Urban Youth Academy alumni set to take field

Urban Youth Academy alumni set to take field

Urban Youth Academy alumni set to take field
The best and brightest products of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., will be on full display Saturday, when El Camino College plays host to an alumni game that will pit some of the program's best-known names against the current UYA Prep All-Stars.

The Compton branch of the Urban Youth Academy opened in 2006, and it already has two former players in the Major Leagues. Both of them -- Trayvon Robinson and Efren Navarro -- made their debut last season and will be playing for the alumni side in Saturday's game.

Robinson, a graduate of nearby Crenshaw High School, was originally drafted and developed by the Dodgers but was sent to Seattle last year in a three-way trade. Robinson, a 24-year-old outfielder, batted .210 with two home runs in his 44-game audition last year with the Mariners.

Navarro, meanwhile, was a 50th-round draftee in 2007 and spent the next four years working his way through the Angels' farm system. Navarro, a career .287 hitter in the Minors, batted .317 for Triple-A Salt Lake last year and was rewarded with a brief September callup to the Majors.

The Compton academy has also had several players drafted in recent seasons, and a few of them will be back for a curtain call on Saturday. Ricky Oropesa, a former infielder at USC and a third-round selection by the Giants last year, will be on hand Saturday, as will fourth-rounder Desmond Henry and sixth-rounder Virgil Hill, selected by Texas and St. Louis, respectively, last June.

The current prep All-Stars will be led by a contingent of players who have already committed to high-profile college programs. Darrell Miller Jr. -- son of former big leaguer Darrell Miller, who serves as MLB's vice president of youth and facility development -- will suit up at catcher for the prep All-Stars, and he'll be joined by fellow high-caliber recruits Ron Miller and Jordan Aboites.

Miller Jr. has committed to UCLA, while Ron Miller, a third baseman, is slated to play his college ball at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Aboites, a diminutive middle infielder out of Mayfair High School in Long Beach, appears set to play for Arizona State next season.

The Urban Youth Academy also has an established campus in Houston and is developing a venue in New Orleans that should be ready to open at some point in 2012. Major League Baseball also plans on building facilities in South Florida and in Philadelphia in the next few years.

The Compton campus, in many ways, is a template for the academies to come. It's housed on a location that comprises more than 20 acres of El Camino College, and it features four fields and a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse that contains a weight room, clubhouse and other facilities.

The Compton academy operates year-round and offers free instruction in both baseball and softball, and it also gets involved in a number of youth clinics in Southern California. On Saturday, though, the focus will be on the players -- past, present and future -- that make it a special place.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.