The International Baseball Federation announced Sunday that the 2013 18-and-under World Cup will be held Aug. 30 to Sept. 8 in Taichung, Taiwan. This will be Taiwan's third time hosting the World Cup—formerly known as the IBAF Junior AAA/18U World Championships—with the last time coming in 2004 when Cuba defeated Japan in the gold medal game.
Team USA won the gold medal in the 2012 18U World Championships by beating Canada. Shortstop Christian Arroyo (Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla.) was named the tournament MVP while catcher Reese McGuire (Kentwood HS, Covington, Wash.) won USA Baseball's Dick Case player of the year award.
IBAF has contacted national federations with eligible teams and asked them to confirm their participation by March 11.
USA Baseball has named catcher Reese McGuire from Kentwood High in Covington, Wash., its 2012 Dick Case player of the year. McGuire played on USA’s 18-and-under team that defeated Canada to win gold medals at the IBAF 18U World Championship in Seoul, South Korea in September.
“Our entire national team roster from that summer are vetted and the performances are each in their own unique,” 18U director Brant Ust said. “But we felt as an organization that Reese leading the 18U to gold like he did, not only statistically, but with his presence and and intangibles make him the pick for this award.”
During his time with the USA Baseball 18U team this summer, McGuire hit .400/.522/.514 with four doubles and 11 RBIs over 35 at-bats. He led the team in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, hits, RBIs and walks. Not only that, but McGuire did so while shuffling between catcher, third base, first base, left field and designated hitter.
“In terms of on-the-field, baseball-wise, he was capable of playing multiple positions for us,” 18U head coach Scott Brosius said. “He was very good defensively as a catcher, but can also play third base and can play the outfield. Being able to move like that and have that versatility was huge for us. And just beyond that, he really just epitomized the type of attitude and the type of player that we needed and wanted to have on the team—very tough, very hard working, didn’t say a whole lot, just really went about his business and had that blue-collar type of mentality that we needed to have.”
McGuire will be presented with the award at a school assembly on Feb. 5. Previous winners of the award include Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and righthander Stephen Strasburg, Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak and Cubs outfield prospect Albert Almora.
“My dad and I looked at all the names of the winners in past years and there’s a lot of big league names and what not,” McGuire said. “So it’s a huge honor, not only to be chosen from my team, but the whole USA organization. I’m just really thankful and blessed to have represented my country so well. That was our number one goal, to win gold, that’s all we were there for. So this is exciting and I’m definitely proud and humbled by it.”
USA Baseball has announced Rob Cooper as manager of the 2013 18-and-under National Team, which will compete in the IBAF AAA/18U World Championships at a date and location yet to be determined. Cooper is the head coach at Wright State and previously served on the coaching staff for the 2007 and 2009 Collegiate National Teams.
"I'm extremely honored to be given this opportunity," Cooper said in a release. "One of my career goals was to manage a USA national team and have the chance to play for a gold medal. This is going to be my career highlight and I am very excited about it."
Cooper is set to begin his ninth season leading the Raiders and they are looking to continue their streak of seven consecutive seasons with 30 or more wins while adding to the 261 victories during his tenure. Under his direction, Wright State has won three Horizon League championships and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament in those seasons.
"Rob Cooper's extensive background as a successful college head coach and member of our 2007 and 2009 Collegiate National Teams' coaching staffs makes him a perfect fit to be the field manager for the 2013 18U National Team," team director Brant Ust said. "Additionally, as a coach at last summer's inaugural 17U National Team Development Program, Rob had the opportunity to become familiar with some of the players who will ultimately comprise the Tournament of Stars and 18U National Team player pools. USA Baseball is excited to have Rob as the manager who will guide the 18U National Team in defending the gold at this year's IBAF 18U World Championships."
Team USA's 18U squad won gold at the World Championship last September under the direction of former World Series MVP and current Linfield (Ore.) College head coach Scott Brosius.
USA Baseball’s 18-and-under national team capped off their 10-day stay in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday night with a gold medal as they defeated Canada 6-2 in the championship game of the IBAF 18U World Championship.
