The Hank Aaron Invitational is a two-week baseball extravaganza camp held from July 17- 30 at Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida. It’s operated by MLB, the MLBPA and USA Baseball. Approximately 250 Black and brown players (ages 13-18) from across the United States receive elite-level training from former Major League players and coaches.
Instructors include former Major League manager Jerry Manuel and former All-Stars such as Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., his dad Ken Griffey Sr, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, Tom “Flash” Gordon, Marquis Grissom, Reggie Smith, Luis Alicea, Willie Banks, Lou Collier, Eric Davis, Marvin Freeman, Charles Johnson, Pat Mahomes Sr, among others.
Bo Porter, a former MLB player, manager, coach, executive, and Washington Nationals announcer is also one of the instructors. Porter currently serves as MLB’s Director of Coaching Development.
In the spirit of the Hank Aaron Invitational and its commitment to leveling out the playing field for minority athletes, Porter has an academy that opened out of Texas in 2021 called Bo Porter’s Future All-Stars Sports Development Academy. Former Olympic gold medalist and 15-year minor league pro, John Cotton, is Director of Baseball Operations for the academy.
The goal of the facility is to inspire student-athletes and future MLBbros to achieve whole-person development, educating and advising parents, and empowering educators and coaches to become transformational leaders.
Da Gambler caught up with these baseball lifers as they evaluated talent at the Hank Aaron Invitational this past week.
If you’re searching for the best Black baseball talent of today and the future, look no further than the Hank Aaron Invitational in Vero Beach, Florida, named after the greatest home run hitter to ever grace the diamond.
With Aaron’s unfortunate passing in January of 2021 and Black players being systemically eliminated from the game, the Invitational bearing Aaron’s name has become more impactful, important and necessary than ever.
“I’m humbled to have this program named in my honor and thrilled the showcase game will be played at SunTrust Park,” said Aaron, a few years before his passing, about the event which was originally called the Elite Invitational, “I applaud MLB and the Braves in their efforts to continue to assist with outreach so that opportunities are available to all.”
The Invitational currently has more than 100 alumni either playing in MLB, Club Minor League systems, or on the collegiate level.
Thursday completes Week 1 of the Hank Aaron Invitational, where 100 diverse amateur baseball athletes from over 17 states come to the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, in Vero Beach for a Black baseball extravaganza.
The first week of the amateur development camp began on Sunday, July 18. The event provides training and instruction from former Major League Players, coaches, and baseball executives for Black and brown ballers in the 2024 and 2025 graduating High School classes.
The week also includes special guest presentations and addresses. The Hank Aaron Invitational was created and developed by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation (a joint initiative by MLB and MLBPA) to support efforts that focus on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and internationally.
Following is a list of former MLB and MiLB players and coaches who will serve as instructors at the event. The wealth of knowledge is unrivaled by any developmental program in the country.
Former MLB Players as On-Field Coaches
Ken Griffey, Sr.
Former MiLB Players, Managers, Coaches & Executives
Tony Reagins, MLB Chief Baseball Development Officer
Del Matthews, MLB Vice President of Baseball Development
Dave Winfield, MLBPA Special Advisor to the Executive Director
Jeffrey Hammonds, MLBPA Associate Director, Player Programs, and Initiatives
Leonor Colon, MLBPA Senior Director, International and Domestic Player Operations
Bo Porter, MLB Consultant on Coaching Development
Gregor Blanco, MLB Senior Director, Baseball Operations
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