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12U National Team Manager RJ Farrell Brings Gold Medal Mentality to 11U Futures
CARY, N.C. – At this week’s 11U Futures Invitational in Cary, North Carolina, 24 teams from across the nation are competing for gold medals and the right to take home to Futures trophy.
And while they do that, 2022 12U National Team Manager RJ Farrell and the USA Baseball Task Force will watch the tournament unfold with another medal in mind: the 2022 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup gold medal.
Farrell and the task force have a big task in front of them as they prepare to build the 2022 12U National Team. While they have already identified and selected 12 players from last summer’s 11U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup to compete at 12U National Team Trials, 24 more athletes from the Futures Invitational will receive an invite by the tournament’s end on Sunday.
Farrell feels lucky to have such a strong group of task force members to assist in the player identification process.
“This task force is amazing and they’re going to get after it,” Farrell said. “We’re focused on building the roster out the right way. They’re veterans in every way in terms of player evaluation and understanding these kids.”
The roster that the staff is focused on building will be the team that travels to Tainan, Taiwan, for the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. Team USA is looking to return to the top of the podium, as the program won back-to-back gold medals in 2015 and 2017 before falling short in 2019.
The Futures Invitational, which brings together 24 of the country’s best travel programs for a four-day tournament across two different locations, is the primary identification event for the 12U National Team. USA Baseball’s eight-person task force is locked in on every pitch, play, and moment, ensuring that they will put together the best possible 36-man Trials roster.
While evaluating, Farrell is looking for more than just talented players.
“We’re looking for kids who can play the game at a really high level,” he said. “Then, as we get through the week, we’ll start seeing the character aspects and the maturity of these young men. Ultimately, to make a national team, it takes a mature young man.”
Part of that character evaluation comes throughout the week at Futures. The task force makes a point to chat with the players before and after games, making sure they get to know every aspect of the player and person before extending an invite to Trials.
After Futures concludes on Sunday with the crowning of a tournament champion, the work for the staff has just begun. The Trials roster will be finalized shortly after, and the work toward trimming that roster to a final 18-man roster will be underway.
At Trials, players will endure four days of intrasquad games, athletic assessments, and more to give the coaching staff a better idea of who will be the perfect fit for Team USA. It’s a process that will be new to most – if not all – of the participating players.
“These guys will go into four days of intense training with the national team staff and Trials coaches,” Farrell said. “It will be like something these guys have never been through.”
The experience will be a memory for the athletes, and will serve as a major point of development early in their baseball careers. At the conclusion of Trials, Farrell and his staff will be ready to name the final roster for the 12U National Team, moving the process yet another step closer to Team USA’s trip to the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup.
Although this is Farrell’s second year serving on field as manager of the stars and stripes, it will be his international managerial debut in 2022. In 2021, amidst uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, Farrell led Team USA to a 3-0 record in exhibition play. Now, he will be at the helm the U.S. travels internationally.
That has added a bit more meaning to the entire process.
“When we did this last year, we still were a little unsure what we were going to be doing in the summer,” Farrell said. “This summer, we know exactly what we’re doing. We’re going to Taiwan.”
Premier Nationals Capture Gold at 11U Futures Invitational
CARY, N.C. -- After falling short in the title game in 2021, the Premier Nationals took down Showcase Baseball Academy, 12-4, to win the 2022 11U Futures Invitational on Sunday afternoon at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
After falling into an early 3-0 hole in the top of the first, Premier bounced back for two runs in the bottom of the inning and four runs in the bottom of the second to take control of the contest. After Carter Holder hit the game-tying single in the third, Dylan Mercado delivered a three-run triple to give Premier a 6-3 lead. The Nationals added five runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to break the game open and pull away with their first Futures Invitational title in program history.
Mercado drove in four runs in the win to carry the Premier offense, also drawing a walk in the gold medal win. Major Ciers and Cash Ericcson each had two hits for the Nationals and Ciers added a pair of RBIs in the offensive outburst. Ericsson, Holder, and Grey Taylor each scored two runs in the victory. SBA got two hits from Graham Huffstettler in the defeat.
Tristin Gaines tossed four innings and allowed just the three early runs to earn the win for Premier and Taylor pitched the final three frames to notch the save. Colton Pettinato surrendered the loss for SBA.
- SBA nabbed three quick runs in the top of the first inning to jump out to an early lead. Mason Mackay delivered the game's opening run with an RBI single before he and Huffstettler scored on a pickoff attempt to give SBA a 3-0 lead.
- Premier answered in their half of the first on a sacrifice fly by Mercado and an RBI groundout by Quinn Neal, trimming the deficit to 3-2.
- Holder singled to the right field in Premier's half of the third to drive in Ericsson and tie the game at three.
- With the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Mercado roped a bases-clearing triple to right field to plate three runs and give the Nationals a 6-3 lead.
- Both sides got solid pitching in the middle innings, as Gaines and Taylor combined to keep SBA off the scoreboard and Chase Woodley pitched well for SBA to hold Premier's offense in check.
- Premier used a big five-run fifth to put the game out of reach. After Neal doubled to lead off the frame, Ty Chambless drove him in to make it 7-3. Two batters later, Ericsson socked a double and Ciers hit a two-run triple as the Nationals grew their lead to 10-3.
- Woodley scored on a wild pitch to cap the five-run rally for Premier, giving the Nationals an eight-run lead after five. Chambless drove in another run in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 12-3.
- SBA plated a run in the top of the seventh on an RBI groundout by Ryder Sheffield, but Taylor induced a game-ending groundout to end the game and secure the gold medal for Premier.
- With the win, the Premier Nationals secured their first Futures Invitational gold medal in program history.
- Mercado finished the tournament with a .500 average (8-for-16), driving in nine runs throughout the tournament to help lift Premier to the gold medal.
- Holder scored a team-high nine runs in the tournament for the gold medalists. He batted .381 (8-for-21) in six games played.
- Premier finished the tournament with a combined 3.00 ERA. Mercado (1.68) and Ciers (1.91) had the two lowest ERAs for the Nationals.
- Woodley had a .412 average (7-for-17) throughout the tournament for SBA. He hit a pair of doubles and drove in a team-best five RBIs, also scoring three runs.
- The silver medal is SBA's first-ever medal at the Futures Invitational.
Premier Nationals to Meet Showcase Baseball Academy in 11U Futures Title Game
Premier Nationals 8, ZT Prospects National 5
The Premier Nationals got revenge from last year’s 11U Futures title game, taking down ZT Prospects National, 8-5, in semifinal action. After ZT Prospects got on the board immediately in the first, the Nationals took the lead and then went back and forth until an explosive fifth inning helped them pull away.
Nine different players had at least one hit for the Nationals, with Cash Ericsson and Dylan Mercado leading with two hits apiece. Liam Barry, Ericsson, and Quinn Neal each drove in two runs in the win for Premier. ZT’s offense was led by two-hit efforts from Adam Allet, Eli Martinez, Caleb Lozano, and Mason Smith.
Mercado earned the win for Premier, turning in 5.1 innings and allowing five runs (two earned). He was replaced by Chase Cook, who got the final five outs and allowed just two hits. Martinez suffered the loss for ZT Prospects.
- After tossing a scoreless top of the first inning, Martinez drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single to plate Trent O’Malley and give ZT Prospects a 1-0 lead.
- The Nationals immediately answered in the top of the second, loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk before Barry singled to left field to give Premier a 2-1 edge.
- Premier’s Mercado responded well to the run support on the mound in the second, tossing a perfect frame to give the Nationals a shutdown inning.
