Starting this week the 2011 Area Code Baseball Tryouts will begin. The process starts with approximately 3,000 players, nationwide, attending one of 21 regional tryouts. There are eight MLB teams this year bringing eight regional teams: Milwaukee Brewers (Southern California), Oakland Athletics (Northern California), Kansas City Royals (Northwest), Cincinnati Reds (Four Corners/Hawaii), Chicago White Sox (Midwest), Washington Nationals (Southeast) and the New York Yankees (Northeast).
For the Royals it is the first time since 1998 that they will have a team in the Area Code Games, and the last time they had a team, Albert Pujols played on it. Yes, there is a photo of him in a Royals jersey.
Many times we asked players what they thought of the process and what it's like playing in the games. More times than not, they all said it was like a job interview. Great choice of words because at the MLB Players' Symposium some of the scouts told the players and parents that they view that week as a beginning of an interview process. Starts in August and ends with the MLB Draft the following June.
In the 2011 MLB Draft, UCLA's Gerrit Cole went No. 1 overall. As far as Area Code is concerned he became the ninth player in the event's history to be selected No. 1. He joins Phil Nevin (1995), Pat Burrell (1998), Adrian Gonzalez (2000), Delmon Young (2003), Matt Bush (2004), Justin Upton (2005), Tim Beckham (2008) and Bryce Harper (2010), all went at the top spot overall.
This is the 25th year of the event, which makes it the Silver Anniversary. There have been some great players to play in Long Beach, where the event has been held since 1998. If you have never been to Blair Field, it is the current home to Long Beach State and it is a big park, with the Southern California marine layer making the air a little heavy at times. Add that to the players using wood bats and the pitchers have an advantage.
To conlude, from these 3,000 players the final number (in August) be around 210. We know this, the final group of players in Long Beach will have an opportunity to perform in front of 300 plus scouts from every team plus the MLB Scouting Bureau. Don't forget the college coaches in attendance, too.
It all starts on June 11 and will come to an end on August 10. What an exciting couple of months we have in store.