The sixth annual Breakthrough Series, which showcases a diverse group of some of the top high school baseball players from across the country, will be held in Houston, Texas from July 23rd to 25th at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy and Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros. The event features 60 prospects, most of which are African-American, for collegiate recruiters and professional scouts. The Breakthrough Series is a joint effort by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to promote the involvement of urban youth in baseball, and is completely cost-free for participants who are selected by invitation only.
"Major League Baseball is pleased to work with USA Baseball in giving these amateur ballplayers the opportunity to showcase their skills for professional and collegiate scouts," said Frank Robinson, MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Development. "The Breakthrough Series is yet another testament to our commitment, along with that of all supporting organizations, to advancing the game within the urban community. The success we've seen in both the MLB Player Draft and collegiate recruiting is a demonstration of the talent and desire among today's youth, particularly African-Americans, to play baseball at its highest levels."
Prospects participating in the Breakthrough Series have been recommended by Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, MLB Urban Youth Academies, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the MLB Scouting Bureau, the Chicago White Sox and Mentoring Viable Prospects (MVP). Activities for the participants will include workouts, instructions from former Major Leaguers and games at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy. On Thursday, July 25th, a showcase game will take place at Minute Maid Park, which will air on MLB Network on Saturday, July 27th at 11:00 a.m. EST. MLB Network has aired the Breakthrough Series showcase game every year since 2009. In addition to the on-field action, participants will receive daily presentations from current and former Major Leaguers, scouts, college administrators, umpires and other industry professionals. The focus of these presentations will be to prepare the prospects for the collegiate and professional recruiting processes and offer information about alternative careers within the baseball industry.
"USA Baseball is thrilled to continue our partnership with Major League Baseball on such an important initiative, as the Breakthrough Series," said Mike Gaski, President of USA Baseball. "This event has proven to provide great exposure for athletes from urban areas and supports our mission to grow the game of baseball throughout the United States."
Nearly 90 past participants of the Breakthrough Series have been selected in the MLB Player Draft, including 43 in the 2012 and 2013 drafts. In those two drafts, four event alumni were selected in the first round, including Courtney Hawkins (13th overall in 2012 by the Chicago White Sox), Victor Roache (28th overall in 2012 by the Milwaukee Brewers), Addison Russell (11th overall in 2012 by the Oakland Athletics) and Dominic Smith (11th overall in 2013 by the New York Mets). Additionally, participants in the 2012 Breakthrough Series committed to collegiate baseball programs such as Arizona, Ole Miss, USC and Vanderbilt.
Established in 2008, the Breakthrough Series previously has been held at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California (2008-2009) and USA Baseball's National Training Center in Cary, North Carolina (2010-2012).