Madison pitcher Ian Clarkin was one of 13 players in last year's Perfect Game All-American Classic to be chosen in the first round of this year's pro baseball draft.
The process isn’t easy, and it’s certainly time consuming.
The reward, however, is evident.
“We start keeping track of players about two years before our game,” said Brad Clement, vice president of development for Perfect Game, a scouting service that will stage Sunday’s Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park.
“We really start homing in on the top prospects about a year before.”
About 300 of the best high school baseball players in the country are invited to Minnesota each June for a national showcase. From those 300, the field is narrowed to the final 48.
“The showcase is crucial to the players,” Clement said. “It’s the first big event for the next year’s draft.”
That fact isn’t lost on the players.
“Oh yeah, we know how important this is,” said left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken, one of three San Diego players in Sunday’s game. “Every player at the Minnesota showcase knows what’s on the line. An invitation to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic is huge.”
Last year, 13 of the 48 players were drafted in the first round, including left-hander Ian Clarkin of Madison High by the Yankees.
There were six players taken in the second round, including Rancho Bernardo second baseman Gosuke Katoh by the Yankees, two in the third round and one in the fourth — Cathedral Catholic lefty Stephen Gonsalves by the Twins.
Overall, 26 of the 48 players last year were chosen in the first seven rounds.
“The history of our game is pretty amazing,” Clement said. “In the 10 years of the game, we’ve had 132 first-round picks with 100 of those in the last six years as the selection process has been refined.”
Part of the refinement process includes choosing San Diego players.
Last year, that list included Clarkin, Katoh and Gonsalves.
This year it includes Aiken, Cathedral Catholic teammate Sean Bouchard, an infielder, and Rancho Bernardo catcher Alex Jackson.
“I continue to be impressed by the quality and character of the San Diego kids,” Clement said. “From an attendance standpoint, it’s important to have local kids. But they must be quality kids, kids worthy of playing in the game.”
Over the years, the game has been played in Florida, Maryland and Los Angeles. San Diego has been the home since 2009.
“San Diego is such an awesome place,” Clement said. “Petco is such a neat ballpark. We get great cooperation from the Padres, the Hall of Champions and the city. And we love our connection with Rady Children’s Hospital.
“Climate is a factor, too. We have a three-hour TV window on the MLB Network, so rain delays are a factor. And we don’t have a makeup date.
“So it’s important for us and all these great players that we play as scheduled.”
What: Perfect Game All-American Classic
Where: Petco Park
When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
Format: East and West all-star squads compete in the 11th annual game showcasing the nation’s top high school seniors of 2014
Local players: Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic), Sean Bouchard (Cathedral Catholic), Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo).
Local coaches: East’s Eddie Johnson (Mater Dei Catholic), West’s Manny Hermosillo (Montgomery) and Luis Lorenzana
TV: MLB Network
Radio: ESPN 1700
Proceeds: Benefit Rady Children’s Hospital
Pro baseball first-round draft picks in 2013 who played in last year’s Perfect Game All-American Classic:
Name / Pos. / Team / Overall
Kohl Stewart / RHP / Twins / 4
Clint Frazier / OF / Indians / 5
Trey Ball / LHP / Red Sox / 7
Austin Meadows / OF / Pirates / 9
Dominic Smith / OF / Mets / 11
Reese McGuire / C / Pirates / 14
J.P. Crawford / IF / Phillies / 16
Nick Ciuffo / C / Rays / 21
Billy McKinney / 1B-OF / A’s / 24
Rob Kaminsky / LHP / Cardinals / 28
Travis Demeritte / 3B / Rangers / 30
Ian Clarkin / LHP / Yankees / 33
Josh Hart / OF / Orioles / 37
Note: Kris Bryant, who was taken second overall by the Cubs in this year’s draft, and Michael Lorenzen, who was taken 38th by the Reds, played in the 2009 Perfect Game event but went to college.
Notable alumni of the Perfect Game All-American Classic: Homer Bailey (Reds), Madison Bumgarner (Giants), Gerrit Cole (Pirates), Hank Conger (Angels), Ike Davis (Mets), Gio Gonzalez (Rockies), Yasmani Grandal (Padres), Sonny Gray (A’s), Bryce Harper (Nationals), Matt Harvey (Mets), Jason Heyward (Braves), Eric Hosmer (Royals), Cameron Maybin (Padres), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Nick Noonan (Giants), Rick Porcello (Tigers), Buster Posey (Giants), Justin Upton (Braves), Neil Walker (Pirates).