Team USA Junior Roster Takes Shape

USA Baseball has picked the 20-man roster for the junior national team that will compete in the COPABE Pan Am junior championship Sept. 2-11 in Villahermosa, Mexico. The event serves as a qualifier for the 2006 World Junior Championship.

The team was selected from the pool of players at the Tournament of Stars in Joplin, Mo. A group of 26 players participated in team trials and played six exhibition games in Atlanta before the final roster was set.

"I feel good about this team," said junior national team coach Jerry Dawson of Chaparral High in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I like the chemistry of this group.

"We are trying to build a club on speed, defense and pitching. So we have to coach to the style of players that we have. With our team speed, we cause stress for other teams when we play them. Defensively, we have made only three errors during our six exhibition games here in the Atlanta area. That's pretty solid. With four shutouts in six games, our pitching has turned out to be what we expected. That is a credit to our assistant coaches who identified that strength early in the player evaluation process."

Because the age requirements stipulate players be born in 1987 or later, the team features three players slated to play college baseball this spring. Lefthanders Jeremy Bleich and Sean Ratliff will attend Stanford and righthander Tyson Ross will play at California.

The junior roster also features players with interesting connections to professional and college baseball. Infielder Marcus Lemon is the son of former big leaguer Chet Lemon. Lefthander Brett Anderson's father Frank is head coach at Oklahoma State. Righthander Josh Thrailkil played at T.C. Roberson High with Cameron Maybin, the 10th overall pick in June.