Prep baseball: Trio of Broncos off to Area Code Games
By Michael Bower
Only the top prep baseball players from around the country are invited to play in the prestigious Area Code Games in Long Beach.
Rancho Bernardo High will have three off its roster on display at the eight-team showcase at Blair Field from August 5 – 10.
Infielder Gosuke Katoh, catcher Alex Jackson and right-handed pitcher Parker Bugg were all selected to compete for the Milwaukee Brewers in the Area Code Games, which is played in front of hundreds of scouts and has produced over 500 MLB players since its beginning in 1986.
Bugg and Katoh will be seniors at Rancho Bernardo in the fall, while Jackson will be a junior. All three have been instrumental to the Broncos’ recent success on the diamond and all three will be making their first appearance in the Area Code Games.
“I was invited last year, but just didn’t have the time,” said Katoh, who will also be playing in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park on Aug. 12. “It is going to be a lot of fun playing against the best players in my class.”
The UCLA-bound Katoh has been traveling the country playing baseball non-stop this summer. The left-handed hitter hit .355 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs for the Broncos last season. He increased his home run total by eight, but knows scouts still want to see more pop.
“They definitely want me to work on my power,” Katoh said. “It is getting there, but they still want more. In college, I will be more of a leadoff or No. 2 hitter. But they would still like me to have more pop even if I hit leadoff.”
Bugg has also spent the majority of his summer playing baseball around the country. The 6-foot, 5-inch, 200-pounder consistently throws in the upper-80s and has a solid changeup and curveball. Being invited to play in the Area Code Games is an eye-opener for Bugg.
“I have worked very hard the last three or four years and now it just shows that I am competitive and good on a top-notch scale,” said Bugg, who had a 2.28 ERA and struck out 49 batters over 58-plus innings for Rancho Bernardo last season. “We are playing some of the best high school players from across the nation. It will be a good test for me. It will be a chance to see what I am made of.”
Jackson is the youngest star of the group, but at 6-2, 215-pounds he gets plenty of attention with his build alone. Watch him take a few swings at the plate and it won’t take long to realize he deserves it.
The right-handed hitter was named the Cal-Hi Sports Sophomore State Player of the Year after hitting .400 with 17 home runs and 36 RBIs this past season. He also has a strong arm behind the plate.
The trio of Broncos should be comfortable having each other around in the dugout. But all three of them know plenty of other players that will be there through summer ball.
“I know a lot of the guys and the talent level is amazing,” Jackson said. “To be able to go out there and play with them is going to be a lot of fun.”
When the Area Code Games first began, the top players were put together on teams based off their telephone area codes and it was a small regional event in Northern California.
The event has since expanded to include the entire country. Players now tryout to be on one of eight MLB-run regional Area Code teams. The Brewers are the Southern California representative at this year’s Area Code Games.
- Prep baseball: Rancho Bernardo High’s Katoh selected to play in Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park
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