BRADENTON -- Major League Baseball and USA Baseball announced this week that the annual Breakthrough Series, which exposes a diverse group of some of the top high school baseball players in the country to professional scouts and collegiate recruiters, will expand to four regional locations. Pirate City, the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training workout complex in Bradenton, will be among the sites hosting prospective athletes between July 19 and July 28.
The event's 2014 expansion to four regional locations and will showcase approximately 200 players, the most in the event’s history. The other host sites will be the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California; the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio; and MCU Park, home of the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones, in Brooklyn, New York. Previously, the Breakthrough Series was annually held in one location while serving approximately 60 to 80 players.
Many of the athletes featured in the Breakthrough Series will be African-American, in what it being described as a joint effort by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to promote baseball as a viable collegiate and professional option for urban youth, especially those from underserved communities. The event is completely cost-free for participants, who are selected by invitation only.
“Major League Baseball is proud to team with USA Baseball in extending this opportunity to even more talented young players for them to demonstrate their abilities,” said Frank Robinson, MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Development. “The Breakthrough Series is a great tool for making sure kids, who might have not been scouted or recruited, are exposed to decision-makers at the next level. We are looking forward to giving them the chance to take this important step.”
According to Major League Baseball, nearly 90 past participants of the Breakthrough Series have been selected in the MLB Player Draft, including 43 combined from the 2012 and 2013 drafts. In those two drafts, four event alumni were selected in the first round, including Courtney Hawkins (13th overall in 2012 by the Chicago White Sox), Victor Roache (28th overall in 2012 by the Milwaukee Brewers), Addison Russell (11th overall in 2012 by the Oakland Athletics) and Dominic Smith (11th overall in 2013 by the New York Mets). Additionally, participants in the 2013 Breakthrough Series committed to collegiate baseball programs such as Arizona, Ole Miss, UCLA, University of Miami, USC and Vanderbilt.
“USA Baseball is excited to partner with Major League Baseball on the Breakthrough Series for the seventh consecutive year,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s executive director/CEO. “This event is a result of USA Baseball’s and MLB’s mission to provide great exposure and opportunity for athletes from urban areas and grow the game of baseball throughout the United States at all levels.”
Established in 2008, the Breakthrough Series previously has been held at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California (2008-2009), USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina (2010-2012) and at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, and the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy in Houston, Texas.
“The Breakthrough Series continues to be an excellent opportunity for Major League scouts and college coaches to evaluate some of the nation’s best amateur players from urban areas,” said Frank Marcos, Senior Director of the Major League Scouting Bureau. “This new format of regional events will now provide a greater opportunity to scout more players than any previous year of the event. The MLB Scouting Bureau is excited for the chance to identify and evaluate these players on behalf of Major League Baseball and USA Baseball.”
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