- ZT Prospects was able to scratch a run across in the bottom of the third. Mannix Renfro was hit by a pitch and Allett singled, followed by another RBI single by Martinez to knot the game at two apiece.
- In the bottom of the fourth, ZT Prospects scored again to take the lead. With two outs and two on, Lozano singled on a line drive to left field to give his squad a 3-2 edge.
- Premier National immediately responded in the top of the fifth, exploding for six runs to open up a big lead. The rally started when Cook slammed a two-run double to give Premier a one-run lead, and continued when Carter Holder singled to put Premier in front 5-3.
- The lead was extended to five for Premier National when they tacked on a trio of runs in the fourth on defensive miscues by ZT Prospects.
- ZT Prospects crept a little closer in the bottom of the sixth, scoring twice to make it 8-5. The first run came on a single by Lozano followed by a sacrifice fly from Kason Burger to make it a three-run game.
- Cook secured the final three outs in the seventh to punch Premier's ticket to the title game.
- The game was a rematch of last year’s 11U Futures title game, which resulted in a gold medal for ZT Prospects in 2021.
- The Nationals had five hits in their six-run fifth inning, including three consecutive knocks early in the frame.
- Mercado is now batting .500 (7-for-14) in the tournament and has at least one hit in all five games played for the Nationals.
- Martinez also raised his tournament batting average to .500 (7-for-14) and has now driven in seven runs across five games for ZT Prospects.
- With the win, Premier advances to the 11U Futures Invitational title game for the second consecutive year.
Showcase Baseball Academy 1, Braves Baseball Academy 0
Showcase Baseball Academy was able to hold a powerful Braves Baseball Academy offense scoreless in route to a 1-0 shutout win to clinch a spot in the 11U Futures title game.
SBA scratched a run across in the top of the second and then spent the rest of the game playing strong defense to keep the Braves off the board and secure the win. The only run of the game came on an RBI single by Layton Saliba in the second inning.
Graham Hufstetler got the win for SBA after tossing 5.0 shutout innings, scattering five hits and striking out three. Colton Pettinato entered for the final batter and induced a game-ending ground out to get the save for SBA. Despite throwing a complete game, Parker Visage got the loss for the Braves after allowing just a single run on six hits.
- Visage worked around a one-out hit in the top of the first to keep the game scoreless in the opening frame, and Hufstetler did the same for Showcase as the game stayed scoreless in the early going.
- Hufstetler led off the top of the second inning with a triple and scored on an RBI single by Saliba to give SBA a 1-0 lead.
- The Braves got a leadoff single from Mateo Mier in the bottom of the second, but Hufstetler coaxed a big double play to escape the inning and keep the Braves scoreless.
- SBA put a runner in scoring position in their half of the third when Pettinato hit a two-out triple, but an inning-ending groundout thwarted the scoring chance.
- Another opportunity came for SBA to extend the lead in the top of the fourth when they hit back-to-back singles, but a double play retired the side and kept the game 1-0.
- The Braves started their half of the fourth with a pair of singles to open the inning before lining into a double play as the game remained a one-run contest.
- The scoring chances came few and far between in the final few innings, as Ryder Sheffield and Pettinato combined to pitch the final two frames to secure to win.
- The win was SBA’s second shutout of the day, as they beat Knights Elite, 4-0, in quarterfinal round action on Saturday morning.
- SBA has now allowed just six runs over the tournament’s first five games.
- The Braves had a potent offense up until this point, combining to score 43 runs in their first four games before the shutout.
- Visage’s complete game came on a 73-pitch effort, as the Braves’ starter was dominant aside from the early run.
- With the win, SBA secures a spot in the 11U Futures title game for the first time in program history.
GBG San Diego's Max Villalva Wins 11U Futures Home Run Derby
CARY, N.C. -- GBG San Diego's Max Villalva put on a dominant performance at the 2022 11U Futures Invitational Home Run Derby on Friday night, cranking 12 homers in two rounds to secure the derby trophy. Villalva hit five homers in the first round to advance to the championship round, and then cranked seven dingers in the finals to win it.
Villalva homered all over the ballpark in the derby victory, spreading the homers around. His first-round showing put him into the final round against One National's Andres Armenta, Carolina Cardinals' Mason Karraas, ZT Prospect National's Eli Martinez, and Premier Nationals' Quinn Neal. Martinez and Neal each cranked five homers in the final round, but Villalva was able to pull away with the seven-homer showing.
The derby featured 23 participants, with each competing in the first round before the top five contestants moved on to the final. The National Training Complex was jumping all derby long, with players' teammates and families heavily invested in the result.
Villalva is currently batting .556 (5-for-9) in the 11U Futures Invitational, leading the offensive attack for GBG San Diego. He has a hit in all three of the team's games, including multiple hits in each of his last two. Villalva has already locked in a spot at 2022 12U National Team Trials via last year's National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup.
He was only one of three batters to hit double dit homers on Friday night, along with Martinez and Neal.
The 11U Futures Invitational gets back into action on Saturday morning, with the semifinal round set to kick off at 10:45 a.m. at Middle Creek Park in Cary, North Carolina.
ZT Prospects National Completes 10U Futures Title Defense With Gold Medal Win
CARY, N.C. – ZT Prospects National (CA) completed its title defense at the 10U Futures Invitational on Sunday, taking down Banditos DeLeon (TX), 8-1, at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
ZT Prospects National took a quick lead in the bottom of the first and then built on the lead in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs to give them a 4-0 edge. The runs came on back-to-back RBI singles by Salvador Garcia and Jacob Miller, which were two of the four hits for the squad in the eventful third frame. ZT Prospects National then added four runs in the fifth, with two of them coming on a single by Garcia.
The Banditos battled to get back into the game but had multiple rallies halted before they could get on the scoreboard. Salvador Garcia kept the Banditos’ offense at bay all game long, turning in5.2 innings of one-run ball to earn the win. Garcia struck out five and allowed just four hits in the win. Despite pitching well, Reese Pogue suffered the loss for the Banditos.
ZT Prospects National got production from the top of their lineup, with Garcia, Miller, and Ju combining for seven RBIs in the victory. Steven Holguin and Chase Meka each scored two runs in the win for the gold medalists. Maddox McBryde, Boston Targac, and Ian Yarbrough combined to tally the four hits for the Banditos.
- Garcia was locked in from the first pitch, retiring the Banditos in order to open the game in the top of the first.
- After reaching on an error to lead off the bottom of the first, Humphris advanced to third and scored on an RBI groundout by Ju to open the scoring and give ZT Prospects National a 1-0 lead.
- Garcia retired nine of the first ten batters he faced, carrying the 1-0 lead into the bottom of the third for ZT Prospects National. The squad then eventually loaded the bases before Garcia and Miller notched back-to-back singles to give ZT Prospects National a 4-0 advantage.
- The Banditos nearly cracked the scoreboard in the top of the fourth, putting two runners on with one out, but Garcia coaxed a strikeout and a ground out to escape the jam and keep the Banditos off the board.
- Holguin and Meka both singled to open the bottom of the fifth inning, and both were plated on another RBI single by Garcia. Garcia would eventually come around to score as ZT Prospects National’s lead grew to 8-0.
- McBryde tripled in a run in the Banditos’ final frame, driving in Targac to get on the board before Amari Kirschner entered to seal the victory for ZT Prospects National.
- With the win, ZT Prospects National has now won back-to-back 10U Futures Invitational titles, becoming the first program in event history to accomplish the feat.
- ZT Prospects National finished the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record, outscoring opponents 47-10.
