High school baseball is well underway in most southern states and the 2012 season is no exception when it comes to early surprises. While the top-ranked and traditional power programs in California are off to good starts, Huntington Beach High has already grabbed some headlines by starting 5-0 and winning the highly-competitive Newport Elks Tournament.
"It's a pretty good feeling," head coach Benji Medure said. "We caught everybody off guard including ourselves. We were just a normal team a couple weeks ago. Beating (Bishop) Amat and Mater (Dei) put us on the map."
Facing La Puente's Bishop Amat High and Santa Ana's Mater Dei High at any point is a tall task, but the Oilers caught the juggernauts in their second and third game of the season. They proved worthy of the challenge beating Bishop Amat 3-2 and Mater Dei 8-1. Bishop Amat won the Division IV Southern Section title in 2011, beating Palm Desert High. Incidentally, Huntington Beach faced Palm Desert just a few days later and defeated the Aztecs 5-2. Medure says their success has come from an unexpected source. [...] Continue Reading »
The inaugural USA Baseball National High School Invitational is right around the corner and the Bracket Selection Show is now live, announcing the first-round matchups and ensuing schedule. The event is presented by Baseball America and the Town of Cary and will be played March 28-31 at the National Training Complex.
The selection show, hosted by USA Baseball's Jake Fehling, has analysis from Baseball America's Nathan Rode and Conor Glassey as well as interviews with representatives from USA Baseball and the Town of Cary and participating players and coaches.
The 2012 High School Preview is live on BaseballAmerica.com so now is as good a time as any to look at some interesting tournaments and games for the season. Just like we’ve done the past two seasons, below is a list of events and matchups that should attract plenty of spectators—including amateur scouts.
Some of the games simply feature teams that are among the Preseason Top 50 while others pit top draft prospects against each other. Keep in mind that high school baseball easily succumbs to foul weather and pitching rotations are an inexact science so nothing mentioned below is guaranteed.
Selective Recruiting Invitational, March 12-17
This event will take place at various sites in the Miami area. No. 1 Archbishop McCarthy High (Southwest Ranches, Fla.) and No. 24 Columbus High (Miami) are the only participants ranked in the preseason, but it’s worth keeping an eye on American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.), Coral Springs (Fla.) High, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.) and Westminster Christian School (Palmetto Bay, Fla.). [...] Continue Reading »
Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6:02 p.m. ET.
USA Baseball's 18U Team defeated Canada Sunday afternoon in Cartagena, Colombia, to finish 9-0 and win the COPABE Pan Am Championship. The gold medal gives Team USA the amateur trifecta for 2011. The 14U team won its Pan Am tournament while the 16U squad captured the IBAF World Championship.
The clincher was a 12-2, mercy-rule shortened game that saw the U.S. trail for only a half inning. Down 1-0 before it's first at-bat, Team USA sent 12 batters to the plate, collected five hits and scored seven runs in the bottom of the first. The big blow came off the bat of shortstop Addison Russell, who hit a grand slam. [...] Continue Reading »
From March 28-31, the USA Baseball National High School Invitational will be held in Cary, N.C. The event is presented by Baseball America and the Town of Cary and will feature some of the top teams and players in the country. They will compete in a 16-team, single-elimination championship tournament though all teams will be guaranteed to play four games. Of the 16 teams, 12 are eligible for state tournament play—California has section championships and New York City has a city championship—and there are a total of 36 state titles in the schools' histories. Four of the teams have a Baseball America National Championship as well.
Not only will the tournament present a high level of competition and have a strong effect on national rankings, but the level of talent is likely to bring in dozens of area scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors.
“We're thrilled with the quality of teams that we were able to commit to this inaugural event," USA Baseball Director of Development Rick Riccobono said. "The talent and history of the participants is truly consistent with the mission of the program: To bring together our nation’s most accomplished high school baseball teams in one championship tournament.”
Listed in alphabetical order below is the tournament field with a short capsule on each team as well as a chart with the top 25 2012 and 2013 prospects that will be at the event. [...] Continue Reading »
With wins over Mexico and Argentina, USA Baseball's 18U team improved to 3-0 in the Pan Am Championships in Cartagena, Colombia. Team USA beat Mexico 3-1 Friday afternoon and followed with a 16-2 win over Argentina on Saturday.
