The tryouts for the Area Code Games, a summer baseball showcase, feature some of the best prep baseball players in Southern California, but even in the cream of the crop, there is variation.
There are players who could someday be a first-round pick in the MLB Draft. There are players who could go on to have successful college careers. And then there are players like Valencia’s Grant Weiss and Canyon’s Jace Root who are still fishing for a school to commit to.
Fortunately for the pair, there are scouts and coaches abound at the Area Code Games tryouts. While there is a chance they won’t make the cut for the games themselves, there is a chance they could be recognized.
“If you’re invited, the scouts know you have talent or potential,” Root said. “So the tryout is almost more important than making the team because it gives you a chance to have all eyes on you and try to make the best as you can be and how you’re on top of your game.”
Root, a pitcher, had a brief window to impress those in attendance, in afternoon intrasquad scrimmages at the tryouts,
He faced around three batters, meaning he didn’t have much time to showcase all of the pitches in his arsenal.
“The first guy, I’d use my fastball a little bit and if I got to two strikes, a secondary pitch and then I would show I can throw my secondary pitches for a strike on 1-0 counts before throwing a fastball and I would just mix it up from there,” he said.
Weiss, a catcher, said that pitching is one of the most challenging parts of playing in the Area Code Games scrimmages and that most scrimmages so far have only had around three hits per game.
However, he said being with fellow Foothill League players helps alleviate some of the pressure. In addition to Root, Valencia’s Ryan Kysar and Jakob Marquez are at the tryouts as well as Hart’s Daniel Parra and Isaac Kim.
“(It’s) like we’re just playing out on the field at Valencia,” Weiss said. “I told Ryan, ‘If I face you in the tryout, you better give me a fastball.’ So he said ‘Okay,’ and we shook hands. That’s the stuff that makes it fun.”
Weiss and Root made it through the first round of tryouts, which were on July 8 and 9. Today, they’ll be in the second and final round of tryouts before the final roster is decided.
Root has been focused on being rested and healthy for today’s tryout, while Weiss said he felt grounded defensively in the first round and is working on getting his pop time down at catcher.
“If it goes well it goes well,” Weiss said. “If it doesn’t, there’s always another day in baseball.”