GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD NEWS

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Golden Spikes Spotlight: J.B. Bukauskas

May 24, 2017

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - An uncharacteristic mistake early in Friday's game against Duke revealed a lot about J.B. Bukauskas.

With a runner at third base and two outs in the second inning, Bukauskas got ahead of dangerous Duke righthanded hitter Jimmy Herron - he said later that he was beating Herron with fastballs, and he should have stuck with it. Instead, he shook off the call from the dugout and threw a changeup, and Herron turned on it for an RBI double down the left-field line. When Bukauskas got back to the dugout between innings, North Carolina coach Mike Fox greeted him.

"I very rarely will say something, but I said something to him. I'm like, 'He's probably their best offensive player. There's a guy in scoring position, you have to make him beat your best stuff.' He got mad at me; he said, 'Yes, sir,' but in one of those (tones)," Fox said. "And then after the game he came up to me and apologized. I said, 'J.B., you don't need to apologize to me. If you weren't upset with that, then I would really be worried about you.' That's the way he is. He cares a lot, I think his teammates love him."

It was clear that Bukauskas didn't have his very best stuff early in that game. Afterward, he said he was having problems with a blister that broke open on his finger, which hindered his feel for his slider - normally one of the most devastating pitches in college baseball. On this day, the 82-86 mph slider showed flashes of its typical filthy late tilt, but its break was inconsistent and he struggled to command it.

So Bukauskas made an adjustment. Rather than leaning on his slider for outs, he pounded the zone with his fastball, which sat at 94-96 mph in the first and then sat mostly at 92-94 over the next six innings, touching 95 repeatedly. And starting in the third, he found his groove, retiring 12 straight Duke batters.

"He's had some outings like that where he just finds a way for three or four innings, just to show the other team that, 'OK, I may not have this pitch or that pitch, but I've got this one.' And he just gives our team a chance," Fox said. "It's as much a boost for our offense as anything else. They're like, 'OK, J.B.'s getting in a groove now, they're probably going to go three or four innings without scoring, so let's do something."

That's what happened Friday night, as UNC overcame an early 2-0 deficit and won 3-2 in 10 innings. A few days later, when the regular season was over, Bukauskas was named ACC Pitcher of the Year after going 8-0, 1.87 with 106 strikeouts and 31 walks in 82 innings. He had some brilliant days this spring, but most impressively, he was amazingly consistent from week to week.

"He's a special competitor. He works so hard on the five, six days between his outings, just very meticulous in his routine, his preparation," UNC pitching coach Robert Woodard said. "That carries over into the game in terms of his competitiveness - he invests so much that when something doesn't go his way or he has a little bit of adversity, he has that extra gear he can kind of take it to. He did a great job (Friday) of making pitch to pitch adjustments, over not waiting for the next inning or having to go to another reliever. He really gathered himself, adjusted and kept competing."

Back in May of 2014 when Bukauskas wrote a letter to every major league club telling them he intended to honor his commitment to UNC rather than entertain draft opportunities, the Tar Heels surely felt they had won the lottery. They must have suspected they were getting a potential future ACC pitcher of the year and an obvious first-round talent.

Fox remembers getting the phone call from Bukauskas three years ago, informing him of the young righthander's intention to attend UNC. As Fox remembers it, the call came in around 1 a.m.

"I wasn't totally surprised, I kind of was, but just the way he told me, just very calm, like, 'Hey Coach, this is J.B., I just wanted to let you know we've written a letter to the teams and I'll be coming to UNC.' Just like that - flat, matter-of-fact. That's him. Like, 'OK J.B. See you soon.'"

That direct, businesslike approach has served Bukauskas well so far in his career. He's one of the more analytical and self-aware pitchers in the country, capable of diagnosing his own strengths and weaknesses, and working to turn his shortcomings into strengths.

