ANAHEIM -- June is here, and the popular green shirts, representing Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run (PHR) competition, were out in force Saturday at Angel Stadium as 24 kids, ages 7-14, participated in the team championship program representing the Angels. The top three scores in each age and gender group out of all 30 MLB Team Championships will advance to the PHR National Finals held at Citi Field in New York City during MLB All-Star Week.
"This event is taking place in all 30 parks over the next few weekends," said Bennett Mayfield, who coordinated Saturday's event and will do the same Sunday in Oakland. "At the end of the month, when all the competition is concluded, the winners from today will be ranked in their respective age and gender groups and the top three in each group nationally will get the all-expense paid trip to the All-Star Game for the Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals.
The program is the "Official Youth Skills Competition of Major League Baseball," with more than 600,000 kids participating across North America in 2013 in girls softball and boys baseball divisions. Pitch, Hit & Run provides youth with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and advance through four levels of competition, beginning at the local level. Over 4,000 local competitions take place each year, hosted by organizations, leagues or volunteers within a community.
"It means a lot to be here today," said 13-year-old Kayla Orozco from Anaheim. "The Angels play here and it's real cool being able to sit in their dugout, see where they play and their perspective of how they see the game."
"I've come to the games before, sat under the rocks before, but have never been in the dugout," said 11-year-old Lauren Salcedo, also from Anaheim, who opened a lot of eyes during the pitching competition, whipping in Jennie Finch-like fastballs while throwing underhand.
"It's really awesome to be here and see where the Angels play and see the field from this angle."
"This is a lot of fun," said 8-year-old Zachary Brown from Orange County, who took part in the same competition last year. "Just to be out here on the field and do everything, hitting, running the bases, is great."
Here is the ranking of Saturday's competitors:
7-8-year-old Girls Age Division
AJ Kuhns-Vasquez, Chino, Calif., 1st McKinley Viers, Ft. Irwin, Calif., 2nd Sara Aviles, Los Angeles, Calif., 3rd
9-10-year-old Girls Age Division
Arianna Tinoco, Baldwin Park, Calif., 1st Lindsey Marschall, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 2nd Kayla Castro, Fontana, Calif., 3rd
11-12-year-old Girls Age Division
Lauren Salcedo, Anaheim, Calif., 1st Brianna Olivo, Baldwin Park, Calif., 2nd Leslie Santoyo, San Jacinto, Calif., 3rd
Zachary Brown, Santa Ana, Calif., 1st Anthony Huezo, Palmdale, Calif., 2nd Hugo Vasquez, Whitter, Calif., 3rd
9-10-year-old Boys Age Division
Austin Gage, Los Angeles, Calif., 1st Steven Hogencamp, Anaheim, Calif., 2nd Camron Rodwell, Los Angeles, Calif., 3rd
11-12-year-old Boys Age Division
Marcus Viramontes, Anaheim, Calif., 1st Carter Kessinger, Burbank, Calif., 2nd Joshua Vargas, Fontana, Calif., 3rd
13-14-year-old Boys Age Division
Kaleb Marschall, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 1st Jonathan Rice, Fontana, Calif., 2nd Eddie Munoz Palmdale, Calif., 3rd
This is the 17th year MLB has run a youth skills program, and I bet if you asked any of the kids, they'd tell you that getting to Citi Field to take part in the National Finals is great, but even more exciting is that all the finalists get to shag balls in the outfield during the All-Star Home Run Derby. Now that's cool.
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com.