JUPITER, Fla. -- All week, Major League Baseball's Breakthrough Series squad has shown it can compete with the elite at Perfect Game's talent-rich World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) World Championship at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex.
In their first ever appearance in the prestigious 18U tournament, Breakthrough Series has advanced into bracket play, and the players have caught the attention of the dozens of college and professional scouts who have flocked to one of the marquee wood bat events.
Sunday morning, Breakthrough Series rallied from four runs down in the first inning to defeat the Dallas Patriots Scout squad, 13-4.
"At the end of the day, all the kids down here, we really want them to have the opportunity to have a chance to play in front of the scouts and the college coaches," MLB senior director of baseball development Del Matthews said. "So, I'm extremely pleased with how we competed [Saturday], and how we fought back from a four-run deficit [Sunday] in the first inning."
The win in the morning was on Field 4 of the Roger Dean complex, which is the Spring Training home of the Marlins and Cardinals. That particular field has seen its share of history. Such stars as Jose Cabrera, Carlos Delgado and Giancarlo Stanton once scrimmaged in Spring Training on it. In 2005, Delgado, then with the Marlins, blasted a home run to right field that bounced across the street and shattered a window in the housing development. On the same field in spring of 2013, the late Jose Fernandez accidently pegged Stanton in the back of the helmet with a pitch.
Since Thursday, more than 80 teams have been using the same back fields that are training grounds for big league and Minor League players.
"This means a lot," Breakthrough Series outfielder Emanuel Dean said. "We're just going out there to have fun and lead the way for everybody else, and set an example."
Dean, 18, is from Anaheim, Calif., and he's a UCLA commit.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is no stranger to big stages. In July, he participated in the high school Home Run Derby at Nationals Park during the All-Star festivities. He finished with a respectable 18 homers in the home of the Washington Nationals. He also had the chance to meet All-Stars Adam Jones of the Orioles and Aaron Hicks of the Yankees.
"I didn't come out on top, but it was so much fun," Dean said. "It was amazing. You've just got to keep working to get better as a baseball player. You can't let it get to your head, you've got to be humble and just keep on moving forward."
Breakthrough Series launched in 2008 as a joint partnership between USA Baseball and Major League Baseball. Their performance in Jupiter has grabbed the attention of the scouts.
"The scouting has been great," Matthews said. "Everybody has been very pleased by the style of play, and how well the players are competing. They're talking about how they like the players, and how they have progressed. College coaches are asking about the players, asking about the uncommitted players. So, it's been positive in all aspects."
Breakthrough Series has 26 players on the roster, and at least 16 have commited to either Division I colleges, or junior colleges.
"These are some of the top players in the country," Matthews said.
Because the Perfect Game tournament is during the school year, Breakthrough Series requires its players to attend study halls at night, to not fall behind in the classroom.
They also have top-notch coaches, including former big leaguer Marquis Grissom, whose son, Marquis Jr., is a pitcher at Counterpane High School in Atlanta.
"There's an edge when you've played in the big leagues, or you've played in the Minor Leagues," Matthews said. "You've had an opportunity to tell the kids how it's going to be. This is what you need to expect. This is how you go about your business. Who better to give that information to than somebody like Marquis Grissom, who played in the big leagues for 15 years, and has four or five Gold Gloves.
"That's really what separates us from everybody else. We are development-oriented. That's ultimately what we want to see. We want to see the players get better, and we want to give them the information right after the game, to let them know how they can continue to improve themselves."