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Brice Turang, Blake Burzell Set For Perfect Game Showcase In San Diego

Left to right, Tony Gwynn Jr., Blake Burzell, Brice Turang, Brad Clement (Perfect Game CEO), David Gallegos (West coach) (Photo by Kirk Kenney)

SAN DIEGO—The 2017 Perfect Game All-American Classic is the latest in a string of national showcase events for Santiago High (Corona, Calif.) shortstop Brice Turang.

For Laguna Beach (Calif.) High righthander Blake Burzell, it’s more of a coming-out party.

Turang and Burzell joined Perfect Game officials on Friday to announce the 15th annual Classic on Aug. 13.

When the game is played at San Diego’s Petco Park, Turang will be taking the field at his fifth major league ballpark.

National exposure for the lefthanded-hitting Turang dates back three years, with his appearance on the USA 15U National Team. Turang said he appreciates each and every opportunity.

“Everything I do is special,” he said. “You can never take it for granted because this only happens once in a lifetime thing. Some people never get the chance to do it, and I’m very excited for the chance to play in it.”

Excuse Burzell for being late to the party. To this point, his national exposure has been indoors, where he has traveled the country playing basketball.

“My dad got me on some real good travel teams,” said Burzell, whose experiences on the court provide extra incentive when he takes the mound.

“In basketball, I played around the country and usually the East Coast teams think all the Cali boys are pretty soft,” he said. “It’s good to go out there and show them what we can do and kick their butts. . . . I want to prove to everyone that California boys can throw heat and beat anyone.”

Always tall for his age, the 6-foot-6 Burzell has been preoccupied with basketball, where he averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds a game this past season for Laguna Beach. He broke the school’s career scoring record in midseason.

He then went 7-0, 3.11 with 62 strikeouts in 56.1 innings while flashing a mid-90s fastball.

Burzell plans to play both sports his senior year, although he acknowledged that his focus has shifted to baseball.

“I kind of knew baseball was going to be my thing, pitching and everything, but I wanted to see how far basketball would take me,” Burzell said. “I just started focusing on getting stronger and throwing harder and kind of blossomed in the past couple of months.”

Burzell touched 94 mph in a recent Perfect Game event. It was at a regional event last September when he first opened some eyes. His fastball touched 91 and he said he struck out nine batters over three innings.

“I haven’t been to any national events, so this is going to be a huge game for me,” Burzell said. “I’m really happy and blessed to come out here and show what I can do.”

Burzell and Turang were joined at the Perfect Game announcement by Eastlake High (Chula Vista, Calif.) coach David Gallegos, who recently guided his team to a CIF-San Diego Section championship and a county-record 32 victories. Gallegos will coach the West team in the event.

Full rosters for the East and West squads will be announced on July 11. If traditions holds, the lineups will be loaded with future first-round picks on the road to the majors.

In the Classic’s 14-year history, it has produced 188 first-round draft picks, eight of them being selected in last week’s draft. JSerra Catholic High’s Royce Lewis, Notre Dame High righthander Hunter Greene and Whiteville (N.C.) High lefthander MacKenzie Gore—all of whom played in the 2016 game—went an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the draft.

So far, 139 participants in the Classic have reached the major leagues.

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