The Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia kicks off this weekend at Salem Kiwanis Field with one of the most prestigious baseball showcase events in the nation.
For the 19th year, the best high school players in Virginia will compete on the diamond in an 8-game playoff on Saturday and Sunday. On hand will be numerous college coaches and Major League scouts from throughout the country.
“This event has been really well-received by coaches and pro scouts,” Tournament Coordinator Wally Beagle said. “We’re really fortunate to have so many talented baseball players in Virginia.”
Many current Major League stars have participated in the event over the years, including Washington Nationals third-baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Brandon Inge and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets third baseman David Wright, and the Upton brothers – B.J. (Tampa Bay Rays), and Justin (Arizona Diamondbacks).
The tournament is comprised of four teams based on region – the North Region (northern Virginia, including Loudon and Fairfax Counties), East Region (Tidewater area including Hampton and Virginia Beach), Central Region (greater Richmond area), and the West Region, which ranges from Harrisonburg all the way down to Bristol, including Roanoke, Danville, Charlottesville, and Lynchburg. Only 16 players are allowed per squad.
Friday afternoon, the players will participate in a workout for scouts and coaches. The round-robin games begin Saturday morning, with the Gold Medalist crowned on Sunday afternoon.
The West Region has won the gold medal only once; however, that doesn’t mean the area is devoid of talent. Several area players who have participated in the showcase have gone on to the bigger things. Recently, Hidden Valley pitcher Mikey O’Brien was selected in the 9th round of the 2008 amateur draft by the New York Yankees.
“I’d say that about 90% of the kids who come here have the ability to go play ball in college or beyond,” Beagle said, noting that as many as 75-80 coaches and scouts could be on hand for the tournament.
There are several local prospects in this year’s tournament — William Byrd first baseman Jacob Clifton, Lord Botetourt OF / P Patrick Arnold and Northside P / 1B Trent Cundiff.
For more information on the baseball tournament, visit www.commonwealthgames.org.