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Star high school baseball players sharpen skills at Breakthrough Series in Vero Beach

11-year MLB veteran Denard Span helping train players
Posted at 11:00 AM, Jun 10, 2024

VERO BEACH, Fla. — For the 16th year, 80 top baseball players nationwide converged in Vero Beach for the Breakthrough Series, a one-of-a-kind event that stands as a testament to its prestige and unique approach to player development.

The Jackie Robinson Training Complex has hosted some of the most prestigious amateur baseball tournaments, providing a platform for the top young players to showcase their skills on big-league fields.

The presence of former big leaguers serving as mentors and coaches adds a unique dimension to the event, benefiting the individual players and contributing to the overall development of the sport.

Rashad Hayes speaks about is love for baseball as he prepares to attend Stanford.
Rashad Hayes speaks about is love for baseball as he prepares to attend Stanford.

"I always tell myself to calm down, and I always tell myself to breathe so I can never tense up. If you're tense, you can't play at your best, so I always try to stay relaxed, and it's a kid's game. I just want to play the game I love and have fun," Rashad Hayes, a 16-year-old Oakland native and class of 2025 infielder, said.

He is committed to Stanford and credits three Breakthrough Series he's attended for his high school and college development. His journey is a testament to the event's impact on individual players.

The Breakthrough Series allows elite high school baseball players to sharpen their skills from former stars like retired 11-year MLB veteran Denard Span.

"It's a blessing to be here and get this opportunity to be able to pour into the young men that are here," Span said.

Denard Span, who played Major League Baseball for 11 seasons, speaks to WPTV reporter Kendall Hyde about coaching some of the best high school players in the U.S.
Denard Span, who played Major League Baseball for 11 seasons, speaks to WPTV reporter Kendall Hyde about coaching some of the best high school players in the U.S.

Span, who last played in the big leagues in 2018, said events like the Breakthrough Series serve as a full-circle moment for him.

"When I first put eyes on these guys, it reminded me of being 16 and 17 years old with the dream of becoming a major league baseball player. It's been a blast," Span said.

"Being out here, does it ever give you that itch to get back out here?" WPTV reporter Kendall Hyde asked.

"No, I'm not even going to lie. When I decided to retire, I emptied the clip, but it's nice to be out here if you get that itch," Span said.

The former MLB player who has coached Hayes and another 2025 standout, first baseman and pitcher Josiah Haslem from Southwest Ranches.

Haslem attended the event for the first time and expressed how the advice from former big leaguers is invaluable.

"It's been great," Haslem said. "I haven't really been able to have many experiences like this. I've been to camps but not able to experience how the coaches have the people I've been around and the bonds I've created with the players. I haven't really experienced anything like that."