Summer Stock

USA Baseball embarks on arduous summer schedule




USA Baseball finalized the 22-man roster for this summer's college national team. Sophomores J.P. Arencibia (Tennessee), Sean Doolittle (Virginia) and David Price (Vanderbilt) made the team for the second straight year.

The roster includes 14 sophomores, seven freshmen and a junior. Tennessee and Vanderbilt both placed two players on the club, with Julio Borbon joining Arencibia and Pedro Alvarez joining Price.

Seven All-Americans will play for Team USA: Jake Arrieta, Alvarez, Zack Cozart, Doolittle, Wes Roemer, Nick Schmidt and Cole St.Clair. Five All-Freshman players made the team: Alvarez, Brandon Crawford, Tim Federowicz, Tommy Hunter and Jemile Weeks.

Team USA began play July 4 against Taiwan in Pawtucket, R.I.

New England was the site for this year's trials because USA Baseball's new facility in North Carolina is still under construction. The players stayed at the Dan Duquette Sports Academy in Pittsfield, Mass., for the first few days of the trials, and the camp-like atmosphere helped the players get to know each other, national team general manager Eric Campbell said.

Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin, who is coaching Team USA this summer, said the added travel for trials is a bit different than the process in years past. But he said the visits to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island will be a good precursor for the team's extensive schedule this summer. Campbell said the travel during the trials also showed the coaches which players can handle the constant travel.

Because the College World Series was still in full swing when the trials began, not all of the players were able to arrive on time. Darwin Barney (Oregon State), Wes Roemer (Cal State Fullerton), Joe Savery (Rice), Cole St. Claire (Rice) and Tim Federowicz (North Carolina) were among those who played in Omaha.

"The reason why those teams are still playing is that they have good players," Corbin said.

Some of the invitees are returners from last year's squad, including sophomores J.P Arencibia, Sean Doolittle, David Price and Savery.

"When you play in international competition, it's always good to have experience," Corbin said. "They were special players last year. They will provide the team with some leadership if they make the team."

Davis is also extending his association with Team USA, after he played for the youth national team in 2003 and the junior national team in 2004. Another invitee, Tyson Ross of California, played for the junior national teams in 2004 and '05.

Army lefthander Nick Hill is the only junior on the invite list. Hill was drafted in the 47th round by the Red Sox, but because of his military obligation is not eligible to sign. Hill will be eligible for the draft again next spring, at which point he'll be able to sign with a professional team after his graduation from West Point if the government grants him a waiver.

Campbell said Hill's presence at the trials was special. "There isn't a guy here who doesn't look up to him and say, 'Wow,' " he said.

Team USA will play its annual series against a team of Japanese college players this summer, as well as taking on teams from Germany, Korea and Taiwan. The summer culminates with the defense of their World University Championship gold medal in Havana, Cuba in August.

"I think we'll fare pretty well," Corbin said. "We've got some good arms. From the pitching standpoint, we're going to be pretty strong."

Crowell Returns To Cape In Fine Form

Last summer, southpaw Cody Crowell was just a hometown boy playing with the local summer league team, even if that team was the Harwich Mariners in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

This summer he has returned home to the Cape again, but he's got a chance to make a much bigger name for himself. Crowell looked like one of the top pitchers on the Brewster Whitecaps staff early in the summer, going 1-0, 0.82 in 11 innings with a league-leading 17 strikeouts.

"Playing in the Cape League--it's the best baseball around," he said, even though he almost didn't return to the league this summer. "They got a hold of me late, and I wasn't sure if I was going to play, but the opportunity came and I took it."

A native of Harwichport, Mass., Crowell is no stranger to elite competition. After he redshirted his first season at Vanderbilt in 2004, he made 13 appearances in 2005 and went 2-0, 1.12. This spring, he went 6-2, 3.95 and struck out 52 in 84 innings of work.

Although Crowell had made just three appearances so far this summer, he had already gotten attention. His first appearance was a scoreless four-inning relief stint. In his next outing he started, going seven innings and striking out 11. He had allowed six hits and one walk so far.

