Urban Youth Academy hosts prep stars
Former Reds All-Star Davis among instructors at 2015 Breakthrough Series
CINCINNATI -- About 40 potential future professional baseball players took the field Monday in the first day of the 2015 Breakthrough Series at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy.
The high school players competed in a number of throwing, fielding and hitting drills led by former Major League players and managers. Monday was the first of two days in Cincinnati, with the showcase series also making stops in Bradenton, Fla., on July 21 and Compton, Calif., on Aug. 2. On Tuesday, the participants will be split up into two teams for a pair of showcase games.
Two-time All-Star Dmitri Young, 20-year Major League veteran Darren Oliver, former manager Jerry Manuel, seven-year Major League veteran Homer Bush and two-time All-Star and Reds Hall of Famer Eric Davis were a among the instructors Monday.
"This is my stomping ground and I love to teach," Davis said. "When I was asked to do this, it [was] a no-brainer. I did the one out in Compton a couple of years ago and anytime I have an opportunity to share some of the knowledge that I learned over my 30-something years, I'm more then welcomed to do that."
While helping the young players improve was a main focus, the event also was intended to help showcase future MLB talent at no cost for participants. The event was designed to promote baseball as a viable collegiate and professional option for urban youth, attracting a number of different Major League and college scouts.
The event has been successful in sending players onto the next level, with approximately 130 previous participants being selected in the MLB Draft, including 30 this past season.
"It's gotten somewhat expensive to be in showcases, travel teams and these types of events, even though they are good and they're competitive," Manuel said. "For the economically challenged culture, it can be difficult to handle those other [expenses], so instead of being critical of not having this and that, I said, 'You've got to be part of the solution hopefully,' so that's kind of what brings me back out here."
Micah Allen, an infielder and pitcher prospect, was one of 12 from the Queen City who competed on Monday. Allen said he enjoyed being able to learn defensive skills from many former players.
"I enjoy it all," Allen said. "Just having coaches hit to me, past players hitting to me, it's fun. Teaching me stuff [and] learning new things."
Like Allen, Isaiah Kearns, a right-handed pitching prospect from Lewistown, Pa., was pleased with the event's first day activities. He also pointed out he enjoyed playing in the recently built P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy facilities.
"I really like the facility that we're in," Kearns said. "It's pretty nice. I haven't really gotten to be in this nice of a facility."