V.I. Future Stars garner prep, college, pro interest

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Future Stars baseball team had its most successful Florida Showcase in the six-year history of the trip. The team finished undefeated last week with a 4-0-2 record against top prep teams across Florida.

"That's the first time we've done that," Future Stars President Darren Canton said. "Talent-wise, it's the best team we've ever competed with in Florida."

Canton said nine players drew interest from prep, college and professional scouts who attended the team's showcase workout and six games.

During a 7-7 tie with United States high school powerhouse American Heritage Academy, two Future Stars impressed opposing coach Bruce Aven. Ivanna Eudora Kean High School junior pitcher Emari Mills and St. Croix Educational Complex junior infielder Jose Martinez may be joining Aven at American Heritage in Plantation, Fla.

"Coach was very intrigued," Canton said. "The instruction they'd get is great, and those are the situations we want for our kids."

Aven is a former Major League outfielder who played for four teams in the late 1990's and early 2000's.

"After that game, we gained a lot of respect and the word traveled very quickly over the next couple days around Florida," Canton said.

Mills delivered the team's standout performance of the trip when he gave up no hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 7-1 win over Fort Lauderdale's University High School.

"From that game, he received pro interest and interest from several colleges," Canton said. "Nobody expected that from him being a younger player."

Canton said Mills and Martinez drew interest from the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays. St. Croix Central High School graduate Shakeel Newton received interest from the Colorado Rockies.

Canton will be working closely with Brooklyn, N.Y., native and Future Stars player Esteban Gomez, who may sign a free agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, the San Diego Padres or the Seattle Mariners. The Future Stars added Gomez on a recommendation from the 2011 high school graduate's coach, who is an acquaintance of Canton.

Nine players caught the eye of at least one scout, and all of the Future Stars will get another chance to impress at the V.I. Future Stars' Scout Day on Jan. 22 at Lionel Roberts Stadium. Canton expects scouts from as many as 20 professional teams.

"I want to give recognition to our head coaches, Jason Read and Kellen St. Luce," Canton said. "A job well done by them."

The V.I. Future Stars organization holds showcase events to help the top talent in the territory, Tortola and other locations play in front of college and professional scouts. For more information, visit vifuturestars.com.

- Contact Tim Chapman at 714-9102 or tchapman@dailynews.vi.

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