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Performing to make The Show

Performing to make The Show

At PGCBL all-star event, scouts talk about what they are looking for in a prospect
Performing to make The Show
Amsterdam Mohawk Anthony Gonnella competes in the home run derby at Tuesday’s PGCBL all-star event at Shuttleworth Park.
Photographer: Michael Kelly

AMSTERDAM — At the end of the day, it’s a game. 

That’s what Eric Rivera keeps in mind each time he hits a baseball diamond, and that mentality helped relax him Tuesday as he took part in Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League all-star festivities at Shuttleworth Park with a couple dozen professional baseball scouts in attendance. 

“I just come out every day and try to have fun with what I do — and I love to do it,” said Rivera, who was one of more than 100 PGCBL players to participate Tuesday. “So, scouts or no scouts, you have to come out and perform.”

Rivera, an outfielder for the Amsterdam Mohawks and rising sophomore at Florida Atlantic, played in the prospect game and took part in aspects of the skills competition. In addition, there was a home run derby and an all-star game — the East Division won 10-8 — to round out a full day of baseball.

Throughout the day, scouts from Major League Baseball franchises were visible throughout the park, taking notes as they watched the PGCBL’s best players and prospects. 

“This time of year, we’re collecting info and getting names,” said Casey Fahy, who scouts the Northeast for the Kansas City Royals. “At events like this, you need to cast a wide net and not get too fine with what you’re looking for. Obviously, what happens today with these guys is just a small sample of their potential.” 

Tim Harrington, an associate scout with the Boston Red Sox, said a day like Tuesday for scouts is used to identify players who are worth a second look — or more — in the future.  

“Some kids have one tool, some got none of them,” said Harrington, who lives in Glens Falls and used to coach that school’s varsity baseball team. “Some got three or four, and if you’re lucky, you find someone with five.”

But at an event like Tuesday’s, where most scouts are seeing a player for the first time, showing off one of baseball’s five tools — hitting for average, hitting for power, speed, fielding and arm strength  — is enough to get noticed. Harrington pointed to several of the league’s infielders who had impressed during the skills competition with throws above 90 mph from shortstop to first base.

“That’s a major league arm,” Harrington said. “Now, that might not be enough in the long run, but it at least opens your eyes.”

Both Fahy and Harrington said they preferred to watch players compete in Tuesday’s games more than the skill contests. Players, they said, might press too much in a skills competition or be able to mask flaws that come out when confronted with live competition. 

“Guys can work out really well, but they need to show [in-game] results on the field,” Fahy said. “If they can’t do that, it’s hard to make it at the next level.” 

Results, though, do not necessarily mean getting a hit every at-bat — and the PGCBL’s players, who likely all have previously competed at a showcase-style event, know that. Matt Gorski, a rising sophomore at Indiana playing for the Mohawks this summer, went 1-for-2 during the prospect game, but thought he represented himself well during his unsuccessful at-bat because he was quick out of the batter’s box and down the line on the play.  

“So I got to show off my speed a bit that time,” Gorski said.

Some days, though, everything just clicks for a player. Tuesday was such a day for Rivera, who also played in the prospect game and won its MVP award after reaching base in all four of his plate appearances, while slugging a home run and a double. Later, Rivera turned in a solid time in the 60-yard dash to cap a satisfying showing for himself at the event. 

“It means a lot,” Rivera said. “Everyone out here wants to come out and perform the best they can to showcase their abilities, but you have to look at it like you’re just coming out here to have fun.

“Today,” he finished, “that worked out for me.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at 395-3109, [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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