GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD NEWS

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Golden Spikes Spotlight: Darren McCaughan

May 9, 2017

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- "Honestly, I don't like Cal Poly one bit."

Darren McCaughan entered Friday night's start with a chip on his shoulder and some fire in his blood. The Long Beach State ace had been roughed up in his last start and he was pitching against a team that had previously overlooked him.

"In high school, they told me that I wasn't good enough to go there," McCaughan said. "They told me I should probably go to juco. Little did they know, I was coming here, so it just kind of fires me up to play them every time."

That motivation and a couple of small mechanical tweaks helped McCaughan produce one of the best starts of his career. He tossed a three-hit shutout and struck out 11 to lead the Dirtbags to a 3-0 win in the opener of an important conference series. He also became just the 10th Dirtbag to reach 20 career wins and the first since Cesar Ramos did so in 2005.

"McCaughan was great. He was fantastic," Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley said after Friday's start. "Even more fantastic coming off what he did last weekend. That's what I'm proud of."

Against UC Davis a week ago, McCaughan was roughed up for a career-high eight runs in 4.1 innings. With the wind howling, Davis hit a double, a triple and three homers - all to left field. He was leaving the ball up and didn't have a feel for his changeup. The offense picked him up, leading the Dirtbags to a 14-9 win, but McCaughan knew he needed to make some adjustments.

As the conference season had progressed, the coaches had already noticed something different about McCaughan's delivery compared to last season. But McCaughan had been stellar in his first four conference starts this season, going 3-1, 1.35. He had worked into the eighth inning in all four, including back-to-back complete games prior to facing Davis.

With their ace pitching well, the coaches didn't want to make a change just to make a change. There was no need to mess with what was working. Like most pitchers, McCaughan is at his best when he is able to get into a rhythm and isn't contemplating his mechanics.

"When I'm not doing so well, I'm kind of thinking about too much maybe and trying to do too much with my pitches," he said last month.

By comparing film of McCaughan's start at Davis to when he was dominating last season, Buckley and first-year pitching coach Dan Ricabal noticed when McCaughan raised his left leg and began striding toward the plate, the bottom half of that front leg was bending at the knee and getting underneath his rear rather than dangling straight down. When he began to stride forward, the extra bend in his front leg was leading to a shorter stride and a compression of the front leg when landing. That led McCaughan to push the ball up instead of getting his hand on top of the baseball and getting extension forward as he released the ball.

It was a minor adjustment, but it allowed McCaughan to clear his hips and get out in front of the ball by working against a hard front side.

"I didn't even realize that I was doing it. It's not something you think about on the mound, but I think just hammering that in the week in all of my work that I was doing, it just translates over to the mound," McCaughan said.

He was able to command his 84-88 mph fastball with his normal fervor, moving it to both sides of the plate. McCaughan consistently got ahead and forced Cal Poly into defensive counts. He threw 111 pitches with 80 strikes, getting to two strikes on 21 batters, including 10 of the last 11.

"He just spots the ball, has a little bit of sink and mixes. And he competes. He's good," Mustangs head coach Larry Lee said.

After getting ahead, McCaughan worked in a changeup at 80-83 mph and his developing 77-80 slider. He felt both offspeed pitches were much better than his previous start. His sequencing followed a similar path to the game.

McCaughan had to quickly show his mettle against the Mustangs. It's hard to ever say that a game is decided in the first inning, but that's definitely when all the action was Friday night.

"First innings for me are big pitching coach situations," Buckley said. "We have six days to prepare for that first inning. How you're going to pitch it, how you're going to script it. You can do whatever you want to do. The challenge is to handle the adrenaline once the adrenaline injects into that pitcher."

The adrenaline immediately began flowing for McCaughan. One pitch into the game, Cal Poly had a runner in scoring position after the Dirtbags threw away a fairly routine chopper.

"I think it's hard to overcome bad first innings," Buckley said. "We always talk about make the first inning like the ninth inning. If you've got to throw the kitchen sink to put up a zero in the first inning, then you've got to do it."

McCaughan bore down. He got a popup to first base and a grounder to second that moved the runner over. Then McCaughan stranded him there with the first of his 11 strikeouts.

"You know that with McCaughan on the mound, it's going to be a low-scoring game," Lee said. "To put up a run in the first inning and play with a lead, that's a must."

Instead, it was the Long Beach offense able to do that. The Dirtbags scored two runs in the first, added one in the third and relied on their ace to carry them the rest of the way.

"Coming into this week, I knew it was going to be a big week for conference. Knew I had to get the team off on the right foot to start the weekend," McCaughan said. "I think that was kind of my job and I did that."

Buckley was more impressed with the way McCaughan took the coaches' advice, deployed a plan of attack to address the issues during a strong week of practice and then bounced back to perform in the opener of a series between two teams that sat atop the Big West standings entering the weekend.

"You got punched in the mouth and knocked to the mat," Buckley said. "It's a TKO-type of thing. Even though we won [last week], he had to get back to work because he did have to make a few little tweaks. Nothing crazy, but it showed up. That's really exciting when you can take those things and implement them and then see some results. That's like the best, best ever."

When McCaughan was invited to join USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team in the summer, he knew his opportunities were going to be limited with the number of quality power arms on the roster. Ultimately, his three innings over four appearances were the fewest by anyone that made the final travel roster. He didn't allow a run in his first three outings, earning a save over Chinese Taipei and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the team's final exhibition game before traveling overseas. He blew a save giving up two runs in his final appearance, a 3-1 loss to Cuba.

But the experience was still worth it for the 6-foot-1, 200-pound righthander. He got to wear the red, white and blue. He got to travel to see different countries and cultures. And he got to learn from some of the best pitchers in college baseball.

