TEMPE, Ariz. – A nationally televised game. Players from 17 different states. No-hit outings, an over-the-fence home run and an inside-the-park home run. While the 2023 States Play Invitational had a little bit of everything on the field, it also brought together some of the top high school talents from the 2025 and ‘26 Draft classes and delivered a one-of-a-kind experience from the Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Angels.
In collaboration with Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, the three-contest set at Tempe Diablo Stadium featured a glimpse into the future of the game, complete with all of its power, speed and baseball acumen. While it was the West squad taking home the winner’s plaque for the second straight year, players on hand lauded how the environment both on and off the field was competitive, yet ultimately fun.
There were bright-colored cleats, gloves, bats and sunglasses abound. While each player brought their own unique flair to the diamond, here are eight whose performance stood out above the rest:
Eli Willits, SS/2B, West, Fort Cobb-Broxton HS (Fort Cobb, Okla.):
The youngest player at the event socked a pair of triples during Game 1, accumulating three RBIs before adding a two-run double in Game 2 and an RBI single in Game 3, leading to Co-MLB Develops MVP honors. Known as a smooth operator at shortstop, the 15-year-old Oklahoma commit also flashed the leather with a running grab down the left-field line during the first inning of Game 1.
Anthony Pack, OF, West, Long Beach Millikan HS (Long Beach, Calif.):
A blend of patience at the dish and aggressiveness on the bases led the 16-year-old outfielder to Co-MLB Develops MVP honors, as Pack drew five walks and stole five bags over the weekend. The uncommitted left-handed-hitting outfielder impressed with his hit-to-all-fields approach and displayed adept quickness defensively.
Brock Sell, INF/OF, West, Tokay HS (Stockton, Calif.):
The 6-foot Stanford commit could easily have made a case for an MVP share, having swiped four bags, collected four hits and driven in four runs over the three-game set. He was one of two players during the Invitational to fall just a homer shy of the cycle in an outing, walloping a pair of extra-base hits in the West’s decisive Game 3 win.
Kayson Cunningham, 2B/SS, East Johnson HS (San Antonio, Tex.):
A torrid start put Cunningham firmly in consideration for top performer honors as he ripped hits in each of his first three plate appearances. He came just a homer shy of the cycle in Game 1 -- instead tripling on a ball that landed on the warning track -- before adding his second three-bagger during Game 3 en route to another multihit outing. Known for his ability to barrel the ball up to all fields, the 5-foot-9 infielder is a Texas Tech commit, following in the footsteps of his father, Marco, a former Minor League in the Royals’ system.
Minjae Seo, RHP, East, Hebron HS (Carrollton, Tex.):
The 6-foot-1 Vanderbilt commit spun three no-hit innings in Game 2, with none of the 11 batters he faced hitting the ball out of the infield. Armed with a low-90s fastball that ramped up as high as 93 mph, the 17-year-old compiled six strikeouts, finishing half of those on a mid-70s curveball.
Zach Strickland, RHP, West, Maranatha HS (Arcadia, Calif.):
The 17-year-old UCLA commit displayed terrific mound presence during his dominant Game 2 outing, mowing through nine of the 10 East batters that he faced with an impressive rhythm. He bookended his start with a quartet of strikeouts, firing 29 of his 45 pitches for strikes while showcasing good command of all three of his offerings. His 87-89 mph fastball -- which scouts believe will continue to add velocity as his 6-foot-2 frame fills out -- accounted for four punchouts. He added a pair of walks and two runs scored while serving as the designated hitter in Game 3.
Jarret Sabol, C, East, Aliso Niguel HS (Orange, Calif.):
Known for having plus-plus pull side power, Sabol wasted little time showcasing his ability to wallop a fastball when he swatted a two-run homer over the right-field fence in Game 1. The USC commit was the lone player to homer in conventional fashion during the weekend, adding singles in both Games 2 and 3.
Omar Serna Jr., C, East, Dobie HS (Houston, Tex.):
Highly regarded for both his power bat and considerable arm strength behind the dish, the 16-year-old displayed those traits in abundance during his stint in Arizona. He delivered the first homer of the event in Game 1, using his legs to propel him around the bases for an inside-the-parker. The LSU commit was the lone backstop all weekend to catch Pack stealing, as he totaled three baserunners cut down in total; he even added a swipe of his own in Game 3.