- The Banditos finished runners-up at the 10U Futures Invitational for the first time in program history.
ZT Prospects National to Meet With Banditos DeLeon in 10U Futures Gold Medal Game
CARY, N.C. – The gold medal game is set at the 2022 10U Futures Invitational.
Looking to defend their 2021 title, ZT Prospects National (CA) will battle Banditos DeLeon (TX) on Sunday in the title game at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
The matchup comes after ZT Prospects National and Banditos DeLeon both earned semifinal round victories on Saturday.
ZT Prospects National 6, WFBA Hammerheads 1
After ZT Prospects National opened the scoring on an RBI groundout by Steven Holguin in the bottom of the third, the team broke the game open with a huge hit in the bottom of the fourth. With two runners on and no outs in the frame, Salvador Garcia cranked an inside-the-park homer to deep right field to plate three runs and give ZT Prospects National a four-run edge.
The WFBA Hammerheads chipped away and cut the lead to 4-1 in the fifth, but ZT Prospects National added a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to secure the semifinal win. Garcia had a game-high four RBIs, going 1-for-3 in the win. Bryant Ju (2-for-2) and Gavin Sumter (2-for-2) both added a pair of hits for ZT Prospects National, while Carson Behr (1-for-2) tallied the only hit for the WFBA Hammerheads.
Jacob Miller got the start on the mound for ZT Prospects National and twirled a gem, throwing a complete game and allowing just one run and one hit with five strikeouts. Hampton Maddox suffered the loss for the WFBA Hammerheads, allowing four runs over four innings.
- Miller got ZT Prospects National off to a strong start on the mound, striking out the side in the top of the first.
- After Ju singled for the game’s first hit in the bottom of the first, Maddox escaped trouble with a pick off and a fly out to keep the game scoreless.
- Miller and Maddox exchanged scoreless frames again in the second inning before the WFBA Hammerheads put a runner on base with two outs in the third. Ju erased the runner with a caught stealing to retire the side.
- Sumter singled and was sacrificed over on a bunt by Amari Kirschner before eventually scoring on an RBI groundout by Holguin to open the scoring and give ZT Prospects National a 1-0 lead.
- ZT Prospects National kept the foot on the gas in the fourth, hitting back-to-back singles before Garcia’s three-run homer broke the game open. The homer came on a deep fly ball to right field, and Garcia was able to score standing up.
- The WFBA Hammerheads battled back in the top of the fifth, scoring on an RBI groundout by Michael Wedgeworth to trim the deficit to 4-1.
- Garcia drove in another run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI fielder’s choice and ZT Prospects National capped off the scoring with another run to give them a 6-1 lead that they would go on to win by.
- Miller threw just 50 pitches in the complete-game win, tossing 45 strikes. He faced 19 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of them.
- Zachary Humphris scored a pair of runs for ZT Prospects National, touching home plate each time he reached base.
- ZT Prospects National put together nine hits in the win.
- With the win, ZT Prospects National clinched their spot in the 2022 10U Futures Invitational Gold Medal Game.
Banditos DeLeon 8, San Diego Show 2
Although the game was a pitchers’ duel entering the third, Banditos DeLeon put up four runs in the third and another four in the sixth to knock off the San Diego Show (CA)
in the 2022 10U Futures Invitational semifinals.
Banditos opened the scoring with an offensive explosion in the top of the third, scoring four times over a four-batter span to take control of the game. San Diego Show responded with two runs over their own over the next two frames, but Banditos answered back with another four-run inning in the top of the sixth to put the game out of reach.
Banditos got six hits in the game, all coming from different players. Tanner Oberholter drove in two runs to lead the offensive attack, while Brayden Worthen and Case Miller chipped in a pair. Silas Entrekin had a game-high two hits, pacing the offense for San Diego.
Boston Targac turned in five innings of two-run ball to earn the win for Banditos, scattering six hits while striking out two. Entrekin surrendered the loss for San Diego, allowing four runs on three hits.
- Targac and Entrekin exchanged zeroes in the first two innings, with Targac escaping a jam in the first.
- Mason Salinas was hit by a pitch to lead off Banditos’ half of the third, and Ian Yarbrough followed that with a single and the runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt to put two into scoring position. Brayden Worthen followed with a base-hit through the left side to plate the game’s first run and give Banditos a 1-0 edge.
- The score quickly became 2-0 in favor of Banditos when Yarbrough was plated on an error in the third.
- Banditos scored two more in the third, as Worthen and Miller touched home on wild pitches to extend the lead to four.
- After winning the home run derby on Friday night, Carson Reis got San Diego Show on the board in the bottom of the third with an RBI single to right field to trim the deficit to 4-1.
- San Diego Show continued battling in the bottom of the fourth, making it a 4-2 game on an RBI single by John Kauffman.
- Looking to add insurance runs in the top of the sixth, Banditos put four runs on the board to give them an 8-2 lead. Yarbough opened the scoring on a wild pitch before Salinas and Oberholter smoked doubles to make it a six-run game.
- Reese Pogue fired a perfect inning in the bottom of the sixth to secure the win and a spot in the title game on Sunday.
- Salinas scored a game-high two runs in the win.
- Targac threw 10 first-pitch strikes to the 13 batters he faced.
- San Diego Show put at least one runner on base in each of the first four innings, but Targac was able to evade trouble and keep Banditos in front.
- With the win, Banditos clinched their spot in the 2022 10U Futures Invitational Gold Medal Game.
The 2022 10U Futures Invitational title game will take place on Sunday morning at 10:45 am ET from Thomas Brooks Park. Follow along with all of the action on Twitter!
San Diego Show's Carson Reis Wins 10U Futures Home Run Derby
CARY, N.C. -- In front of an energetic crowd at the 10U Futures Invitational Home Run Derby, Carson Reis of the San Diego Show took home the trophy with a strong final-round performance.
Reis cranked five homers in the last round, pulling away from the rest of the field to clinch the trophy. After he smoked two roundtrippers in the first round, including one to the opposite field, Reis hit two more homers than anyone else in the final round.
Reis competed in the final round against Tyler Early (One National), Kolt Hampton (Knights Elite), Bryant Ju (ZT Prospects National), and Jacoby Van Winkle (Prime 27:17). Early and Ju both clubbed three dingers in the championship round, but Reis' strong performance was enough to earn the title. Early and Ju both hit their homers to the pull side, sending shaggers deep into the grass.
Reis socked four blasts to left field and hit his deepest homer of the night to straightaway center field. The California native got the fans fired up at the National Training Complex, with Reis' San Diego Show teammates making more noise with each homer.
Prior to the championship round, the 16 players battled in a team competition. Ju carried Team Blue to a victory with a dramatic final 30 seconds, as the ZT Prospects National star cranked five homers to win it for his team. It was the highest scoring output of the team round.
There were impressive performances throughout the team round, with players supporting their teammates with every at-bat. Jacoby Van Winkle (Prime 27:17) had a ton of support from his teammates, who were sitting right behind home plate and reacting to every blast.
The 10U Futures Invitational returns to action on Saturday morning, with semifinal action set to begin at 10:45 am ET.
Coaches Balance Focus and Fun at 10U Futures Invitational
The coaches at the 2022 10U Futures Invitational have many things in mind.
They brought their teams to Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina, aiming to finish the tournament with gold medals and a championship trophy. In an ideal world, their team would post a perfect record and head home with gold medals around their neck.
But there is only one trophy and only one champion. Equally important to the wins are the experiences that the players have during their trip to Cary. Playing at the home of USA Baseball, showcasing skills in front of national team coaches and task force members, and travelling across the country with teammates is an experience that not many kids get to have, and their coaches are sure to recognize that.
