The Freeport News - Grand Bahamian Ali Knowles, a Legacy Baseball League product, made the top 300 cut out of 7,000 prospects who attended the prestigious 2009 Under Armour Pre-Season All-America Tournament, which was held this past weekend in Tucson, Arizona.
The tournament was conducted by Baseball Factory. Knowles' accomplishment is historic seeing that he is the first Bahamian selected by Baseball Factory as an All-American. The historic achievement is undoubtedly the pinnacle of his young baseball career thus far.
The North Carolina based pitcher, who is a senior at Christ High School, and the other 299 prospects used the tournament to showcase their skills to American college and Major League Baseball (MLB) scouts.
As the only Bahamian and Caribbean representative in Arizona this past weekend, Knowles went up up against players from 37 American states in addition to Puerto Rico, British Colombia and Canada.
Knowles' participation in the tournament gave it the largest international representation in the history of the event.
Along with the international flare, this event was considered to be the largest event from a player's standpoint in Baseball Factory's history.
Baseball Factory has helped over 25,000 players go on to play in a college baseball program. Throughout its 15-year history, over 2,000 players were drafted and over 215 play in the majors.
Knowles was afforded the opportunity to attend the tournament after attracting the attention of Jim Gemler and Justin Roswell from Team One and Baseball Factory.
They held a recruitment service in New Providence late last year, which was hosted by The Bahamas Baseball Federation.
It has been a long trek for Knowles. He was one of the first members of the Grand Bahama based Legacy Baseball League which began a few years ago. Ali Knowles' father, Patrick Knowles, highlighted the magnitude of his son's selection as one of the top 300 players.
"I was his coach from when he was seven or eight years old until he went off to school to play baseball," said the elder Knowles.
"Being selected is a big deal as it speaks wonders of Bahamian baseball development. Ali's accomplishment, progress and selection demonstrate to North America that not only do we have great professional baseball players playing in the United States (U.S.), but we also have some good young players who are coming up."
Patrick Knowles further noted that Ali is also very focused on academics and looks forward to playing for a university that suits him and his needs.
"He knows that no matter how great you are on the field, if your academics aren't up to par then nothing is going to happen," said Patrick Knowles.
The Knowles' family is considering a career in Major League Baseball should the opportunity arise for Ali to play professionally.
The MLB Draft is set to be held in June. Currently, several Bahamians play pro or semi-pro baseball such as Angelo Burrows, Albert Cartwright and Antoan Richardson.
"If someone sees him, follows him throughout the spring and gives him an overwhelming response, then that would be something Ali would have to consider.
"However, Ali gave me a clear indication of where his focus is. We both agree that the best choice would be to attend university," said the elder Knowles.