RBI participants celebrate Dodger Day

Van Slyke, Taylor join Dodgers Foundation for youth baseball event

RBI participants celebrate Dodger Day

LOS ANGELES -- Nearly 500 youth baseball and softball players flooded Belvedere Park on Saturday to take part in RBI Opening Day and Dodger Day celebrations, hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

The RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) participants were all smiles thanks to appearances from Dodgers Scott Van Slyke and Chris Taylor on the sunny morning in East Los Angeles.

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Ryan Posner is a contributor for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs unveil 'Team of the Game' initiative

Local baseball, softball squads will be recognized at PNC Park throughout season

Bucs unveil 'Team of the Game' initiative

PITTSBURGH -- With MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on hand, the Pirates on Tuesday unveiled a season-long Play Ball initiative to recognize local youth baseball and softball teams.

Throughout the season, each team designated as a Pirates Play Ball "Team of the Game" will receive complimentary tickets and food vouchers for a Tuesday home game while being recognized on the field during a pregame ceremony.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marlins, MLB commit $5M to All-Star Legacy

Marlins, MLB commit $5M to All-Star Legacy

MIAMI -- The Marlins and Major League Baseball announced Monday they are contributing more than $5 million to the 2017 All-Star Legacy program to assist baseball-related initiatives in Greater Miami and nationally.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the All-Star Legacy program aims at assisting the development of youth baseball and softball fields, Boys & Girls Club teen centers, an airport military hospitality lounge and a mobile eye unit.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baseball Tomorrow Fund lights way for NJ field

Grant helps provide finishing touch to year-long rebuild in Ewing

Baseball Tomorrow Fund lights way for NJ field

It had taken eight months. From building new dugouts to installing a full irrigation system and fixing plumbing in the bathrooms, community volunteers made sure Fasolino Field in Ewing, N.J., could once again host Little League games.

"When we came here, it was like the end of the world and we had to rebuild society," said Jon Noble, president of Ewing Little League. "I couldn't imagine baseball being played here last year, and they did it."

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

Play Ball brings fun, joy of game to Flint kids

MLB, Tigers and Jackson Park RBI Program partner for Michigan event

Play Ball brings fun, joy of game to Flint kids

FLINT, Mich. -- With as much as Flint, Mich., has gone through with its water crisis, hosting a Play Ball event at an inner-city park was a welcome positive change. On a sunny Saturday at Hardenbrook Park in Flint, the Tigers partnered with Major League Baseball to bring kids an afternoon of fun and an opportunity for a taste of the game -- for some, their first ever.

"It's great for [people outside of Flint] to see [events like this]," Flint mayor Karen Weaver said. "Because it's about more than fixing infrastructure. It's about bringing these other kinds of positives to the city of Flint. Because it lets people know that Flint is not forgotten, that we are coming back, and great things are happening here."

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Catherine Slonksnis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Breaking Barriers announces winning essays

Contest founded by Sharon Robinson designed to educate, inspire students

Breaking Barriers announces winning essays

Anna Howe is a fourth-grader in Tucson, Ariz., whose essay was about her struggles living with esophagitis, a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the esophagus. Tank Wright is a seventh-grader in Sylacauga, Ala., who described how he copes with the grief and pain after losing his father to cancer.

Both students were selected as Grand Prize winners in the 2017 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest, announced on Monday by Major League Baseball and Scholastic. Ten winners in all were chosen from among tens of thousands of entries across North America.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Atlanta youth play ball in Robinson's honor

Braves alumni help share legacy of breaking color barrier

Atlanta youth play ball in Robinson's honor

Jackie Robinson would have enjoyed the event that took place in his honor on Saturday afternoon at the Braves Baseball Academy at the Villages at Carver Family YMCA.

Some 150 youth from metro Atlanta spent the day pitching, hitting and running around the area's four baseball fields, each sponsored by a former Brave (John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Brian Jordan and Mike Hampton) on a day bathed in sunshine. The sounds emanating from the diamonds worked perfectly in concert with the sounds of the kids, ranging in ages from 6 to 14, who were laughing and cheering each other on.

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Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Games get started at first Trailblazer Series

Girls take cue from two AAGPBL alumni, who threw out first pitches

Games get started at first Trailblazer Series

COMPTON, Calif. -- Multiple generations of baseball trailblazers, spanning more than 75 years, converged on the MLB Youth Academy in Compton this weekend.

It wasn't just the nearly 100 girls participating in the inaugural Trailblazer Series, an all-girls baseball tournament sponsored by MLB and USA Baseball. Also on hand were the pioneers who paved the way for the opportunities available to those young ballplayers today, including a number of USA Baseball representatives who served as coaches: MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng, founder of "Baseball for All" Justine Siegal and softball star Jennie Finch.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trailblazer Series takes historic first steps

12U/16U rising stars begin playing games today

Trailblazer Series takes historic first steps

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- This Jackie Robinson Day, Major League Baseball is honoring the big leaguer who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947 by furthering his legacy of inclusion with the inaugural Trailblazer Series, a girls baseball tournament in Southern California.

The three-day event at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton began Thursday with practices at the facility's four playing fields followed by a banquet dinner at Hotel Maya in Long Beach. The first evening featured a video message from Commissioner Rob Manfred and some notable guest speakers, including softball legend and MLB's youth softball ambassador, Jennie Finch, and MLB's senior vice president for baseball operations, Kim Ng.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trailblazer Series celebrates girls in baseball

Finch among female players who will welcome rising stars to 12U/16U event in LA

Trailblazer Series celebrates girls in baseball

Trailblazer. Trendsetter. Pioneer. Rising Star. At one point of her life or another, Jennie Finch has been all of these things. And at MLB's inaugural Trailblazer Series, about 100 young ballplayers from the U.S. and Canada are following in her footsteps.

Finch began her story on a T-ball field in Southern California. As she puts it, though, "I was just a young girl with two older brothers trying to hang."

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Allison Duffy-Davis is a contributing editor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trailblazer Series to celebrate inclusivity

100 girls to play at MLB Youth Academy from April 13-15

Trailblazer Series to celebrate inclusivity

When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, he ushered in an age of baseball inclusivity remembered predominantly for the changes it sparked in regards to race. But true inclusivity, the main idea Robinson personified, also requires acceptance of those who identify along other societal fault lines, including class and gender.

In this spirit, Major League Baseball has spearheaded efforts to promote the sport among young women, a group that has for generations tended to gravitate toward softball. These efforts are scheduled to come to a head starting April 13 with the inaugural "Trailblazer Series," a first-of-its-kind girls baseball tournament.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Carlos Correa takes flight in second full season

The Astros' phenom and former Little Leaguer is skyrocketing to the top of the game

Carlos Correa takes flight in second full season

He's one of the game's hottest young stars, and at just 22 years old, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has already accomplished far more than most of his peers. Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, debuted with the Astros in June 2015 at age 20 and promptly won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Last year, in his first full Big League campaign, he followed that performance by hitting .274 with 20 home runs and 96 RBI over 153 games.

After adding veterans like Josh Reddick, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran this offseason, the Astros expect to contend for a playoff spot in 2017. And Correa, in just his second full season, is primed to compete for a World Series title. The graduate of Villa Blanca Little League in Caguas, Puerto Rico, recently spoke with us about his formula for success and goals for the future.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story originally appeared in the 2017 Little League Magazine. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Raines, Grissom host Canada Play Ball event

Raines, Grissom host Canada Play Ball event

MONTREAL -- Tim Raines and Marquis Grissom used to be the speedsters on the basepaths at Olympic Stadium. On Sunday morning, some 300 youth baseball players gave them a run for their money at the first Play Ball event in Canada.

Raines and Grissom jumped right into the action again at the Big O to the delight of the youngsters on the field and their parents looking on from the stands at the former home of the Montreal Expos.

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Sean Farrell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets, MLB unveil Boys & Girls Club renovations

Mets, MLB unveil Boys & Girls Club renovations

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball participated Saturday morning in the second New York-area unveiling of a Boys & Girls Club in as many days, this one along with the Mets to help open a new teen center at the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club on Long Island as a community-impact backdrop to the arrival of Opening Day.

Refurbishments at the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club include the creation of a "Healthy Lifestyles Snack Area" in the Teen Room, including kitchen cabinets, refrigerator and other appliances so members can create their own healthy meals. Additional upgrades include entertainment equipment and new computers for after-school work and research as well as new furniture, carpeting and other club modifications.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. MLB photographer Alex Trautwig contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB, hot dogs getting along Famously

Franco on hand as Nathan's strikes partnership, supports Play Ball

MLB, hot dogs getting along Famously

NEW YORK -- When he was a wide-eyed boy dreaming of becoming a Major League Baseball player, John Franco lived in the Marlboro Houses projects, Building 5, Apt. 7D -- a short walk to the wonders of the Coney Island boardwalk.

"Me and my buddies used to go to the beach all the time, hang out on the beach, on the way home stop at Nathan's, get a couple of hot dogs and then ride the rides in Coney Island," the Mets legend said on Tuesday. "It's very dear to me -- it reminds me of my childhood."

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats discuss love of game at Play Ball event

Nats discuss love of game at Play Ball event

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- The chatter was boisterous, as one might expect of a group of 60-plus kids ages 8-13 gathered at a park on a Spring Break day. But then a somewhat imposing man in a genuine Major League Baseball uniform walked onto the field to address them.

Suddenly, someone had the kids' attention. Mostly silence ensued.

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Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trying circumstances bond high school club

Denham Springs ballplayers regroup following devastating flood

Trying circumstances bond high school club

EMERSON, Ga. -- There were undoubtedly countless times last August when the beleaguered residents of Denham Springs, La., thought the sky would never quit crying and that the sun would never again make an appearance to help dry up their tears of desperation.

And maybe that's the reason that the young ballplayers from Denham Springs High School seemed so appreciative -- almost joyful -- to be walking out onto a baseball diamond under a cloudless sky, saturated by brilliant sunshine that more than adequately warmed their spirits.

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Jeffrey Dahn is a feature writer for Perfect Game. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Manfred visits renovated field for LA youth

Dodgers' Kasten also at unveiling for Boys & Girls Club

Manfred visits renovated field for LA youth

LOS ANGELES -- In the span of about four weeks, a modest playing field at the Ramona Gardens Clubhouse underwent a dramatic transformation. As part of Major League Baseball's partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, MLB's official charity, the field was fully refurbished as the newest "Dodgers Dreamfield."

And on Tuesday, the renovations were officially complete with a ribbon ceremony, which drew notable guests, including MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Dodgers president Stan Kasten.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Another day of sun at Play Ball event in LA

Another day of sun at Play Ball event in LA

LOS ANGELES -- It was the ultimate Southern California field trip.

Students from three Los Angeles-area elementary schools were bused into downtown on Monday afternoon for an event put on by Major League Baseball's Play Ball initiative.

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kids take center stage before Classic games in San Diego

Participate in "PLAY BALL" San Diego Youth Baseball Challenge

Kids take center stage before Classic games in San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- It looks odd in the scorebook. But when winning a title by getting two outs on a ground ball, it doesn't matter how it comes about.

"That was a 6-8-3 double play," Andrew Cortor said with a smile. "That was a bit weird."

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Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Play Ball events target new, different places

MLB looking to introduce, teach sport to those on youth level

Play Ball events target new, different places

MESA, Ariz. -- Jordan Watson, a pitcher in the D-backs' organization, wishes there were Play Ball events like the one here on Friday morning when he was a kid. Watson had a hardscrabble life growing up in Oklahoma City, Okla., and baseball was his refuge.

"From the time my father took me out for my first catch when I was 3 years old, baseball was 24/7 to me," Watson told MLB.com. "He turned on a game and I still remember this. It was a Yankee game and I saw Derek Jeter play. Once I saw him play, I wanted to play. He did everything right. I didn't have the best upbringing, but it was a great outlet for me."

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bailey encourages kids to play multiple sports

Angels pitcher fondly recalls playing youth baseball, with variety key to athleticism

Bailey encourages kids to play multiple sports

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There's one thing that Andrew Bailey wants his children to experience for sure -- to have the same kind of athletic upbringing that he did as a kid in New Jersey.

"When I was growing up, we always played multiple sports and got good at a bunch of different things," Bailey said. "That's what I'm going to teach my kids to do."

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Fabian Ardaya is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Finch ready to help girls shatter glass ceilings

MLB's youth softball ambassador has big plans for 2017 season

Finch ready to help girls shatter glass ceilings

It's been less than two months since softball legend Jennie Finch was named MLB's youth ambassador for the sport. But she's already making big plans to help young athletes succeed.

"Every single day we're reading about a new trailblazer," said Finch. "And that could be any one of us. Seeing young girls break the glass ceiling, it's an exciting time for our game all across the board." 