McCaughan picked the brains of pitchers like North Carolina's J.B. Bukauskas, Florida's Alex Faedo and Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright, who combined to allow five earned runs in 54 innings last summer and should all hear their names in the first 15-20 picks in this summer's draft.

"You can learn a ton by how you watch a guy go about things," Buckley said. "Grips, what the process is, what the intentions are. A lot of different things."

For McCaughan, the focus was improving his breaking ball.

"I learned how everyone threw their sliders. Just kind of watching everyone throw and seeing how they would do it," McCaughan said. "It was mainly I wasn't getting out in front with it and that's kind of what I was seeing everyone do with it. The more they would get out in front with it, the better it would break down."

McCaughan's ERA (6-2, 2.97) hasn't been as good as last season (10-1, 2.03) as he's given up a couple more home runs already this year than he did in 2016, but his peripheral numbers are just as good, if not better. Opponents are hitting just .188 against him after batting .193 last year. His walk rate has slightly declined from 1.30 base on balls per nine innings to 1.02 and his strikeout rate is up from 6.8 to 8.2.

He leads the Big West allowing just 6.1 hits per game and is tied for the conference lead with four complete games. Two of those have been shutouts. Two of his other starts have been team shutouts. The Dirtbags lead the nation with nine shutouts. Nearly half have occurred when McCaughan starts.

That is partly due to his 8.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is top 10 in the nation. His walk rate is No. 15 in the country and he has college baseball's third-best WHIP. He is allowing 0.80 walks and hits each inning.

McCaughan credits his improvement to the development of the slider.

"I think I really improved my slider this year, which has been allowing me to put more guys away and just not running up my pitch counts as much," McCaughan said. "With Rico [Ricabal] coming in, he's helped me out a lot with it. Now I've got my fastball going, I've got my slider going, so it's been pretty good."

In one seventh-inning sequence on Friday, McCaughan got Cal Poly middle of the lineup bat Nick Meyer waving at a slider that finished more than a foot off the plate. He buzzed Meyer up and in with an 0-2 pitch and then threw the slider, starting it in the strike zone and letting it break into the lefthanders batting box. Meyer had no chance.

"What makes it better is that you have to respect the fastball and the command of the fastball," Buckley said. "That's where I think when he goes well, that's what he does and especially against righthanded hitters, it frees up the breaking ball to not have to be as wipeout-ish."

His fastball isn't overpowering but constantly throbbing the mitt. He can also throw his changeup in any count. With the breaking ball improving into a putout pitch, honestly, hitters don't like facing Darren McCaughan one bit.

 

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CNT

2018 Collegiate National Team Staff Announced

February 14, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the 2018 Collegiate National Team coaching staff on Tuesday. LSU's Paul Mainieri was named the manager of the Collegiate team last October and he will be joined by assistant coaches Cliff Godwin (ECU), Jim Hendry (New York Yankees), Brian O'Connor (Virginia) and Jorge Perez (St. Thomas) in 2018.

All four assistant coaches will make their USA Baseball National Team coaching debuts with this year's team, while 2018 will be Mainieri's second coaching appearance for Team USA after serving as a Collegiate National Team assistant coach in 2015.

"We could not be more excited about the staff that USA Baseball's General Manager of National Teams, Eric Campbell, and Paul Mainieri have selected to lead this year's Collegiate National Team," USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler said. "Each one of these coaches brings a wealth of baseball experience and knowledge that will be invaluable to our athletes."

Mainieri begins his 12th season at the helm of LSU and has posted a 512-202-3 record (.716) since arriving in Baton Rouge in 2007. He was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2015, and has led the Tigers to 29 team championships, including an NCAA title, five Super Regional championships, seven NCAA Regional championships, six SEC Tournament titles, four SEC championships and six SEC Western Division crowns.

After serving as a coach at the 2017 USA Baseball 14U National Team Development Program, Cliff Godwin will make his national team coaching debut as the 2018 Collegiate National Team's hitting coach and third base coach. Godwin is entering his fourth year at the helm of East Carolina University, where he has guided the Pirates to two NCAA Regionals and one Super Regional berth (2016), and a 110-72-1 record. Godwin was named the 2015 AAC Coach of the Year after becoming the first coach in ECU history to win 40 games in his first season and guiding his team to a conference tournament title and an NCAA Regional appearance. In addition to his time at ECU, Godwin has served at six other Division I institutions, including as an assistant coach at Ole Miss, LSU, Notre Dame and UNC Wilmington, as well as the associate head coach at Central Florida and the Director of Baseball Operations at Vanderbilt.

New York Yankees special assignment scout Jim Hendry joins the staff as the 2018 bench coach. Prior to his time with the Yankees, Hendry served as the Chicago Cubs General Manager from 2002-2012. In addition to his time as GM, he worked in numerous front office positions during his time with the Cubs, including serving as farm director, scouting director and assistant GM. Hendry has also coached at the high school, college and minor league levels. He was the head coach at Creighton University from 1984-1991 and was named National Coach of the Year by Baseball America after leading his team to the College World Series for the first, and only, time in school history.

O'Connor, who is entering his 15th season as the head coach at the University of Virginia, will serve as the 2018 Collegiate National Team's pitching coach. A five-time ACC Coach of the Year and three-time national coach of the year, he has led the Cavaliers to 14 straight NCAA tournament appearances, including the program's first National Championship in 2015. As a member of Hendry's Creighton team that made it to the College World Series in 1991, O'Connor is one of just a handful of coaches that have both played and coached in the CWS. His 639-239-2 record at UVA gives him the third-highest winning percentage of all current head coaches in Division I baseball (72.7 percent) and he was the second fastest ACC coach to 500 career wins.

