America event, players headed to the University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC) Thursday morning for a workout with former Major League stars. This year Larry Bowa and Bill Ripken returned as team managers and mentors for the Under Armour All-Americans. They were joined by Jim Morris, Bryan Harvey and Roger Clemens. Though the weather forced part of the workout indoors, the All-Americans still enjoyed the moment and soaked in everything they could from the former professional players.
Giving back to the community has always been a priority at the Under Armour All-America event. This year the All-Americans served as instructors during a youth clinic at UIC. Aspiring youth players from across the greater Chicago area were treated to an afternoon of baseball and life lessons, and an experience they won’t soon forget. To top off a great afternoon, the All-Americans spent time signing autographs for the youth players. Hometown hero Corey Ray (Chicago, IL) was especially popular with the youngsters. Thursday was capped off with dinner and gaming at Dave & Busters. Players enjoyed some downtime and even took home a few prizes!
Friday, August 17
If signing autographs for young fans wasn’t enough to give the All-Americans a professional feeling, the interviews conducted by MLB Network Friday morning certainly helped. In previous years the footage has been used during the network’s coverage of the MLB Amateur Draft. To add to the media frenzy, when players weren’t answering questions for the MLB Network they were interviewing with Baseball America, meeting with the Cub’s scouting department, answering questions for Gatorade reps about the G Series or practicing their autographs during a signing session of their brand new Bowman trading cards.
The weather could not have been any better Friday afternoon as the players took the field once again at UIC, this time for the professional workout in front of over 150 scouts and coaches in attendance. In the largest turnout of scouts’-to-date, the crowd included National Crosscheckers, Scouting Directors and two Vice Presidents. In addition, 29 of the 30 Major League organizations were represented, with some clubs having several representatives in attendance.
After completing the defensive and offensive segments of the workout, select players took part in the Home Run Derby preliminary round. A few players in this year’s class are known for their raw power, in particular Clint Frazier (Loganville, GA). Clint put on a display to earn a spot in the finals and was joined by Austin Meadows (Loganville, GA), Joey Martarano (Fruitland, ID) and Billy McKinney (Plano, TX) to represent the American team. Earning a spot in the finals for the National team were Justin Williams (Houma, LA), Jan Hernandez (San Lorenzo, PR), Dominic Smith (Los Angeles, CA) and Trey Ball (New Castle, IN).
After a successful afternoon on field, the All-Americans returned to the W-Lakeshore for dinner and a special presentation by former Major League pitcher Jim Morris. His story was the inspiration for the Disney hit movie, The Rookie, staring Dennis Quaid. The message from Jim touched players and coaches alike. An informative MLB Draft presentation followed for both players and parents in attendance.
Saturday, August 18
Players got an early start on game day, heading to Wrigley Field for breakfast in the clubhouse before 8:00AM. A full team photo shoot followed before players were led in a warm-up and stretch session by ML Strength. The rest of the morning’s schedule was filled with pre-game festivities that included batting practice, infield/outfield, a professional photo shoot, interviews and autographs. Last but certainly not least was the Baseball Factory Home Run Derby Championship. The young sluggers battled the wind at Wrigley, and after two tie-breakers Justin Williams (Houma, LA) earned the 2012 Home Run Derby title.
On hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch was Cubs’ Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. In front a great crowd and live on MLB Network, the National team took the field on a perfect August day in Chicago. With the high level of talent at this year’s game, there were numerous stand-out performances on the day from both squads. One of the most notable came from Clint Frazier, who earned the Under Armour Silver Spike Award for the National team. Frazier put on an impressive display of power, going 2-for-3 with two doubles including the game-tying hit in the top of the ninth. Jan Hernandez earned the other Under Armour Silver Spike Award for the National team, going 1-for-1 with a triple and three walks on the day. Infielder Chris Rivera (Placentia, CA) earned this year’s Kelly Kulina Award, given to the player who demonstrates the most heart and enthusiasm throughout the event. Special congratulations to Clint, Jan and Chris on earning hardware at this year’s game!
The fifth Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory ended with the American team edging the National team 7-6. It was another great event, with the talented group of 38 players taking advantage of the special opportunity to showcase in front of over 150 professional scouts and college coaches. As the players enter their junior and senior years, we’ll keep a close watch as they continue their success and progression towards the next level, be it collegiate or professional. Congratulations again to this year’s Under Armour All-Americans and we wish you the best in all your future endeavors!