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The Road To Wrigley Begins This Weekend at the 2017 Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament

The Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament is an event unlike any other in the country. It continues to be the only place where the honored players get on the field to compete – as opposed to just receiving paper or online recognition. Beginning on the east coast and working its way through several teams’ Spring Training complexes, the UAAAPS Tournament has seen several impressive facilities and lots of talented student-athletes over the years. Here are just a few:

MVP’s – Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant

Sleepers – Stephen Vogt, Derek Holland

40 HR’s – Khris Davis, Chris Carter

All Stars – David Wright, Eric Hosmer

1st rounders – Delmon Young, Alex Bregman

Top prospects – Carson Kelly, Alex Verdugo

Unique prospects – Robert Lucido, Jake McGuiggan

Under Armour All-America Game – Carter Kieboom, Bo Bichette

Last year – Brady McConnell, Garrett Mitchell, Cole Brannen, Cole Turney

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On Friday, the next group of players descend on Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona – the spring home of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs – to prove their mettle. The announcement of this year’s Under Armour All-America Game, and the first few players selected will take place during Friday’s opening ceremonies. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday our scouts will be evaluating other potential UA AA candidates, as this event is the beginning of the 2017 Road to Wrigley.

The rich history of past players includes reigning MVP and World Series Champion Kris Bryant, from the “hometown” Cubs. Kris showed the same athleticism and easy raw power that are hallmarks of his game today, when he took the field here several years ago. Another MVP, Josh Donaldson also made a stop at this January event when he was a high schooler. An infielder from the state of Alabama, Donaldson went on to play catcher at Auburn and then made his impact at third base in the Major Leagues with the A’s and now Blue Jays.

Some players arrive at this event already having lengthy resumes and a reputation as one of the top players in the country.

Future All-Stars David Wright and Eric Hosmer were two of those players, and both lived up to expectations with great showings at this event. But not everyone shows up as a well-known commodity. A lesser-known catcher out of California more than held his own at this event in high school, doing what he did at every Baseball Factory event – hit the ball hard from the left side. Stephen Vogt went on to star at Azusa Pacific and then hit his way to the Majors where he is an impact bat today. Another under-the-radar participant was a skinny LHP out of Ohio who pitched at 80-83 mph during his January outing here in Arizona. A National Crosschecker for the Tampa Bay Rays saw the same promise that our Baseball Factory scouts had seen and made a call to an Alabama junior college about the lefty. That call led to a scholarship to Wallace State CC where Derek Holland continued to develop before moving on to a successful starting pitching role with the Texas Rangers.

The list of successful alumni goes on and on, from 40 HR Major Leaguers like Chris Carter and Khris Davis to top prospects Carson Kelly and Alex Verdugo. This event has had its share of 1st rounders too, including former #1 overall pick Delmon Young, and emerging current star Alex Bregman.

But not every player follows the same path, has the same priorities, or develops at the same rate. Take Jake McGuiggan for example. Jake may not be a household baseball name just yet, but this former Pre-Season All-American is still playing professional baseball and chasing his Major League dream. Of course, if that dream doesn’t become reality, Jake can rely on the degree he earned from Harvard while earning All-Ivy League honors on the diamond to help him succeed in another field. Similarly, Robert Lucido, another alum of this event, took the less traveled path to professional baseball. Robert is in Florida right now preparing for Spring Training with the Texas Rangers after completing his college education at the prestigious Division III school, Amherst University.

We look forward to seeing who will make their mark at this 2017 event. Perhaps some players will follow in the footsteps of Carter Kieboom and Bo Bichette who earned their invitations to the Under Armour All-America Game by performing well here. Maybe we’ll see another Stephen Gingery who caught the eye of one the scouts in attendance during his outing on the mound. That scout recommended Gingery, a LHP from California, to the staff at Texas Tech where he signed and became a Freshman All-American.

The names will be different this year, but one thing we do know is that there is a talented group of prospects that will take the fields here in Mesa on Saturday. We can’t wait to watch them!

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