Major League Baseball and USA Baseball have announced 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, is expanding in 2014 to four regional locations and will showcase approximately 200 players, the most in the event's history.
Activities of the seventh annual Breakthrough Series, which will be run by the MLB Scouting Bureau, will be held between July 19th and July 28th at the four regional locations, which include:
- MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California
- P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio
- MCU Park, home of the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones, in Brooklyn, New York
- Pirate City, the Spring Training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in Bradenton, Florida
Previously, the Breakthrough Series was annually held in one location while serving approximately 60 to 80 players.
The Breakthrough Series is expecting to feature approximately 200 prospects, many of whom will be African-American, and is 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."
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."
Prospects participating in the 2014 Breakthrough Series will be recommended by Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, MLB Urban Youth Academies, the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, the MLB Scouting Bureau and Major League Clubs. Activities for the participants will include a Workout Day and Doubleheader Games at each location. In addition to the on-field action, participants will receive daily presentations from current and former Major Leaguers, scouts, college administrators, umpires and other industry professionals. The focus of these presentations will be to prepare the prospects for the collegiate and professional recruiting processes and offer information about alternative careers within the baseball industry. As in previous years, a large contingent of college recruiters and professional scouts are expected to attend and evaluate players who demonstrate potential, but may not have had the opportunity for exposure through other summer events.
"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."
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.