While Brewster head coach Bob Macaluso called the start "an outstanding job," Crowell modestly said, "It went well."

"The hardest thing to teach them is to be competitive, and he already has that," pitching coach George Barnes said. "He competes on every single pitch."

Because of Crowell's drive, Barnes said he sometimes works too quickly and fouls up his mechanics.

"He's got a different delivery. It's real fast, herky-jerky," Barnes said, adding that he and Crowell are working on slowing his delivery down.

Barnes said Crowell's experience in the league last year has helped him have great composure on the mound this summer.

"He's adapted to the wood bats, he's not afraid to challenge batters with certain pitches," he said.

Barnes said Crowell also has shown good command of all his pitches--fastball, slider, curveball and changeup--this summer, and he's been working to make his slider more effective.

"Being a lefty, I think a slider's a big pitch for him," he said.

In addition to mastering the slider, Crowell said has been working on his flexibility and maintaining consistency with all of his pitches.

"I try to take it day-by-day and prepare myself for each start," he said. "I try to prepare enough for each start so that when I go out I know I can throw my best."

Because he's a league veteran and a native of the area, Crowell has become a popular figure with the younger players on the team, who pick his brain about the league and the surrounding area. Players like to know about the various fields in the league, but Crowell said he also gets a lot of calls from other players asking for advice about the area, such as where to eat.

Being close to home also allows Crowell's friends and family to watch him. He said they've been to each of his games this summer, which is something that's hard for them to do when he's at Vanderbilt.

"When I'm down at school, they don't see as much of me," he said.

--KRISTIN PRATT

SUMMER SNAPSHOTS

• Reese Havens, a rising sophomore at South Carolina and an infielder with the Cotuit Kettleers, had quite a breakout his first game on the Cape, going 3-for-5, launching two home runs and driving in six. Havens was batting .462 so far this summer.

• Yarmouth-Dennis righthander Chance Corgan was off to a fast start, not allowing an earned run in 14 innings and leading the Cape with 19 strikeouts. In his first start, Corgan went eight innings and surrendered just two hits and two walks, while fanning nine. The Texas A&M hurler struck out 10 in his next appearance against Harwich.

• Righthander Paul Burnside of Winchester pitched a perfect game against Front Royal in a 2-0 victory in the Valley League. Burnside, a rising sophomore at Auburn, struck out 14. Overall he was 1-2, 2.05 with 27 strikeouts and three walks.

• After the departure of head coach Brad Stromdahl, Thunder Bay (Northwoods) promoted John Michael Herrera has been promoted to head coach for the rest of the summer. Stromdahl, who had been an assistant at Central Michigan, left the team because he took a job with Georgia State. He led the Border Cats to the Northwoods League title last summer.

• Randy Boone of the Coppell Copperheads (Texas) threw a one-hit shutout on against Mineral Wells. Boone struck out 13 in the 1-0 victory. It was the first shutout in the league since Nate Melek beat the McKinney Marshals 2-0 in 2004.

• Adam Redd of the Bethesda Big Train (Ripken) played all nine positions during an exhibition game against the Maryland Patriots. Redd is a rising junior at Virginia Tech who had mainly been a reliever for the Hokies, but that night he started on first base and finished by coming on in relief.

• No team in the Jayhawk League has a 1-2 punch at the back of its bullpen like the Hays Larks. Closer Mike Monterey appeared in seven of the team's first 17 contests, not allowing a run in his first 10 innings. The Michigan State righthander had allowed just two hits and two walks, striking out 10. While set-up man Sam Elam (Notre Dame) can't match Monterey in the ERA column, he's been just as lethal from the left side. Elam struck out 21 batters in his first six outings, spanning 11 innings. Elam's summer workload will likely far surpass his total as a freshman with the Fighting Irish, as he threw just 12 innings.

• La Crosse Loggers catcher Ben Barrone has shown he can hit with wood so far in the Northwoods League. Through 19 games, Barrone had hit six home runs and sported a .610 slugging percentages, both of which handily led the league. A rising senior, Barrone caught and closed for Winona (Minn.) State this spring and hit .372 with 16 home runs.