OTTAWA- Two members of the Junior National Team will get the opportunity to showcase their talents at the Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, at historic Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 13th. Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) and Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, ON) will be playing with and against some of the top high school players in North America in a game that has featured 18 first-round draft picks over its 3-year history.
Four Canadians have played in this game in the past, Jake Eliopoulos (Newmarket, ON) played in the inaugural game in 2008, Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) and Evan Rutckyj (Windsor, ON) took part in the 2009 contest while Skylar Janisse (Maidstone, ON) participated in the 2010 event.
“This is a great opportunity for Ryan and Gareth to showcase their skills in a high profile event,” said Junior National Team Head Coach, Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, ON.) “They are both talented players that deserve to play in this game and hopefully they get the most out of the experience.”
For Morgan, an outfielder, who isn’t draft eligible until 2014, the game serves as an opportunity to see where he fits in amongst the elite player’s eligible for the 2012 draft.
“Realistically, I know that eyes will be on the (2012) draft eligible players,” said Morgan, who will be the youngest player in the game. “However, I have the opportunity to gain experience and exposure by showcasing my future potential.”
Morgan is one of two player’s (the other being Evan Grills from Whitby, Ontario) to play for the JNT as a 14-year old. Since October, Morgan has played in five JNT training camps where he’s faced professional competition, something that he says will come in handy on August 13th.
“I’m much better prepared to face the quality of pitching, and handle the speed of the game,” he said. “I believe that my time with the JNT has put me in a position to compete.”
The experience that he will receive in Chicago is something that Morgan is looking forward to and the honour and prestige that surrounds the event is something that he is not taking for granted.
“It’s a great honour to be selected,” continued Morgan. “There’s a very impressive line-up of talent heading to Chicago and I’m excited to see the competition. This experience will help me improve my game and make me a stronger player.”
For Kellogg, a left-handed pitcher, the trip to Chicago is a special achievement but something he says hasn’t really sunk in for him yet.
“It feels really good to be selected to play in the Under Armour All-America game,” said Kellogg from his home in Whitby. “The reality of this accomplishment hasn't really hit me yet. I am very excited to play in the game but it still feels a little surreal.”
Kellogg participated in the Mizuno Elite Development Camp at Rogers Centre in Toronto last September before making his JNT debut this past April at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. The experience that Kellogg has received while pitching for the JNT is something he says will serve him well during the Under Armour game.
“The Junior National Team has helped me a lot in preparation for this game,” he said. “The level of competition while playing with the JNT is unlike anything I have experienced before. This experience will help me at Wrigley because the other participants are ready to play at the next level too and will provide some great competition.”
Aside from the game itself, Kellogg is looking forward to taking in the experience of Wrigley Field, a place where baseball legends have played and stars have blossomed throughout the years.
“I am looking forward to touring and playing at Chicago's Wrigley Field. I think it will be great to see the great history of the city and the ballpark as well as play on the same field as All-Stars past and present.”
Once the game starts and Kellogg takes his turn on the mound, he knows that this will be a great opportunity to showcase his abilities to pro clubs and college recruiters.
“In this game I hope to gain some exposure,” explained Kellogg. “I hope that playing in this game will lead to a scholarship to play baseball at an American university, and ultimately, play in the big-leagues.”
The festivities in Chicago kick-off on August 10th and culminate with the game on August 13th at 2pm ET (The game will be shown LIVE on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com). During the four-day event, the players will participate in a meet and greet with MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., a formal workout for MLB scouts, and a homerun derby.
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