Team USA Adds Brackman, Weathers

Neither Andrew Brackman nor Casey Weathers received invitations to USA Baseball’s national team trials in June, but both righthanders will accompany Team USA to Havana, Cuba, for the FISU World University Championship, which begins Aug. 6.

The players were added as replacements after righthanders Bryan Augenstein of Florida (tired arm) and Wes Roemer (family illness) of Cal State Fullerton left the team in late July. Brackman and Weathers made good choices based on their strong summer play and their familiarity with the Team USA staff.

Brackman was the last player cut from Team USA during the 2005 trials and didn’t attend the 2006 edition because of a stress fracture in his hip that prematurely ended his sophomore year North Carolina State (1-3, 6.35 with 32 strikeouts and 19 walks in 28 innings).

Once healthy, the 6-foot-10 Brackman joined Orleans of the Cape Cod League and went 1-0, 1.06 with an 11-9 strikeout-walk ratio in 17 innings. His fastball peaked at 99 mph this summer, and he remains a likely first-round pick in 2007. He is scheduled to make his first start for Team USA on Aug. 2 at Fayetteville (N.C.) of the Coastal Plain League.

“We talked to Andrew in May and told him he wouldn’t be invite to trials be of injury, but asked him if he wanted to be an alternate in case of injury–this exact scenario that came up,” said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball director of national teams. “Based on his trials in 2005, he was a good candidate. He feels good about where he is in terms of pitching development and feels like he’s got this injury thing behind.”

A two-sport player at N.C. State, where he also plays basketball, Brackman was a quick call and add. Securing Weathers took a bit longer. Team USA first contacted Georgia closer Josh Fields, but he opted to stay with Yarmouth-Dennis on the Cape.

“He’s been a man about it, real classy about it,” Campbell said. “He declined the trials invite and we revisited it once Bryan was going to leave the team, gave him a courtesy call and he was very polite about it.”

The search for a righthander out of the bullpen continued with trials invitees Tyson Ross (California), Aaron Shafer (Wichita State) and Kyle Weiland (Notre Dame) before Team USA coach Tim Corbin contacted Weathers, who went 1-1, 3.33 with three saves as a junior on Corbin’s 2006 Vanderbilt team.

Weathers becomes the third Commodores player on Team USA, joining teammates David Price and Pedro Alvarez. He had used his mid-90s fastball to go 1-0, 0.84 this summer for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots and was tied for the Alaska League lead with eight saves.

“The Tigers (who drafted Weathers in the 25th round) were agreeable with us, and Casey was having a great summer,” Campbell said. “The righthanders we released from trials had stopped pitching, and Tyson Ross need to continue to start.”

Team USA is 18-2-1 on its summer tour with two exhibitions remaining against Coastal Plain League teams before it departs for Cuba on Aug. 3.