In the Major League Baseball draft earlier this month, eight former showcase participants were selected.
Unfortunately for Rail City baseball fans, Sparks schools will not be well represented in Saturday’s game. Only Duran DiQuarto and Chris Hawthorne of Reed were named to the North’s 27-man roster that will take on 19 players from the Las Vegas-area schools.
Rosters are chosen by the state's prep coaches. If a kid is a first or second team all-league selection, he automatically makes the team. Then Reno’s Pete Savage and Bishop Manogue coach Charles Oppio filled out the North’s rosters based on the showcase team’s needs. Savage and Oppio were chosen as the North’s coaches since their respective teams won the Sierra and High Desert Leagues.
“The best thing I did 11 years ago was have the coaches select the players. I stay out of it,” showcase organizer Stew Colton said.
This will be the 11th showcase Colton has run, but the first held at Western Nevada College.
WNC baseball coach D.J. Whittemore has been bugging Colton to hold the showcase the past few years because he has a nice facility and wanted to show it off to potential recruits in Northern Nevada and Las Vegas.
Colton used to partner with the Truckee Meadows Boys and Girls Club and used the event as a fundraiser at Reno High, but the manpower needed to put on the showcase was not worth the money the showcase raised.
“They’ve been wonderful, and I still continue to support them by donating gloves for their programs through Kelley Athletics store. For them, it was more costly than it was worth,” Colton said.
With the change of venue from Reno High to WNC, the game will be held earlier in the day since WNC does not have lights.
But the 1:15 p.m. game time actually makes traveling easier for the Vegas players. They are scheduled to fly into Reno at 9 a.m. and will fly home at 8:55 p.m.
The showcase will still include the skills portion despite the earlier game. Batting practice, the 60-yard dash and infield/outfield will be followed by a nine-inning game where all the players will participate.
Colton expects to see coaches from 15-20 Division I schools as well as junior colleges Feather River College, Lassen College, College of Southern Nevada and Western Nevada College.
California junior colleges have restrictions about where they can initiate recruiting in order to prevent schools from “stealing” players from other schools. However, many California junior colleges will likely call Colton after the game for a recap.
Timing might be the most important change for this year’s showcase. The event is usually held earlier in June, but Colton and Savage thought this weekend would be best.
Savage is holding the Josh Anderson Memorial Tournament this week for American Legion baseball teams from all across the nation. Colton and Savage agreed it was a good idea to hold the two events during the same week, so college coaches and pro scouts could essentially kill two birds with one stone.