It’s been a bummer of a year for MLB Draft enthusiasts, with college and high school baseball canceled, but one of the featured events of the draft prospect cycle is still happening this year: the Perfect Game All-American Classic, taking place this Friday, September 4th. The PGAAC features some of the brightest talents for the upcoming draft; it’s where I first fell in love with a hard-nosed, hyper-athletic outfielder named Jarred Kelenic back in 2017. The event returns this year with a few differences; usually it takes place in mid-August at Petco Park in San Diego, but this year the event moves to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, home of the Dodgers’ Triple-A Club.
2020 Perfect Game All-American Classic details:
Date: Friday, September 4th
Time: The game starts at 3:30 PM Central, so 1:30 for those of us in PT. The Home Run Derby starts at 12:45 PT.
How to watch: Follow the HR derby on Instagram Live or PG’s other social media channels; the game itself will be streamed on Perfect Game TV (free to watch)
Several of the players at this event also attended the Perfect Game national showcase back in June, which Joe and I wrote up here. The complete roster for East and West is here.
Two players from our area will be participating in the showcase, playing for the West: outfielder Malakhi Knight from Marysville, and Max Debiec, a 6’7” RHP from O’Dea here in Seattle (West Seattle represent). Debiec was a breakout star at the PG National Showcase, showing up suddenly pumping 97 like the kid who got hot over the summer. Knight is a tooled-up outfielder with a pretty righty swing who is Washington’s reigning Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year.
Ian Moller (West) is the standout here. Moller combines plus athleticism with polish, pure instincts for the game with a high baseball IQ, and possesses maturity and leadership qualities that make him one of the safer bets in a demographic that is traditionally extremely high-risk. He’s my favorite in this class. Joe likes Harry Ford and Joe Mack, who, like Moller, combine strong defense behind the plate with an advanced approach in the box and an ability to find barrels. Ford is exceptionally athletic behind the plate.
After a thinner crop of prep infielders last year, this year’s is positively bumper. All eyes will be on SS Brady House (East), one of the most buzzed-about 2021 prospects and about whom Joe wrote a glowing draft profile. It’s been a summer of sputter for House, but this is a good opportunity to re-inflate his draft stock. The West team has a powerhouse prospect at SS of its own in Jordan Lawlar, also one of Joe’s favorites and the owner of maybe the most beautiful righty swing in the class (also, you can read Joe’s draft profile of him here). Joe says the second best shortstop in the class may be Marcelo Mayer, who will also be on display. At 6-3, 195, Mayer is a taller shortstop, but figures to stick at the position. It’s another very good body and skillset for the position. I favor SS Izaac Pacheco (West), who is very big for SS—6’4”—but has kind of the Noelvi Marte build of long legs, narrow hips, and a broad chest and shoulders. We love a triangle-shaped shortstop. Despite his size, Pacheco is a graceful defender with good instincts who gets a quick first step, and when it’s time for him to step into the batter’s box, that size shows up in massive over-the-fence power. SS Cody Schrier (West) has an advanced, all-fields approach to hitting with some present pull power and should hit well enough to stick at short with just okay defense or be a very good second baseman. SS Alex Mooney (West) is probably the best defensive shortstop of this crew, although his bat lags behind the others. SS Luke Leto (West) has been a hot name in scouting circles but had a disappointing performance at Nationals; I prefer another SS named Luke, Luke Heefner (West), whose uncle is Ben Zobrist and shows, if not one loud tool, a set of all-around solid ones. And lest we forget the corner outfielders, Max McGwire (West) is the son of Mark McGwire and, like his dad, is a big power-hitting first baseman.
This isn’t the strongest class for outfielders in my opinion, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in beautiful idiosyncrasy. Lefty-hitting Braylon Bishop (West) has a swing that’s built entirely around his elite hand speed, which is fascinating to study, and is tooled-up across the board. Benny Montgomery (East) has maybe the most unique stance/swing you’ll see in a while, but it works for him. James Wood (East) is pitcher-sized at 6’6” but has been well-coached to make his size work for him in the box, with a quick, loose-wristed swing with gorgeous extension.
The best pitcher in the entire country is probably Andy Painter. At 6-foot-7, Painter is an imposing body on the mound. He doesn’t struggle to repeat his mechanics and can rush it up there at 97. He may end up a Top 20 pick. There are two names to remember and they’re basically the same name: Burns and Bruns. RHP Chase Burns (West) had the highest recorded velocity at PG’s National Showcase at 99 mph; he’s a true power pitcher with a hammer curve as his secondary offering. He’ll be opposed by LHP Maddux Bruns (East) who is basically left-handed Chase Burns with a similar arsenal although a couple ticks less of velocity. If velo is your flavor, RHP Chase Petty (East) will serve you some triple-digit-adjacent fire. RHP Christian Little (West) didn’t have his best stuff at the PG National but he has a beautiful, whippy arm action with clean, repeatable mechanics. LHP Ryan Ginther (West) doesn’t have quite the buzz of these other three names but I thought he showed really well at the PG Nationals with nasty stuff (mid-90s fastball and a tightly spun slider) and a bulldog mentality on the mound. If LHP Pierce Coppola (East) looks large to you, that’s not your TV screen—he’s listed at 6’9”. Also, don’t overlook Max Debiec here, who was maybe the breakout star at PG Nationals.