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Archive for February 6th, 2019

Buckeyes Football announces completion of 2019 Recruiting Class




Signing Day II: Buckeyes Complete Class of 2019

Ohio State will add a total of 18 scholarship players to 2019 roster


COLUMBUS, Ohio Head coach Ryan Day announced the completion of Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class on Wednesday as two more players signed National Letters of Intent to further their academic and athletic careers as members of the Buckeyes’ football program.


The newest members of the class are a pair of offensive linemen: Dawand Jones from Indianapolis and Enokk Vimahi, a native of Kahuku, Hawaii. Coupled with the 15 players who signed in December, Ohio State’s recruiting class finishes with 17 signees.


In January, the Buckeyes also added quarterback Justin Fields, a transfer from the University of Georgia. That brings the total number of newcomers on the 2019 roster to 18. Fields is one of seven newcomers who enrolled for the spring semester. He’s joined by Zach Harrison, Garrett Wilson, Ronnie Hickman, Ryan Jacoby, Noah Potter and Marcus Crowley.


In all, the recruiting class of Buckeyes includes four offensive linemen, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, three defensive linemen, two linebackers, two safeties and one athlete. The group is also geographically diverse with players from 10 different states, led by five from Ohio and two from Georgia and Indiana. According to the 247Sports composite rankings, 12 players are either four or five-star prospects.




Name                           Position            Ht.       Wt.      Hometown / Previous School
Steele Chambers           RB                   6-2       215       Roswell, Ga. / Blessed Trinity Catholic
Marcus Crowley            RB                   6-1       200       Jacksonville, Fla. / Trinity Christian Academy
Tommy Eichenberg      LB                   6-3       225       Cleveland, Ohio / St. Ignatius
Zach Harrison               DE                   6-5       243       Lewis Center, Ohio / Olentangy Orange
Cormontae Hamilton    TE                    6-2       263       Memphis, Tenn. / Whitehaven
Ronnie Hickman           SAF                 6-1       200       Wayne, N.J. / DePaul Catholic
Ryan Jacoby                 OL                   6-5       270       Mentor, Ohio / Mentor
Dwand Jones                OL                   6-8       360       Indianapolis, Ind. / Ben Davis
Jaden McKenzie           DT                   6-3       285       Wake Forest, N.C. / Wake Forest
Harry Miller                  OL                   6-4       310       Buford, Ga. / Buford
Noah Potter                  DE                   6-5       250       Mentor, Ohio / Mentor
Bryson Shaw                SAF                 6-2       175       Potomac, Md. / The Bullis School
Cade Stover                  LB                   6-4       225       Mansfield, Ohio / Lexington

Enokk Vimahi              OL                   6-4       270       Kahuku, Hawaii / Kahuku
Jameson Williams         WR                  6-2       170       St. Louis, Mo. / Cardinal Ritter College Prep
Garrett Wilson              WR                  6-1       180       Austin, Texas / Lake Travis
Craig Young                 ATH                 6-4       200       Fort Wayne, Ind. / Wayne

Steele Chambers | RB | 6-2, 215 | Roswell, Ga. / Blessed Trinity Catholic
Rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and among the top 20 athletes nationwide … a three-year starter for head coach Tim McFarlin … ran for 244 yards and three TDs while also throwing a touchdown pass to help Blessed Trinity Catholic advance to the Georgia 4A state title game … in the title game, ran for 98 yards and added five tackles on defense as Blessed Trinity won its second straight championship … over 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior … Georgia’s Region 7AAAA Player of the Year in 2017 for the state champion Titans … exceptional athlete who stood out as both a linebacker and running back … All-Georgia honoree as an athlete from the Atlanta Journal Constitution … Georgia Athletic Coaches Association all-state selection as a linebacker … rushed for 1,486 yards (6.9 yards per carry) as a sophomore and 1,301 as a junior … scored the go-ahead touchdown in the 2017 state title game … on defense, totaled 70 tackles (37 solo), six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks … parents are Stacy and Eric Chambers.

Marcus Crowley | RB | 6-1, 200 | Jacksonville, Fla. / Trinity Christian Academy
Enrolled in winter 2019 semester classes at Ohio State … the four-star prospect by Rivals and a top 100-ranked player in the state of Florida … named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Florida in 2018 … rushed for 258 yards in a 34-7 win over Bolles School in the Region 1-5A finals … scored on runs of 60, 39 and 90 yards … was a MAxPrep/USA Football National Player of the Week nominee … had five 200-yard rushing games during his senior season … ran for over 2,000 yards and averaged better than 10 yards a carry and 150 yards per game over his senior season … plays for the same program that produced current Buckeye Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson … ran for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior … parents are Shelly and Michael Wright.

