Verrado’s Champagne invited to Top 50 showcase

Gillis Champagne, an incoming senior at Verrado, compiled a dazzling junior season that parlayed into an invitation at the prolific showcase.

Gillis Champagne is reaping the benefits of a dazzling junior season with the Verrado Vipers varsity baseball team in which he batted .390 with 22 RBIs in 27 games.

A 5-foot-10, 155-pound incoming senior, Champagne has emerged onto the radars of college coaches and pro scouts scattered across the country.

Because of his achievements at this varsity level this spring, Champagne, an outfielder and pitcher, attended the EXOS Select 50 Instructional Showcase, an invite-only camp featuring the top 50 high school players in the southwest region, on June 29 in Phoenix.

The organization selects 50 stellar athletes from Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho and Montana. Exos is geared toward sports training and wellness. 

The showcase consisted of “pro-style” workouts, Champagne said. He ran a 60-yard dash and did other agility testing. He also took batting practice and spent a majority of the afternoon doing outfield drills under the watchful eyes of scouts and coaches.

Champagne also tucked a few awards into his back pocket before the day was over.

“They broke down the skill sets of speed, throwing, fielding, hitting with power and hitting overall and I won the speed and throwing portion of it,” he said. 

With one year left of high school, Champagne is working toward landing an athletic scholarship. He’s had preliminary discussions with some schools, but the right fit remains to be seen, he said.

One of the many appeals to this showcase is the chance to spend an afternoon playing in front of scouts and college coaches. Champagne chatted with some professional scouts — mainly those from the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals — and received feedback on what he needs to do to elevate his game.

“It was great. It’s great to be honored like that. I feel like I work hard enough to get invited to those things, and I just feel like it’s going to pay off.”

Despite his uncommitted status, Champagne has positioned himself as an intriguing prospect in the Arizona high school scene, owning a fastball in the low-to-mid 80s and a batting average near .400.

His game, and his overall makeup as a player, “revolves around hustling and outworking people,” he said.

“I’m not going to half-effort it. I’m going to bust it the whole way and give it everything I have — every rep, every pitch, every play.”

Champagne swiped a team-high 18 stolen bases for the Vipers in 2019. 

Prep Baseball Report, a website designed to scout and showcase high school players, said Champagne’s “tools are continuing to get better” as he becomes stronger, per a January scouting report. They also lauded him for his “energy and quick-twitch movements.”

With a schedule this summer replete with baseball workouts, Champagne is also training to play football in the fall at Verrado, eyeing the Vipers’ starting quarterback gig.

His junior season was stellar, but Champagne has a list of imposing goals that remain on his four-year checklist. He’s seeking two state championship titles — one in football this fall, the other in baseball next spring — and a commitment to a college to further his baseball career.

“I want to win some ballgames and keep playing ball,” he said.