“The biggest thing for me is that they just go out there and enjoy the experience as baseball players,” said Prime 27:17 head coach Jerrod Ryherd. “This is something that I’m jealous of because I didn’t get to do this as a kid. As a coach and a loving father who loves the game of baseball like these kids do, I want to give them this opportunity. The expectation is to win, but I also just want them to have a lot of fun.”
Having fun while also competing is a major key at the 10U Futures Invitational. The games are important, but making sure they’re being played in an exciting and upbeat environment helps to ensure the growth of the sport. Finding a way to have fun while also competing is something that’s been emphasized throughout the event.
“It’s a balance,” said WFBA Hammerheads head coach Misty Hiatt. “You have to put a little pressure on them so they can experience it, but in return they need to have some fun, too. I’ve seen kids at this age get pushed really hard and end up not having fun and they drop out of baseball because it’s been such a pressure cooker. College coaches are looking for kids who love baseball and that’s what we’re trying to instill there. We want the kids to love baseball.”
Coaches at the tournament are also focused on showcasing the talents of their players. One of the most attractive parts of the Futures Invitational is the fact that national team coaches and task force members are evaluating every pitch. Throughout all 16 games of Thursday’s opening round action, there were eyes on every play and every player.
Getting exposure to evaluators at a young age is a major reason why coaches bring their programs to Cary, and is one of the main focuses during the event.
“This is an opportunity for our players to be evaluated and to be seen by people outside of our program,” said San Diego Show head coach Hector Lorenzana. “It’s always a great thing to have different baseball eyes on our kids to learn the things they’re doing well and the things they need to improve on.”
That sentiment is echoed by Hiatt.
“I’m showcasing these kids,” he said. “I want the kids to be showcased. I am trying to get these kids seen. My message to my kids is ‘hustle on and off the field, run the balls out, play hard and maybe you can open up some eyes.’”
On top of the enjoyment of the experience and the focus on player evaluation, another thing on the mind of players and coaches is winning. This year’s tournament features 16 of the nation’s best teams, covering eight states. The reigning champion ZT Prospects National (TX) return for a shot at a second-straight title, and will have a strong field to compete with. Several teams had strong showings on the tournament’s opening day, including Knights Elite’s (AZ) 28-run output in two games and the San Diego Show’s plus-24 run differential across a pair of victories.
Competing in a tournament with such a large group of talent is what attracts the nation’s best. The Futures Invitational is consistently one of the most highly-anticipated events on the amateur baseball calendar, making it an easy decision to attend.
“It was a no-brainer at the beginning of the year that we were going to come here and play,” Hiatt said.. “We’re just trying to push our kids and give them these experiences so that when they do get older, they know how to respond to it."
2022 10U Futures Invitational Field Reveal
The USA Baseball 10U Futures Invitational is an elite youth championship event exclusively reserved for the best 10U teams featuring the top youth talent in the nation. The tournament will be hosted at Thomas Brooks Park, at the home of the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, as well as Middle Creek Park in Cary, North Carolina.
Stay tuned each day as we reveal the 16-team field for the 2022 10U Futures Invitational.
2022 11U Futures Invitational Field Reveal
The USA Baseball 11U Futures Invitational is an elite youth championship event exclusively reserved for the best 11U teams featuring the top youth talent in the nation. The tournament will be hosted at Thomas Brooks Park, at the home of the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, as well as Middle Creek Park in Cary, North Carolina.
Stay tuned each day as we reveal the 24-team field for the 2022 11U Futures Invitational.
2022 11U FUTURES INVITATIONAL TEAMS
One National: The program from Chandler, Arizona, returns to the 11U Futures Invitational after winning a pair of games at the event in 2021. Playing as Arizona National Baseball Academy, the program earned gold at the 2019 10U Futures Invitational.
Americans Baseball: The 2017 11U Futures champs are back for their sixth straight tournament in 2021. After making their Futures debut in 2016, the program followed with a gold medal in 2017 and a silver medal in 2018. The Top Tier Americans are based out of Irvine, California.
Dingers Athletics: The program returns to Cary for its 11U Futures Invitational debut after participating in the 10U event last summer. Dingers Athletics, which is based in Buford, Georgia, went 3-2 in the 2021 10U tournament.
New York Longhorns: The program will travel from Long Island, New York, to make its 11U Futures Invitational debut in the 2022.
San Diego Show: Since 2016, the San Diego Show have competed in every 11U Futures Invitational. The program owns a pair of bronze and silver medals in its history at the event, and is back in 2022 after picking up two wins last summer.
Vegas Gamers: Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, the Gamers will make their 11U Futures Invitational debut after participating at the 10U level in 2021.
Team Mizuno: After making their 11U Futures Invitational last summer, Team Mizuno is back in the field for 2022. The program hails from Chicago, Illinois.
Rawlings Prospects MD: The program, which is based out of Annapolis, Maryland, will make its 11U Futures Invitational debut in 2022.
Canes West Futures: The Irvine, California-based program will head back to Cary for the 2022 11U Futures Invitational after participating in last year's event. The program had two players compete at 11U Futures last year and earn spots on the 2021 12U National Team: Brodie Campbell and Caleb Hudson.
Rock Solid Taylor: After participating in the 2021 10U Futures Invitational, Rock Solid Taylor returns to Cary for the 11U event in 2022. The program had a strong offensive output in last year's 10U event, with scoring outputs of 12, 10, and 9 runs in three of their games.
Knights Elite: Traveling to Cary from San Tan Valley, Arizona, Knights Elite is making its 11U Futures Invitational debut in 2022.
IAM Baseball: After winning a pair of games at the 2021 11U Futures Invitational, IAM Baseball is back for this year's tournament. The program is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
Carolina Cardinals: Making the short trip from Raleigh, North Carolina, the Carolina Cardinals will make their 11U Futures Invitational debut in 2022. The program participated in last year's 10U event, posting a 3-1 record.
Braves Baseball Academy: Hailing from Van Nuys, California, Braves Baseball Academy makes the trip to Cary after finishing second in the 2021 10U Futures Invitational. The 10U club went 4-1 in last year's event, falling to ZT Prospects in the gold medal game.
Bo Jackson Elite: After playing in last year's 10U Futures Invitational, Bo Jackson Elite will make its debut at the 11U event this summer. The program, based out of Hilliard, Ohio, went 3-1 at the 10U Futures Invitational a summer ago.
DreamChasers: The New York-based program returns to the Futures Invitational after finishing third in the 2021 event. The DreamChasers went 4-2 a year ago, topping the Lamorinda Titans (Calif.) in the bronze medal game. Julian Martinez, who played catcher for the 2021 12U National Team, was a member of the DreamChasers at the 2021 11U Futures Invitational.
Scottsdale Dirtbags: After posting a 3-2 record at last year's event, the Scottsdale Dirtbags are back in the mix for the 2022 11U Futures Invitational. The Arizona-based program scored 16 runs in its opening game against Team Mizuno in 2021.
GBG San Diego: Making the trip from the west coast, GBG San Diego will be a first-time participant at the 2022 11U Futures Invitational.
East Coast Sox: The program, which is based out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will make its 11U Futures Invitational debut in 2022.
Showcase Baseball Academy: The local program returns to the 11U Futures Invitational after posting a 3-2 record in 2021. Derek Vazquez, who batted .400 for the 2021 12U National Team, was a member of the Showcase Baseball Academy in last year's event. The program is based out of Matthews, North Carolina.