Tommy Eichenberg | LB | 6-3, 225 | Cleveland, Ohio / St. Ignatius
A four-star recruit according to who is a consensus top-10 ranked player in the state of Ohio … one of the top-20 ranked linebacker prospects by all of the major recruiting services … a first-team All-Ohio selection as a senior by the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association … moved from outside to middle linebacker early in the 2018 season and finished with 126 total tackles (80 solo, 46 assists), eight sacks, 23 tackles-for-loss and five pass breakups … also had seven quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles and an interception … St. Ignatius started 0-2 but finished 8-1 and made the state playoffs with Eichenberg at middle linebacker … included in those eight wins was a 21-7 win over eventual state champion St. Edward … led the team with 81 tackles and 7.5 sacks as a junior … is a state qualifier for the St. Ignatius track and field team in the shot put … finished eighth at the state championship meet last spring … parents are Heather and Gregg Eichenberg.


*Justin Fields | QB | 6-3, 225 | Kennesaw, Ga. / Harrison
Transferred to Ohio State and joined the football program in January of 2019 … played in 12 of 14 games as a true freshman for Georgia in 2018 and was named to the Coaches Freshman All-SEC Team … completed 27 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four TDs … also had four rushing touchdowns … was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Nov. 19 after passing for 121 yards, rushing for 100 and accounting for three touchdowns in a 66-27 win over UMass … a five-star prospect by every major scouting service from Harrison High School under head coach Matt Dickmann … rated as the No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2018 … the nation’s top-ranked dual threat QB prospect … awarded MVP of the 2017 Elite 11 Quarterback Competition … totaled 4,187 passing yards, 41 passing touchdowns, 2,096 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns in two years as a starter for Harrison … awarded 2018 Mr. Georgia Football by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta … named the 2017 Class 6A Offensive Player of the Year by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and the Associated Press, in addition to being named First-Team All-State by both publications … also played shortstop and second base for the Harrison varsity baseball team and was a highly-touted baseball prospect with MLB draft potential. *Signed a National Letter of Intent with Georgia in 2018

Zach Harrison | DE | 6-5, 243 | Lewis Center, Ohio / Olentangy Orange
Enrolled in winter 2019 semester classes at Ohio State … the consensus top-ranked player in the state of Ohio and a top-five prospect nationally … the nation’s No. 1 defensive end by all the major scouting services … earned a five-star designation by, and Rivals … a superb athlete who has been clocked at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and he’s also run a 10.7 100 meters and a 21.5 200 meters … first team All-Ohio by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association and the Delaware County Defensive Player of the Year … had 14 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks in just seven games as a senior … will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 … invited to The Opening in 2017 and 2018 … named a finalist for the All-American Bowl Man of the Year … parents are Tracey and Jimmie Harrison.

Cormontae Hamilton | TE | 6-2, 263 | Memphis, Tenn. / Whitehaven
A three-star prospect and the No. 22 player in the state of Tennessee by 247Sports … the nation’s No. 22-ranked tight end by Rivals … member of The Commercial Appeal’s All-Metro team as a junior in 2017 … helped Whitehaven, under head coach Rodney Saulsberry, reach the Class 6A semifinals in 2017 … averaged better than 20 yards per reception … 2018 preseason 6A all-state selection and led Whitehaven to the state finals … hauled in 18 passes for 278 and five touchdowns as a senior for the 11-4 Tigers … mother is Nikki Gilmore.

Ronnie Hickman | SAF | 6-1, 200 | Wayne, N.J. / DePaul Catholic
Enrolled in winter 2019 semester classes at Ohio State … New Jersey’s third-ranked recruit overall by and is a top 150 prospect nationally … checks in with a No. 9 ranking as an athlete according to 247Sports … plays on both sides of the ball for DePaul Catholic, lining up at wide receiver and safety … an injury cut his senior season short, but not before he totaled 609 receiving yards and nine TDs on 26 catches … recorded 19 tackles and five pass breakups … caught 44 passes for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior while also contributing 44 tackles, two interceptions and nine PBU on defense … had 945 all-purpose yards in 2017 … finished his career with 1,418 yards receiving on 70 receptions and 22 touchdowns … is the third New Jersey native to sign with the Buckeyes in the last two classes, joining Javontae Jean-Baptise and Tyler Friday from last year’s class … is nicknamed “The Rocket” … helped DePaul Catholic win New Jersey’s Non Public Group III state title as a junior in 2017 … played for head coach John McKenna … also played lacrosse from DePaul Catholic … parents are Hanifah Crawley and Ronnie Hickman Sr.

Ryan Jacoby | OL | 6-5, 270 | Mentor, Ohio / Mentor
Enrolled in winter 2019 semester classes at Ohio State … Four-star prospect according to 247Sports who is Ohio’s No. 8-ranked player … was the second member of the 2019 class to give his verbal commitment … first-team All-Ohio as a junior and senior playing left tackle for Mentor, the 2017 Division I state runner-up … the Cardinals were 13-2 and averaged 41.2 points per game on their way to the state finals in 2017 … Mentor was 11-2 in 2018 and once again featured one of the state’s highest scoring offenses, averaging 36.9 points per game … a finalist for the Tony Fisher Award … coached by Steve Trivisonno … was a member of Mentor’s wrestling team as a freshman and sophomore … parents are Lisa and Michael Jacoby.


Dawand Jones | OL | 6-8, 360 | Indianapolis, Ind / Ben Davis
A four-star prospect by ESPN … earned three stars by and … consensus top-15 rated player – regardless of position – in the state of Indiana … a talented two-sport athlete who also excels on the basketball court … is currently averaging 17.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and had several Division I offers … played at Ben Davis for head coaches Mike Kirschner and Jason Simmons … in his first year as a starter in 2017, helped Ben Davis to an undefeated 6A state championship … Ben Davis averaged 47.3 points per game and scored 50 or more points six times … a Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 team selection as a senior … 6A All-State selection in 2017 as a junior … paved the way for an offense that averaged 28.5 points per game … is the son of Deanna Jones.


Jaden McKenzie | DT | 6-3, 285 | Wake Forest, N.C. / Wake Forest
A three-star prospect who has been a key contributor in helping Wake Forest High School win three consecutive 4A state championships … rated as the No. 48 defensive tackle prospect in the nation and the No. 32 player in North Carolina by 247Sports … recorded 71 tackles and 10.5 sacks as a senior … selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, an annual all-star game between players from North Carolina and South Carolina … finished his high school career on a 45-game winning streak … four-year varsity letterwinner … as a junior, compiled 97 tackles, 23 tackles-for-loss and nine sacks … totaled 28.5 sacks over his final three seasons … originally from New Orleans … mother is Quandra McKenzie.

Harry Miller | OL | 6-4, 310 | Buford, Ga. / Buford
Four-star prospect who is the nation’s No. 2-ranked center according to … a five-star recruit by MaxPreps … No. 37-rated prospect overall according to … a versatile player who played guard, tackle and center for Buford High School and head coach John Ford … Buford was 10-3 in Miller’s senior season and reached the Class AAAAA quarterfinals … with Miller paving the way, Buford averaged 41.6 points per game in 2018 and scored 50 or more points four times … helped Buford finished 11-2 as a junior in 2017 while advancing to the Class 5A state semifinals … participated in Nike’s The Opening last June and was named the camp’s most valuable offensive lineman … a straight-A student and likely class valedictorian … a finalist for the All-American Bowl Man of the Year Award … has made numerous mission trips to Nicaragua … parents are Kristina and Sean Miller.

Noah Potter | DE | 6-5, 250 | Mentor, Ohio / Mentor
Enrolled in winter 2019 semester classes at Ohio State … Ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 6 player in Ohio by 247Sports … earned All-Ohio honors for head coach Steve Trivisonno at Mentor as both a junior and senior … 49 tackles, nine tackles-for-loss and five sacks and 30 QB hurries as a senior for a defense that allowed just 13.3 points per game  … anchored a defense that led the Cardinals to the Division I state championship game in 2017 … had 68 tackles, 32 quarterback hurries, 10 sacks and eight tackles-for-loss … led the greater Cleveland area with over 25 tackles for loss as a senior … his older brother, Micah, was a member of the Ohio State men’s basketball team in 2016-17 and 2017-18 … parents are Ronda and Tim Potter.

Bryson Shaw | SAF | 6-2, 175 | Potomac, Md. / The Bullis School
Three-star prospect and the No. 9 player in the state of Maryland according to 247Sports … a do-it-all safety/wide receiver as well as a standout lacrosse player for The Bullis School … has also seen time as a running back and wide receiver … named the team’s most valuable player and the Defensive player of the Year in the Interstate Athletic Conference as a senior … as a junior, caught five touchdown passes, had a TD run and also returned a kickoff and fumble for scores … on defense, totaled 30 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles … parents are Jill and Bryn Shaw.

Cade Stover | LB | 6-4, 225 | Mansfield, Ohio / Lexington
The fourth-ranked player in Ohio and the No. 130 overall prospect according to 247Sports … named Ohio’s Mr. Football by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association and the Gatorade Player of the Year … the eighth-ranked linebacker nationally and a semifinalist for the High School Butkus Award honoring the nation’s top prep linebacker … selected as Ohio’s Division III Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and a first-team all-state selection after recording 163 tackles and four interceptions during the regular season … added 1,477 yards and 17 touchdowns as a running back … Ohio Cardinal Conference Defensive Player of the Year … as a sophomore in 2016 for head coach Taylor Gerhardt, Stover made 190 tackles (14.6 per game) as Lexington made the regional finals … during his junior season in 2017, Stover was a first team All-Ohio pick as a hybrid linebacker/safety … a great all-around athlete, Stover earned second team All-Ohio honors on the basketball court as a junior in leading Lexington to the OHSAA Final Four in Columbus … has set the school’s all-time scoring record in basketball … parents are Chelsi and Trevor Stover.


Enokk Vimahi | OL | 6-4, 270 | Kahuku, Hawaii / Kahuku
Rated the nation’s No. 7 guard and No. 124 overall player by … a four-star prospect by every major recruiting service and the No. 2-ranked player in the state of Hawaii … has the versatility to play either guard or tackle in college … on the postseason circuit, played in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl and Polynesian Hall of Fame Bowl … participated in The Opening last summer in Dallas … Kahuku’s football program has produced 17 players who have gone on to play in the National Football League … The Red Raiders played in three consecutive state championship games between 2015 and 2017 … Kahuku averaged nearly 300 total yards and 30 points per game during Vimahi’s senior season … he blocked for three different running backs that totaled 300 yards or more … is the son of Lori and David Vimahi … he has an older brother, Aliki, who signed with Utah in 2017.


Jameson Williams | WR | 6-2, 170 | St. Louis, Mo. / Cardinal Ritter College Prep
Rated as a four-star prospect and a Top 150 player overall by’s composite rankings … the No. 2-rated prospect in Missouri by 247Sports and No. 3 by Rivals … helped Cardinal Ritter College Prep reach the Class 3 state championship game this past fall … caught 68 passes for 1,626 yards and 22 touchdowns … had eight 100-yard games, including a 257-yard effort with five TDs … scored at least one touchdown in 11 of 14 games … selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 3 in Orlando … caught 36 passes for 1,062 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior while also returning three kicks for TDs … a track star who holds the state record in the 300-meter hurdles, a mark previously set by former Buckeye great Ezekiel Elliott … won two state track and field titles last spring … parents are Tianna and James Williams.

Garrett Wilson | WR | 6-1, 180 | Austin, Texas / Lake Travis
Enrolled in winter 2019 semester classes at Ohio State … A five-star prospect according to and a top-15 ranked recruit – regardless of position – nationally … caught two touchdown passes in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … was also named the All-American Bowl Man of the Year for his excellence in community service, education and athletic distinction … participated in Nike’s The Opening last June and was named to the All-Tournament team … played for head coach Hank Carter at Lake Travis High School … despite missing action in the middle of his senior season due to injury, had 1,151 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns … with Wilson and current Ohio State quarterback Matthew Baldwin teaming up, Lake Travis went 13-3 in 2017 and played in its third consecutive Class 6A Division I state final … Wilson’s junior year stats were off the charts: 98 catches for 1,774 yards while accounting for 32 total touchdowns … his career numbers included 204 receptions for 3,359 yards and 55 total touchdowns … selected as the 2017-18 Central Texas High School Athlete of the Year by The Statesman … Texas’ No. 1-ranked recruit on the The Stateman’s Fabulous 55 list … a three-sport athlete at Lake Travis who earned Division I scholarship offers as a basketball player … averaged 21 points per game for the Cavaliers to earn first team All-Central Texas honors … is the son of Kenny and Candace Wilson … Kenny played basketball at Davidson, scoring 1,573 career points to rank seventh on the school’s all-time list.

Craig Young | ATH | 6-4, 200 | Fort Wayne, Ind. / Wayne
Consensus three-star prospect … a standout on both sides of the ball for Wayne High School and head coach Derrick Moore … ranked as the No. 9 player in the state of Indiana … caught 35 passes for 700 yards and 12 touchdowns during his senior season … as a junior, he had over 600 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns while also contributing 27 tackles, three interceptions and 1.5 sacks on defense as an outside linebacker … two-time member of the WANE-TV Fab 15 … a three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and runs track … averaged 17.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a junior on the basketball court … won the sectional 100-meter (10.7 seconds) and 200-meter (22.43) sprints during his junior season … parents are Antoinette and Shabaka Young.


Indians complete trade with Marlins for RHP Nick Wittgren




Nick Wittgren on mound 2017 photo by D. Benjamin Miller - Own work via wikipedia commons


CLEVELAND, OH – The Cleveland Indians on Monday announced the club has acquired RHP NICK WITTGREN from the Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP JORDAN MILBRATH. Also, to make room on the 40-man roster for Wittgren, the Indians designated RHP A.J. COLE for assignment.

Wittgren, 27, split the 2018 campaign between the Miami Marlins and Triple-A New Orleans, posting an ERA of 2.94 in 32 relief outings (33.2IP, 29H, 11ER, 15BB, 31SO, .223 avg) for the Marlins around a three-week trip to the Disabled List in June (right hand contusion). The Lafayette, Indiana-native and Purdue University alum owns a career Major League ERA of 3.60 (51ER/127.2IP) over 118 outings with Miami since the 2016 season. He was selected by the Marlins in the ninth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He has one option remaining and was designated for assignment by Miami on January 30 (Neil Walker signed).

Read more: Cleveland Indians


MLB announces plans to investigate allegations against Seattle Mariners




Major League Baseball statement on independent investigation regarding the Seattle Mariners


On November 13, 2018, Major League Baseball announced that it would investigate allegations made by Dr. Lorena Martin, a former employee of the Seattle Mariners, regarding her treatment by the organization and her claims that senior Club officials made derogatory and inappropriate comments. The investigation was conducted by Epstein Becker Green, a national law firm specializing in labor and employment matters, whose attorneys interviewed seventeen potential witnesses, including Dr. Martin.

The firm did not uncover credible evidence that the Mariners, or any of its employees, violated Major League Baseball’s Workplace Code of Conduct, or applicable anti-discrimination law, in the treatment of Dr. Martin or the termination of her employment. The investigation also concluded that there is no credible evidence to support Dr. Martin’s claim that Mariners’ employees, including Jerry Dipoto, Scott Servais, or Andy McKay, made any of the comments attributed to them in her public statement or subsequent lawsuit.

Because of the ongoing litigation, MLB will have no further comment on this matter.



MLB and MLBPA join forces to combat human trafficking














Initiative will include $500,000 in charitable grants, in-ballpark education & awareness efforts, and player-involved executive council


Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced Tuesday that they are committing $500,000, through 2021, to nonprofits focused on efforts to stop human trafficking. This contribution represents an ongoing commitment by MLB and the MLBPA to provide joint support to causes that assist vulnerable populations, which has historically included disaster relief and recovery financial assistance.

The $500,000 contribution will support efforts by nonprofits that primarily focus on education and programming to stop human trafficking, with extended support intended for survivors as well. Strike Out Slavery, the initiative led by three-time NL MVP and 10-time All-Star Albert Pujols and his wife Deidre, is among the grantees, and will be joined by additional leading nonprofit organizations receiving funding. Strike Out Slavery, started in 2017 to spread awareness about the existence and prevalence of human trafficking and help a global network of nonprofit organizations rally against it, encourages players and fans to take a stand against modern-day slavery through events at baseball stadiums across the country.

A special council, which will include Albert and Deidre Pujols, additional Major League players, experts on the issue, and MLB & MLBPA representatives, will convene to direct funding to organizations over the three-year grant period. The overall mission will be to disrupt human trafficking patterns and put an end to what is considered “modern-day slavery.”

In addition to the financial commitment, MLB and the MLBPA will continue efforts to educate fans on the warning signs of human trafficking through in-ballpark communications and during MLB jewel events.

“Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world with millions of people affected by it, even young children,” said Albert and Deidre Pujols. “United by our love for baseball, we can come together to create awareness in our communities about the dangers of this insidious crime. We are grateful for the leadership of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association in recognizing the importance of this issue and for supporting organizations fighting against human trafficking.”

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: “Human trafficking is a devastating reality for far too many individuals and families around the world. Major League Baseball is proud to join players, many of whom have already demonstrated their commitment to this cause, to use our sport’s global platform to raise critical awareness of this worldwide issue.”

“Lives and families around the world are being destroyed by human trafficking,” MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said. “By putting the power of Players’ voices and the resources of the Major League Baseball community together to grow awareness and raise public consciousness around this important cause, I’m confident we can make a meaningful difference.”

Clayton and Ellen Kershaw said: “We just returned from three days in the Dominican Republic with International Justice Mission, an organization aimed at eradicating modern-day slavery. We witnessed, first-hand, the devastation of young lives affected by this epidemic, but also the incredible hope brought by groups fighting to set people free and repair justice systems. Together with fellow players, MLB and the MLBPA, we are committed to this movement-to fight for change until all are free!”

The United Nations defines human trafficking as: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” The three most common types of human trafficking are forced labor, sex trafficking and debt bondage. In 2016, reports indicate there were more than 40 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, with 81% trapped in forced labor.

To learn about the issue of human trafficking, Strike Out Slavery’s upcoming education events at baseball stadiums and about the leading nonprofit organizations fighting against it in the United States and around the world, visit

Read more: MLB


MLB announces 2019 initiatives for baseball and softball development for kids abroad




Comprehensive schedule of baseball and softball development initiatives in 2019 to increase access to sport for kids in U.S. and abroad


Wide-ranging programs include Play Ball events throughout the world, new “MLB Grit” high school baseball tournament, in-school programming, and more


Programs and events in 2018 reached more than one million kids

Major League Baseball today announced the slate of 2019 activities featuring a wide range of Baseball & Softball Development initiatives designed to improve access to, and foster growth within, the youth and amateur levels of the sport. These activities, scheduled from February through December, will include hundreds of PLAY BALL events in the United States and around the world, a new high school girls baseball tournament in March (MLB Grit), the newly branded Hank Aaron Invitational with the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), Fun At Bat programming for physical education curriculums in schools, youth-focused initiatives during July’s All-Star Week in Cleveland, and more. Many of the events will be jointly operated with a variety of partners, including USA Baseball, USA Softball, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Little League International, Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Major & Minor League Clubs, and MLB corporate partners.