Exhibit A is his changeup, which he has been working hard to develop since at least last summer with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team. The pitch has continued to make progress, as he showed when he used it to strike out Duke slugger Griffin Conine early in Friday's game. But a couple of scouts observed that Bukauskas has a tendency to slow down his delivery and let hitters know the pitch is coming. So it was illuminating to hear Bukauskas bring that up himself later in the night, without being prompted.

"It's getting better," Bukauskas said. "I threw like 15 of them tonight, I was happy with it. Got some good swings and misses, some pop-ups and ground balls, and a couple were hit hard. That's the thing, I slowed my mechanics down a little bit, and that will happen - if you show guys what's gonna come, these guys are good hitters, ACC hitters. So can't do that, but I was happy with where it's going."

He also acknowledged that he has gone to UNC closer Josh Hiatt - who owns one of the best changeups in the country - for changeup advice. Again, Bukauskas showed uncommon self-awareness when he described that consultation with Hiatt.

"The biggest thing for me is everything I want to throw, I want to throw for a swing-and-miss. And I'm learning from him that you don't need to go for a swing-and-miss with a changeup, it's a good quick-out pitch," Bukauskas said. "I learn from everybody, talk to everybody, especially guys that have had that kind of success. They're doing something right."

The other thing he's working on is trying to stay closed in his delivery, instead of flying open and letting hitters get a longer look at the ball. He said that when he stays closed, his fastball has more run and better downward angle, and he can locate it better. He's always been better at locating to his glove side, but he has worked to improve his arm-side command as well.

Bukauskas isn't a finished product yet, and he knows that better than anyone. But he's still gotten dramatically better year after year, improving from 5-3, 4.09 as a freshman to 7-2, 3.10 as a sophomore to 8-0, 1.87 as a junior. His strikeout rate has gone up, and he's become harder to hit. He's obviously a major reason for No. 2 North Carolina's superb season, and he'll finally get to pitch on the big stage of the NCAA tournament after the Tar Heels missed the postseason each of the last two years. Getting the program back to the elite level it had reached over the past dozen years (when it made six CWS appearances) was a major motivator for the team-oriented Bukauskas - though he was characteristically understated when he looked ahead to the postseason. "Really looking forward to that," he said. "I think we got a good shot."

Bukauskas' combination of competitiveness, intelligence, selflessness and electrifying stuff make him stand out even among the star-studded list of marquee pitchers who have passed through Chapel Hill in the Fox era (from Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard and Woodard himself to Matt Harvey, Adam Warren, Alex White and Kent Emanuel). Fox and Woodard know how lucky they are to have him leading their staff.

"Blessed is an understatement," Woodard said of the opportunity to coach Bukauaskas in his first year as UNC's pitching coach.

"I remind him of that all the time," Fox quipped.

They're going to enjoy the rest of the Bukauskas era, however long their postseason ride lasts.

"Getting to be his pitching coach this year, there's a sense for me that I just really relish every bullpen session, every one of his outings, just because the time here is limited," Woodard said. "So there's definitely a part of me that's definitely just staying in the moment with him, every bullpen session, every one of his outings and just enjoying.

"It carries over to the rest of the staff, and all the other guys see it. They see him perform, they see him prepare, and it trickles down to all of them and makes everybody else better, just by what he does."

"He's special," Fox added. "He's special in a lot of ways."

 

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18U

Team USA Uses Big First Inning To Best Canada

November 18, 2018
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team USA  3 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 1 8 8 3
Canada 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 3 1
Win: V. Mederos Loss: C. Sparks 
Box Score | Play-by-play

MIAMI, Fla. - The 18U National Team jumped out to an early lead that it would not relinquish as it bested Canada, 8-3, in the fourth game of National Team Training on Saturday, November 17, at the Ballpark of Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida.

For the second straight game, Team USA's offense got off to a fast start scoring three runs in the first inning to set the tone. Pete Crow-Armstrong (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) led the game off by getting hit by a pitch before eventually crossing the plate on a wild pitch for the team's first run of the game. Yohandy Morales (Miami, Fla.) then singled through the left side as Riley Greene (Oviedo, Fla.) crossed the plate to put the U.S. ahead 2-0. Tyler Callihan (Mobile, Ala.) scored Team USA's third and final run of the inning after touching home as Ethan Hearn (Neptune Beach, Fla.) grounded out to second base.