After going 4-1 in pool play, Team USA dropped the first of its three crossover games, as it fell 1-0 to Canada. Some players thought that they had blown their shot at the gold medal until manager Scott Brosius spoke with them.
“My biggest message after that game was, ‘Don’t go to bed losing hope,’” Brosius said. “Possibilities still existed for us to get back to the gold medal game, but all of those possibilities required us to win our final two games. Essentially the message was, ‘We have to be the aggressors.’ We wanted to be the ones that went out and earned it instead of waiting for something to fall in our laps.”
“We actually thought we were done,” said shortstop Christian Arroyo (Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla.). “When Coach Brosius told us we had a chance to get back in there we were pumped.”
[...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's 18-and-under national team finished off pool play with a 6-2 win over Australia Wednesday morning (local time) to improve its record to 4-1 at the 18U World Championship, but had to make a quick turnaround and play Canada Wednesday evening in the first of three crossover games. After nine innings of scoreless baseball, the international tie breaker rule was used in the 10th and Canada pushed one run across before holding off Team USA in the bottom of the inning to seal the victory.
After opening with a rout of the Netherlands at the IBAF, Team USA dropped its second game 8-2 to Korea, but bounced back for 11-1 and 3-2 wins over Colombia and Venezuela respectively before facing Australia.
Against Korea, Team USA was down just 3-2 after five innings, but the host team scored four runs off righthander Kevin Davis (Miller HS, Brewton, Ala.) in the sixth and added another in the eighth. The offense was held to seven hits—all singles. Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif.) and Christian Arroyo (Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla.) drove in each run.
Team USA then put up double-digit runs against Colombia, scoring in each of the first three innings to go up 8-1 early. Outfielder Ryan Boldt (Red Wing, Minn., HS) drew four walks and scored four runs as the leadoff hitter. He also stole five bases, setting a single-game record for Team USA. The previous mark was three. Team USA also set a team record for stolen bases in a game with 10. Reese McGuire (Kentwood HS, Covington, Wash.) and Martinez each had three RBIs. Lefthander Stephen Gonsalves (Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego) pitched all seven innings of the game shortened by the mercy rule. He allowed one run on six hits, walked two and struck out eight. [...] Continue Reading »
After seeing its first game get postponed because of rain, USA Baseball's 18-and-under team opened play at the IBAF 18U World Championships with a rout of the Netherlands. Team USA pounded out 16 hits, including six for extra bases, on the way to the 17-0 win.
"The first couple of innings was just everyone trying to get their feet wet," manager Scott Brosius said in a postgame release. "We've had two or three days off, and I think once they settled into the rhythm of the game they performed well."
Lefthander Garrett Williams (Calvary Baptist Academy, Shreveport, La.) got the start on the mound and pitched six shutout innings, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out nine.
"I really relied on my team with those ground ball outs," Williams said. "My command was off the first couple of innings, but I settled in and started pumping the strike zone and we came out with the victory."
Team USA first got on the board in the top of the second inning when Andy McGuire (Madison HS, Vienna, Va.) singled, advanced to second on a hit batter and scored on an infield single by Dom Nunez (Elk Grove, Calif., HS). After a scoreless third inning, the U.S. blew the doors open with at least one run in the next four innings. They scored two in the fourth when Nunez drove in McGuire for a second time and then scored on a double by Christian Arroyo (Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla.). A four-run fifth and one-run sixth made it 8-0 before the offense erupted for nine runs in the seventh.
Arroyo finished the game 3-for-5 with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored. McGuire went 1-for-2 with two walks and four runs scored while Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif.) went 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Next up for Team USA is Korea, the tournament host. That game will be played Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. local time (1 a.m. EST). Korea is also 1-0 after beating Venezuela 2-1.
Siblings are common in baseball. The sport's history is filled with famous brotherly duos and trios. The DiMaggios, the Niekros, the Alous, the Alomars, the Uptons. . . the list goes on and on. While brothers playing baseball is common, it's rare for a mother to be 2,300 miles from home and still be able to see her two sons play.