In 2018, Baseball and Softball Development initiatives led by MLB reached more than one million kids in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Panama.

“Our goal is to make sure that our sport is as accessible as it can be for everyone in the U.S. and all around the world,” said Tony Reagins, Executive Vice President of Baseball & Softball Development, Major League Baseball. “Our 2019 schedule follows a very specific strategy to offer opportunities and experiences that introduce the sport, allow young people to develop within the sport, and have a lot of fun playing the greatest game ever invented.”

Following are the categories of activities led by MLB’s Baseball & Softball Development team scheduled for 2019:

1. PLAY BALL Initiative Events and Programs (p. 2-4)
2. Diversity-Focused Amateur Development Camps for Baseball and Softball (p. 4-5)
3. Girls Baseball Events (p. 5)
4. In-School Physical Education Programming (p. 5)
5. College & High School Focused Programs and RBI Tournaments (p. 5-6)
6. 2019 MLB All-Star Week in Cleveland (p. 7)
7. 2019 MLB Little League Classic presented by GEICO (p. 7)

*All dates, locations and events are subject to change, and additional elements/events will be added*


MLB and partners will host hundreds of PLAY BALL events throughout the United States & Puerto Rico and around the world, including Brazil, Canada (Montreal), Mexico (Monterrey), and the United Kingdom (London). The PLAY BALL initiative is baseball’s collective effort to encourage young people and communities to engage in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, special events and casual forms of play. PLAY BALL events have become MLB’s signature youth engagement activity during the professional and amateur baseball and softball calendar, especially on key dates throughout MLB’s Championship Season. PLAY BALL events demonstrate the positive way the game can serve as an outlet for physical activity, fun with friends, and learning how to play the sport at its most basic levels. PLAY BALL also serves as the League’s youth umbrella in which all associated programs and events derive from the initiative’s consistent, simple message: However You Play Ball, PLAY BALL!

Following are some highlights of the PLAY BALL events scheduled for 2019:

Celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day -
• Compton, California (February 9) - At the Compton MLB Youth Academy
• NOTE: follows similar event at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy held on Saturday, Feb. 2

• Honoring the legacy of Jackie Robinson in celebration of his 100th birthday -
• Kansas City, Missouri (February 7) - At the Kansas City Royals MLB Urban Youth Academy in support of Sharon Robinson’s Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life visit
• Montreal, Quebec, Canada (March) - With Jays Care Foundation and Baseball Canada
• Pasadena, California (September) - In support of the Pasadena Unified School District

• International Locations -
• Brazil (February 12-15) - In Bastos, Marilia and Ibiuna with Minor League players from Brazil
• Monterrey, Mexico (March 9, April 13, May 5) - In connection with three Mexico Series Events
• London, United Kingdom (Week of June 24) - In connection with the Mitel & MLB Present London 2019series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees

U.S. Conference of Mayors & PLAY BALL SUMMER – Hundreds of Mayors from cities in all 50 United States and Puerto Rico will host PLAY BALL events from June through August in celebration of the annual, joint effort between MLB and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

• In 2018, more than 300 Mayors hosted events in their communities, giving nearly 40,000 kids the opportunity to enjoy baseball and softball activities.

Events in non-MLB U.S. Markets - To be held in conjunction with various partners and support of local programs in the youth baseball/softball space:

• Birmingham, Alabama (March 16) - Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Institute
• Richmond, Virginia (April 6) - Support of Metropolitan Junior Baseball League
• Charlotte, North Carolina (April 27) - Support of Carolinas Metro RBI
• Billings, Montana (April 27) - Support of Montana RBI
• Gary, Indiana (May 10)
• Oklahoma City (June 1) - With the Oklahoma City Dodgers (MiLB) & USA Softball
• Flint, Michigan (June 4) - Support of Flint RBI
• Rockford, Illinois (August) - Support of National Women’s Baseball Center
• Cape Cod, Massachusetts (July)
• East St. Louis, Illinois (August 24)
• Baltimore, Maryland (September)
• The Bronx & Brooklyn, New York City (September) - New York City Stickball Events
• Passaic, New Jersey (September) - Vitilla Tournament in support of Passaic RBI

• In recognition of Championship Collegiate Baseball & Softball -
• Grand Junction, Colorado (May 23) - National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Baseball World Series
• Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (May) - National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Women’s College World Series
• Omaha, Nebraska (June 12) - For the MLB in Omaha presented by GEICO game between the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers on Thursday, June 13th – the first Major League game ever played in Nebraska, part of the new GEICO Summer Series, will take place two days prior to the start of the 2019 NCAA Men’s College World Series.

