During the spring amateur season, it's not often that scouts can come to one place to see a pool of high school players, both in terms of quality and quantity.
Now, thanks to the National High School Invitational, it's possible. The NHSI is in its second year and kicks off at the USA Baseball's National Training Complex on Wednesday morning. With 16 of the best high school programs participating, rest assured that scouting directors and cross-checkers will be flocking to Cary, N.C., to do some one-stop shopping for some of the Class of 2013's top prep talent.
The inaugural NHSI, held a year ago, included eventual No. 7 overall pick Max Fried (Padres) from Harvard-Westlake, a returning team to this year's tournament, as well as No. 13 pick Courtney Hawkins (White Sox) from Carroll High School, No. 21 selection Lucas Sims (Braves) and supplemental first-rounder Joey Gallo (Rangers).
In addition to Harvard-Westlake, last year's runner-up, champion Mater Dei is also back in North Carolina. Mater Dei is led by catcher Jeremy Martinez, a USA Baseball veteran and one of several players on MLB.com's Top 50 Draft prospects list.
That list is led by Austin Meadows from Grayson High School, the toolsy outfielder currently at No. 3 on the rankings. Other Top 50 players who will play in the NHSI are lefty Stephen Gonsalves (27) from Cathedral Catholic, Nick Ciuffo (33), the catcher from Lexington High School, fellow catcher Chris Okey (45) from Eustis High School, and right-hander Jordan Sheffield (47) from Tullahoma High School.
The semifinals on Friday (12 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. ET) and the championship on Saturday (12 p.m.) will be streamed live on usabaseball.com, giving fans a great opportunity to see future first-round picks in action.
And it will be against quality competition, always a bonus for scouts. Baseball America worked with USA Baseball in determining the participants in this year's tournament, and there are several squads from BA's Top 25 attending:
Cathedral Catholic, San Diego (1)
The Woodlands, Texas (3)
Jenks, Okla. (10)
Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (11)
Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, Calif. (12)
Grayson, Loganville, Ga. (13)
Hamilton, Chandler, Ariz. (19)
Tullahoma, Tenn. (22)
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 for beyond this year, with many interesting names to watch for the classes of 2014, '15 and even '16 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.
MLB.com will be on the scene, providing daily updates on top performers, as well as the best players from the entire tournament.
More formally, at the conclusion of the NHSI, USA Baseball and Baseball America will select an All-Tournament Team consisting of nine position players (one per position), one designated hitter, one utility player and four pitchers.