SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Mark Teixeira did it. So did David Wright. Brian McCann? Yep, he was here. More recently, Mike Trout made his mark. All of these All-Stars and many more once participated in the East Coast Professional Showcase as high school standouts.
Run by Major League Baseball scouts, the ECPS has become one of the major stops in the summer amateur showcase circuit, bringing in the top high school players from the eastern part of the United States to one location for four days of workouts, games and in-depth conversations about the game of baseball.
"We have anywhere from 320 to 350 scouts here," said John Castleberry, the East Coast crosschecker for the San Francisco Giants who oversees the running of the event annually. "We get [the players] in one venue, on one field. We run it so we get to see all their tools, all the things we need to see to evaluate them. The scouts who pick the teams are from their region, they get to learn about their makeup in a four-day window.
"On the flip side, the parents and the players get an education about what professional baseball is about, how the Draft works, what scouts need to be prepared for the Draft. Whether they sign as high school players or they go to three years of college and sign, I think it's one of those things where they come out of here with an idea of how the whole process works. We call it an evaluation and an education."
It worked when Teixeira, Wright, McCann and Trout came through, and it's clearly still working. In the 2012 Draft, 16 first-rounders were ECPS alumni, even if they first went on to college for three years. The 2011 Draft class saw eight participants go in the first round.
"It's been really, really successful," Castleberry said. "That's a credit to the scouts. They take a lot of pride, they want to bring in the best players. It shows in our Drafts and who's playing at the Major League level.
"I'll be in the Draft room with the Giants, I'll get a text, 'Another East Coast guy got picked.' We're looking for the best players, that's our business. This event gives us the opportunity to see that, and it shows up in the production of what's going on in the Draft every year."
The alumni clearly don't forget what coming to this showcase means to them. Trout might be a superstar in the making for the Angels now, but back in 2008, he was just a kid from New Jersey trying to make a better name for himself for the 2009 Draft.
"It was just a good place to showcase yourself," Trout said. "A lot of prospects from the East Coast come. I selected a few [showcases] to go to. That was one of them.
"All the showcases help you for the Draft, getting out there and competing against, not just your high school opponents, but people in the entire East Coast. And I'm sure everybody who's a top prospect from the East Coast goes to that showcase. It gives you a chance to show yourself to scouts and compare to other prospects."
The event has the same reputation, regardless of where it takes place. After several years in Lakeland, Fla., it was moved north to Syracuse to give players a taste of what it's like to be in a Triple-A stadium. Castleberry gave the city of Syracuse and Chiefs GM John Simone high marks for making the event a success.
Every team also made a trip to Cooperstown to get a dose of baseball history as well. For the players in attendance, it was clearly a no-brainer decision to come and put their skills on display.
"It's different than anything else," said New Jersey lefty Robert Kaminsky, who was arguably the best performer here. "When people say, 'Someone is always watching,' here, someone is always watching. And it's all scouts. It's a great event, they get the best kids to come here. It's great to play against the top talent in the country, or at least on the East Coast.
"There's a reason there are a couple hundred scouts here. Usually, it's a one-way street. You're there to impress people. Here, they try to teach you. I'm a better player because of it."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.