“They normally just play in regional tournaments and they always do well in those so I think this was kind of exciting for them to be on a bigger stage,” Bliven said. “I knew that they could compete and I think that their kids knew once they stepped on the field that they could compete with anyone in this tournament.”

It hasn’t exactly been overnight, but ACE’s development has been quick, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. 2018 graduate Alek Thomas plays for ACE, and he’s established himself as a potential early draft pick with a strong showing against elite competition so far this summer.

ACE players practice four to five days per week in the winter. The program rents an indoor facility in the southern suburbs of Chicago where players can hit and take ground balls. The players also have access to a weight room, and in the fall they work on ACT prep.

Coe says the program has had several players score high on the ACT, with some prospects scoring as high as 28s and 30s. For context, a 28 on the ACT is in the 90th percentile of all of those who take the test. College coaches like recruiting players with good test scores and good grades because their institutions can often provide more in the way of academic scholarships to supplement athletic scholarships.

Ten years after its inception, the ACE program is still developing; Coe hopes that they’ll someday be able to provide a facility where ACE players can go on a daily basis. But the ACE program is well on its way. It’s a well-oiled machine, competing on the national stage and churning out top prospects with regularity.