CLEVELAND — The MLB All-Star festivities officially kick off Friday, but some potential future all-stars have already hit the field.
More than 300 teenage baseball and softball players from across the country will battle it out to prove they're the best team around in the Jennie Finch Classic at Cleveland's Historic League Park.
They are all part of the Major League Baseball Academy. This MLB sponsored program has teams all across the country and they've picked the best of the best to come to the All-Star game for the tournament.
They were hand selected from places like Harlem, NY, Puerto Rico, Texas and New Orleans.
"I plan on winning every game," said New Orleans rising Junior Jardy Montgomery.
The 13-17 year olds that make up 10 softball and nine baseball teams, not only play in the tournament, they're also invited to lots of All-Star weekend activities including the Home Run Derby.
"Last year it was really fun cause we got to see all the big players and the home run derby was really exciting with Bryce Harper winning it and this year I'm excited to see all the new faces and the superstars, where I want to be," said Jardy.
"I'm very honored because you don't really see a lot of people, a lot of girls that look like me from Harlem from back home like traveling, getting this experience with the help of MLB," said rising senior and short stop Darlene De La Cruz.
Darlene says she's eternally grateful for the program.
"They expose me to great coaches, great people and I feel like the network helped me a lot because I made great connections and I'm still friends with people today," she said.
The Youth Academy games start Friday and the championship match happens Monday.
"We've seen kids that come from pretty tough places that end up going to college or being interns or becoming police officers or becoming major league players," said Tony Reagins from the MLB. "That's what its about just creating the opportunity, this is the stepping stone top greater things."