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Allison Duffy-Davis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Little League Classic a big deal for MLB

Aug. 20 Cardinals-Pirates game will again put spotlight on youth baseball

Little League Classic a big deal for MLB

The Little League World Series may very well be on your bucket list of things you'd like to see. If you've already been there, you understand why. There's an electricity to the event that's contagious, and to watch the games is to be caught up in the emotion and drama.

And so isn't this perfect that Major League Baseball will be part of the event this year? The Cardinals and Pirates will play on Aug. 20 in Williamsport, Pa., at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, home of the Class A Williamsport Crosscutters and a few miles from the site of the Little League World Series.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates, Cardinals to play game in Williamsport

MLB Little League Classic to celebrate youth baseball during LL World Series

Pirates, Cardinals to play game in Williamsport

JUPITER, Fla. -- Mike Matheny nearly made it to Williamsport, Pa., as a Little League catcher on an Ohio team that advanced deep into the qualifying rounds. Yet the trip that he missed then is one he's going to get in 2017, as the Cardinals and Pirates are moving their Aug. 20 game to Williamsport to coincide with the Little League World Series.

Major League Baseball announced the change of venue on Thursday in conjunction with ESPN, which will air the game on its Sunday Night Baseball (7 p.m. ET) telecast. This announcement comes one year after MLB unveiled plans for a regular-season game to be played on a military base. That happened July 3, when the Braves and Marlins faced each other at Fort Bragg, N.C.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

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

Robinson scholars soak up lessons at luncheon

30 JRF scholarship recipients attend event at Commissioner's Office

Robinson scholars soak up lessons at luncheon

Many of Major League Baseball's 30 current Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars hadn't yet entered the world when then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig retired No. 42 in honor of the foundation's namesake on April 15, 1997. But now, these scholars are carrying on the legacy of the man who broke baseball's color barrier nearly seven decades ago.

On Monday afternoon, 30 JRF scholars, most of whom are members of the Class of 2020 -- six of them at Ivy League schools -- arrived at the Commissioner's Office to partake in a lunch meeting and panel discussion with four MLB front-office members who, combined, own more than 50 years of league experience. Historically, MLB and its clubs have contributed more than $15 million to the Jackie Robinson Foundation for its scholarship program, and in 2016 the league committed to sponsoring 30 scholars, one for each team.

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Allison Duffy-Davis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New Orleans UYA hosts Urban Invitational

Day opens with Play Ball event for local youth

New Orleans UYA hosts Urban Invitational

For the fourth consecutive year, MLB's Urban Invitational was hosted at the Urban Youth Academy in New Orleans. Saturday began with Play Ball, a youth-oriented program rooted in teaching baseball's fundamentals, then featured a six-team, round-robin tournament, featuring Alcorn State's 11-3 win over Prairie View A&M, and Grambling State's 11-5 win against Southern University.

In Saturday's other Invitational matchup at the University of New Orleans' Maestri Field, UNO captured an 8-5 win over the University of Illinois-Chicago during the weekend set, televised on MLB Network.

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Christian Boutwell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Play Ball event caps MLB's RBI Institute

Memphis-area kids immersed in baseball at AutoZone Park

Play Ball event caps MLB's RBI Institute

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A bat, a ball and a kid. A formula for fun that has spanned parts of three centuries in America.

Multiply the kid part by 300 on a perfect Saturday afternoon at AutoZone Park, and that will stoke the game's future. That's the plan of organizers of Saturday's free Play Ball event sponsored by MLB's RBI program along with USA Baseball and USA Softball and hosted by the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

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Pete Wickham is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Draft prospects show skills at Arizona PDP event

Draft prospects show skills at Arizona PDP event

MESA, Ariz. -- It was Super Bowl Sunday, but at Sloan Park, the Spring Training home of the Cubs, baseball ruled the day as the top high school prospects in the area took part in the Prospect Development Pipeline Premier event.

The event is a joint venture between MLB and USA Baseball created to enhance exposure for 16- to 18-year-old prospects leading up to the Draft.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Southern California PDP teeming with talent

Prospect Development Pipeline event features seven players on Draft top 50 list

Southern California PDP teeming with talent

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. -- Southern California has long been a baseball hotbed, so it comes as no surprise that Saturday's Prospect Development Pipeline event in Lake Elsinore featured some of the best young talent in the country.

Seven of MLBPipeline's Top 50 Draft prospects were on hand for the PDP event -- the fourth stop of its kind across the country, featuring arguably the most impressive crop of prospects yet.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.