Rangers to co-host first States Play tournament

Top players from California, Texas to participate in inaugural event

August 14th, 2018

A tournament pitting players against each other from the two states that typically produce among the highest volume of Major League talent will come to fruition in two weeks, as Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday the inaugural States Play tournament, which will showcase some of the top rising seniors from Texas and California over a three-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington from Aug. 24-26. The Rangers are co-hosting the event, and rosters were selected by MLB and USA Baseball.

Adding to the fabric of what MLB hopes will be a highly successful and potentially long-term tournament will be Major League representation on hand from both California and Texas, most notably through coaching. Jerry Manuel, Homer Bush, Royce Clayton, Ken Hill, , Darren Oliver and Andy Stankiewicz will be on hand to serve as coaches for the teams.

Complete rosters

Rosters for each team will consist of players living in various parts of each state, most of which have already committed to some of the top college programs. Bobby Witt Jr., the middle infielder who has been touted by many as the top player in the 2019 Draft class, will be on the Texas roster. Witt is one of three States Play participants committed to Oklahoma, and rosters also include three commits apiece to UCLA, LSU and Texas A&M and five to Texas.

Many players have also been chosen to participate in other MLB/USA Baseball development-focused events, such as the Tournament of the Stars, the Breakthrough Series, the Elite Development Invitational, the DREAM Series and the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP).

"We are excited to launch the States Play program with representation from two of our nation's most talent-rich baseball states," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's chief development officer. "The creation of this event signifies our continued commitment to increasing our engagement in amateur programming. Together with MLB, we have never had more touchpoints to aspiring athletes within our game."

All three games will air on MLB.com, with MLB Network's Daron Sutton calling play-by-play alongside former All-Star Tom "Flash" Gordon and MLB.com's Dani Wexelman, who will serve as color analyst and on-air reporter, respectively.

Here is the schedule for the three-game series, which will be free and open to the public:

• Friday, Aug. 24 at 5 p.m. CT

• Saturday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. CT

• Sunday, Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. CT

Throughout the weekend, each of the participating teams will have the chance to take part in morning training sessions from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. CT each day at the state-of-the-art Rangers MLB Youth Academy in West Dallas, Texas, which opened last December and is widely considered one of the top youth baseball facilities in the country, with regular engagement between the Rangers and the amateur players. The 17-acre site features five outdoor fields and the indoor Globe Life Training Center.

States Play participants will also have the opportunity to undergo PDP assessments, which have become a new way to ingratiate players' performance data to a wide range of scouts and colleges. At its essence, the PDP adds a layer of sophistication to simple drills by spitting out specialized data that helps players and coaches tailor players' development. Specific areas like performance vision screening, swing analysis and precise physical testing are examined.

The PDP is a collaborative effort between MLB, the MLB Scouting Bureau and USA Baseball that strives to help identify top high school players and create pathways for them to reach the Majors.

And that circles back to what the States Play tournament can blossom into. In recent years, particularly under Commissioner Rob Manfred, MLB has made a publicly conscious effort to engage young audiences.

"I think our youth programs are our most important initiative," Manfred said at the All-Star Game last month. "It's about our future in two respects. First of all, our game is compelling, because we have the greatest athletes in the world and we have to be out there competing and make sure that kids choose baseball so that we have great athletes for the future. But equally important, youth participation builds fans. If you play, you're much more likely to be a fan as an adult, so it's important for our business in the future."