With USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team just one day away from kicking off the competitive portion of its 2014 summer season, coaches and organizers finalized the 24-man roster Monday.
Louisiana State shortstop Alex Bregman, the 2013 College Freshman of the Year, and Arizona State righthander Ryan Burr are representing the Red, White and Blue on the CNT for the second consecutive year.
Joining Bregman and Burr on the team comprised of the top rising sophomores and juniors from around the nation are 19 players making their debut for USA Baseball—including College World Series champions Dansby Swanson and Bryan Reynolds of Vanderbilt—and three who previously have played for USA Baseball in different capacities.
Swanson and Reynolds' teammate at Vanderbilt and fellow national champion Carson Fulmer played with the 2011 18U National Team. Zack Collins (Miami), the 2014 Freshman of the Year, played with the 2011 16U team, and Chris Okey (Clemson) played with the 2010 16U team, the 2011 18U team and the 2012 18U team.
Tate Matheny (Missouri State), son of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, is one of 20 sophomores on the roster.
Riley Ferrell (Texas Christian) and Nathan Kirby (Virginia) were guaranteed spots on the pitching staff, but after both players made their respective exits at the College World Series they opted against playing for the CNT. Ferrell plans to spend the summer training and losing weight, while Kirby plans to rest his arm after throwing 113-plus innings this season, one that ended for him with a five-walk implosion in Game One of the College World Series Finals.
Kirby's absence leaves Tyler Jay (Illinois) and A.J. Minter (Texas A&M) as the only southpaws on the staff. Minter was hurt for much of 2014 and threw 24.1 innings in 2014, but CNT pitching coach Rob Childress (Texas A&M)—who was manager Dave van Horn's (Arkansas) pitching coach at Nebraska in 2001 when the Cornhuskers made their first trip to Omaha—knows what Minter can offer.
Team USA took its first loss of the summer Sunday, losing 7-5 to the Peninsula Pilots of the Coastal Plain League. Team USA had won its first six contests against five CPL teams and one called the Catawba Valley All-Stars.
“I don’t want to make any excuses for anybody but I did see a team that was pretty tired," Coach Dave Van Horn said after the loss. "We had a four-hour bus ride, played a scrimmage game and then sat around for two hours after that. We got off to a great start, jumped ahead 5-0, but it seemed like we just kind of went through the motions after that. I think there were a lot of kids that we stressed out today to be honest and once we get the roster down to 24, I think we’ll see guys start to relax once they know they have made the team and what their role is.”
Hoping they pressed the right buttons when slimming the 33-man roster to 24, the CNT faces off against Taiwan on Tuesday in the first of a five-game series at four different sites in North Carolina. Team USA will play on home soil for the first nine days of July before heading to Netherlands for the Honkbal tournament and then to Cuba.
|Nick Banks||Fr.||OF||Texas A&M|
|Alex Bregman||So.||SS||Lousiana State|
|Tate Matheny||So.||OF||Missouri St.|
|Mark Mathias||So.||IF||Cal Poly|
|D.J. Stewart||So.||OF||Florida State|
|Taylor Ward||So.||C||Fresno State|
|Ryan Burr||So.||RHP||Arizona State|
|Thomas Eshelman||So.||RHP||Cal State Fullerton|
|Justin Garza||So.||RHP||Cal State Fullerton|
|A.J. Minter||So.||LHP||Texas A&M|
|Andrew Moore||So.||RHP||Oregon State|
|Bailey Ober (alternate)||Fr.||RHP||College of Charleston|