Such was the case for Traci Kelly this weekend, as she was able to see her oldest son Carson play with the Rookie-level Johnson City Cardinals and her youngest son Parker participate in USA Baseball's National Team Identification Series.
Carson was a second round pick by the Cardinals and signed for $1.6 million. Over his first 206 pro at-bats, he is hitting .223/.263/.388 with 10 doubles and eight home runs.
"It's been awesome, it's been a ride, I can tell you that," Carson Kelly said. "At first, it was a little bit of a tough transition, but now I'm starting to get the hang of it and I'm having a blast. These guys have been great and I'm learning a lot.
"The biggest thing I've learned is kind of just controlling my emotions. Just learning how to relax during times of stress. I'm just taking it day by day. You've got to come back to the ballpark every day, if you did well the day before or if it didn't go your way. It's just a daily grind, but it's been fun."
[...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's National Team Identification Series brings in 32 teams of players from all around the country and serves as a first look at some of the players who will be on next year's 18-and-under and 17-and-under teams.
The player who stood out the most at the first day of the event was righthander Luis Ortiz from Sanger (Calif.) High. With his stuff, Ortiz would be one of the best high school players in the 2013 draft class, but he's only a rising junior.
Ortiz has a thick, workhorse frame at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. He has a balanced delivery with good shoulder tilt and stayed in-line to the plate well. He also incorporates the strength in his lower half and showed a quick, loose arm. Ortiz's fastball sat in the 91-93 mph range and he mixed in a sharp 80-82 mph slider.
Over three innings of work, Ortiz threw three no-hit innings with three walks and three strikeouts. He was getting squeezed a little bit and was always around the zone. Most of the balls in play were the result of weak contact, as Ortiz was not afraid to pitch inside and his fastball featured some late armside life.
"I just basically (try to) blow the fastball by everyone then see if I need to use my offspeed pitches," Ortiz said. "Today I just threw fastballs and sliders. I saw slow bats, so I used more fastballs."
[...] Continue Reading »
BY PAT HICKEY
It didn’t take long for Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.) head coach Eddie Gorriz to realize Willie Abreu was not normal.
Back when he was a rising junior outfielder at Miami Springs High, Abreu was in the process of transferring to Mater Academy, which already featured star outfielder Albert Almora—a six-time USA Baseball alumni who would become the sixth overall selection in the draft by the Cubs in 2012.
A year ago, Abreu got his first taste of USA Baseball with the 16-and-under National Team that took home a gold medal for the sixth straight year at the IBAF 16U World Youth Championships in Mexico. He hit .423 (11-for-26) in seven games and said the experience was the most memorable of his career.
The idea of patrolling the same outfield as Almora would create more exposure for Abreu while also playing for a better program and against stronger competition.
“(Almora) was max-effort in everything he did, on and off the field,” Abreu said. “I try to approach everything the same way.
“He’s a phenomenal defender. Anyone that’s ever played with him could learn something just by watching him shag fly balls.”
Before Gorriz ever saw Abreu step onto a baseball field, he said his conditioning, training and work ethic were “out of this world." Even after having seen him play this past season after transferring to Mater Academy, Abreu continues to impress Gorriz with his athleticism.
“One thing I love having my kids do is weighted pull-ups, and if there’s a weight Willie can’t get over the bar, he’ll go after it three or four more times while everyone else is cleaning up and getting ready to leave. He’ll be like, ‘Coach, one more, one more. I can get this.' He’s that kind of kid, you know?” Gorriz said.
A 6-foot-3, 205-pound outfielder committed to play college ball at Miami, Abreu is a “freak athlete," according to Gorriz—not just for his size, but for anyone. Gorriz claims he’s seen Abreu jump flat footed off the ground onto a box that stands five feet high.
One time, Abreu was matched with two soccer players at Mater Academy and was tied together at the waists by a bungee cord and a ring holding the three together in the middle, with all three lines going in different directions. Gorriz said even though the soccer players were strong kids, Abreu dragged both of them on the ground, snapped the cord and had whip marks on his back from where it snapped the other two lines and hit him.