After a scoreless second inning from Team USA, Canada responded by scoring two runs after loading the bases with no outs to cut the lead to just one. With the score at 3-2 in favor of the U.S., both teams failed to bring home a run in the third.

Hearn sparked the stars and stripes in the fourth inning with a leadoff walk, before advancing to second on a wild pitch. After a groundout that advanced him to third, Hearn scored on a triple by Austin Hendrick (Oakdale, Pa.) that hit off the wall in right field. Hendrick scored on a sacrifice fly by Carter Young (Selah, Wash) to make the score 5-2.

Canada would score its final run of the game in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 5-3. That score didn't last long however, as Anthony Volpe (Watchung, N.J.) singled to center field in the bottom of the sixth and after advancing to second, stole third base. He would then score on an error for the lone run to push the lead to three runs.

In the eighth, Drew Romo (The Woodlands, Texas) scored on the squad's second sacrifice fly of the game. Greene finished the scoring for Team USA with his first home run of training, a deep shot over the wall in right field. The dinger marked the team's second home run of the week.

Greene led the squad with two hits and two runs scored on the day as six different players recorded an RBI. Victor Mederos (Miami, Fla.) earned the win after pitching four innings, while only allowing one hit and punching out three batters.

Up next, the team will take on the University of Florida at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida, on Sunday, November 18. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

Follow @USABaseball18U on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the 18U National Team.

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18U

Nine Hits Lead Team USA Past STU

November 17, 2018
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team USA  1 0 1 5 0 0 0 1 0 8 12 3
Nova Southeastern 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 5 1
Win: R. Hawks Loss: M. Ornelas 
Box Score | Play-by-play

MIAMI, Fla. - The 18U National Team used nine hits, including the team's first home run of training, to score seven runs and best St. Thomas University 7-4. The win marked the squad's third of training on Friday, November 16, at Paul Demie Mainieri Field in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The stars and stripes wasted no time jumping out to an early lead as Dylan Crews (Longwood, Fla.) walked before Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville, Texas) blasted a home run that hit off of the scoreboard in left-center field.

Not to be outdone, the Bobcats hit a two-run shot of their own to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning. Once again, the teams traded a pair of runs in the second inning after Corbin Carroll (Seattle, Wash.) scored on a wild pitch before STU scored on a single up the middle to even the score at three all.

After a scoreless third for both teams, the U.S. took a lead that they would not relinquish in the fourth when Pete Crow-Armstrong (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) scored on a sacrifice fly to right field to give Team USA the 4-3 lead.

In the fifth, Witt Jr. and Tyler Callihan (Neptune Beach, Fla.) began the inning with singles. With one out in the inning, Crow-Armstrong added another RBI to his resume when he punched a single into right field to score Witt Jr. Yohandy Morales (Miami, Fla.) scored on a wild pitch in the seventh to add to the lead.

STU scored in the eighth to cut the score to 6-4 before Logan Tanner (Lucedale, Miss.) scored in the ninth on a bases-loaded double play. With the game at 7-4, the team relied on Callihan to close the game and he did just that, collecting a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save.

Four players led the way for the U.S. with two hits apiece. Four players also notched an RBI to lead the team. Relief pitcher Sammy Faltine (Richmond, Texas) earned the win while punching out five batters in three innings.

Up next, the team will take on Canada at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday, November 17. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. ET.

Follow @USABaseball18Uon Twitter and visit USABaseball.comfor the most up-to-date news about the 18U National Team.

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18U

Five Run Fourth Propels Team USA Over NSU

November 16, 2018
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team USA  1 0 1 5 0 0 0 1 0 8 12 3
Nova Southeastern 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 5 1
Win: R. Hawks Loss: M. Ornelas 
Box Score | Play-by-play

MIAMI, Fla. - After falling behind early, the 18U National Team used a five-run fourth inning to top Nova Southeastern University 8-3 as the squad continued training on Thursday, November 15, at NSU in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Both teams got off to fast starts with both teams pushing runners across in the first inning. Team USA jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville, Texas) singled through the left side of the infield, scoring C.J. Abrams (Alphretta, Ga.) scored from second.

However, NSU responded quickly as the Sharks used two USA errors to score two runs in the bottom half of the first. Facing a one-run deficit for the second game in a row, the stars and stripes responded to tie the game in the third inning. Corbin Carroll (Seattle, Wash.) singled through the right side to allow Abrams to score his second run and tie the game.

The squad kept the bats hot in the next inning, adding five runs on four hits. Riley Greene (Oviedo, Fla.) punched a ball through the right side of the infield as Abrams tallied his third run of the game. On the very next pitch, Dylan Crews (Longwood, Fla.) scored on a wild pitch to push the U.S. lead to 5-2. Two more singles by Witt Jr. and Carroll plated two more runs to push the lead to 7-2.

The Sharks added a run in the seventh but the stars and stripes responded once again as Yohandy Morales (Miami, Fla.) doubled down the left field line to score Drew Romo (The Woodlands, Texas).

Ryan Cornelio (Monument, Colo.) entered the game in the eighth inning to close it out, fanning five batters, including all three in the ninth inning to secure Team USA's 8-3 win.

Abrams led the way with three hits and three runs on the day, as Greene, Witt Jr., and Carroll added two RBI a piece in the game. Starting pitcher Brennan Malone (Matthews, N.C.) earned the win while punching out six batters in four innings.

Up next, the team will take on St. Thomas University on Friday, November 16, at Paul Demie Mainieri Field in Miami Gardens, Florida. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. ET.

Follow @USABaseball18U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 18U National Team.

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Sport Dev

USA Baseball Launches Pure Baseball

Pure Baseball is a zero-tolerance policy regarding abuse that ensures the well-being of athletes
November 15, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball today announced the launch of Pure Baseball. Pure Baseball is the organization's zero-tolerance policy regarding abuse - inclusive of emotional, physical and sexual misconduct - within the sport of baseball across the United States to ensure the overall well-being of its minor athletes. 

Pursuant to the guidelines presented in Senate Bill 534 (SB 534) and in cooperation with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the Pure Baseball initiative and its numerous resources will impact USA Baseball, its national team athletes and event participants, in addition to its national member organizations, local affiliate organizations and all other unaffiliated baseball organizations in the amateur baseball landscape.

"The launch of Pure Baseball is a significant venture by USA Baseball to provide a safe, competitive environment for all athletes playing baseball in the United States," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "There is nothing more important than the safety of our minor athletes and we are committed to doing our part to protect the future athletes and fans of our game."

Pure Baseball is comprised of four components: reporting, background checks, education and training, and minor athlete safety policies. The policies and procedures created by USA Baseball as part of this program model those set forth by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, and also contain supplementary guidelines to further safeguard minor athletes and their interactions with adults, and account for baseball-specific situations that may occur.

In a concerted effort to protect all minor athletes playing baseball in leagues and events across the country, USA Baseball has made all Pure Baseball resources available for consumption on PureBaseball.org and SportDev.org. In doing so, the organization has mitigated the procedural impact on amateur baseball organizations set forth by the requirements of SB 534. Organizations large and small are now able to fulfill all background checks, education and training, and reporting requirements through USA Baseball even if their organization cannot support the bandwidth and infrastructure needed for compliance. 

"It is our duty as the National Governing Body of baseball for the United States to provide the resources to those who need them," continued Seiler. "In order to achieve this, USA Baseball is proud to provide the tools needed to fulfill the requirements set forth by Senate Bill 534 to our constituents so that we can collectively protect our athletes from abuse."