• In celebration of several prominent Baseball events -
• World Series Game Four (October)
• Arizona Fall League “Fall Stars Game” (November 2)
• Baseball’s Winter Meetings in San Diego (December)

PLAY BALL WEEKEND with MLB and MiLB Clubs - ’PLAY BALL WEEKEND,’ which features a unique variety of youth-focused activities by nearly 200 Major and Minor League Clubs, will return for a fourth consecutive year. The complementary program of the ‘PLAY BALL’ initiative was created to provide professional baseball Clubs with a platform to engage youth and celebrate baseball & softball participation in communities throughout the country and in Canada. MLB and MiLB Clubs have selected dates this season to activate their efforts in their respective ballparks and communities. In support of PLAY BALL WEEKEND, MLB Clubs will host customized and unique activities to engage young people, highlight the fun of youth baseball and softball, and bring the professional levels of the game closer to kids

For the second consecutive year, baseball and softball combined to rank as the most participated team sports in the United States (25.1 million participants), according to the most recent, annual Topline Participation Report produced by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). In 2017, casual participation in baseball rose by 12.9% with overall participation seeing a 6.0% increase. Over the last three years, baseball has seen a 49.1% growth in casual participation, which is in direct correlation to the launch of the PLAY BALL initiative. is the PLAY BALL initiative’s online home and is accessible via,, and other partner websites. also links to, which provides players, parents and coaches with the information and resources to help with proper play and instruction, including education videos featuring Hall of Famer and MLB Network analyst John Smoltz, Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, and Kansas City Royals Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Dayton Moore, among others. Health and safety information, including through the Pitch Smart program, also is available. PLAY BALL is generously supported by Chevrolet, Scotts and Kingsford.

Entering its fourth season, MLB Network’s weekly show “Play Ball” features baseball stars as they discuss their path to the Major Leagues, share tips in one-on-one demonstrations with MLB Network analysts, and provide advice to kids trying to get better at the game.

Diversity-Focused Development Camps

In connection to Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 21), MLB and USA Baseball hosted the annual DREAM Series as the first installment of a series of diversity-focused, amateur development camps that will be held in 2019. These special amateur camps focus on developing and diversifying the future talent pool in baseball. Some of the most talented high school baseball and softball players from around the country participate in these events and receive elite-level instruction as well as the opportunity to be mentored by former Major League players & managers, former professional & Olympic medal-winning softball players, and members of the Women’s National Baseball Team. In addition to the on-field action, participants will receive daily presentations that focus on preparing prospects for the collegiate and professional recruiting processes and offer information about alternative careers within the baseball & softball industry. In each of these camps, a contingent of college recruiters and professional scouts attend to evaluate players who may not have had the opportunity to showcase their skills through other events.

The list of amateur development camps scheduled for 2019, which features separate boys baseball, girls baseball, and softball events, includes the following:

• Breakthrough Series Softball (May 23-27) - At the Kansas City Royals MLB Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City, Missouri
• Breakthrough Series Boys Baseball East (June 6-10) - At Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida
• Breakthrough Series Boys Baseball West (June 20-24) - At the MLB Youth Academy in Compton, California
• Elite Development Invitational, Softball (July 12-16) - At Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida

The diversity-focused, amateur development camp effort will peak with the newly branded Hank Aaron Invitational, a joint initiative by MLB, the MLBPA and USA Baseball that is designed as a youth-oriented event aiming to get high school-age players, with diverse backgrounds, to the next levels of the sport. The joint MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation will cover all operations expenses, allowing the event to be entirely cost-free for all participants. Approximately 250 baseball players (boys, ages 13-18) from across the United States will receive elite-level training from former Major League players and coaches at Historic Dodgertown. As a new element of the event in 2019, the top 44 players from the Hank Aaron Invitational will be invited to play in a special showcase game at SunTrust Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves, as part of an extensive “Hank Aaron Week” hosted by the Braves. Hank Aaron Week will include a variety of diversity- and culture-focused initiatives focusing on business networking, nostalgic history connected to Aaron’s legacy, philanthropy, education and social justice.

• Hank Aaron Invitational, Ages 13-15 (July 21-26) - At Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida
• Hank Aaron Invitational, Ages 16-18 (July 27-August 2) - At Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida
• Hank Aaron Invitational 44 (August 3-4) - At SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia

Girls Baseball

For the third consecutive year, MLB and USA Baseball have created programming to infuse growth in the area of girls playing baseball with “MLB Grit,” a new high school baseball tournament that will be held at Globe Life Park, the home of the Texas Rangers, and the Rangers MLB Youth Academy in Dallas. Young women from around the U.S., ages 18 and under, will be part of this new experience, which joins the returning Trailblazer Series and Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series.

The Trailblazer Series is returning to the greater Los Angeles area in connection with Jackie Robinson Day, which is celebrated throughout MLB on April 15. The Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series is part of the larger network of diversity-focused, amateur development camps operated largely by MLB, USA Baseball and USA Softball. The event serves as an opportunity for on-field development as well as a scouting showcase for dozens of girls, ages 17 and under, from around the country for the Women’s National Team trials operated by USA Baseball.

