MLB.com Columnist

Shannon Ford

Top 14U players match up in Perfect Game

Top 14U players match up in Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, FL -- Although a friendly matchup of teen All-Stars, Sunday's 14U Perfect Game Select Baseball Festival has already featured some impressive competition.

Mississippi slugger Blaze Jordan is among the 40 best age 14 and under players who were selected to play in Sunday's game at JetBlue Ballpark, the Spring Training home of the Boston Red Sox  (tonight at 7 ET on FOX Sports and streamed live on MLB.com). One of the leadup events included a Home Run Derby, where Jordan gave fans a sneak preview of the talent pool by knocking five dingers out of the Major League practice field with apparent ease.

"You have the Top 40 players in the whole entire country coming together and playing each other," said Jordan, "To come out here and do what I did, I mean, that's just truly great."

In it's second year, the Perfect Game Select Baseball Festival is designed for young players like Jordan. The event is put on by Perfect Game, an organization that is dedicated to growing the game of baseball by providing platforms for elite players to develop and showcase their skills.

Among the alumni of Perfect Game is Angels outfielder Justin Upton. Upton spoke to the participants of the event in a prerecorded video which aired during Saturday night's banquet. He said that at 14 years old, he knew he had a future in baseball.

"Are you having fun working at the game?" Upton asked of the guys in the room.

As for the process of becoming a professional baseball player, the 11-year MLB vet reminded kids to take in each moment.

"Have I enjoyed it?" Upton said. "Absolutely, but I wish I could go back and enjoy it more."

As just freshmen in high school, 18 of the 40 players are already committed to college programs.

Perfect Game donated its proceeds and money that players had raised to Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, the only children's hospital between Tampa and Miami. The players visited the hospital on Friday, where they played games with patients before donating upwards of $23,000.

"They're going through tough things in their life," said pitcher Rawley Hector. "So we need to realize how blessed we are that we're able to play the game we love at a very high level, to remind us that, 'Hey, have fun and enjoy the moment.'" 

Shannon Ford is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Shannon__Ford. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.