St. Thomas University Head Coach, Jorge Perez, joins the 2018 staff as an assistant coach and first base coach. Now entering his tenth season with the Bobcats, Perez boasts a 313-213 record, and six appearances in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, including a runner-up finish at the NAIA World Series in 2015 - the best finish in school history. Perez also served as the head coach at Gulliver Preparatory School and South Dade Senior High School, accumulating an 80-54 record, prior to his time at St. Thomas.

Trent Forshag, a member of the LSU equipment staff, will serve as the bullpen coach, Carter Hicks (North Carolina) will be the team's operations coordinator and Bill Burniston will return as the team's performance coach in 2018, marking his sixth consecutive year working with the Collegiate National Team program. Burniston was named the 2017 USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year after serving in the same role with last year's Collegiate National Team. In addition, Hank Hager (Oregon State) will serve as the team's Press Officer for the second time (2011) and Mike Bean (Notre Dame), who worked with Mainieri during the coach's tenure at Notre Dame, has been named the team's certified athletic trainer.

The 2018 Collegiate National Team will train at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, and compete against teams in the Coastal Plain League from June 26-27, before hosting the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series from June 28-July 2. All seven of these games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com and Facebook Live.

The team will then host the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9. University of Pittsburgh Head Coach, Joe Jordano, will serve as the official technical commissioner for the series. Jordano is entering his 21st season at the helm for the Panthers and currently ranks among the top-25 active winnings Division I coaches. Finally, Team USA will travel to Cuba for the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series that will take place July 13-18.

For more information on the 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, follow along on Twitter @USABaseball and @USABaseballCNT.

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Sport Dev

USA Baseball Launches Fun At Bat Professional Development Course

February 12, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the addition of two new assets to the USA Baseball Online Education Center on Monday. The additions include the Basic First Aid course and Fun At Bat Instructor, a training course for instructors implementing the Fun At Bat program.

These new assets are available at no cost to users on the USA Baseball Online Education Center. The Online Education Center includes a catalog of online courses for players, coaches, parents and umpires, hosted by some of baseball's most esteemed professionals; as well as hosting additional resources such as the Long Term Athlete Development Plan, USA Baseball Mobile Coaching App, the Sport Development blog and more. All resources are free of charge and aim to provide a positive baseball experience for all.

The Fun At Bat Instructor course, hosted by former Major League Baseball player Michael Cuddyer, aims to provide Fun At Bat instructors with the tools they need to successfully implement the program in their school or community. This course includes information on the program's environment, an overview of the program's structure and components of bat-and-ball fundamentals introduced through the Fun At Bat program.

Fun At Bat, a USA Baseball youth initiative supported by Major League Baseball, SHAPE America and Franklin Sports, is an introductory level bat-and-ball program for kids with an emphasis on character development, functional movement, literacy, active play and fun. The overarching goal of this program is to promote fun and active lifestyles for children, while teaching them the fundamental skills of bat and ball sports. The program also includes a literacy component and teaches character traits such as leadership, honesty and teamwork. Fun At Bat is a part of the PLAY BALL initiative, which is the sport's largest collective effort to encourage young people to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, special events and casual forms of play.

"The Fun At Bat program continues to be a priority initiative for USA Baseball," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "The launch of the Fun At Bat Instructor course demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that we provide the best resources possible to create a positive experience for every child who participates in the program."

Hosted by the Team Physician of USA Baseball, Dr. Josh Bloom, the Basic First Aid course provides coaches, parents and administrators with basic information on various injuries and emergencies. This course includes information on how to be best equipped to handle injuries and emergencies, and key things to look out for when players are injured.

"We were fortunate to receive the support of Dr. Bloom and USA Baseball's Medical Safety Committee in delivering this outstanding resource for coaches and parents. The Basic First Aid course furthers our commitment to player safety and adds depth to the Online Education Center, making it an even more comprehensive resource for baseball coaches, players and parents," Riccobono continued.

The Basic First Aid and Fun At Bat Instructor courses, like the rest of the offerings on the USA Baseball Online Education Center, are equipped with a functionality that allows the user to select their preferred language (English or Spanish) upon launching the course. If the user selects Spanish as their preferred language, the course will automatically be delivered entirely in Spanish, including videos with Spanish subtitles.

The Basic First Aid and the Fun At Bat Instructor courses can be found by accessing the USA Baseball Online Education Center at USABaseball.Education.

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GSA

USA Baseball Announces 2018 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List

February 9, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced its 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list on Friday, beginning the process of identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2018 season. The 41st Golden Spikes Award will be presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation on June 28 in Los Angeles.

The preseason watch list features 55 of the nation's top amateur players, from high school and college baseball. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will maintain a rolling list of players, allowing athletes to play themselves into consideration for the award throughout the season.

Headlining the 2018 watch list is 2016 Golden Spikes Award finalist Seth Beer (Clemson), who has been named to the preseason watch list for the second year in a row, as well as Steven Gingery (Texas Tech) and Nick Madrigal (Oregon State), who were semifinalists for the award in 2017.

In addition to those three athletes, the watch list features seven athletes whom the Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board has recognized in the past. Joining Beer on the preseason watch list for the second consecutive year is Luken Baker (TCU), Colton Eastman (Cal State Fullerton), Madrigal and Jake Mangum (Mississippi State). Joey Bart (Georgia Tech), Gingery, Tyler Holton (Florida State), Nolan Kingham (Texas), Madrigal and Casey Mize (Auburn) were all named to the midseason watch list in 2017.

