MLB scouts evaluate Legion players

Last month, 51 American Legion Baseball players throughout Arkansas were chosen to experience an event where more than 25 Major League Baseball scouts and college coaches watched from the sidelines.

For the first time, The American Legion Department of Arkansas partnered with Baseball Factory and Under Armour to host a two-day showcase at Dickey Stephens Park in Little Rock. The showcase consisted of a five-hour pro-style workout that included hitting, fielding and running, a nine-inning game and an overall graded evaluation. Additionally, Jim Gemler, the vice president of On-Field Sessions for Baseball Factory, spoke on college recruiting and Mac Seibert, the national cross checker for the New York Mets, addressed players and families as well.

"We are going to try to do this event every year as a way to advance the players skills, and we're going to bring more kids into this program who haven't graduated yet," said Jeral Howard, the state commissioner and member of Post 1 in Little Rock. "I thought it was great that the MLB scouts talked to many parents and kids before the two-day event even began, and I was really excited that Jim Gemler advised me that we had 12 players who were graded exceptionally high."

Howard also felt the showcase was professionally organized. And with 75 American Legion Baseball teams in Arkansas, he looks forward to hosting the event every year to provide more players an opportunity of a lifetime.

"I have support to host the Baseball Factory showcase again from the kids and parents, and at the department and post level," Howard said. "Kids say they had a great time and hope we do it again next year... We will."

Each player received souvenirs, including a Baseball Factory T-shirt and a recruiting calendar, as well as a personal web page featuring a detailed evaluation of their performance for college coaches to visit. And in the weeks to come, the players will receive a verbal scouting report over the phone.

"I've received several cards, letters and emails thanking us for hosting this showcase," Howard said. "This is the first professional event that Legion ball players in Arkansas have attended where they didn't have to pay because the department paid for all 51 players to attend. Overall, the Under Armour and Baseball Factory Showcase is a great program."

The American Legion partnered with Baseball Factory in 2009 to provide Legion Baseball players with exceptional opportunities to develop their playing skills. Baseball Factory, a company focused on player development and college placement of high school baseball players, has helped many Legion Baseball teams over the years host clinics, instructional camps and showcases.