Next Level Prospects: Hailing from Pooler, Georgia, the program will will make its Futures Invitational debut in 2022.
KBC Cardinals: After earning bronze at the 2021 10U Futures Invitational, the KBC Cardinals are in the field for this year's 11U tournament. The Cardinals walked off on the San Diego SHOW to take third place in the 10U event last summer, capping a 4-1 performance. The program is based out of Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania.
Premier National: The 2021 11U Futures Invitational runners-up will make the trip to Cary from Tomball, Texas. The program went 5-1 in 2021, going unbeaten before falling to ZT Prospects National in the gold medal game. Easton Brunson, who hit three homers for the 2021 12U National Team last summer, was a member of Premier National at the 2021 11U Futures Invitational.
ZT Prospects National: After securing gold at the 2021 11U Futures Invitational, ZT Prospects National returns to Cary looking for its second straight title. Based out of Fullerton, California, the program went 5-1 in last year's event and beat Premier National, 5-2, in the gold medal game. Five members of the 2021 11U Futures Invitational-winning team earned spots on the 2021 12U National Team, including Hudson Brown, Aaron Garcia, Angel Gonzalez, Jackson Fetters, and Julian Rodriguez.
Twenty-Four Athletes Invited to 12U Trials From 11U Futures Invitational
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today the 11U Futures Invitational participants that have been invited to the 2021 USA Baseball 12U National Team Trials. The list features 24 athletes that competed in the 2021 11U tournament in Cary, North Carolina, from June 24-27, including five from the ZT Prospects team that won gold at the event.
The 2021 11U Futures Invitational, which is an elite youth championship tournament that serves as a primary identification event for the 12U National Team, featured the largest pool of talent in the event’s history this summer with an expanded field of 24 teams battling for gold. Each of the more than 300 participants at this year’s event was evaluated by the USA Baseball Task Force and the 2021 12U National Team staff throughout the tournament.
Twelve of the identification event’s 24 teams are represented in the Trials selections and six teams boast multiple invitees, with ZT Prospects’ five athletes leading the way. Canes West Futures followed close behind with three players on the list, while I AM National, SBA Futures, Dream Chasers, and MVP Hustle Ruiz all boast two selections.
The Premier Nationals earned the 2021 11U Futures Invitational silver medal after falling to ZT Prospects, 5-2, in the championship game, while the Dream Chasers took down the Lamorinda Titans, 7-3, to claim the bronze medal at the event.
More information on the 2021 12U National Team Trials schedule, as well as further identification opportunities, will be announced at a later date. For more information on the 12U National Team, follow @USABaseball12U on Twitter.
- 2021 11U Futures Invitational Selections to 12U National Team Trials
- (Name; Position; Hometown; Team)
- Konnor Briggs; LHP/INF; Oxford, Fla.; I AM National
- Hudson Brown; INF/LHP; Iola, Texas; ZT Prospects
- Brodie Campbell; INF/RHP; Newnan, Ga.; Canes West Futures
- Chase Cotton; RHP/OF; Lincoln, Calif.; Lamorinda Titans
- Landen DeRouen; INF/RHP; Delcambre, La.; Scottsdale Dirtbags
- Adan Diaz; INF/RHP; Gavilan Hills, Calif.; Canes West Futures
- Jackson Fetters; RHP/INF; Montgomery, Texas; ZT Prospects
- Aaron Garcia; C/RHP; Pico Rivera, Calif.; ZT Prospects
- Angel Gonzalez; OF/LHP; Whittier, Calif.; ZT Prospects
- Jared Grindlinger; OF/LHP; Huntington Beach, Calif.; Stars Baseball
- Caleb Hudson; OF; Carrollton, Ga.; Canes West Futures
- Levi Kerr; INF; Holly Springs, N.C.; SBA Futures
- Brayden Landry; INF/RHP; Puyallup, Wash.; New Level Nationals
- Julian Martinez; C/RHP; New York, N.Y.; Dream Chasers
- Duncan McLeod; LHP; Huntington Beach, Calif.; Canes West Futures
- Carter Moon; OF/RHP; Bogart, Ga.; TG Dbacks
- Roberto Negron; LHP; Land O Lakes, Fla.; I AM National
- Julian Rodriguez; C/RHP; Boca Raton, Fla.; ZT Prospects
- Colt Sampson; OF; Magnolia, Texas; Premier Nationals
- Jael Santos; INF/RHP; Paterson, N.J.; Dream Chasers
- Derek Vazquez; INF/RHP; Charlotte, N.C.; SBA Futures
- Issac Vidal; INF/RHP; Miami, Fla.; Stars Baseball
- Adrian Villela; RHP; Tuscon, Ariz.; MVP Hustle Ruiz
- Jake Welch; INF; Draper, Utah; MVP Hustle Ruiz
ZT Prospects National Wins Gold at 11U Futures Invitational
|ZT Prospects National||1||1||1||0||0||2||0||5||11||2|
|Win: Hudson Brown Loss: Tristin Gaines|
|Box Score | Play-by-Play|
CARY, N.C. - ZT Prospects National claimed the 2021 11U Futures Invitational championship on Sunday with a 5-2 win over the Premier Nationals, while the Dream Chasers earned the bronze medal with a 7-3 victory over the Lamorinda Titans. ZT Prospects National finished the week 5-1 and outscored its opponents 57-10 en route to the gold medal, allowing three runs or less in each of its games.
ZT Prospects National got the scoring started early when the team plated runs in each of the first three innings and added two in the sixth for a 5-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Premier Nationals were unable to get anything going at the plate as Hudson Brown was dealing for ZT Prospects National. He finished the game allowing just two hits and one earned run while striking out six.
The Premier Nationals were able to muster up their first run of the game in the sixth before adding another run in the seventh to get within three and make it a 5-2 game.
From there, ZT Prospects National reliever Blake Barbenera was able to shut things down from the mound, striking out two batters to secure the gold medal win for his team.
Brown earned the victory for ZT Prospects National while Tristin Gaines was credited with the loss for the Premier Nationals.
- Aaron Garcia sent the second pitch of the game into left for a leadoff double. After moving over to third on a bunt single from Angel Gonzalez, Garcia came in to score the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Lennex Minor to give ZT Prospects National a 1-0 lead.
- ZT Prospects National got runs in the second and third innings on RBIS from Jackson Fetters and Julian Rodriguez to make it 3-0.
- Hudson Brown and Zion Avina knocked in runs in the sixth to push the ZT Prospects National lead to 5-0.
- Caleb Cardenas scored the Premier Nationals first run of the game in the sixth inning on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.
- Easton Brunson hit a double, stole third, and came in on an RBI groundout by Lucas Smith to make it 5-2 in the sixth.
- Hudson Brown picked up his sixth strikeout of the game for ZT Prospects National before getting a groundout to strand runners on second and third.
- After allowing one run, Blake Barbenera struck out two batters to end the game for ZT Prospects National.
- Angel Gonzalez finished the week with a team-high 12 hits on the week with eight RBIs and six runs for ZT Prospects National
- Lennex Minor and Aaron Garcia each had double-digit hits on the week en route to the gold medal
- Seven ZT Prospects National hitters with more than 12 at bats finished the week with batting averages over .400
- The team's gold medal win marked the second-straight Futures Invitational win for the organization after the 10U ZT Prospects National won last week's 10U tournament
What They're Saying
- "Hudson had a great performance. Everything we expect out of him. He went out there and played with his heart and the team contributed. I'm so happy for them." – ZT Prospects National coach Carlos Avila on Hudson Brown's performance
- "It feels amazing. Coming all the way out here from Texas. To win, it feels worth it." – ZT Prospects National pitcher Hudson Brown on winning the gold medal.