"We are excited to kick off the forty-first year of the Golden Spikes Award with the announcement of 55 preseason watch list nominees," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. "We are anxiously awaiting the start of baseball season and we are excited to follow these players closely during the course of the season before ultimately recognizing one exemplary athlete to join the remarkable group of winners we have had in our history."

Chris Acosta-Tapia (Oklahoma Wesleyan) and Tyler Pittmon (Antelope Valley) represent the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) on the list while Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central), Matthew Liberatore (Mountain Ridge) and Brice Turang (Santiago) are high school athletes recognized by the advisory board on the watch list. These five athletes will look to join Alex Fernandez (1990) and Bryce Harper (2010) who claimed their respective Golden Spikes Awards as non-NCAA Division I athletes.

Fifteen different collegiate athletic conferences are represented on the 2018 preseason watch list. The Southeastern Conference leads the way with 15 representatives, while the Atlantic Coast Conference boasts nine selections, and the Big 12 and Pac-12 Conferences have six each.

The University of Florida leads all schools represented on the preseason watch list with four selections. Florida State follows with three athletes on the watch list and California, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Stanford, TCU, Vanderbilt and Wichita State all have a pair of athletes identified on the watch list.

Starting on March 26 and ending April 1, fans will be able to nominate their favorite players for the Golden Spikes Award prior to the reveal of the midseason watch list on April 10. The semifinalists list will be sent to a voting body consisting of baseball media members, select professional baseball personnel, current USA Baseball staff and the 40 previous winners of the award, representing a group of more than 200 voters.

Amateur baseball fans across the country will be able to vote for their favorite players at GoldenSpikesAward.com again in 2018, starting on May 21 with the naming of the Golden Spikes Award semifinalists. On June 6, USA Baseball will announce the finalists and voting will begin that day and last until June 22.

The winner of the 41st Golden Spikes Award will be named on Thursday, June 28, at a presentation in Los Angeles. The finalists and their families will be honored at the Rod Dedeaux Foundation Award Dinner that evening at Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.

USA Baseball has partnered with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to host the Golden Spikes Award since 2013. The Foundation was formed to honor legendary USC and USA Baseball Olympic team coach, Rod Dedeaux, and supports youth baseball and softball programs in underserved communities throughout Southern California.

Last year, Louisville's Brendan McKay took home the prestigious award, joining a group of recent winners that include Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008), and David Price (2007).

The 2018 Golden Spikes Award timeline:

  • Monday, March 26: Golden Spikes Award fan nominations begin
  • Sunday, April 1: Golden Spikes Award fan nominations end
  • Tuesday, April 10: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list announced
  • Monday, May 21: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced, voting begins
  • Sunday, June 3: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists voting ends
  • Wednesday, June 6: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists announced, voting begins
  • Friday, June 22: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists voting ends
  • Thursday, June 28: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award trophy presentation


A complete list of the 55-player USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list is as follows:

Name, Position, Class, School, Conference
Chris Acosta-Tapia, OF, Sr., Oklahoma Wesleyan, Kansas Collegiate
Johnny Aiello, 3B, Jr., Wake Forest, ACC
D.J. Artis, OF, Jr., Liberty, Big South
Luken Baker, 1B/DH, Jr., TCU, Big 12
Joey Bart, C, Jr., Georgia Tech, ACC
Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Jr., Clemson, ACC
Alec Bohm, 3B, Jr., Wichita State, American Athletic
Kris Bubic, LHP, Jr., Stanford, Pac-12
Michael Byrne, RHP, Jr., Florida, SEC
Tim Cate, LHP, Jr., UCONN, American Athletic
Griffin Conine, OF, Jr., Duke, ACC
Trey Cumbie, LHP, Jr., Houston, American Athletic
Gianluca Dalatri, RHP, So., North Carolina, ACC
Tanner Dodson, UT, Jr., California, Pac-12
Colton Eastman, RHP, Jr., Cal State Fullerton, Big West
Jeremy Eierman, SS, Jr., Missouri State, Missouri Valley
Tyler Frank, SS, Jr., Florida Atlantic, Conference USA
Logan Gilbert, RHP, Jr., Stetson, Atlantic Sun
Steven Gingery, LHP, Jr., Texas Tech, Big 12
Ethan Hankins, RHP, Sr., Forsyth Central High School
Zack Hess, RHP, So., LSU, SEC
Sean Hjelle, RHP, Jr., Kentucky, SEC
Nico Hoerner, SS, Jr., Stanford, Pac-12
Tyler Holton, LHP/DH, Jr., Florida State, ACC
Niko Hulsizer, OF, Jr., Morehead State, Ohio Valley
Jonathan India, 3B, Jr., Florida, SEC
Julian Infante, 1B/DH, Jr., Vanderbilt, SEC
Jared Janczak, RHP, Jr., TCU, Big 12
Greyson Jenista, 1B/OF, Jr., Wichita State, American Athletic
Nolan Kingham, RHP, Jr., Texas, Big 12
Jackson Kowar, RHP, Jr., Florida, SEC
Shea Langeliers, C, So., Baylor, Big 12
Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Sr., Mountain Ridge High School
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Jr., Oregon State, Pac-12
Jake Mangum, OF, Jr., Mississippi State, SEC
Jake McCarthy, OF, Jr., Virginia, ACC
Shane McClanahan, LHP, Jr, South Florida, American Athletic
Drew Mendoza, 3B, So., Florida State, ACC
Casey Mize, RHP, Jr., Auburn, SEC
Konnor Pilkington, LHP, Jr., Mississippi State, SEC
Tyler Pittmon, IF, Sr., Antelope Valley, California Pacific
Tristan Pompey, OF, Jr., Kentucky, SEC
Patrick Raby, RHP, Jr., Vanderbilt, SEC
Cal Raleigh, C, Jr., Florida State, ACC
Alfonso Rivas, 1B, Jr., Arizona, Pac-12
Ryan Rolison, LHP, So., Ole Miss, SEC
Braden Shewmake, 2B, So., Texas A&M, SEC
Brady Singer, RHP, Jr., Florida, SEC
Nick Sprengel, LHP, Jr., San Diego, West Coast
Travis Swaggerty, OF, Jr., South Alabama, Sun Belt
Brice Turang, SS, Sr., Santiago High School
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, So., California, Pac-12
Steele Walker, OF, JR, Oklahoma, Big 12
Matt Wallner, UT, So., Southern Miss, Conference USA
Zach Watson, OF, So., LSU, SEC

