DURHAM, N.C.--The United States will be looking to take home gold next month in Toronto at the Pan American Games after taking home silver in 2011.
On Monday, less than two weeks before the action begins July 10-19, USA Baseball released its roster of non-40-man roster players for the Pan Am event, with the team to be managed by former Dodgers and Pirates skipper Jim Tracy.
Tracy's staff includes Marcel Lachemann, Ernie Young, Jim Lett and Roly de Armas. Lachemann, Young and de Armas have previously coached with Team USA and will bring international experience to the table. Lachemann has worked with seven previous USA Baseball pro teams, including the first U.S. pro team in the 1999 Pan Ams in Winnipeg.
As for the players, the 2015 roster resembles the coaching staff with plenty of players who are veterans of USA Baseball national teams at the amateur or pro levels. It mixes young, exciting talent and veteran experience from both the major league and minor league levels.
As for the prospects, 11 currently rank in organization Top 30 prospects lists, led by righthanders Aaron Blair (Diamondbacks) and Jake Thompson (Rangers), who ranked Nos. 40 and 43 on BA’s Top 100. Others selected include righthander Brian Ellington (No. 22, Marlins); lefthanders Josh Hader (No. 10, Houston) and Nate Smith (No. 14, Angels); catcher Tom Murphy (No. 6, Rockies); first baseman Dan Vogelbach (No. 25, Cubs); versatile infielder Jacob Wilson (No. 18, Cardinals); and outfielders Albert Almora (No. 7, Cubs) and Travis Jankowski (No. 29, Padres).
Of the other 13 players on the roster, six have major league experience, such as first baseman Casey Kotchman, 32, who played for the 16-and-under team back in 1998-99. The others include outfielder Brian Bogusevic (Phillies), catcher Eric Fryer (Twins), lefthander David Huff (Dodgers) and infielders Andy Parrino (Athletics) and Tyler Pastornicky (Rangers).
This isn't the first time some of these ballplayers have graced the "USA" letters across their chests. Almora leads the way and will make his seventh appearance on a USA Baseball roster. He previously had spent two years each on the 14U, 16U and 18U teams wearing the red, white and blue. Murphy (2011 Collegiate National Team), Kotchman and Barrett ('08 18U) are also all alumni of Team USA.
Although the roster is comprised of non-40-man roster players, USA Baseball expects to compete even as the Pan Am event conflicts with the Futures Game, which will be played July 12 in Cincinnati.
The squad will come together first in Cary, N.C., at the USA Baseball National Training Complex at the end of this week and play exhibition games against the Pan Am teams from Canada and Cuba on July 6-7 and the Collegiate National Team on July 8. The team will then head to Toronto for the Pan Am Games with their first game set for July 11 against Puerto Rico at the President's Choice Ajax Pan Am Ballpark.
The U.S. has not taken home a gold medal from the Pan American Games since 1967, and that has not been forgotten. Canada beat the U.S. for the gold medal in 2011. Cuba had won every Pan Am tournament since ’67 before losing to the U.S. in the 2011 semifinals.
"We are very motivated, everyone that represents Team USA and puts on a jersey from our coaching staff down through the last player on the roster--they know there is one goal," said USA Baseball’s Cody Wilcoxson, the director of communications. "That's for us to go win a gold medal."