In Friday's game, the U.S. scored two in the first inning when outfielders David Dahl and Albert Almora drew walks. First baseman Joey Gallo singled to drive in Dahl and catcher Jeremy Martinez knocked in Almora with a single of his own. Third baseman Carson Kelly reached on a dropped third strike in the fifth, advance to second on an Addison Russell sacrifice bunt and put the U.S. up 3-0 when Dahl singled. Mexico's lone run came in the sixth inning.
Righthander Walker Weickel earned the victory, tossing 5 2/3 innings and allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out two. Righthander Clate Schmidt pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief before righty Carson Fulmer pitched a perfect ninth to get the save.
On Saturday, the U.S. was in a tight game against Argentina early, but pulled away with four runs in the fourth and eight runs in the sixth on the way to a 16-2 win. The game ended after seven innings under the mercy rule.
Righthander Chase DeJong allowed just one run over five innings to earn the win. Center fielder Albert Almora led the offense with a double, triple, four RBIs and two runs scored.
Team USA's next game is Sunday evening against Puerto Rico.
Originally scheduled to have Thursday off, Team USA instead played their opening game of the Pan Am Championships against Aruba. The change didn't have any effect as the 18U squad pounded out 19 hits on the way to a 15-0, mercy rule win over Aruba. Gavin Cecchini started at second base and led the offense with a 4-for-5 night. Jesse Winker, known for having one of the better bats in the 2012 draft class, got the start on the mound and needed just 66 pitches to complete the shutout.
"I Felt good, my arm felt strong, the changeup was there for me," Winker said. "I tried to throw as many strikes as I could and let the good defense behind me make plays. The double plays turned kept my pitch count down."
Right fielder David Dahl had three hits of his own while left fielder Mikey White, center fielder Albert Almora, first baseman Joey Gallo, catcher Jeremy Martinez and third baseman Carson Kelly each had two hits. Martinez led the team with three RBIs.
"Great start to the event, we swung the bats well," head coach Scott Brosius said. "That was a huge performance from Jesse Winker with his complete game shutout. Very positive start for tournament."
Team USA will play Mexico today after the conclusion of the 9:30 a.m. EST game between Venezuela and Antilles.
The USA Baseball 18U team was scheduled to have 28 players at trials, but when the dates for the 2011 COPABE Pan Am Championships moved to Nov. 17-27, several players—mostly pitchers—decided not to return.
Just 21 players returned for trials, meaning the USA staff had to cut only one player to get down to the 20-man roster. The player cut was outfielder Nick Williams from Ball High in Galveston, Texas.
The final 18U roster can be found here.
USA Baseball also recently announced its 2011 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) trials selections. The players selected from the NTIS event receive an automatic invitation to the National Team Trials next summer.
2011 17U NTIS / 2012 18U Trials
Name, Position, School, Class
Cole Billingsley, OF/LHP, Pell City (Ala.) HS, 2012
Ben Eckels, RHP, Davis (Calif.) HS, 2012
Chris Flexen, RHP, Newark (Calif.) Memorial HS, 2012
John Kilichowski, LHP, Jesuit HS, Tampa, 2013
Kieran Lovegrove, RHP, Mission Viejo (Calif.) HS, 2012
Russell Reynolds, RHP, Parkview Baptist HS, Baton Rouge, La., 2012
Drew Ward, IF/OF, Leedey (Okla.) HS, 2014
Connor Williams, OF/RHP, Bingham HS, South Jordan, Utah, 2012
The Confederation of Pan American Baseball (COPABE) has announced that the Junior 18U Pan American Championships have been rescheduled for Nov. 18-27 in Cartagena, Colombia.
The dates of the event were moved after a natural disaster occurred in a nearby town known as San Francisco. Thousands of residents have been displaced due to structural damage to houses and buildings in the neighborhood. The mayor of Cartagena felt a postponement of the event was necessary as the government focused on a response to the disaster.