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NHSI

USA Baseball Announces 2018 National High School Invitational Field

January 30, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Tuesday the 16-team field that will compete in the 2018 USA Baseball National High School Invitational (NHSI) presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance and the Town of Cary. The seventh annual event will take place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex (NTC) in Cary, North Carolina, from March 28-31; and select games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, MLB.com and Facebook Live.

The 2018 field features six schools who have participated in the event previously, including two past champions. The defending champions, Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.), will begin their title defense on Wednesday, March 28 in a first-round game against Florence High School (Florence, Ala.).

"It is our honor as the national governing body for baseball to continue to highlight the high school game in the amateur baseball landscape with the National High School Invitational," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director and CEO of USA Baseball. "We are excited to welcome sixteen of the top prep baseball programs in the country, as well as some of the nation's best talent, for a truly one-of-a-kind high school baseball experience."

2016 North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A baseball state runner-ups, Green Hope High School (Cary, N.C.), will serve as the host of this year's tournament. Green Hope will play its opening game under the lights on Coleman Field against 2016 NHSI semifinalist Walton High School (Marietta, Ga.), following the Opening Ceremonies.

Two-time NHSI champion, Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.), returns to the event for a fourth time and will take on Sandra Day O'Connor High School (Phoenix, Ariz.) in first-round action. Also returning to the NHSI are American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.) and Trinity Preparatory School (Winter Park, Fla.), who will face Santiago High School (Corona, Calif.) and Mountain Ridge High School (Glendale, Ariz.) on day one, respectively.

The final three first-round games feature six teams making their first-ever trip to the NHSI. George Jenkins High School (Lakeland, Fla.) will face Mount Carmel High School (Chicago, Ill.), Hanover High School (Mechanicsville, Va.) will face John Curtis High School (River Ridge, La.), and Hattiesburg High School (Hattiesburg, Miss.) will face Calvary Christian Academy (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.).

In total, 10 states are represented in the 2018 NHSI field, led by Florida with four teams, California with three teams and Arizona with two teams in the event. Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia are represented with one school each in the tournament.

"The National High School Invitational has established itself as the premier event of its kind," said Scott Dupree, Executive Director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance. "USA Baseball has done a superb job establishing and growing the NHSI, which has quickly become one of the most attractive events on our spring sports calendar, both in terms of fan interest and economic development. The GRSA is delighted and proud to be on board as a host partner."

The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) and the Town of Cary continue to serve as host partners for the NHSI in 2018.

The National Training Complex (NTC), in partnership with the Town of Cary, has been the official home of USA Baseball since 2007, and the NHSI since its inception in 2012. The NTC has had numerous Major League Baseball players venture through its gates, including Chris Archer, Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. The Town of Cary received the National Gold Medal Grand Plaque Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in 2016. The award honors U.S. communities that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition.

The NHSI is a single-elimination championship tournament, with each participating team guaranteed to play four games.

For more information on the USA Baseball National High School Invitational, visit USABaseball.com or follow @USABaseball and @USABEvents on Twitter.

2018 National High School Invitational First Round Schedule:
Hanover vs. John Curtis (9:30 a.m. - Field 3)
George Jenkins vs. Mount Carmel (10:30 a.m. - Field 4)
Orange Lutheran vs. Florence (11:30 a.m. - Coleman Field)
American Heritage vs. Santiago (12:30 p.m. - Field 3)
Hattiesburg vs. Calvary Christian (1:30 p.m. - Field 4)
Mountain Ridge vs. Trinity Prep (2:30 p.m. - Coleman Field)
Sandra Day O'Connor vs. Mater Dei (3:30 p.m. - Field 3)
Walton vs. Green Hope (6:07 p.m. - Coleman Field)

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Sport Dev

USA Baseball Adds SafeSport Resources to Online Education Center

January 9, 2018

Three SafeSport courses now available online at USABaseball.Education

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Wednesday the addition of three new, online courses from the U.S. Center for SafeSport to the USA Baseball Online Education Center. All three courses are immediately available free of charge at USABaseball.Education.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on preventing physical, emotional and sexual abuse in sport. The Center, initially chartered by the U.S. Olympic Committee, is an independent organization with a nine-member board of directors, including subject-matter experts in abuse prevention, child abuse and sexual assault investigation, ethics compliance and sport administration.

The new online courses are part of a series of efforts by the U.S. Center for SafeSport to foster a culture of safety by raising awareness, developing best practices, and providing education and training to promote respect and prevent abuse. The courses include:

  • Emotional and Physical Misconduct
  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Sexual Misconduct Awareness Education


The courses are each approximately 30 minutes in length, and provide critical information about the nature of misconduct in sport, how to recognize it, how to prevent it and how to take action. The information in the courses aims to help keep sport a positive experience for every athlete, coach and volunteer.

