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Thursday, August 4, 2011
Previewing the Area Code Games

By ESPNBoston.com

Tomorrow marks the start of the 25th annual Area Code Games, in Long Beach, Calif., and ESPN RISE will be there for coverage throughout the five-day event.

Last month, we showed you the New York Yankees roster, which features seven Massachusetts residents. All four of Tuesday's games will be shown on ESPN3.

ESPN will be updating through the weekend with photo galleries, videos and articles, including Players of the Game and evaluations by ESPN's Keith Law, and we'll link here as it pertains to New England.

The Folks at ESPN RISE have passed along a recent article counting down the top 25 alumni in the history of the Area Code Games, copied below. You might recognize a few of the names:



Josh Beckett | Texas Rangers | 1998 | Current team: Red Sox
Out of Spring (Spring, Texas) High School, Josh Beckett played for the Rangers at the 1998 Area Code Games. Listed as 6-foot-4, 190 pounds in high school, Beckett was fierce on the mound. The Marlins made him the second overall pick in the 1999 draft and he debuted in 2001. He is in his 11th he is arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball and has struck out over 1,400 batters.

Ryan Braun | Area Code Team | 2000-2001 | Current team: Brewers
Braun hails from Granada Hills (Calif.) High School and is one of the uncommon players to play two years of Area Code. He was listed as a shortstop in both years’ programs and is now the Brewers’ left fielder. After high school he went to Miami, where the Brewers took him in the first round (No. 5 overall) in the 2005 draft. He was a teammate of Jered Weaver in the 2000 Area Code Games and Delmon Young in the 2001 Area Code Games.

Eric Chavez | Padres | 1994 & 1995 | Current team: Yankees
Eric Chavez played for Mount Carmel (San Diego, Calif.) and was drafted by the Oakland Athletics as the No. 10 in the 1996 MLB Draft. He was the first player selected state player of the year twice by Cal-Hi Sports since Mead Hamilton did it in 1902-1903. 2011 is his first year in New York.

Jacoby Ellsbury | Seattle Mariners | 2001 | Current team: Red Sox
Another Red Sox player who suited up in the Area Code Games. Ellsbury had current teammate Jon Lester on that ’01 Mariners team, along with Brent Lillibridge and Travis Buck. After he graduated from Madras (Ore.) High School he went and played for Oregon State. The Red Sox took him No. 23 overall in the 2005 MLB Draft. He made his debut in 2007.

Andre Ethier | Diamondbacks | 1999 | Current team: Dodgers
Ethier played high school at St. Mary’s (Phoenix, Ariz.) before moving on to Arizona State. He was a big high school kid standing 6-foot-3, 175 pounds – that’s what he was listed as in the 1999 Area Code program. He was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the second round of the 2003 MLB Draft, but was traded to Los Angeles and made his debut with the Dodgers in 2006.

Prince Fielder | Pirates | 2000 | Current team: Brewers
The current Brewers’ first baseman played Eau Gallie (Melbourne, Fla.) High School and was selected by the Brewers in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft. When he played in the 2000 Area Code Games he did so as an under classman. He made his debut with the big club in 2005.

Adrian Gonzalez | San Diego Padres | 1999 | Current team: Red Sox
Gonzalez played for the San Diego Padres at the 1999 Area Code Games and through fortunate circumstance he would end up playing for the Padres. He was taken out of Eastlake (Chula Vista, Calif.) High School by the Marlins with the first pick in the 2000 MLB Draft. Now, he is with the Red Sox and joins other Area Code alums in Beantown: Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Dustin Pedrioa.

Roy Halladay | Rockies | 1994 | Current team: Phillies
One of the best pitchers in the game, Halladay went to Arvada West (Arvada, Colo.). Two other MLB’ers to play in ’94 are Aaron Miles and Pat Burrell. He was selected in the first round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Blue Jays and made his debut back in 1998. He currently anchors one of the best staffs in baseball.

Dan Haren | Dodgers | 1997 | Current team: Angels
Dan Haren played at Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) and was selected in the second round of the 2001 MLB Draft out of Pepperdine. The Cardinals took him and he has spent time with the Athletics, Diamondbacks and now with the Angels. The last time we counted there are currently 10 Area Code alums wearing the Angels’ jersey.

Bryce Harper | Reds | 2008 | Current organization: Nationals
Rare to see a freshman play in the Area Code Games, but Harper is a rare talent. His performance at the 2008 Area Code Games is still talked about each summer. He graduated high school early and played at a local junior college. The Nationals selected him No. 1 overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. At the Area Code Games not only did he impress with his bat (you can find him on YouTube) but he also was throwing runners out from his knees when catching. He was the only underclassman on the 2009 ESPN RISE All-American Team.

Ryan Howard | White Sox | 1997 | Current team: Phillies
Howard played in ’97 along with other current Major Leaguers: Ryan Madson, Dan Haren and CC Sabathia to name a few. He attended Lafayette (Wildwood, Mo.) before going to Missouri State University. From there the Phillies took in him in the fifth round of the 2001 MLB Draft.

Torii Hunter | Astros | 1992 | Current team: Angels
When we talked about Haren we mentioned there were a lot of current Angels to play in the Area Code Games and we weren’t kidding. Hunter was selected as the No. 20 pick overall in the 1993 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins. From Minnesota he moved to the Angels were he played in center, but with the emergence of Peter Bourjos (another Area Code alum), Hunter moved to right field.

