July 4, 2010 at 2:04 a.m.
Collegiate summer league All-Star games have a reputation as showcases for scouts, a place where major league talent seekers hunt for professional potential.
And Monday's Texas Collegiate League All-Star Game, set to start at 7 p.m. with festivities beginning at Riverside Stadium at 5:30 p.m., is no different.
Eight members of the Victoria Generals, now ranked 26th nationally by Perfect Game CrossChecker, will get a chance to show off their skills.
Scouts for major league teams have been following the Generals, particularly those for the Atlanta Braves, who have been following relief pitcher Ryan Turner. The Braves selected Turner in the 49th round of this year's MLB Draft, 1,184 overall.
Generals general manager Blake Koch said several scouts have contacted him about attending the game and asking about the schedule, and he's expecting a good turnout from the scouting community.
"I've already fielded a couple phone calls from scouts in the area," he said. "They've contacted me, and it will definitely be a decent turnout."
The league's president, Uri Geva, said he was expecting 20 to 25 professional scouts at the all-star game to watch. It's the first time the league has held one in two years, since the TCL hadn't been large enough to hold one in the previous years.
"Having the All-Star game back after a few years is a huge plus and is a huge testament to how great Victoria is," he said. "I know the scouts are really excited about it, and that's what we're about: Showcasing the best talent in this league from the first half."
The Texas Collegiate League recently signed a deal with the Texas Scouts Association, which represents major league scouts throughout Texas and Oklahoma.
Geva said that the deal is all about helping to attract better talent to the league.
"We're really dependent on those scouts in order to continue to improve our quality," he said. "If we have these major league scouts at our ballpark, at that point, we get better players to come play for us. With better players, there's a more likely chance of players making it to the majors."
The deal grew out of the league's sponsorship of an annual golf tournament the scouts association holds to help other scouts with financial issues.
"Once we found out about this opportunity to sponsor that event, we started talking about the larger concept of how do we work stronger together, and that's how this agreement took shape," Geva said.
Koch said the deal is mutually beneficial, and will help TCL players, who are working toward the ultimate goal of getting drafted by the major leagues, get seen by more professional scouts.
"It's kind of one of those deals where we pat each other on the back," Koch said. "Our league will help them out and they will help us out, of course, by showing up to our games. This league hasn't had too much of a problem so far producing major-league quality talent since several former players are already in the major leagues.
"It's a sign of good things to come," he added.
Plans to expand the TCL have been discussed during the season, Koch said, but no real decision has been made.
"I don't know if anything will be done before the season is over, but I would expect an announcement," he said.
Koch said that expansion could be as many as three teams.
"I've definitely heard of two or three cities in the mix," he said. "There's always interest. There's interest every year and there's talk every year, it's just a matter of if someone is going to go through with it.
"With the state the league is in, with it being as low as four teams and now back up to seven, it's definitely shown that it's on the up and up."
The league expanded from five to seven teams after the 2009 season, adding the expansion Texas Tomcats in Weimar and the Alexandria Aces, which had been playing independent professional baseball team before making the move to the TCL.