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King P Brett Morales and Gaither SS Oscar Mercado were selected Thursday for the Perfect Game All-American Classic, marking the fifth consecutive year Hillsborough County will be represented in baseball’s premier showcase for rising seniors. This year’s game will be Aug. 12 at Petco Park in San Diego.
Morales, a Florida commit, wowed at June’s Perfect Game National Showcase with his changeup, which complements his 90-92 mph fastball.
“Morales is probably one of the best arms we’ve seen so far,” Ben Collman, Perfect Game’s scouting coordinator, said at the Minneapolis showcase. “That changeup. For me, that’s the best off-speed pitch we’ve seen so far: 78-80 mph with great arm action on it. We also saw a curveball at 74 mph. I’d say he’s probably my favorite arm of the showcase so far.”
A second-team all-county selection, Morales recorded a 0.99 ERA in 49.1 innings, striking out 58 while walking 14. Out of necessity, he filled in at second base after a teammate was suspended in the middle of the season and he hit .293 with seven doubles, a triple, home run and 15 RBIs.
Mercado, ranked the No. 3 prospect in the nation by Perfect Game and a Florida State commit, was a first-team all-county selection, hitting .370 with 29 RBIs. He projects as a top infielder in next year’s draft, though, because of his fielding.
“Mercado is the type of player that makes the game look incredibly easy, displaying silky smooth defensive actions as part of the morning's infield drills,” Perfect Game’s Patrick Ebert wrote on the first day of last month’s showcase.
Morales is the second King player to be selected in as many years, following 1B Keon Barnum, a supplemental first-round pick in the 2012 MLB draft. The area’s top draft pick, former Jesuit P Lance McCullers, also played in last year’s game. Additional past Hillsborough County participants include Alonso’s Jose Fernandez (2010), Tampa Catholic’s Shane Rowland (2009), Plant’s Mychal Givens (2008), Riverview’s Anthony Ferrara (2007) and Hillsborough’s Michael Burgess (2006).