Clayton Kershaw | Texas Rangers | 2005 | Current team: Dodgers
A hard throwing pitcher from Texas Kershaw attended Highland Park (Dallas, Texas) before being drafted with the No. 7 pick by the Dodgers. He made his debut in 2008 and is one of the best young arms in baseball. There were two other Major Leaguers on that team in 2005, Jordan Walden (Angels) and Brandon Belt (Giants). The “ace” of the staff, Kershaw is one of the bright spots in the Dodgers organization.

Jon Lester | Mariners | 2001 | Current team: Red Sox
Lester is out of Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.) and played on the Seattle Mariners that team five Major Leaguers on it: Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Travis Buck, Trevor Crowe, Brent Lillibridge. Lester was selected by Boston in the second round of the 2002 MLB Draft and made his debut in 2006.

Dustin Pedroia | Giants | 2000 | Current team: Red Sox
Pedroia played at Woodland (Woodland, Calif.) High School and then moved on to Arizona State. In 2001 Pedroia was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All State Team. The Boston Red Sox took him in the 2004 MLB Draft in the second round and he made his MLB debut in 2006. He won the AL MVP in 2008.

Albert Pujols | Royals | 1998 | Current team: Cardinals
Listed as Jose in the 1998 program, Pujols played at shortstop for the Royals the Area Code Games. When looking back at the 1998 program, he was written in, not even on the original roster. He attended Fort Osage (Independence, Mo.) and then Maple Woods Community College before being selected in the 13th round of the 1999 draft. He was the 402nd overall pick. Now he is one of the best hitters in the game and when the season is over, will be the most sought after free agent. Who knows, may even see the largest contract in history?

Jimmy Rollins | Giants | 1994-1995 | Current team: Phillies
Rollins is one of the few players to play in consecutive Area Code Games. The Phillies drafted him in the second round in 1996, coming out of Encinal (Alameda, Calif.). A teammate of Rollins on that Giants team was former MLB player, Nick Johnson. He was the Cal-Hi Sports, state player of the year (for medium schools) in 1996, the same year Eric Chavez (former Area Coder) was named overall state player of the year.

C.C. Sabathia | San Francisco Giants | 1997 | Current team: Yankees
Carsten Sabathia attended Vallejo (Vallejo, Calif.) and was selected by the Cleveland Indians as the No. 20 pick in the 1998 draft. Sabathia was a great athlete in high school playing baseball, football (recorded 14 sacks as a DE) and basketball (leading rebounder). In 1998 he was named state athlete of the year by Cal-Hi Sports. He made his MLB debut with the Brewers.

Troy Tulowitzki | Giants | 2001 | Current team: Rockies
“Tulo” played back in 2001, as he attended Fremont (Sunnyvale, Calif.) High School in Northern California. He moved on to Long Beach State where he had a great career and in the 2005 MLB Draft the Rockies took him with the seventh pick. During his tenure with the Rockies he has played in a World Series (lost to Boston) and most recently lost in 2009 to the Phillies in the NLDS.

B.J. Upton | White Sox | 2001 | Current team: Rays
The elder Upton played for the White Sox in 2001 as he hailed from Greenbriar Christian Academy (Chesapeake, Va.). He and his younger brother, Justin, are a rare few brother combinations to play in the Area Code Games. He was selected in the first round (No. 2 overall) of the 2002 MLB Draft and made his debut in 2004.

Justin Upton | Expos | 2003 | Current team: Diamondbacks
Upton hails from Virginia and was selected No. 1 overall by Arizona in the 2005 MLB Draft and he made his debut in 2007. He played for the Expos, yes the Expos, in 2003 and in 2001 his brother B.J. played for the White Sox in the Area Code Games.

Jered Weaver | Area Code Team | 2000 | Current team: Angels
Weaver went to school at Simi Valley (Simi Valley, Calif.) and then to Long Beach State. He played in the 2000 Area Code Games and was teammate of current Brewer, Ryan Braun. After Long Beach State the then Anaheim Angels selected him No. 12 in the 2004 draft. He made his debut in 2006 for the Halos.

David Wright | Pirates | 2000 | Current team: Mets
He played his high school ball at Hickory (Chesapeake, Va.) and played for the Pirates in 2000 at the Area Code Games. That year Pittsburgh had two teams covering the East Coast. He was selected in the 2001 MLB Draft by the Mets and made his debut in 2004. Solid at third base and in his eighth MLB season he is a career .303 hitter.

Delmon Young | Area Code Team/Mariners | 1999-2001 | Current team: Twins
When Young was listed in the 1999 Area Code roster he was in eighth grade, something that hadn’t been done before and will never be done again. He attended Camarillo (Camarillo, Calif.) High School when he was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2003 draft by the Rays. He made his debut in 2006 with Tampa and moved to Minnesota in 2008. He was the CalHiSports.com State Player of the Year as a junior, but missed out on that honor as a senior.

Barry Zito | San Diego Padres | 1995 | Current team: Giants
At one time Zito was one of the best pitchers in the game. The Athletics drafted him No. 9 in 1999. He played at UC-Santa Barbara, Pierce College and USC. A lefty out of University (San Diego, Calif.) High School, Zito played on the same Area Code team as Eric Chavez, a fellow San Diegan. In Oakland he had a knee buckling curveball, but his change may have been his best pitch. He is in his twelfth season overall.