“When you’re good and you know you’re good, you have nothing to prove to people,” Gorriz said. “But, it allows him to be humble and he’s very positive and a tremendous teammate as well. And, it’s not just on the baseball field. It translates into the classroom as well. He’s a good student that works hard and has a bright future in whatever he chooses to do.”
Upon first glance, one wouldn’t expect Abreu to be a plus runner as well due to his strong and mature frame. Gorriz said Abreu has turned in several 60-yard dash times at 6.7 seconds, which is at least 0.2 seconds faster than he was at a year ago thanks to improvement with his stride.
Abreu was born and raised in Miami and comes from a family that has instilled a perfectionist mentality that was not only evident to Gorriz, but to the Team Dixie coaches he played for during the Tournament of Stars this summer. Abreu went on to play for Team USA and was recently named to the 18-and-under squad after they announced their final cuts. They will compete in the IBAF 18U World Championships in Seoul, South Korea, beginning Aug. 30.
“There’s nothing that I feel like I don’t need to improve on to help my team win games,” Abreu said. “It’s an honor to be invited to all of these great events, but now is not the time to relax. It’s a long journey, so I’m trying my best so there’s nothing anybody can point out and say that is my weakness.”
Gorriz said he tells his players all the time that he wants high school baseball to be a stepping stone for where they want to be someday—not only as players, but human beings as well. Even though Abreu has a bright future ahead in baseball, he said his parents still expect him to earn a college degree someday.
USA Baseball's 18-and-under squad traveled to Southern California last week with the roster that made it out of the team trials and Prospect Classic. They scrimmaged some travel and scout teams before announcing the final 20-man roster that will compete in the IBAF 18U World Championships in Seoul, South Korea. Team USA will travel Taiwan first for a three-game series against Chinese Taipei this weekend and then open the World Championship against Australia on Aug. 30. The following players made the final cut:
William Abreu, of, Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
Christian Arroyo, if, Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla.
Cavan Biggio, if/of, St. Thomas HS, Houston
Ryan Boldt, of, Red Wing (Minn.) HS
Bryson Brigman, if/of, Valley Christian HS, San Jose
Ian Clarkin, lhp, Madison HS, San Diego
Kevin Davis, rhp, Miller HS, Brewton, Ala.
Stephen Gonsalves, lhp, Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego
Connor Heady, if/rhp, North Oldham HS, Goshen, Ky.
John Kilichowski, lhp, Jesuit HS, Tampa
Jeremy Martinez, c, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif.
Andy McGuire, if, Madison HS, Vienna, Va.
Reese McGuire, c, Kentwood HS, Covington, Wash.
Dom Nunez, if, Elk Grove (Calif.) HS
Chris Okey, c, Eustis (Fla.) HS
Ryan Olson, rhp, Western Christian HS, Upland, Calif.
Carson Sands, lhp, North Florida Christian HS, Tallahassee
Dominic Taccolini, rhp, Kempner HS, Sugar Land, Texas
Keegan Thompson, rhp, Cullman (Ala.) HS
Garrett Williams, lhp, Calvary Baptist Academy, Shreveport, La.
On Thursday, August 16, a collection of talented teenage baseball players gathered in Chihuahua, Mexico for the first round of the IBAF’s inaugural 15-and-under Baseball World Championship. However, members of USA Baseball’s 15U National Team were noticeably absent. Instead, the players, coaches, and administrative staff were returning to the United States after a four day stay in the Dominican Republic.
Concerned with the safety and security in the Chihuahua region, USA Baseball elected to decline the IBAF’s invitation to the 15U World Championships.
“We have a close relationship with Major League Baseball and their security department,” said 15U director Jeff Singer. “We looked into Chihuahua and weren’t really comfortable, security-wise, especially considering the State Department’s travel advisory to that region of Mexico. The 16U team had been down to Mexico the last two summers and was treated very well in Lagos de Moreno. We loved it there. Had it been there or another region we certainly would have gone.”
