Aumont Joins Canada, Bruce Leaves USA

USA Baseball announced today that Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, Baseball America’s 2007 Minor League Player of the Year, will not be on the team’s World Cup roster

Devil Rays outfielder Justin Ruggiano will take Bruce’s spot on the team. The 25-year-old Ruggiano hit .309/.386/.502 for Triple-A Durham with 20 homers and 26 stolen bases in 2007.

The Americans made a couple of other roster changes as well. The team added 25-year-old righthander Matt Wright, who pitched for Triple-A Omaha (Royals) this season. Wright went 10-5, 4.06 in the Pacific Coast League, walking only 40 batters in 137 1/3 innings. Wright replaces lefthander Heath Phillips (White Sox) on the roster.

Lefthander Neal Musser, a reliever who split time between Omaha and Kansas City in 2007, will also join the USA team. In 55 1/3 Triple-A innings, Musser held down a 0.49 ERA, including a stretch of 42 2/3 innings without surrendering an earned run. He appeared in 24 2/3 innings for Kansas City, posting a 4.38 ERA.

“Due to unanticipated scheduling conflicts for both Heath Phillips and Jay Bruce they will be unable to participate on the 2007 USA Baseball World Cup Team" USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler said in an e-mail. "Justin Ruggiano and Matt Wright have been added to fill the roster spots, and we are fortunate to have two such quality individuals available to join our team.”

Baseball Canada also released its 2007 World Cup roster, which features several younger talents, including six players who are 21 years old or younger.

"Our intent was to go young," said Greg Hamilton, the national teams director of Baseball Canada. "We have some real physical young players on the verge of having an impact on the game internationally. There are a lot of A-ball type guys in that (age) 20-23 range, and we want to see if they can handle the competition."

The team’s youngest player is 18-year-old righthander Phillippe Aumont, who was the No. 11 overall pick (Mariners) in the June draft. Aumont has pitched for Canada’s junior national and youth national teams for years, and Hamilton has praised him in the past for his efforts in international ball.

"The Mariners have been great about being open to the international game and the benefits that come with it," Hamilton said. "He’s an exceptional, physical pitcher with a power arm."

Astros outfielder/first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand, who played in the Futures Game, is also on the team. The 23-year-old hit .289/.360/.455 for Lexington in the low Class A South Atlantic League. Canada also has a trio of promising young outfielders, all of whom have shown patience at the plate and power-hitting ability. Outfielder Nick Weglarz (Indians) had one of the biggest breakout years among prospects in 2007. After missing most of 2006 to have surgery on a broken right hamate bone, Weglarz hit .276/.395/.497 for low Class A Lake County at age 19, with 23 home runs.

Outfielder Jamie Romak, traded from the Braves to the Pirates with first baseman Adam LaRoche in exchange for lefthander Mike Gonzalez and minor league shortstop Brent Lillibridge, is also on the roster. Romak, 22, hit .256/.383/.496 overall with 20 home runs playing primarily in the high Class A Carolina League in 2007.

Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders, who spent most of the season with high Class A High Desert and also played 15 games in Double-A, is a tremendous athlete. Saunders, 20, hit .299/.392/.473 for High Desert and stole 27 bases in 37 attempts.

On the mound, 21-year-old righthander Jamie Richmond (Braves) showed good control in the SAL with a 3.05 ERA and just 25 walks in 138 2/3 innings. The team also has two former big leaguers, righthander Mike Johnson (Expos) and shortstop Kevin Nicholson (Padres).

The World Cup, with a 16-team field, begins Nov. 6 in Taiwan. The tournament has two eight-team round-robin pools, followed by an eight-team single-elimination medal round.

Click here for Canada’s complete World Cup roster.