USA Baseball will still have players return to the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. on Sept. 12 for workouts and exhibition games. The final 20-man roster will be announced at the end of that week and all players and coaches will return to their respective homes. The team will then reconvene in Miami on Nov. 11 for a training period before flying to Colombia on Nov. 16.
UPDATED: 8:07 p.m. ET
With a 9-0 victory over Cuba in the 2011 IBAF World 'AA'/16U Youth Championships, Team USA claimed its sixth straight gold medal in international competition. Righthander Keegan Thompson (Cullman, Ala., HS) continued a dominating tournament performance by throwing a complete-game shutout against Cuba, striking out 12 while allowing just four hits and one walk. He went 2-0, 1.29 with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings at the tournament in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.
"Keegan Thompson is legit," head coach Ernie Padron said. "He didn't let up. He was pounding the strike zone. He had three innings with single-digit pitch counts. He had command, mound presence and he went 4-for-5 at the plate—his out was a one-hop shot at the second baseman."
Thompson has an athletic frame a 6-foot-2, 175 pounds and works with a low-90s fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. Padron said his command and demeanor stood out against Cuba.
"He could throw wherever he wanted to throw, everything," said. "The composure he exhibited for a 16-year-old was mind boggling."
Infielder Zach Collins (American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.) was named MVP after hitting .536/.618/.964 with 16 RBIs in 28 at-bats. Outfielder Austin Meadows (Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga.) set a 16U record with 26 RBIs and was named to the all-tournament team.
A member of the 2013 class, Meadows is arguably the best draft prospect on the 16U team. He has a physical frame at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and showed an ability to hit for average and power, and run for Team USA. [...] Continue Reading »
The USA Baseball 16U team begins play in Mexico Aug. 19 in the IBAF World 'AA' 16U Youth Championships.
This year marks the 14th edition of the tournament and the US enters as defending champions. They will face off against 10 other teams, since the Phillipines recently withdrew from the competition.
The US will begin pool play in Group A against Mexico, Brazil, Chinese Taipei and Australia. Group B features Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan, Indonesia and the Netherlands. The top four teams from each group go on to a second round-robin format, with the final two teams playing for the championship.
"For such a short time, they like each other—they pull for each other," 16U head coach Ernie Padron said about his squad. "They're very disciplined, on time and doing all the little things that help you get together as a team. It's a good group."
The 20-man team gives a sneak peek at some of the top players for the 2013 and 2014 classes. . . and even a pitcher from the 2015 class.
[...] Continue Reading »
When Montclair Prep of Van Nuys, Calif. cut its entire athletic program, all of its athletes essentially became free agents in Southern California's prep landscape. While coaches at other schools couldn't directly contact athletes because of recruiting rules, it has still made for interesting developments. The baseball world has had its eye on lefthander Max Fried, a potential first-round pick for the 2012 draft. Early speculation was that he would head to Studio City's Harvard-Westlake High to join righthander Lucas Giolito in the rotation. That has turned into a reality as the school announced Fried's enrollment in a press release this evening.
“I am extremely grateful to Montclair Prep for the great experiences I had there – both in the classroom and on the field," Fried said. "The decision by the school to cancel the sports program was a shock to me and my family. I was looking forward to having a great senior year there. Because both school and sports are important to me, I decided to explore the opportunity to pursue both at another school. Harvard-Westlake represents the best balance of academics and athletics and I am excited to begin my senior year there.”
With Giolito being arguably the top prospect in the 2012 class, the Wolverines automatically boast the top rotation in the country. It's reminiscent of Houston's Cypress Falls High rotation that had righthander Clint Everts and lefthander Scott Kazmir. Everts went fifth overall to the Expos while Kazmir fell to the Mets at the 15th pick because of signability. [...] Continue Reading »
CHICAGO — Mother Nature wasn't on Under Armour's side today.
During warmups and for the first couple innings of the Under Armour All-America Game presented by Baseball Factory, the weather was beautiful. But dark clouds started rolling in during the third inning and heavy downpour caused a 90-minute break in the action. With steady rain during the final three innings, the game was eventually called in the eighth when outfielder Fernelys Sanchez from Washington High in New York was drilled in the back by a pitch that slipped out of the pitcher's hand.