• &”MLB Grit” Girls Baseball High School Invitational (March 7-10) - At Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas and the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy in Dallas, Texas
• Trailblazer Series (April 12-15) - At the Compton MLB Youth Academy
• Breakthrough Series Girls Baseball (June 14-18) - At Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida

In-School - Fun At Bat

More than one million students in all 50 States and Washington D.C. will participate in Fun At Bat, a bat and ball program for all children created for use in elementary school P.E. classes as an introductory, modified bat-and-ball program for young students, ages 4-10. The overarching goal of this program, which is part of the PLAY BALL initiative, is to promote fun and active lifestyles for children, while teaching them the fundamental skills of bat and ball sports. The program also includes a literacy component and teaches character traits such as leadership, teamwork and fair play. All provided program materials are available in English and Spanish.

College & High School Focused Programs and RBI Tournaments

In celebration of College Baseball’s Opening Weekend, MLB will host two collegiate baseball tournaments featuring a total of 12 teams participating in two separate events – the returning “Andre Dawson Classic” and inaugural “MLB4.”

From Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17, MLB will host the Andre Dawson Classic at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy and Maestri Field at the University of New Orleans. The event, which is named after the Chicago Cubs/Montreal Expos legend who is one of only two HBCU baseball-playing alumni enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is designed to highlight Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and their baseball programs. The 2019 edition of the event, formerly known as the “Urban Invitational,” will feature eight collegiate baseball teams, seven of which are from HBCU programs, including Dawson’s alma mater (Florida A&M University). These teams include the Alcorn State University Braves (HBCU), Alabama State University Hornets (HBCU), University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff Golden Lions (HBCU), Grambling State University Tigers (HBCU), Prairie View A&M University Panthers (HBCU), Eastern Kentucky University Colonels, Florida A&M University Rattlers (HBCU), and Southern University Jaguars (HBCU). MLB Network will air the contest between Eastern Kentucky and Florida A&M on Saturday, February 16th, LIVE at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The new MLB4 tournament is a collegiate baseball showcase event featuring some of the best programs in the nation, including the Vanderbilt University Commodores (Vanderbilt), University of Virginia Cavaliers (Virginia), Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (TCU), and California State University, Fullerton Titans (Cal State Fullerton). The inaugural MLB4 is also scheduled that same weekend (February 15-17) and will be located at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., the shared Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. MLB Network will air the contest between Vanderbilt and Virginia on Friday, February 15, LIVE at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Separately, celebrating the high school ranks of the game will also be a central function of the Baseball & Softball Development agenda for MLB in 2019.

In June, will launch the new Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League, a premier development and showcase experience for dozens of high school baseball prospects based in the United States. The PDP League, which will be held from mid-June through early-July at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is an invitation-based development opportunity for approximately 80 of the top high school baseball players ahead of the 2020 MLB Draft. It will include competitive game play, practice & training sessions with MLB Club representatives serving as on-field coaches, and evaluation using modern technologies tailoring individualized development curriculums for each player. The PDP League will serve as a primary identification opportunity for the USA Baseball 18U National Team, slated to compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea. Additionally, the League will serve as a feeder for a new All-Star Week showcase game for the best high school baseball players, designed in a similar style to the existing SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

In September, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball will host the second annual States Play, a high school baseball tournament to showcase some of the best rising seniors from two states that historically produce a high volume of collegiate and professional players. This year’s event will feature players from Florida and Georgia and will be hosted in Miami, Florida.

Beginning in June, MLB will host the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Regional Tournaments, which features more than 100 RBI teams from cities all around the world competing for a berth in the RBI World Series, which will be held in Vero Beach, Florida in August. Regional tournaments are situated in seven regions throughout the United States and one World Region. The cities hosting RBI Regionals include Atlanta, GA (Southeast), Austin, TX (Southwest), Durham, NC (Mid-Atlantic), Indianapolis, IN (Central), Los Angeles, CA (West), Springfield, MA (Northeast), and Vero Beach, FL (World).

2019 MLB All-Star Week in Cleveland, Ohio

MLB will once again launch a full schedule of activities during MLB All-Star Week featuring various youth & fan engagement efforts throughout Cleveland in July. These include PLAY BALL Park, the Commissioner’s Cup & Jennie Finch Classic tournaments featuring baseball and softball teams from MLB Youth Academies around the country and in Puerto Rico, the Pitch, Hit & Run and Jr. Home Run Derby skills competitions, and High School Home Run Derby, and much more.

2019 MLB Little League Classic

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs will play in the third MLB Little League Classic presented by GEICO in Williamsport, Pa. during the 2019 MLB Championship Season. The special Regular Season contest, as well as ancillary activities by each club, will take place on Sunday, August 18th, with the game airing nationally that evening on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” and ESPN Radio at 7:00 p.m. (ET). The Little League Classic, along with the June 13th match-up between the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers in Omaha, Nebraska, will make up the new GEICO Summer Series.

Read more: MLB



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