Many of the top baseball talents play for high school or college teams. Some even make it to play in the major leagues. Very few, though, have the opportunity to represent their country on the baseball diamond.
Fourteen college underclassmen got one step closer to that opportunity Tuesday, as USA Baseball announced its second round of invitations for the 2008 National Team Trials. Nine sophomores and five freshmen made the list and now join the 12 invitees from the first round. In all, 32 players will try out for 22 roster spots.
"This second wave of accepted invitations to the 2008 National Team Trials only further illustrates the high level of talent that will join USA Baseball this summer," national team general manager Eric Campbell said in a statement. "We once again thank both the athletes and their universities for their commitment."
Two members from the 2007 National Team were invited back to try out this year–Rice righthander Ryan Berry and Santa Clara catcher Tommy Medica. Berry is 7-4 as the Owls’ Friday starter this season and leads CUSA in ERA (3.10) and strikeouts (80). Medica hit .342 with 44 RBIs and six homers.
Other sophomores included on the list are Dustin Ackley (LF/1B, North Carolina), Ryan Jackson (SS, Miami), Ryan Ortiz (C/1B, Oregon State), Josh Phegley (C/1B, Indiana), Kyle Seager (IF, North Carolina), Stephen Strasburg (RHP, San Diego State), and Kendal Volz (RHP, Baylor).
The freshmen invitees are Derek Dietrich (SS/RHP, Georgia Tech), Drew Pomeranz (LHP, Mississippi), Brooks Raley (LHP/OF, Texas A&M), Kevin Rhoderick (RHP, Oregon State), and Chance Ruffin (RHP, Texas).
Strasburg is a semifinalist for both the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the nation’s top amateur player, and the 2008 Clemens Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate pitcher. He ranks fourth in strikeouts per nine innings. Ackley, another Golden Spikes semifinalist, is batting .399 this year with 93 hits, and teammate Seager ranks fourth in the nation with 26 doubles.
Tryouts for the National Team will be held June 11-23 throughout the Northeast and Southeast, and the final roster will be announced June 24. The National Team schedule includes a six-game friendship series against Chinese Taipei and a month-long trip to Europe, where the team will compete in the Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands and the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic.