MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Best high school prospects ready for tourney

Best high school prospects ready for tourney

Best high school prospects ready for tourney
CARY, N.C. -- Over the course of the spring season leading up to June's First-Year Player Draft, scouts will criss-cross the country in order to evaluate all the amateur talent to line up their respective Draft boards.

When an opportunity arises to see a large quantity of talent in one place, it's one that isn't passed by. That's why college conference tournaments, for instance, are so heavily attended by the scouting industry in May. Getting that kind of pool for high school talent, though, has been nearly impossible in-season.

It's a pipe dream no longer, thanks to the inaugural National High School Invitational, set to begin on Wednesday at USA Baseball's National Training Complex here. A total of 16 of the best high school programs will participate in the four-day event, culminating in Saturday's championship game. Ten of Baseball America's High School Top 25 are in North Carolina, including No. 1 Carroll HS (Texas) and No. 2 Bishop Gorman (Nevada).

Seven of those games are being streamed live on MLB.com and usabaseball.com, with doubleheaders on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, finishing off with Saturday's title game at noon ET. It's not often that fans get the chance to see future first-round high school picks in action, so this is the perfect opportunity to check out players who could be the next top prospects in your favorite organization. The complete schedule of broadcasts is as follows:

• Wed., Mar. 28: No. 10 Harvard-Westlake vs. Russell County, 1 p.m.
• Wed., Mar. 28: No. 18 Mater Dei vs. No. 2 Bishop Gorman, 4:30 p.m.
• Thurs., Mar. 29: Round 2 game featuring two 1-0 teams, 1 p.m.
• Thurs., Mar. 29: Round 2 game featuring two 1-0 teams, 4:30 p.m.
• Fri., Mar. 30: Round 3 game featuring TBD teams, 3 p.m.
• Fri., Mar. 30: Round 3 game featuring TBD teams, 6:30 p.m.
• Sat., Mar. 31: Gold medal game, 12 p.m.

Scouts don't come to see good teams play, though the ability to see some of the top high school players in one place against very good competition is a big plus. Even with Harvard-Westlake's Lucas Giolito on the shelf, there are still five players on MLB.com's 2012 Draft Top 50 Prospects list, led by Giolito's teammate, lefty Max Fried (No. 9). No. 19 prospect Joey Gallo will play in the second game airing on MLB.com on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Other Top 50 players at the single-elimination tournament will be No. 23 Lucas Sims (Brookwood HS, Ga.), No. 26 Courtney Hawkins (Carroll HS, Texas) and No. 45 Ryan Burr (Highlands Ranch HS, Col.).

The Draft goes well beyond the Top 50, of course, and this tournament will allow scouts to get looks at any and all Draft-eligible players. That goes far beyond this year, with many interesting names to watch for the classes of 2013, 2014 and even 2015 here. And even though it is single-elimination to vie for the championship, every school will get four games, enabling scouts to get long looks at every player from all 16 teams.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.