20 European Baseball prospects (in difference to the first announcement Shawn Larry of the Heidenheim Heidekoepfe didn’t attend) got the opportunity to present their skills in front of college coaches and scouts at the European Showcase on the weekend of November 7th and 8th. The eight Dutch, seven Italian, one German and four French players didn’t only get a first-hand peak at the impressive complex of USA Baseball in Raleigh, North Carolina including a practice session on Saturday afternoon, but also visited the Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina.
On Sunday the main part of the Showcase took place. In the morning the players underwent a tryout with 60-yard dash, fielding and batting practice. In the afternoon an exhibition game against the Pitt Community College was scheduled, a school which also played against the Under-18 squad of Team USA this Fall. The European team lost 6-9 in the 12-inning affair. The players were especially impressed about the opposing pitching, as they were always above 85 MPH and regularly touching 89 to 90 MPH.
MLB’s Mike McClellan, Mickey Shupin and Jason Holowaty helped organizing the trip, Jim Elliott of the MLB Scouting Bureau with the scouts. The Bureau also filmed all participants during the practice sessions and the game. According to Brian Farley approximately 15 college coaches attended, though they had hoped for 30 and would like to increase this number in the future. Additionally 20 professional scouts were on hand. It was still a good number, considering that there only was a two-week notification.
Farley and Bill Holmberg, who work with Europe’s elite prospects regularly and initiated the European Showcase, were generally satisfied with the inaugural edition. They created a lot of buzz among European players, which would like to participate in coming years. As already mentioned the turnout of college coaches was less than expected, but they still were able to make good contacts for the future. Obviously as it is the case with all first versions there is always room for improving. They are currently evaluating the trip and hope to make this an annual event with the date moving forward so it coincides with the ending of the seasons in Europe.
Holmberg said that Alex Sambucci, Kevin Weijgertse and Stefano De Simone got some attention among others with their performance. Maxime Lefevre mentioned in an interview that he received emails from an agent and Universities. However Farley confirmed that at this point they haven’t heard news from colleges regarding concrete interest. Speaking to pro scouts in the past weeks, they weren’t overwhelmingly impressed with the talent of the European players. However the first priority of the event was not to get attention from professional organizations, but from the colleges. Overall the first European Showcase should be considered a success.