While the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs were among the hundreds of professional baseball teams that were unable to take the field for a single game last summer as the coronavirus pandemic raged on, the local independent club will be among those seeking to enhance its roster for the upcoming 2021 season.
Just before Christmas the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and Prospect Dugout announced plans for the spring Professional Baseball Tryout Camp. This year’s event will be held at the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera, Fla., from Friday, March 19, to Sunday, March 21. Over the previous two years nearly 60 contracts were awarded during those events.
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs manager Stan Cliburn attended the previous two editions of the tryout camp, and the former major league catcher with the California Angels has already made plans to attend the next renewal in two months time.
“Each year that is always one of those events that I make a point to attend,” Cliburn said. “There are a lot of potential players there that can certainly help our ball club. Craig Maddox does a great job with Prospect Dugout and I will definitely look to sign a few guys there. It’s a good three days, scouting players and interacting with other major league coaches and scouts.”
“Our professional tryouts with Prospect Dugout have been extremely successful connecting our clubs and coaches with talented players who might not have otherwise made their way to the Atlantic League,” said ALPB President Rick White. “We are thrilled to announce our 2021 player showcase tryouts and we are already looking forward to evaluating another large number of highly qualified professional prospects as we gear up for the return of Atlantic League baseball in 2021.”
In addition to MLB scouts and ALPB coaches, associates from other official professional MLB Partner Leagues will be on hand at the USSSA Space Coast Complex to observe, evaluate and offer professional playing contracts to qualified players. The Atlantic League has sent nearly 1,000 players to MLB organizations over the past 24 years, and the ALPB is the first Professional Partner League of Major League Baseball.
“Our goal is to provide players with the best possible opportunity to get back into pro ball or sign their first professional contract,” said Prospect Dugout CEO and former Atlantic League player/coach Craig Maddox. “With 2020 being tough on the baseball landscape, we are excited to help those players that it affected. Over the past two years, 56 players that attended our tryouts went to on to earn an opportunity to continue their careers with a professional contract. We look to seeing the talent pool that will be at this year’s event.”
Cliburn, who has also been tabbed as the on-site program coordinator for the upcoming California Winter League in Palm Springs, at one time the home of the Angels’ spring training camp, simply looked forward to the outset of the 2021 ALPB season.
“It was disappointing not to be able to have a season this past year,” Cliburn said. “It was my first year without baseball in almost 50 years. Once they finalize the schedule then I know everyone will start to get excited about getting the season going.”