Area Code Games: Day Three WrapProspects
LONG BEACH, Calif. — It all started in 1987 in Lodi, California, which is in the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley – otherwise known as the “Zinfandel Capital of the World.” The games were the brainchild of Bob Williams, who collaborated with Northern California scouts to put on a showcase that was free of charge and would pit players from different areas of the country, based on their area codes. He also wanted to appease the scouts by having the high schoolers drop their aluminum bats and use nothing but wood bats.
The thing that separates the ACG from other high school showcases is the fact that the MLB scouts themselves are the ones who choose the players who play here in Long Beach. In other words, no daddy’s boys or players who spent extra money so their boy could play, these are just the best of the best. Those who are going to be high on the draft boards after their senior years of high school.
And also, as I mentioned in yesterday’s writeup there are upward of 500 scouts in attendance here at Blair Field during the Area Code Games. You can’t swing a cat by the tail without hitting four or five scouts in the stands.
To show the quality of players that play here each summer, since the inception of the Area Code Games 12 of its alums have been chosen first overall in the MLB draft.
– Phil Nevin, Cal State Fullerton, 1989 ACG alum
– Pat Burrell, Miami, 1994 ACG alum
– Adrian Gonzalez, 1999 ACG alum
– Delmon Young, 1999 ACG alum
– Matt Bush, 2003 ACG alum
– Justin Upton, 2003 ACG alum
– Tim Beckham, 2003 ACG alum
– Gerrit Cole, 2007 ACG alum
– Bryce Harper, 2008 ACG alum
– Mark Appel, 2008 ACG alum
– Brady Aiken, 2012 ACG alum
– Royce Lewis, 2016 ACG alum
The 2005 Area Code Games had some particularly interesting players taking part as well. Footballers like Toby Gerhart and Colin Kaepernick both played the stitched ball in Long Beach. A few years later, Super Bowl QB Russell Wilson played in the Area Code Games as well before moving on to football glory with N.C. State, Wisconsin and ultimately the Seattle Seahawks.
The big boys from Bristol took notice and ESPN 3 finally became involved in televising one day of the games in 2011, and they followed suit for each of the next four years. But they are not involved in the ACG any longer.
Despite Blair Field becoming the home choice for the Area Code Games in 1995, it spent one summer at Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego in 1997. It moved back to Blair Field in 1998 and has stayed here in SoCal ever since.
Another way to fully display the high level of talent that plays here in Long Beach, last year there were 87 ACG players who were drafted by Major League Baseball. In 2014, there were 42 Area Code Game alums who were drafted in the top five rounds of the MLB draft alone. So yeah, the dudes you see here today very easily could end up playing at a Major League park in a few short years.
Now on to the games that took place on Day Three at the Area Code Games.