JUPITER, Fla.—Colton Olasin just turned 13 and he already has a gold medal with Team USA.
Last year, the infielder and righthander made the national team for the first time at the 12U level. Olasin and the rest of the pre-teen squad took out Panama, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Russia, Korea, Brazil, Japan and host team Chinese Taipei to win the International Baseball Federation World Cup in Taipei City, Taiwan.
“It was really fun and interesting," Olasin said. “We did a lot of stuff together in Taiwan and I met a lot of new people on the team. Winning the gold medal and bringing it home was the best part …
“(Taiwan) was really different—we saw pigs and stuff walking out on the street. It was different, but a lot of fun. We got to go to the fourth-tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101. That was pretty cool, too."
Team USA's only loss came in a hard-fought battle against the Venezuelan team, but Olasin was impressed at the caliber of competition.
“Their baseball was good," he said. “I didn't really know what to expect. I went into the tournament (not knowing) and then once we started playing it was really fun. The competition started getting harder when we moved on further in the tournament."
The World Cup was a learning experience for Olasin and his teammates. While the young player got the thrill of his life just putting on the Team USA jersey for the first time, he was also panicked about playing in front of 10,000 fans for the first time.
“That was scary," Olasin said. “I was pretty nervous. I kind of got past it near the end, by the last inning, but yeah, it was tough."
The Tampa native is currently playing for the MVP Elite Squad based out of Miami, and over the past year under head coach Mike White and team owner Mike Sagaro, Olasin has proven himself to be a top player. There's no doubt in White's mind why the young middle infielder was chosen to represent his country.
“He's a very electric player," White said. “He goes all out every time. Sometimes he's really hard on himself but it's because he's so competitive. He's a very competitive individual … He brings a different energy to the team. That's probably why he made Team USA last year, because of that energy."
Now playing in USA Baseball's 14U National Team Championships in Jupiter, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Olasin knows that he might be a long shot to make the next age group's development roster, being more than a year underage. But his energy and level of competition are certainly on par with what White described.
“I've got to step up my game," Olasin said. “I really have to play hard and go all out (in this tournament). I have to play 100 percent no matter what. I can't go down any level (because I'm younger) and our team competition can't go down. I have to play to the best of my ability and go all out and help my team."
Even as one of the youngest players on MVP Elite Squad's roster, Olasin has shown his ability to take charge on and off the diamond.
“Off the field, he is a leader, people follow him, and we have a great group of kids," White said. “On the field, his speed, his grittiness on the mound—he's almost like a bulldog on the mound with a refuse-to-lose type of attitude. He can't take a step back, and he doesn't. His expectations go higher and higher and higher each time.
“That's a quality that's going to take him above and beyond some other people, because when you have that same level of competition and (talent), you tend to take that kid who has a different energy about him, and he's one of those kids."
Olasin plays the middle infield most often for his travel team, but also impresses on the mound. While his coach likes him best in the infield, White believes he can put the youngster anywhere and get the same results.
“He's unique because of his speed," White said. “He's a very good second baseman and he can also play center field, and he backs up the mound. Second base would probably be where he's primarily at, but what's good about Colton is he's interchangeable.
“We put him at third last week (at an event) in Atlanta and he was one of the better third basemen I've seen, and that was the first time I put him there. He is just high-energy, high-motor, and he's going to give you everything he has every time."