The National team beat the American team, 6-4.
"For us, it was important to try and get as much as the game in as possible," Baseball Factory spokesman Jason Budden said. "It's unfortunate that we had to end early, but we were able to get all the primary pitchers to throw and all position players got in the game. It was a great outing. I thought the kids showed great and I'm really excited with how it turned out, even with the weather."
The pitcher on the mound in the eighth inning was righthander Jamie Callahan. His stuff wasn't as sharp as he's shown in the past and he had trouble locating, giving up two walks and two singles before drilling Sanchez right at the top of the spine.
[...] Continue Reading »
CHICAGO — Fans watching the Under Armour All-America Game on MLB Network only get to see the tip of the iceberg. Obviously that's the highlight of the weekend, but there are several other great moments along the way. . .
Dream Come True
For the first time this year, the Under Armour All-Americans had Topps baseball cards produced. Each player signed 250 cards for Topps and they will be distributed as inserts in upcoming product releases.
For this baseman David Thompson from Westminster Christian High in Palmetto Bay, Fla., it was a dream come true.
"It was a pretty surreal moment," third baseman David Thompson said. "I always dreamed about having a baseball card, and now I do."
The USA Baseball 18U team made a second round of cuts, going from 40 players down to 28. The following 28 players will come back to Cary, NC in September, where the roster will be cut down again to the final 20 before the team heads off to Cartagena, Columbia for the COPABE PanAm AAA Championships. Here is the official release on the second round of cuts. . .
DURHAM, N.C. — Following a two-week evaluation period that concluded with the inaugural Prospect Classic, USA Baseball announced the names of 28 players who have received invitations to join the 18U National Team at a second round trial, to be held Sept. 12-21, in Cary.
From there, 20 athletes will be selected to compete in the 2011 COPABE Pan American AAA/18U Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, Sept. 23-Oct. 2. Team USA is the defending champion of the tournament, having defeated Cuba, 6-1, in the 2009 title game.
Highlighting the 28-man trial roster is five-time USA Baseball Alum Albert Almora (Hialeah, Fla.) and 2010 USA Baseball Player-of-the-Year Alex Bregman (Albuquerque, N.M.). In all, 11 of the 28 invitees are alums of USA Baseball.
The USA Baseball 18U National Team Trials roster is as follows:
Rio Ruiz is a name we have heard for a while and been longing to see in person. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound third baseman strolled into USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars this week, fresh off hitting a home run at Dodger Stadium in California's Southern Section Division IV championship game. Ruiz led Bishop Amat High (La Puente, Calif.) to the title win and a No. 7 finish in the High School Top 25.
For the Lancers, Ruiz hit .455 in 101 at-bats with three home runs and 35 RBIs. He described hitting a home run at Dodger Stadium as one of the best feelings in his life and was excited to finally win a championship.
"It was amazing," he said. "That's been my goal since freshman year, to win a championship. Third year is a charm. We worked really hard, every day. Whether it's ground balls, hitting, throwing. We did the little things perfectly. Everything. Hats off to my coach. Coach (Andy) Nieto, he did a heck of a job." [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball has announced the trials rosters for this summer's junior national teams. Here is the release, with the rosters below. . .
DURHAM, N.C.—USA Baseball announced the rosters for its 18U, 16U and 14U National Teams Trials on Monday, signaling the start of the federation’s youth-level National Team programming for 2011.
The 18U program selected 40 players and six alternates following last week’s Tournament of Stars, held at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The 16U and 14U programs compiled their trials rosters at the conclusion of the 14U/16U Championships, which ended Saturday in Arizona and Florida. The 16U program named 38 players to trials, while the 14U club selected 39.
“This is always an exciting time of year for us,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “The Tournament of Stars and 14U/16U Championships once again served as not only premier events, but also effective selection vehicles for our youth-level trials teams.”
The 18U National Team Trials will run from June 27-30, in Cary, N.C., and will conclude with the inaugural Prospect Classic. The two-game series with pit the 18U team against USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team for the first time ever, July 1-2, in Durham and Cary, respectively. From the original trials roster, team officials will choose 28 players to join the club at a second round of trials, to be held Sept. 12-21, in Cary. From there, 20 athletes will be selected to compete in the 2011 COPABE Pan American AAA/18U Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, Sept. 23-Oct. 2. Team USA is the defending champion of the tournament, having defeated Cuba, 6-1, in the 2009 title game.
The 16U and 14U National Team Trials will be held in Cary, Aug. 7-17, and Aug. 1-10, respectively. Of the 38 players chosen for trials, 20 will be selected to the 2011 16U National Team which will compete in the IBAF World AA/16U Youth Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, Aug. 19-28. The 16U team took home the gold from the 2009 Worlds in Taiwan, and has a 40-game winning streak in international competition overall.
The 14U trials roster will be trimmed down from 39 to 18 heading into the COPABE Pan American A/14U Championships in San Felipe, Venezuela, Aug. 11-22. The U.S. will be looking to improve upon its bronze medal finish in the event last summer.
The USA Baseball 14U, 16U and 18U National Team Trials rosters are as follows (more detailed rosters are available at www.USABaseball.com):
Playing at the Tournament of Stars can be nerve-racking. All eyes (and sometimes a couple dozen radar guns) are on the pitcher and there's a lot on the line, as the players involved are competing for 40 spots on the USA Baseball 18U trials roster.
Righthander Jamie Callahan from Dillon (S.C.) High experienced some of those nerves when he took the hill earlier in the tournament.
"I felt good, better than my start last time when I came in on Friday a little nervous and shaky," Callahan said. "I came in today with all the nerves gone. I waited my time to get back out there and throw in this wonderful environment out here."
Today, was a different story.
Callahan, who stands 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, threw two perfect innings and racked up five strikeouts. His fastball sat in the 89-92 mph range and he showed a curveball and slider that were distinctly different pitches—and both were very effective.
"When I'm battling there and somebody's fighting off the fastball, I'll come with the slider," Callahan said. "That way it looks like a fastball and then just breaks on them. I like to use the curveball if they take the fastball and then just give them that different look that it's floating up there and then it breaks hard on them."
Callahan, a South Carolina commit, may have carried over the excitement of the Gamecocks winning the night before to the mound with him today.
"I stayed up the whole time and watched it," Callahan said. "It was more nerve-racking than being out there on the mound today."
On the second day of USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars, the game to see was PONY vs. NABF as PONY rolled out three good arms. Righthander Lucas Giolito got the start and did not disappoint.
A physical monster at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, Giolito attends Harvard-Westlake High in Los Angeles. As a sophomore he was teammates with Austin Wilson, now an outfielder at Stanford. Giolito burst onto the scene before his junior season at the Area Code Games in August of 2010. He was the hardest thrower at the event, touching 96, though he didn't think it was his best outing.
"At Area Codes, I wouldn't say I pitched well," he said. "I threw hard. I guess that's what got a lot of attention. I've grown a lot since then. Now I've become a lot more of a pitcher as opposed to a thrower, mixing up pitches. I got strikeouts with different pitches today—changeup, fastball, curve. As of right now, I have a lot of confidence and I'm feeling pretty good." [...] Continue Reading »
Several big arms took the mound today at the first day of USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars and righthander Carson Fulmer from All Saints' Academy in Winter Haven, Fla. was one of the standouts. He admitted to being a little nervous on the mound, but it sure didn't show.
"You have butterflies at first because coming here, you really don't know what to expect," Fulmer said. "But, once you go out there and loosen up and get a feel for things and get in that rhythm, you get comfortable and just pitch. I felt great today."
It was the hitters that should have had butterflies. Fulmer—who stands 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds—showed a fastball in the 92-95 mph range and a 78-79 mph slider. He also threw one 85 mph changeup. Fulmer said the big velocity isn't something new for him—he said that's how he was throwing last spring, too—but it isn't what he focuses on. [...] Continue Reading »
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