In order to provide a similarly positive and competitive international experience for the players, USA Baseball’s staff worked in conjunction with Major League Baseball to set up a four-game series against some of the best young talent in the Caribbean, with two teams from the Dominican Republic’s newly-formed MLB Amateur Prospect League (with the talent split up along geographic lines) and one traveling in from Puerto Rico.
[...] Continue Reading »
Blue Jays first-round righthander Marcus Stroman coined a term this spring: “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart.”
Ro Coleman knows all about that. For Coleman, the size that matters is not how tall he stands. That must be a relief, since according to his own admission, he tops out at just 65 inches. He’s always been the smallest kid on the team.
What matters the most is just how big his heart is.
It might sound cliché to talk about the smallest player having the biggest heart, but for anyone watching the June 23 game at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars between Coleman’s RBI team and the Babe Ruth squad that took them on, nothing could have been truer.
In the top of the 10th inning, RBI had taken a one-run advantage over its opponents. As the players took the field to defend their lead, with runners on first and second because of the international tie-breaker rule, Coleman called his teammates in to discuss the situation at hand and give them a boost of confidence.
The second baseman’s team rallied around him. He impressed the rest of his infield, the crowd, his coach and everyone watching with his motivational skills and his inspiring attitude.
“That was big for him to come up and lead like that,” RBI coach Ernie Radcliffe said. “He’s been like that all his life; a leader. He’s the smallest guy on the team but he has the biggest heart. His leadership skills and qualities are impeccable.”
[...] Continue Reading »
After the Tournament of Stars, USA Baseball announced its first round of cuts for its 18-and-under program. The following 40 players will be evaluated during a trials period that includes two games of the Prospect Classic in which they will be mixed with players from the Collegiate National Team. After those two games, the 18U roster will be cut down to 28 and there will be two games of 18U vs. College.
Willie Abreu, of, Mater Academy, Hialeah, Fla.
Abreu played next to Albert Almora in the outfield last season as has a much more physical build at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. He has a lot of strength in his lefthanded swing and showed the ability to catch up to velocity. Abreu will likely be limited to a corner outfield spot, but showed above-average speed in the 60-yard dash (6.79 seconds) and average arm strength. Abreu was a member of the 2011 16-and-under team and is committed to Miami.
Pete Alonso, 1b, Plant HS, Tampa
Alonso, a Florida recruit, has a lot of strength in his 6-foot-3, 212-pound build. He showed he can drive the ball to the opposite field and also showed a strong arm. With his size, Alonso doesn’t get out of the box well, but is a fringe-average runner underway.
Christian Arroyo, ss, Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla.
Another Florida recruit, Arroyo has an average build at 6 feet and 180 pounds. He has a nice, compact swing and a quick bat. Arroyo played good defense at the event and posted an average run time, clocking in at 6.87 seconds in the 60-yard dash.
Cavan Biggio, 3b, St. Thomas HS, Houston
The son of seven-time all-star Craig Biggio, Cavan is a little bigger than his father at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. He also hits from the left side of the plate, where he shows a sweet swing, a keen understanding of the strike zone and some power potential. Cavan profiles best at third base, but also shows the ability to handle second or a corner outfield spot. [...] Continue Reading »
Last summer, Keegan Thompson was a key component of Team USA's 16-and-under gold medal win in the IBAF World Championships in Lagos De Moreno, Mexico. He pitched 14 innings and went 2-0, 1.29 with 18 strikeouts while surrendering just six hits. He made only two appearances in the tournament, but his second was simply dominant. In the gold medal game, he threw a complete game and held Cuba to four hits while walking one and striking out 12. Given his achievement, it's easy to see why he isn't worried about pressure at the Tournament of Stars this summer.
"Last year was kind of hard," Thompson said. "I had a lot of pressure on me because I wanted to make it. This year, I'm a little more settled down and not as nervous as last year."
