CARY, N.C. -- USA Baseball's National High School Invitational brings 16 of the best teams from around the country to Cary, N.C., in late March for a heavily scouted, four-day tournament teeming with young, talented players.• MLB Youth Academy:: 2018 USA Baseball National High School Invitational ::John Curtis Christian School
CARY, N.C. -- USA Baseball's National High School Invitational brings 16 of the best teams from around the country to Cary, N.C., in late March for a heavily scouted, four-day tournament teeming with young, talented players.
• MLB Youth Academy
:: 2018 USA Baseball National High School Invitational ::
John Curtis Christian School (River Ridge, La.), last year's Class 5A Louisiana state champions, proved to be one of the top teams at this year's event, winning its first two games before falling to Green Hope (Cary) in the semifinals. And among the contributors on the Patriots squad were three members of the New Orleans Major League Baseball Youth Academy: Brandon Davis, Choncee Crum and Shane Goins.
Davis, a senior shortstop and the Patriots' leadoff hitter, impressed with his athleticism on both sides of the ball throughout the event, collecting three hits and two stolen bases over the course of the weekend.
Crum, a left-handed pitcher and outfielder, appeared in John Curtis' first two games as a courtesy runner. He and Davis combined to score both of the Patriots' runs in their 2-0 and 2-1 victories.
Goins, a sophomore outfielder and right-handed pitcher, stole a base after entering as a courtesy runner in the club's semifinal game on Friday before throwing 1 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in its last game on Saturday.
"It is always exciting to see Academy members play on a big stage when you know they have put in the work by training during the offseason," director Eddie Anthony Davis III said. "Hopefully our staff, professional coaches and scouts that visited the Academy offered instruction to these guys that left them with something to improve their game."
Opened in 2012 after the original facility was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the Youth Academy provides free baseball and softball instruction year-round as well as vocational programs such as broadcasting, field maintenance, umpiring, sports law and after-school homework assistance. The facility operates in conjunction with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission to offer educational and baseball programming for youth in underserved communities throughout Southern Louisiana.
A member of the Academy since it opened five years ago, Davis is committed to play cornerback for the University of Tennessee next year, but has spent time training at the facility when not on the gridiron.
"It's really helped prepare us as players for the competition out here," he said. "I think it's really big for the young guys coming out here, given where we're from and our experience. We all just want to get better, and the Academy has helped me do that."
Goins also has been an Academy member since the facility's inception. He has participated in Major League Baseball's Elite Development Invitational and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) events and will play on the 2018 New Orleans Commissioners Cup Team.
"You get to learn a lot from the big guys there that you look up to," said Goins. "It's a lot of exposure to them, and when you see them, with all their success, it makes you want to be in that same spot, and you start to work hard like them. They all want you to be better than they were and keep trying to get to the next level."
Added Crum: "It really helped us get the feel how it is to be at the next level, to play like that and see new things."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.