In addition to these training courses, USA Baseball has further supported the SafeSport initiative with the inclusion of a series of articles produced by the USOC through the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog, relating to the physical and emotional protection of athletes.

"USA Baseball is the National Governing Body for the sport within the United States Olympic Committee structure and as a result we are closely aligned and connected to the SafeSport initiative," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director and CEO of USA Baseball. "USA Baseball is passionate about raising awareness of the SafeSport initiative and providing our athletes unparalleled development and competitive opportunity in a safe environment."

The U.S. Center for SafeSport mandates all National Governing Bodies require its staff to complete SafeSport training prior to working directly with any youth athletes or at participating youth events. In coordination with this policy, all coaches and staff members, as well as volunteers, of USA Baseball and its national teams will complete these courses as part of the educational component of the SafeSport training.

The USA Baseball Online Education Center currently includes 18 online courses for players, coaches, parents and umpires, hosted by some of baseball's most esteemed professionals, as well as hosting additional resources such as the Long Term Athlete Development Plan, USA Baseball Mobile Coaching App, the Sport Development blog and more.

All courses on the Online Education Center are free of charge and aim to provide a positive baseball experience for all.

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Sport Dev

USA Baseball, ABCA Announce Educational Partnership

January 5, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- USA Baseball and the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) announced a new partnership on Saturday, in an effort to create a higher standard of coaching education and enhance the ability of coaches at all levels of the game to better serve their athletes, teams and communities.

The announcement was made at the ABCA National Convention by Houston Astros Manager and World Series Champion, A.J. Hinch. Hinch kicked off Saturday's session of the Convention by encouraging coaches to become more active leaders in their communities, a movement which is being spearheaded by the USA Baseball and ABCA partnership.

"Coaches are the bedrock of player development and the player experience and that's why this partnership is so important to me and critical to our game," Hinch said.

USA Baseball and the ABCA will work together to provide a comprehensive program that combines online and in-person learning opportunities for baseball coaches. The program will be exhibited to coaches at the annual ABCA National Convention, the largest baseball coaching convention in the world, as well as other regional coaching clinic events, and will be hosted online on the USA Baseball Education Center. The Education Center contains online courses for players, coaches, parents and umpires, as well as the USA Baseball Mobile Coach app - which has additional resources including practice plans and a drill library. All content on the USA Baseball Education Center is provided free of charge.

The announcement of the educational partnership also comes with a call to action for coaches to engage in and support the new Baseball ACE Community Clinic program. This joint initiative between USA Baseball and the ABCA aims to encourage active mentorship among the baseball coaching community by providing coaches at all levels the opportunity to learn and grow by interacting with one another, allowing veteran coaches to pass their knowledge and guidance down to fellow coaches with less experience. Further announcements about the partnership will be made later in 2018.

"We couldn't be more excited about the possibilities of the partnership between the ABCA and USA Baseball," said ABCA Executive Director Craig Keilitz. "Between the two organizations, there are so many different assets - whether they are clinics, the education center, other videos, podcasts, Inside Pitch Magazine - and we are planning to leverage those into the most comprehensive baseball coaching education program to date."

"This partnership brings together the two organizations best positioned to support the commitment of baseball coaches at all levels of the amateur game," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "We are thrilled to be working with the dedicated team at the ABCA, and look forward to expanding our coaching education platform in the coming months and years. Better coaches means a better future for America's pastime"

In November of 2017, USA Baseball and the ABCA rolled out four online coaching courses featuring clinic videos from recent ABCA National Conventions that are now available in English and Spanish on the USA Baseball Online Education Center at no cost to users. These courses include:

  • Managing Players, featuring Andy Green, Manager of the San Diego Padres, and Chris Burke, former MLB player and current TV analyst
  • Coaching Philosophy and Approach, featuring Jack Thomson, Head Baseball Coach at Sierra HS (Manteca, Calif.), and Dave Jauss, Coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Infield Development, featuring Marty Lees, Head Baseball Coach at Washington State University, and Eddie Smith, Head Baseball Coach at Lower Columbia College
  • Outfield Development, featuring Jake Boss, Head Baseball Coach at Michigan State University, and Matt Bragga, Head Baseball Coach at Tennessee Tech

Additional educational resources offered jointly by USA Baseball and the ABCA will be added to the USA Baseball Online Education Center in the coming months.

To access the online courses presented by USA Baseball and the ABCA, visit the USA Baseball Online Education Center at USABaseball.Education. Information on Community Clinics and other on-site coaching experiences is available at ABCA.org. To obtain more information on hosting, speaking in or attending a clinic through the Baseball ACE Community Clinic Program, visit BaseballACE.org.

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Sport Dev

MLB, USA Baseball Recognize Pitch Smart Compliant Organizations

January 3, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - Major League Baseball and USA Baseball recognized on Wednesday the amateur and youth organizations that have fully adopted the Pitch Smart Compliance Program's guidelines and principles for the 2018 season. The updated compliance program includes the addition of two national organizations to the Full Compliance level, bringing the total to 25 fully compliant national and regional organizations, an increase of nearly nine percent from 2017.

Pitch Smart is a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball that provides safe pitching practices to help reduce the risk of arm injuries in amateur players. The program includes a growing number of resources on its home site at PitchSmart.org. It is further supported by a free online educational course available at USA Baseball's Online Education Center at USABaseball.Education that is hosted by Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz.

"The long-term development and health of amateur players continues to be a priority for Major League Baseball," said Chris Marinak, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Technology & Innovation, Major League Baseball. "We continue to be encouraged by the ongoing proliferation of the Pitch Smart program, and see it as a core component for every amateur organization's rule book."

Full Pitch Smart compliance represents the highest level of commitment to the program and is defined by the incorporation of Pitch Smart guidelines pertaining to pitch counts and rest periods across all competitions, as well as supporting Pitch Smart educational efforts across all platforms.

PONY Baseball and Prep Baseball Report join the lineup of fully compliant Pitch Smart organizations for 2018. The returning fully compliant national organizations from 2017 include: American Amateur Baseball Congress, American Legion Baseball, Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, Baseball Factory, Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, California Collegiate League, Cape Cod Baseball League, Dixie Boys Baseball Inc., East Coast Pro Showcase, Florida Collegiate Summer League, Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, Little League Baseball®, National Amateur Baseball Federation, National Youth Baseball Championships, New England Collegiate Baseball League, New York Collegiate Baseball League, Perfect Game, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), Southern Collegiate Baseball League, Sunbelt Baseball League, USA Baseball, and Valley Baseball League.

In addition to the Full Compliant organizations, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball also recognize organizations that are Select Compliant and Educational Supporters. Select Compliance of the Pitch Smart program is defined by the implementation of Pitch Smart guidelines pertaining to pitch counts and rest periods across select competitions, supporting Pitch Smart educational efforts across all platforms, and a plan to progress towards the adoption of all standards of full compliance in coming years.

The final level of Pitch Smart compliance, Educational Supporters, includes organizations that agree with the philosophies of the Pitch Smart program, support Pitch Smart educational efforts across all platforms, and will work towards select and full program compliance upon organizational review.

The Select Compliant Pitch Smart organizations for 2018 include: Babe Ruth League, Dixie Youth Baseball, Game Day USA and NCTB Baseball.

The Educational Supporters of Pitch Smart for 2018 include: Amateur Athletic Union Baseball, National Federation of State High School Associations and Ripken Baseball.

"We are pleased that Pitch Smart compliance has become the expected standard across all levels of the amateur landscape," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director and CEO. "USA Baseball continues to move down the path of being a comprehensive body of governance and providing educational and health and safety programs for the amateur game."

In addition to the national and regional organizations listed, 73 state and local organizations have been recognized as Full Compliant, Select Compliant or Educational Supporter organizations for 2018. USA Baseball will continue to collaborate with all organizations on their Pitch Smart progress throughout the 2018 season.

For a complete list of all full compliant organizations, select compliant organizations and educational supporters, as well as more information about Pitch Smart and an application for inclusion in the compliance program, visit PitchSmart.org.

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USA Baseball Mourns the Passing of Jerry Kindall

December 25, 2017

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler released a statement following the passing of Jerry Kindall. Kindall assumed multiple roles during his time with USA Baseball, including serving as an assistant coach for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 1991, 1998 and 1999.

"USA Baseball is saddened by the news of Jerry Kindall's passing. Jerry's immense success and passion left an indelible mark on the game of baseball both on and off the field, and we are forever grateful for his many years of service to USA Baseball. On a personal level, I'm humbled to have called him a friend and mentor. He was a very special man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Diane, and the rest of his family during this time."

While serving as an assistant coach in 1991, the Collegiate National Team won a bronze medal at the XI Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba. Kindall became a senior advisor to national team coaching staffs following his retirement from the University of Arizona and later served as a USA Baseball Board of Directors member. He also spent time as a play-by-play announcer for Collegiate National Team broadcasts.

Kindall won four NCAA College World Series titles during his career - one as a player at the University of Minnesota and three as the head coach at the University of Arizona. Before beginning his coaching career, he spent eight years in the major leagues, playing infield for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins.

He was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1991 and the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Kindall passed away in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 82.

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Sport Dev

Coaching Material Available Through New Partnership with Baseball New Zealand

December 21, 2017

USA Baseball to share coaching manuals with Baseball New Zealand to help increase game knowledge

Baseball coaches in New Zealand will soon have greater access to coaching manuals and instructional video's through a new partnership between Baseball New Zealand and its American equivalent USA Baseball. In a move designed to increase the knowledge of baseball coaches in New Zealand, instructional information and coaching techniques will be freely available to anyone involved in the game through the Baseball New Zealand website.

"Providing our online courses to our international counterparts is part of the continuation of USA Baseball's efforts to make educational resources universally available within the game," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. "We are encouraged by Baseball New Zealand's enthusiasm to offer these educational resources to its constituents, and we are proud to promote these resources in the international baseball community."

"We have investigated many different ways to get coaching information out to our stakeholders and this partnership goes a long way to achieving this goal," said Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn, adding, "Our National Development Officers have done a great job in managing our coaching programmes and this development is an added bonus to increasing the knowledge of our coaches.

"USA Baseball has put together a superb menu of coaching instruction and video and having this at our fingertips can only help our coaches nationwide to grow," said Flynn, "We are close to a tipping point in New Zealand where the game of baseball is about to explode and it is important we assist anybody wanting to coach to have the necessary information to facilitate this."

Media Contact for further information or to pre-arrange interviews:

Ryan Flynn
Chief Executive Officer
Baseball New Zealand
M: +64-21-665-339
E: ryan.flynn@baseballnewzealand.com

Website: www.baseballnewzealand.com
Twitter: @BaseballNZ
Facebook: BaseballNZ

Ian McDonald
Communications Advisor
Baseball New Zealand
M: +64-21-746-673
E: ian.mcdonald@baseballnewzealand.com

Website: www.baseballnewzealand.com
Twitter: @BaseballNZ
Facebook: BaseballNZ

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2017 USA Baseball Award Winners Announced

December 12, 2017

18U National Team member Triston Casas named Richard W. "Dick" Case Award Winner

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the recipients of its annual organizational awards on Tuesday, recognizing the top athletes, coaches and performances from the 2017 USA Baseball national teams. 18U National Team member Triston Casas was named the Richard W. "Dick" Case Award winner, given annually to USA Baseball's top player in honor of the organization's founding Executive Director and CEO. Casas is the third 18U National Team member to earn athlete of the year honors.

USA Baseball honored the World Baseball Classic Team with three awards in 2017, including the Team of the Year award after winning its first-ever gold medal in the event. Manager Jim Leyland was named the Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year and World Baseball Classic MVP Marcus Stroman earned the International Performance of the Year award following his outstanding performance in the championship game in March.

Stroman shares the International Performance of the Year award with 12U National Team member Josh Atomancyzyk, whose performance against Japan in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup kept Team USA in medal contention en route to its third consecutive Baseball World Cup title. This is the first time in USA Baseball's history two individual performances were recognized with this award.

"We are delighted to recognize these outstanding performances that led USA Baseball to new heights in 2017," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director/CEO. "Our on-field performances are certainly paramount to our organization's success but in addition to that, each one of these athletes represented the United States in an exceptional manner as a global ambassador for the game of baseball and our country on the international stage. We are truly proud to recognize these individuals and teams with our annual awards."

In partnership with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Baseball also named David Sharp (12U National Team) and Bill Burniston (Collegiate National Team) the Developmental and Volunteer Coach of the Year award recipients, respectively.

USA Baseball had its most successful year in 2017 after sweeping through its international competition with gold medals at the World Baseball Classic, WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, COPABE Pan Am U-15 Championships and the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup; in addition to the Collegiate National Team winning all three of its international friendship series against Chinese Taipei, Cuba and Japan. It is the first time in international baseball history a federation has won all of its international competitions in a calendar year.

Three-time USA Baseball alumnus Triston Casas (American Heritage High School, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) was awarded the Richard W. "Dick" Case Award following his performance with the 18U National Team at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada. Casas was named the tournament MVP after leading Team USA to its fourth consecutive world championship title. A stalwart at first base, his bat did the most damage, collecting tournament-highs with 13 RBIs and three home runs, including a two-run shot in the gold medal game. The WBSC also named Casas its Baseball Player of the Year at its annual congress in Gaborone, Batswana in October.

Casas has now won three gold medals in his young career with Team USA. In addition to winning the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in 2017, he also won a gold medal with the 2015 15U National Team and the 2016 18U National Team in the COPABE Pan Am Championships. He was also a member of the 2016 17U National Team Development Program.

The World Baseball Classic Team was named USA Baseball's Team of the Year after winning its first-ever title when it defeated Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the gold medal game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Pitcher Marcus Stroman (Toronto Blue Jays) was named the MVP of the tournament and Eric Hosmer (Kansas City Royals) and Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins) joined him on the All-Tournament Team. The team finished the tournament with a 7-2 overall record and its success led to earning the USOC Team of the Month award for March, as well as its manager, Jim Leyland, being named the USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year.

"The managerial expertise Jim brought to our World Baseball Classic team was impressive to watch," said Seiler. "Our nation has such high expectations for success in our sport, and Jim led an incredible group of players and staff to our first gold medal in this event. We're incredibly proud to call him an alumnus of USA Baseball and honor him with this award."

Leyland will be honored at the Golden Spikes Award and Rod Dedeaux Foundation Award Dinner, which will be held June 28 at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.

USA Baseball honored two athletes with the International Performance of the Year award: World Baseball Classic MVP Marcus Stroman and 12U National Team member Josh Atomancyzyk (Franklin, Texas). Stroman earned his MVP award with a shutdown performance over previously unbeaten Puerto Rico in the gold medal game of the 2017 WBC. In the final, Stroman pitched 6.1 innings of one-hit baseball and struck out three, silencing a Puerto Rican offense that was averaging nearly eight runs a game. His outstanding performance paved the way for a dominant 8-0 victory and the 2017 World Baseball Classic title. He was later named the Male Athlete of the Month for March by the USOC.

With a spot in the gold medal game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup on the line, Atomancyzyk took the mound for the red, white and blue against Japan and was masterful; tossing 5.1 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, while striking out a game-high seven batters in the victory. In addition to his pitching prowess, Atomancyzyk went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two home runs and five RBIs in the 6-1 victory.

12U National Team Manager David Sharp (Huntsville High School; Huntsville, Ala.) was named the Developmental Coach of the Year after leading the 12U team to its third consecutive WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup title. Sharp led his team to an 8-1 record, defeating host-country Chinese Taipei, 7-2, in the gold medal game in front of a sellout crowd of 11,000. Under his guidance, the team outscored its opponents 107-43 and finished the tournament hitting .423 with 40 extra-base hits.

Bill Burniston was named the USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year after serving as the performance specialist for the Collegiate National Team. Burniston provided unparalleled service to the athletes by offering creative and engaging training sessions that not only allowed the national team to prepare and excel on the field, but also promoted and protected their overall long-term health.

"Bill has been an invaluable addition to our Collegiate National Team family for years," said Seiler. "He is a world-class professional in his field and his engaging demeanor leads to positive and fulfilling relationships with the athletes that last long after their time with USA Baseball."

USA Baseball's Richard W. "Dick" Case Player of the Year and Team of the Year honorees serve as the organization's nominees in their respective categories with the USOC, who honors one Sportsman and Team of the Year annually based on nominations from its National Governing Bodies.

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