- "It feels special. I'm so thankful, especially because I love the USA. To be able to earn this is a blessing and I'm super happy." ZT Prospects National coach Carlos Avila on his team's win.
- Stay tuned to @USABEvents on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the Futures Invitational.
ZT Prospects National, Premier Nationals Advance to 2021 11U Futures Invitational Championship
CARY, N.C. – ZT Prospects National and the Premier Nationals won both their quarter and semifinal games at Middle Creek Park in Apex, North Carolina, on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s 2021 11U Futures Invitational gold medal game.
The quarterfinal matchups got started early Saturday morning, starting with ZT Prospects National winning 5-0 over Stars National. This would be the highest margin of victory in the quarterfinal games, as the others were decided by two runs or less. The Lamorinda Titans earned an 11-10 come-from-behind win over Canes West Futures to find themselves opposite the ZT Prospects National in the semifinals.
On the other side of the bracket, the Premier Nationals edged out a 2-1 victory over the TG Dbacks to reach the semifinals. They then played the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Dream Chasers, who handled business to earn a 2-1 win against the SBA Futures to finalize the semifinal matchups.
SEMIFINAL GAME 1: ZT Prospects National 14, Lamorinda Titans 1
Lamorinda kicked off the scoring in the first semifinal game of the day when it found its first and only run in the bottom of the first inning on a Chase Cotton single into left that scored Mason Harris. But the lead didn’t last long.
ZT Prospects National responded in a big way just a half inning later, scoring six runs and never looking back. Zion Avinda got the offensive explosion started, coming around on a Zain Valdivia single. But the big highlight of the inning would come two batters later when Aaron Garcia cleared the bases on a three-run double to put his team up 5-1.
Garcia went 5.1 innings on the mound, scattering just four hits and allowing the single Lamorinda run. He also struck out four during his outing and earned the win.
After adding two more runs in the third to make it 8-1, ZT Prospects National put a stamp on the game with another six-run inning in the sixth. The frame was highlighted by two inside the park home runs off the bats of Angel Gonzalez and Hudson Brown.
Garcia went out for the sixth and picked up one out before Valdivia came on in relief to collect the last two outs and seal the victory for the ZT Prospects National.
At the plate, six ZT Prospect Nationals batters had multi-hit games, led by starting pitcher Garcia, who had four RBIs and went 2-for-4. For Lamorinda, Harris led the way at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a walk and scoring his team’s only run.
SEMIFINAL GAME 2: Premier Nationals 5, Dream Chasers 4
In a back-and-forth game, the Dream Chasers started things off when they jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the game with a Coin Raymond two-out, bases loaded walk. But Easton Brunson came back with a strikeout for the Premier Nationals against the next batter to limit the damage and keep his team within striking distance.
And the Premier Nationals didn’t stay down long, scoring three runs in their half of the first. After a single, walk, and a bunt loaded the bases with no outs, Brunson sent one into left that scored Colt Sampson. Just three pitches later, still with the bases loaded and no outs, Lucas Smith sent a hard grounder through the left side to bring in two more.
From there, the Dream Chasers’ pitchers were able to settle in, allowing no runs in the second, third, or fourth while the offense repaid them by getting a run back in the third. Jael Santos hit a sacrifice fly into right, scoring Jaiden Lopez to cut the deficit to one and make it a 3-2 game.
The Dream Chasers then took a 4-3 lead with some help from the Premier Nationals in the fifth when they scored on consecutive passed balls.
Resilient as always, the Premier Nationals came right back to the plate and reclaimed the lead. Tony Ciurca singled on the first pitch of the inning and came around to score on a triple by Brunson. Smith then brought in Brunson with a double into the left field gap and put the Premier Nationals back on top, 5-4.
In the seventh, the Dream Chasers almost made a comeback of their own, putting a runner on with no outs. That’s when Premier made the play of the game, turning a double play off a bunt to negate the Dream Chasers chance. Tristin Gaines then sat the next batter down on three straight pitches to end the game and send his team into the championship game.
Ciurca was credited with the win while Julian Martinez took the loss for the Dream Chasers. Martinez did lead his team at the plate though, going 3-for-3 and scoring a run. Brunson also went 3-for-3 for the Premier Nationals while Smith collected 3 RBIs in a 2-for-3 performance.
ZT Prospects National and the Premier Nationals will play for the gold medal tomorrow morning at 11:15 a.m. ET, while the Dream Chasers will take on the Lamorinda Titans at 8:00 a.m. in the bronze medal game. Both games will be at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina, and will be broadcast live on USABaseball.com and Facebook.com/USABaseball, while live stats can be followed along with on GameChanger.
Staying Loose and Having Fun
“Guys, this is your chance to have fun.”
That was Rawlings Prospect coach Kevin Huston’s message to his team from the moment they arrived at the 2021 11U Futures Invitational. The team gathered for a group picture before filming a team-created chant.
“This is what it’s all about,” Huston continued. “Staying loose and having fun.”
With lots of opportunities on the line for teams and players this week, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the glitz and glamor of the week and lose focus on the ultimate goal of winning gold.
Like Huston, many coaches have given their teams the same message to keep having fun and not stress about every moment on the field. The message must have struck a chord, as fun moments were popping up all over the place during today’s action. Possibly the most exciting moment came in the final inning of the last game of the day.
After surrendering a two-run lead, Stars Futures found themselves tied 6-6 in the seventh inning with Five Tool Players. Tyler Caperton led off the inning with a single before Kade Maltz laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt two batters later that put runners on second and third with one out. Then the fun happened.
Caperton went to tag up from third on a sacrifice fly to left, but got himself caught in a rundown. After three flips back and forth between Five Tool catcher Kyle Crockett and third baseman Brandon Place, Caperton was able to slide under a tag at the plate to score what would be the game-winning run. It was unorthodox. It was fun.
Luckily for the coaches and players, teams have had plenty of opportunities to have fun both on and off the field.
After playing games this morning and afternoon, a lot of the players headed over to the USA Baseball National Training Complex to take in some of the inaugural MLB Draft Combine as it was broadcasting live on MLB Network. As the nation’s top high school and collegiate prospects took batting practice, members of the 11U Futures Invitational rosters flooded the hill behind the outfield wall in hopes of catching a home run ball. And quite a few did.
Players and families also got the chance to enjoy food trucks in the complex’s parking lot before heading home to get some rest before tomorrow’s quarterfinal and semifinal games.
And tomorrow, coaches will likely be relaying similar messages to each of their teams once again. Team Select Coach Jay Whannel knows the reality of the situation this week.
“No doubt there’s some added pressure or whatever you want to call it with everything going on and the USA guys walking around,” he said. But he’s hoping his guys continue to keep it simple and remember, “It’s a game and you just have to try and have fun.”
The Experience of a Lifetime
CARY, N.C. – The 2021 11U Futures Invitational got going with 24 games across two facilities on Thursday, June 24, in Cary, North Carolina. Action started early at Middle Creek Park and went into the evening at Thomas Brooks Park. All 24 teams got in their first two pool play games and will play a final pool play game tomorrow before playoffs start on Saturday.
As teams arrived, it didn’t take long to realize that this was not just another weekend on the ball field. Both facilities are decorated with USA Baseball signage featuring Team USA alums like Mike Trout and Chris Archer that read, “You could be next,” down the side. The tournament certainly has a big-time feel to it.
Each team also got a personalized team banner to hang behind their respective bleachers that gave each dugout a home-field vibe. Several teams also brought along large Bluetooth speakers with personalized walk up songs for each player to add to the environment. After all, some teams like the San Diego Show have come all the way from California to make their mark and fight for gold this weekend.
Teams at Thomas Brooks Park started their day with baseball card style photoshoots, each player getting portraits taken to go along with a team photo. The style was out in full force as Landon Sornson from Banditos Black had his team’s logo shaved into the side of his head. Other players had their numbers shaved in, just another sign of the magnitude of the week.
Because this is not just another tournament. In addition to the pomp and circumstance of photoshoots and décor, teams at this week’s event also have a few other unique opportunities and experiences available to them – and one of those is to get a glimpse into the future
With the inaugural MLB Draft Combine happening just steps away from where these teams are playing at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, many are getting an opportunity to see what the near future of the game looks like – as well as possibly their own.
The Draft Combine is hosting the nation’s premier high school and collegiate prospects and these 11U athletes are hoping to be looking at their future selves as the games and workouts unfold. It’s already clear that the impact of this unique experience will go far beyond the action on the field for these young players.
But even with the future right next door, it’s still the present that is the primary focus of this tournament and, possibly, the most beneficial piece of the whole weekend.
As a primary identification event for the 12U National Team, every player at the 2021 11U Futures Invitational is being scouted and evaluated on what they can do right now. These athletes are getting the chance to play in front of this year’s 12U National Team coaching staff and for an opportunity to earn a spot on this year’s Team USA.
The staff and task force don’t take that lightly as they start building the best team possible. To do that, they were out in full force today, including 2021 12U National Team Manager RJ Farrell, who had his eyes all over the place. And they’re pumped by what they see.
“I think us as coaches, we’re really excited to see everything coming back to normal and to have the fields full of kids again,” Farrell said.
But it’s not just about on-field ability. Farrell and his staff are not just looking for what goes on between the foul lines.
“Obviously, the baseball side of things, they can show what they have here,” Farrell continued. “But a big aspect of what we’re looking for is the character and the type of person that we feel deserves to be, and can handle themselves, on a National Team.”
And players are hoping to show they are one of those deserving of a chance to play for Team USA – now and in the future.
ZT Prospects National Earns Gold at 2021 10U Futures Invitational
|Win: Ortiz Loss: Mier Save: None|
|Box Score | Play-by-Play|
CARY, N.C. - ZT Prospects National used a four-run fifth inning to pull away from Braves Baseball Academy en route to a 6-1 win in the 2021 10U Futures Invitational gold medal game.
With the win, the club finished the week 5-0 and secured the championship on a rainy Sunday morning at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
The biggest blow in the game came when Eli Martinez smoked a bases-clearing three-run double to put distance between his ZT Prospects team and the Braves. The hit gave the ZT Prospects a 6-1 advantage, and they held on in a steady rain to clinch the win.
The hit by Martinez turned a tight game into a comfortable lead by the ZT Prospects. After holding on to a 2-1 lead for much of the game, Martinez busted the game open to give the club insurance runs and the squad never looked back. Martinez’s three RBIs led the ZT Prospects offensive output. Elijah Romero, the only player in the game with two hits, added two RBIs.
Ivan Ortiz started for ZT National, tossing three innings and striking out three. Caleb Lozano pitched the final three innings, allowing an unearned run with three strikeouts. Mateo Mier pitched four innings for the Braves, scattering two hits and two runs while striking out three.
- ZT Prospects opened the scoring on a two-run, inside-the-park homer by Reyes in the third. Caleb Lozano, who reached earlier in the inning on a single, scored on the hit.
- The Braves cut the deficit in half when Alex Scott hit a hard ground ball to shortstop, scoring Jake Nuño to make the score 2-1 in the fifth.
- ZT Prospects answered in the bottom frame, starting with a Mason Smith RBI single to make it 3-1.
- With the bases loaded and one out, Martinez ripped a double into the gap to score all three runners and bust the game open.
- Ortiz earned the win, pitching for the second time in the tournament. In two games, he pitched five total innings and allowed just one hit.
- Martinez had at least one hit in all five games of the tournament, finishing the weekend batting .615. He drove in 11 runs over the five games.
- Nicholas Nava led the Braves with a .455 batting average on the weekend.
- “I took the first pitch to get my timing right. My approach was ‘swing at a fastball anywhere near’ and I got a fastball up and I just hit it.” – Eli Martinez on his three-run double
- “Eli has been hot all tournament. He got a pitch that he could handle and laced it into the gap. We had some speed guys on and were able to clear the bases and that carried us.” – Rick Martinez
- Stay tuned to @USABEvents on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for information regarding the upcoming 11U Futures Invitational, which begins on June 24.
ZT Prospects National to Meet Braves Baseball Academy in 2021 10U Futures Gold Medal Game
CARY, N.C. – A California showdown is coming to Thomas Brooks Park.
After securing semifinal wins on Saturday morning, ZT Prospects National will take on Braves Baseball Academy in Sunday’s 2021 10U Futures Invitational in a battle of California-based teams.
The top-seeded ZT Prospects advanced to the final after staging a late-inning comeback to knock off San Diego Show, 6-4.
ZT Prospects opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, plating a run on an Eli Martinez RBI single. But the lead didn’t last long.
Everett Satterly started the top of the second with a leadoff single for San Diego Show, scoring on an error shortly after to tie the game. Wyatt Gordon, who has two homers in the tournament, followed that with an RBI triple to give San Diego the lead. Ethan Nesbit drove Gordon in with an RBI single, and the Show added another run to grab an early 4-1 advantage.
In the third, Martinez drove in his second run of the game with an RBI groundout to trim the team’s deficit to two. The game remained 4-2 into the fifth inning, when Show starter Lawrence Duffin ran into his first trouble of the game.
With two on and two out in the fifth, Duffin nearly escaped. But the ZT Prospects got within a run on an error, and then notched back-to-back doubles to take a two-run lead.
One of those doubles was by Martinez, who drove in four of his team’s six runs. Martinez then returned to the mound for his third inning of work, escaping a late jam to secure the win.
Along with his offensive performance, Martinez tossed 4.2 scoreless innings in relief for the ZT Prospects. He struck out eight, allowing just two hits.
The comeback was not much of a surprise to head coach Rick Martinez, who emphasizes the importance of the late innings.
“We went down early, but we always tell the guys to keep the pressure on the other team,” said ZT Prospects head coach Rick Martinez. “It gave us a chance at the end and the kids came through. We usually have long practices and end them with conditioning because we know the late innings are when we’re going to have to think clearly and act decisively.”
In the second semifinal of Saturday morning, the Braves also punched their ticket with a come-from-behind win over the Keystone Cardinals. Keystone loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning, threatening an offensive outburst. But Braves pitcher Jake Nuño limited the damage, allowing just one run to keep his team in it.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the inning, the Braves quickly bounced back to take a 2-1 lead. Alex Scott tied the game with a run-producing triple before scoring on a passed ball to give the Braves the lead.
It was all that the Braves pitching staff needed.
After Nuño delivered three innings and allowed just one run, Wyatt Ruiz entered and struck out five over the final three innings to keep Keystone’s offense at bay. Ruiz, who started the game in right field, allowed just two hits.
The Cardinals put the tying run on base in the sixth, but Ruiz stranded him in scoring position to seal the win and the Braves’ spot in the championship game.
The final out 🙌🏻@BravesBBA is going to the 10U #Futures21 Gold Medal Game! pic.twitter.com/11ZBLrnIOE— USABEvents (@USABEvents) June 19, 2021
“These kids have been playing together for a really long time,” said Braves head coach Gus Rico. “They know how to win. They maintained focus and I’m very proud of them. This program has been through a lot and it’s not easy to travel out here and play on the East Coast on a big stage. I’m sure they’re proud of us back home.”
ZT Prospects National will battle Braves Baseball Academy for a gold medal on Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. on Field 5 at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, N.C. The Cardinals and Show will play at the 8:15 a.m. on Field 7, with the winner receiving a bronze medal.
Be sure to follow all of the 2021 10U Futures Invitational action on GameChanger, as well as by following @USABaseball and @USABEvents on Twitter.
Down to Four: 2021 10U Futures Enters Bracket Play
And then there were four.
After two full days of baseball at the 2021 10U Futures Invitational, four teams have advanced to the bracket round and will compete for a gold medal this weekend at Thomas Brooks Park.
Top-seeded ZT Prospects National will take on San Diego Show while Braves Baseball Academy will battle Keystone Cardinals for a spot in Sunday’s championship game.
ZT Prospects National earned the one-seed with a pair of offensive outbursts along with impressive pitching and defense en route to a 3-0 pool-play performance. The California-based club opened the week with a 10-0 win over Stars National on Thursday morning. After a scoreless opening frame, ZT Prospects scored at least two runs in the following four innings to win in dominant fashion.
Later in the day, the club scored 11 runs over three innings to take down IAM Baseball, 12-2. ZT Prospects then won their only game on Friday, topping the San Diego Stars, 5-1.
The second-seeded Braves Baseball Academy emerged from Pool B after going 3-0. Opening the tournament against the Carolina Cardinals, the Braves carried a two-run lead into the final frame before Carolina evened the game at two. The Braves responded, however, with a walk-off in the bottom of the inning secured the win.
The Braves found themselves trailing once again in their next game, this time down 4-0 in the fourth inning against the Scottsdale Dirtbags, before rallying for six runs over the fourth and fifth innings to notch a 6-4, comeback win. The squad then topped the Cedar Rapids Reds, 8-2, to clinch a spot in the final four.
The Braves will meet the unbeaten Keystone Cardinals, who will represent Pool D as the third-overall seed. Keystone topped Top Tier Americans in their tournament opener, 9-6, before putting up a 12-spot in a win over the Houston Brewers.
The bracket is set.— USABEvents (@USABEvents) June 18, 2021
The #Futures21 semifinals are just over 12 hours away 🔥 pic.twitter.com/wX972i4Sma
On Friday, Keystone took on the previously unbeaten Dingers Athletic in a winner-take-all showdown. After each team exchanged a run in the opening frame, the game stayed tight into the final inning. Holding on to a slim 3-2 lead, Keystone added three insurance runs to win 6-2 and advance to bracket play.
The fourth-seeded San Diego Show round out the bracket, as they won Pool A. San Diego opened the tournament with a close 2-1 win over the Vegas Gamers, holding on to a one-run lead from the second inning on to open the tournament 1-0. In less dramatic fashion, the Show knocked off Rock Solid Taylor, 9-2, to remain unbeaten.
On Friday, San Diego battled Bo Jackson Elite in a back-and-forth game. Bo Jackson Elite jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but San Diego battled back and took a 6-5 lead in the fourth. Bo Jackson elite re-took its lead with a three-run fifth inning and held off the Show to win 8-7, forcing a tiebreaker atop the pool standings. San Diego came out on top in the tiebreaker and advanced to the final four.
Both semifinal games will take place at 8:15 a.m. at Thomas Brooks Park on Saturday, June 19. While these four teams will compete for a gold medal, the tournament’s other 12 teams will be in action through Sunday in a series of consolation games.
PDP Testing Comes to 2021 10U Futures on Event's Second Day
CARY, N.C. – Before the players in the 2021 10U Futures Invitational returned to game action on Friday to test themselves against strong competition on-field, the athletes partook in a different type of testing: Major League Baseball/USA Baseball Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) Performance Assessment Evaluations.
After getting professional team and individual photos taken early Friday morning, the players then underwent a series of pro-style PDP tests in order to gain feedback and further develop in their early careers. It was the first time the players at the 10U Futures Invitational got to participate in PDP testing.
The athletes were tested in four different areas, targeting their speed, reaction time, agility, and more. And PDP staff were on-hand to input and analyze the data, as well as offer advice to the young players looking to jumpstart their baseball careers.
Scottsdale Dirtbags head coach ZJ Butler was impressed by the PDP evaluations, and is well-aware of the importance that they hold.
“It sets a benchmark for these guys,” Butler said. “It’s something that years from now they can look back and maybe laugh [about their numbers]. It’s just really cool to see a bunch of ballplayers out here competing and having a good time.”
The first test was a 25-yard dash, including reaction time analysis and split-time speeds. Players lined up and waited for a visual cue before sprinting 25 yards, receiving not only their dash times, but also their reaction time along with their splits. Gate analysis, which shows potential imbalances between a player’s legs, is also part of the assessment.
And they’re off 🏃@BaseballPDP is at #Futures21 for some morning testing 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/5XXZb6TwmW— USABEvents (@USABEvents) June 18, 2021
This information, according to PDP Sport Performance Coordinator Jake Barnes, provides players and scouts with data that can demonstrate potential and show areas of improvement.
After the dash, players stepped inside the Man-in-the-Box for an agility assessment. There are two levels to the test: “capture the green box” and “capture the green three.” Both assessments are similar to the traditional 5-10-5 agility shuttle, adding in the element of unpredictability that’s always present in baseball as an indication of an athlete’s ability to adjust on a moment’s notice.
Agility testing with @BaseballPDP 👊🏻#Futures21 pic.twitter.com/jjJyrD7ANP— USABEvents (@USABEvents) June 18, 2021
Finally, the 10U athletes performed Counter Movement Jumps. Consisting of three two-legged vertical jumps, the test evaluates the player’s ability to repeat power and exhibit dynamic stability.
GET 🆙 #Futures21 | @BaseballPDP pic.twitter.com/haGKD7WSFA— USABEvents (@USABEvents) June 18, 2021
The testing has given the players insight and something to build on as they continue their careers. Along with the immediate benefits like knowing where they stand and how they compare to players their age, getting familiar with the testing equipment at an early age will set the athletes up for success the next time they experience PDP evaluations.
“The more that we can make younger players familiar with the data and get them around the technology, the more open and comfortable they will be with using it,” Barnes said. “If we introduce it to them at this age, they’ll be able to use it a lot faster in their career and it will allow them to develop and use it more effectively.”
Bo Jackson Elite head coach Joe Beyer also felt that the familiarity will benefit his players down the road.
“The testing was unbelievable,” he said. “We tried to explain to the kids that the opportunity to experience the PDP testing will give them a leg up in being familiar with it when it matters down the road.”
With testing and pool play in the books, the athletes will return to Thomas Brooks Park for semifinal and championship rounds, along with consolation games. Looking to learn and grow from the data they received from testing, the 10U players are now focused on competing for a gold medal through the weekend.
Wyatt Gordon – who has two homers for the San Diego Show – is concentrated on continuing to improve and claiming a championship.
“I’m looking forward to getting wins and continuing to compete,” he said.
USA Baseball Cancels Futures Series in Irvine
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today that the Futures Series scheduled for May 14-16 in Irvine, California, has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This event will not be rescheduled.
For more information on the Futures Series and other USA Baseball events, visit USABaseball.com and follow @USABaseball and @USABEvents on social media.