Thompson pitched a week ago so he had to wait until Saturday to make his first appearance of the event. In three innings of work he allowed one run on three hits. He also walked one and struck out four. He surrendered a leadoff hit to second baseman Nico Giarratano, but it was a bloop single over the shortstop that came off the handle. Thompson proceeded to strike out the side and had a perfect second inning when he induced two groundouts and struck out his fourth batter. He walked one and allowed two hits in the third. A two-out single brought in a run, but Thompson then finished the inning by getting first baseman Zack Collins to fly out. [...] Continue Reading »
The second day of USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars featured some solid pitching and mixed in with some known quantities was Kyle Serrano, the son of Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano. A 6-foot-1, 190-pound righthander, the younger Serrano started the day's final game for NABF—opposite of Chris Oakley, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound righty from New Jersey.
Serrano showed solid arm strength, sitting 88-90 mph and flashed a good changeup in the high 70s with fade. He threw 55 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two.
"I definitely need to work on staying on top of my pitches," Serrano said. "I'm going to compete as hard as I can on the field. I'm not afraid when I go out there. I work really hard after starts so I can be at my best when I go out there." [...] Continue Reading »
Minnesota will never be confused for a baseball hotbed, but after having a second-round pitcher last year in righthander Mitch Brown from Century High in Rochester, the state looks like it will produce another high pick next June.
Outfielder Ryan Boldt from Red Wing (Minn.) High has been impressive so far on the showcase circuit. Last week at the Perfect Game National Showcase, Boldt showed above-average speed and a sweet lefthanded swing with good bat speed.
Playing in the Metrodome was a thrill for Boldt, who has lived in Minnesota his entire life and roots for the Twins.
"When I found out the Perfect Game National was there, I got pretty excited," Boldt said. "I grew up going to Twins games and they've got their new stadium now. I've only been to it once, but hopefully this year by the end of it I'll go to a couple more games."
Now, Boldt is playing in USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars for the PONY team. The Nebraska recruit got things off to a good start on the first day of the event, by smoking a double into the left-center gap as Cornhuskers head coach Darin Erstad watched from the stands.
[...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball announced Tuesday that its 15-and-under team will not participate in the inaugural 15U World Championships in Chihuahua, Mexico. The decision was made after after discussions with the International Baseball Federation, Mexico's local organizing committee for the event and Major League Baseball's security advisers. The increasing violence in Mexico has led the state department to discourage travel to the region.
Despite not participating in the event, the 15U program will still have workouts and games this summer. A roster of 40 players will travel to Cary, N.C. on August 4. During their week at the National Training Complex, the players will be evaluated by the National Team staff and a 20-man roster will be selected. That team will then travel to the Dominican Republic to play a four-game series against top unsigned prospects from a new league formed by MLB.
The 15U head coach this summer is Tom Meusborn of Chatsworth (Calif.) High. Meusborn won back-to-back Baseball America national championships with Chatsworth in 2003-2004 and had two first-round picks in 2007 in Mike Moustakas (Royals) and Matt Dominguez (Marlins). He was an assistant coach on the 16U National Team that won a gold medal in 2011.
By Alexis Brudnicki
Heading into the final frame down by one, Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.)rallied and came back to win 3-2 in extra innings against Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) in the championship game of USA Baseball’s inaugural National High School Invitational tournament.
Left fielder Ryan Barr hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth with bases loaded, plating Ty Moore to end the game and releasing the entire Monarchs bench onto the field and into a frenzy. The four straight wins, including three against top-ranked teams, put Mater Dei in contention to move up in the standings.
“After the tournament, I think so,” Monarchs head coach Burt Call said of his team making a case to be No. 1. “I think we’ve proven that we’ve played quality competition and I think we’ve proved ourselves nationwide this week.”
Mater Dei took advantage of the long ball in the final game of the week, with Ryan McMahon going deep in the fourth and Davis Tominaga launching his first home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh to knot the game at two. [...] Continue Reading »
Before the first semifinal game of the National High School Invitational, USA Baseball had a small ceremony to honor members of the 16-and-under and 18-and-under national teams that were in attendance.
