High-SchoolBaseball: Kansas City Royals

The impressionist: Michael Rucker

August, 19, 2011

Michael Rucker played for the Kansas City Royals at the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games presented by New Balance. When we were collecting bio information on the players one of the questions we asked was about something unique to the player. Rucker said he could do impressions, and his best two are Gollum (The Lord of the Rings) and Chewbacca (Star Wars). Yes, his best impressions are of fictional characters.

Area Code rosters set

July, 27, 2011
Area Code Baseball, high school baseball, Rio RuizAndrew Drennen/ESPNHSRio Ruiz gets ready to show off his arm strength during the Milwaukee Brewers workout at Westmont College (Montecito, Calif.). Ruiz will play in the 2011 Area Code Games for the Brewers.

It's official, all eight Area Code Baseball rosters have been set for the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games presented by New Balance this August. 210 players nationwide will head to Long Beach, Calif., for the 25th installment of the Area Code Games.

Highlights from the player selections:

  • This year there is only one player from the 2014 class, that is Drew Ward of Leedey (Leedey, Okla.). He will be playing on the Chicago White Sox team this August.
  • The smallest roster for the 2011 Area Code Games will be the Texas Rangers. The Rangers will bring 21 players from Texas and Louisiana. Of the 21 players, four of them came out in 2010: Hunter Kopycinski, Nick Williams, Riley Ferrell and C.J. Hinojosa.
  • The Brewers have one of the largest rosters, 33 players, and may even have the roster high of 16 pitchers. They have six players who played in 2010: Timothy Lopes, Trevor Megill, Rio Ruiz (played for the Yankees), Cole Irvin, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito.
  • Speaking of Max Fried, his high school, Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, Calif.) made local news when they dropped their athletic program. So he is a free-agent of sorts and it will be interesting to see where he goes to school.
  • Looking at the Yankees they have two returning players: Fernelys Sanchez and Nelson Rodriguez. Both were named to the ESPN Underclass All-America team. They both play for George Washington (Bronx, N.Y.) and won the PSAL title. Like the other teams, the Yankees may strength may be their pitching.
  • The Athletics are excited about their team for many reasons. First, they get to bring players from their own backyard, they moved to Northern California this year. Second, they have a soild team. Ryan Tellez from Elk Grove (Elk Grove, Calif.) is the youngest player on the team, class of 2013. He told Harold Abend at the tryout in Stockton that he has something to prove. They also have James Marvel a pitcher out of Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.). He is going to be blogging for us about his Area Code Baseball experiences.
  • The Royals are back for the first time since 1998 and they have the Northwest. Their team will have some athletes on it. Two that stand out are Clint Coulter and Dylan LaVelle. Both played in 2010 on the Washington Nationals. Coulter is a former state champ in wrestling and LaVelle holds a black belt in Karate.
  • The Reds will once again bring the team from the Four Corners, Hawaii and Nevada. Bryce Harper, we all have heard of him, played on the Reds when he went to Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nev.) High School. Harper was selected No. 1 in the 2010 MLB Draft. He is currently in double-A for the Washington Nationals. The Reds are bringing out Joey Gallo, one of the best hitters in the region and may be one of the best hitters in the nation.
  • The Washington Nationals made a region swap, and now they are coming from the Southeast. Vance Vizcaino played in 2010 for the then Athletics and will be back in 2011. Also Jesse Winker from Olympia (Windermere, Fla.) is heading out with the Nationals. Winker's older brother, Joe, is in the Dodgers organization.

Area Code Baseball Tryouts start this month

June, 9, 2011
Starting this week the 2011 Area Code Baseball Tryouts will begin. The process starts with approximately 3,000 players, nationwide, attending one of 21 regional tryouts. There are eight MLB teams this year bringing eight regional teams: Milwaukee Brewers (Southern California), Oakland Athletics (Northern California), Kansas City Royals (Northwest), Cincinnati Reds (Four Corners/Hawaii), Chicago White Sox (Midwest), Washington Nationals (Southeast) and the New York Yankees (Northeast).

For the Royals it is the first time since 1998 that they will have a team in the Area Code Games, and the last time they had a team, Albert Pujols played on it. Yes, there is a photo of him in a Royals jersey.

Many times we asked players what they thought of the process and what it's like playing in the games. More times than not, they all said it was like a job interview. Great choice of words because at the MLB Players' Symposium some of the scouts told the players and parents that they view that week as a beginning of an interview process. Starts in August and ends with the MLB Draft the following June.

In the 2011 MLB Draft, UCLA's Gerrit Cole went No. 1 overall. As far as Area Code is concerned he became the ninth player in the event's history to be selected No. 1. He joins Phil Nevin (1995), Pat Burrell (1998), Adrian Gonzalez (2000), Delmon Young (2003), Matt Bush (2004), Justin Upton (2005), Tim Beckham (2008) and Bryce Harper (2010), all went at the top spot overall.

This is the 25th year of the event, which makes it the Silver Anniversary. There have been some great players to play in Long Beach, where the event has been held since 1998. If you have never been to Blair Field, it is the current home to Long Beach State and it is a big park, with the Southern California marine layer making the air a little heavy at times. Add that to the players using wood bats and the pitchers have an advantage.

To conlude, from these 3,000 players the final number (in August) be around 210. We know this, the final group of players in Long Beach will have an opportunity to perform in front of 300 plus scouts from every team plus the MLB Scouting Bureau. Don't forget the college coaches in attendance, too.

It all starts on June 11 and will come to an end on August 10. What an exciting couple of months we have in store.