August, 2, 2011
By Andrew Drennen | ESPN.com
Scott Kurtz/ESPNHSWhen Blake Hickman suits up for the Chicago White Sox at the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games presented by New Balance, it will mark his second time in Long Beach.
When looking at the bios from the players participating in this year's Area Code Baseball Games presented by New Balance, we ask all the players where they have given a verbal to. Now, we know this is a verbal committment and things can change and they sometimes do, but it is still interesting to see where they said yes to.
With an early look at where the players have given a verbal to, geography seems to play a big part. For example, many of the players on the Royals (Northwest) for the Area Code Games decided to stay close to home. As for the California kids, well their school choices were primarily California schools.
Here are some highlights of where the players said yes to:
- When looking at the Brewers roster UCLA had the most players say yes. The Bruins have been one of the best teams in college baseball recently and with two of the first three picks in the 2011 MLB Draft, UCLA looks attractive to many players. So far seven players said they were going to UCLA. Some names of note are: Hunter Virant, Max Fried and Felipe Perez. USC had four players say yes to them and Oregon had three.
- Oregon got the three players from California: Corey Oswalt, Cole Irvin and Connor Baits. What is even more interesting is that no one on the Royals said yes to the Ducks. A majority of the Royals said yes to Washington State (four players) and even a greater number of the Royals are going to Pac-12 schools. So in a way you can say they are staying close to home on the West Coast.
- Many of the playes on the Yankees team like schools in the ACC. From Wake Forest to Boston College it seemed that the Yankees' players wanted to stay regional, just like the teams on the West Coast. With that said it was Vanderbilt that had multiple players give a verbal to. Those players include: Rhett Wiseman and Chris Harvey.
- The Nationals (Southeast) players selected schools within their region as well. This time the bulk of choices were from the SEC. Ole Miss and Florida each at two players say yes, as did Alabama.
- Arizona State was popular with the players on the Reds, who has the Four Corners, Nevada and Hawaii region for the Area Code Games. There were a couple of players leaving the region for LSU - Joey Gallo and Alex Bregman. Gallo's Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) won its sixth straight Nevada state title. They went 36-4 and ended up No. 4 in the final POWERADE ESPN RISE FAB 50 National Rankings.
- Of the few players who committed from the Athletics' team, most are actually leaving the state. There were a couple that decided to stay close to home, but a couple of them decided on Washington, Oregon and Oregon State. That is a little surprising with the success of Stanford and Cal. Even though they are leaving the state, they are still staying on the West Coast though.
- The White Sox have the largest region for the Area Code Games and those players, who have committed, are staying within the region. Arkansas had the most verbals from the Sox at two: Trey Killian and Blake Baxendale.
- As far as the Rangers go, the most popular schools chosen were Texas, Rice and TCU. Not much of a surprise that a majority of those players wish to stay in Texas.
What are some things that we can learn from this? One thing is that these players seem to chose schools based on an area in which they live. There were a few that will go cross country, but not many. Also, it seemed the those players who did chose to go cross country were West Coast players moving East. This also shows that there are talented players everywhere in the nation.
It is true that players from the cold weather states may be more raw than those in the sun belt states, but they are just as talented. It is also known that the MLB Draft has a heavy influence on who actually attends the school they sign with, regardless look for some strong recuiting classes when these players sign.