Catchers Arden Pabst and Zack Collins helped the 16U squad win a gold medal against Cuba at the IBAF World Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, last August. Collins was named to the tournament's all star team after hitting .500/.590/.875 with three home runs in 32 at-bats. Collins is a junior at American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) and committed to Miami.
Pabst is a junior at Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) and was on the field with his head coach, Matt LaCour, who was a coach for the 16U trials last summer. Charlie Spivey, the head coach at Lee County High (Sanford, N.C.), was an assistant coach with team, but his team was had a game during the ceremony.
"It's awesome," Collins said of his return to Cary, N.C. "Obviously, Team USA has top of the line players and now we get to play against them."
On the field representing the 18U team was Joey Gallo and Jeremy Martinez. Nelson Rodriguez, a catcher for Washington High (New York), was also a member of the team, but was playing during the ceremony.
The 18U team had an interesting summer as the Pan Am Championships were delayed until November due to an act of Mother Nature in Cartagena, Colombia. Team USA won the gold medal with a 12-2 win over Canada on Nov. 27. Jeremy Martinez, a junior catcher at Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), hit .387/.558/.548 with nine RBIs and 10 runs scored in 31 at-bats. Gallo, a corner infielder and righthander at Bishop Gorman High (Las Vegas), hit .275/.403/.412 and drove in 10 runs in 51 at-bats.
"It's really cool coming back," Gallo said. "It's cool being the guy that knows what's going on around here because no one else from Vegas has been out here. It's a weird feeling being here with my high school and not Team USA, but I like it. It's fun to come back and get the ring that we all worked so hard to get."
On Thursday, USA Baseball honored two coaches from North Carolina that received awards from the organization. Jeff Hewitt, the head coach at Pinecrest High in Southern Pines, was named the USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year. Kerry Kincaid, the former head coach of East Wake High in Wendell, was given USA Baseball's Volunteer Coach of the Year award.
Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) is a perennial power in Southern California with three CIF Southern Section titles—two since 2005—and two Trinity League titles in 2007 and 2010. The Monarchs began the 2012 season at No. 6 in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 25, but fell to No. 10 and then No. 18 after a 7-3 start heading into the National High School Invitational. The competition didn't get any easier as Mater Dei was matched up with Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High, currently the No. 2 team in the Top 25. However, the Monarchs make a strong statement, erupting for 10 runs on 14 hits to beat the Gaels 10-3.
"To start the game we were a little bit nervous, but in the second inning we settled down and found our rhythm," Mater Dei head coach Burt Call said. "Our big at-bat was Brandon Perez, a freshman, coming up and putting us on the board. I think everyone just kind of followed suit after that. We had that huge explosion in the third. I'm very pleased with how they came out and competed against a very good Bishop Gorman team."
With his team down 2-0 in the second inning, Perez—a shortstop—drove in the first Mater Dei run with a single to left field. In the third inning, the Monarchs strung together seven hits to score seven runs before even making an out and made it 9-2 on a wild pitch. From there it was up to righthander Davis Tominaga to shut the door. He allowed three runs (two earned) on 10 hits and three walks while striking out only one in the complete game.
"He's been our No. 1 all season," Call said. "He's had some big wins for us. With him, it's control. He works in and out. He's able to bring it inside on a lefthander and also work away. And then his changeup is so effective. It keeps a lot of good hitters off balance. That's what makes him so unique, having that changeup in his arsenal that he can throw at anytime."
Tominaga ranged from 86-89 mph with his fastball and was able to neutralize Bishop Gorman's biggest threat in third baseman Joey Gallo. A draft prospect as a first baseman, Gallo has a big, strong frame that generates some of the best raw power in his class. But Gallo went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth.
"We weren't going to give him anything to hit, just keep the ball low and get my offspeed for strikes and establish that early," Tominaga said.
Mater Dei will play the winner of Thursday's first game, which is between Corpus Christi, Texas' Carroll High and Gulliver Prep from Pinecrest, Fla. Ty Moore, the Monarch's right fielder and No. 2 hitter, will start on the mound.
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