Major League Baseball and USA Baseball announced on Tuesday the inaugural "Dream Series," an event designed to provide both exposure and developmental opportunities to a diverse group of high school pitchers and catchers from across the nation.
The Dream Series will take place at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Arizona this coming weekend, kicking off another year of diversity-focused amateur events in 2017. The series joins the Breakthrough Series and Elite Developmental Invitational, which are both designed to benefit minority high school players throughout the country.
The Dream Series is not simply a showcase. Players will have access to elite coaching. The camp's pitching coaches will be former big leaguers Dave Stewart, Marvin Freeman, LaTroy Hawkins, Kenny Hill and Darren Oliver. Working with the catchers will be Bob Didier, Charles Johnson and Lenny Webster. Homer Bush and Marquis Grissom will serve as the camp's hitting coaches. Former White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel will serve as the camp's head field coordinator. Player evaluations will be led and compiled by former minor league player, executive and scout Reggie Waller as well as Twins pro scout Greg Orr.
The field of players at the inaugural Dream Series is sure to draw scouts. Headlining the roster is Notre Dame High (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) two-way senior Hunter Greene. Greene has long been involved with MLB's Urban Youth Academy in Southern California. He is a candidate to be the first overall pick in the 2017 draft.
While Greene is the best-known player on the roster, he is far from the only 2017 draft prospect scouts will want to see at the Dream Series. Catcher Cordell Dunn Jr. (Center Hill High, Olive Branch, Miss.) is a quick-twitch athlete who showed off tools for scouts last summer. Lefthander Marlin Willis (McEachern High, Powder Springs, Ga.) has excellent size and a projectable frame, and he could elevate his stock if he shows additional strength this weekend.
The series will also feature some prominent underclassmen, including athletic junior righthander Allen Stinson (Hattiesburg (Miss.) High) and high-waisted, ultra-projectable junior righthander Elijah Pleasants (Rossview High, Clarksville, Tenn.).
This weekend's series is the beginning of an emboldened initiative from MLB and USA Baseball to provide exposure and instruction to minority players throughout the calendar year.
Additional events in 2017 include Breakthrough Series camps in Chicago (June 20-25), Compton, Calif. (June 27-July 1), and Bradenton, Fla. (June 27-July 1). MLB and USA Softball will also has a softball-specific Breakthrough Series camp in Oklahoma City (June 11-15). Finally, the third annual Elite Development Invitational will take place at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., from July 13-Aug. 2. This event will serve more than 300 players, including women's softball players for the first time.
Activities at these camps, which are free for participants, will focus on baseball and softball training from former professional players and coaches. Participants will also engage in mandatory study sessions and receive presentations on a variety of off-field topics geared toward preparing them for the next stages of their baseball and academic careers. Staff from USA Baseball, including Sean Campbell (Senior Director of Sport Development, USA Baseball) and Destinee Martinez (Event Coordinator, USA Softball), will assist in the instruction.
Approximately 140 previous participants of the Breakthrough Series have been selected in the MLB Draft, including 40 in the past two drafts.