Two abuse awareness courses hosted by two-time World Series champion David Ross have been launched on USA Baseball's education platform to accompany the launch of this initiative.  Abuse Awareness for Adults and Abuse Awareness for Minors satisfy the education and training requirements set forth by SB 534 for the entirety of the amateur baseball community. 

In addition, as part of the Pure Baseball launch, USA Baseball and USA Softball have partnered together in order to protect all male and female athletes who share the love of bat-and-ball sports. Both national governing bodies will independently manage the reporting of abuse in its respective sport; however, they will cooperatively publish and enforce a list of adult individuals who are suspended or banned from participation in baseball and softball in the United States. 

"USA Softball is honored to join forces with USA Baseball in our commitment to athlete safety," said Craig Cress, Executive Director at USA Softball. "Our national governing bodies have been diligent in our individual efforts to protect our athletes and I am hopeful that together we will reach new heights in this endeavor." 

Lastly, in an effort to diminish the exposure of minor athletes to dangerous individuals, SB 534 requires that all adults working with minor athletes undergo a background check. In accordance with that, as part of the Pure Baseball program, all individuals working within the amateur baseball landscape are able to submit a background check application at SportDev.org through USA Baseball's service provider, JD Palatine. 

Visit PureBaseball.org or email PureBaseball@usabaseball.com for more information on the Pure Baseball initiative and its minor athlete safety policies. To meet the requirements of SB 534 by submitting a background check application, to report abuse, to check the suspended and banned individual list, or to complete the abuse awareness courses, visit SportDev.org.

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18U

Team USA Opens National Team Training With Win

November 15, 2018
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team USA  0 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 5 7 1
Miami Dade 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 6 0
Win: M. Abel Loss: B. Baker Save: T. Manning
Box Score | Play-by-play
 

MIAMI, FLA. - The 18U National Team used a four-run seventh inning to top Miami Dade College 5-2 as the squad opened National Team Training on Wednesday, November 14, at Miami Dade College - Kendall in Miami, Florida.

After a scoreless first inning for both teams, the U.S. opened the scoring in the top of the second. Anthony Volpe (Watchung, N.J.) bunted down the third base line to score Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville, Texas), who came all the way from second to give the stars and stripes the 1-0 advantage.

Team USA's starting pitcher, Avery Short (Indianapolis, Ind.), stayed solid for three shutout innings, striking out five, while only giving up three hits to the Sharks in the first four innings.

However, the Sharks added two runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a late 2-1 edge in the game. After a walk and a strikeout from pitcher Mick Abel (Portland, Ore.), the Sharks singled down the right field line, putting runners at the corners with one out. The tying run would cross the plate on a wild pitch, before a single down the left field line brought home the runner from second to give the Sharks the lead heading into the top of the seventh.

In the top half of the seventh, with the U.S. down one, CJ Abrams (Alpharetta, Ga.) singled up the middle before Dylan Crews (Longwood, Fla.) and Tyler Callihan (Neptune Beach, Fla.) drew walks to load the bases with just one out in the inning. Riley Greene (Oviedo, Fla.) then came up huge, driving a ball down the left field line to clear the bases and give Team USA the 5-2 lead.

After that, the squad never looked back, allowing just one hit for the remainder of the game. Greene led the stars and stripes with three hits and one RBI. Abel earned the win, pitching three innings and allowing three hits.

Up next, the team will take on Nova Southeastern University on Thursday, November 15, at the NSU Baseball Complex in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. ET.

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18U

MLB and USA Baseball Create "PDP League" to Bolster High School Baseball Pipeline Ahead of 2020 MLB Draft

Expansion of the Existing Prospect Development Pipeline/Will Serve As the Premier Development Experience for 80 Top High School Prospects
November 13, 2018

Durham, N.C. - Major League Baseball and USA Baseball today announced the new "Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League," a premier development and showcase experience for dozens of high school baseball prospects based in the United States. The PDP League, which will be held from mid-June through early-July at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is an invitation-based development opportunity for approximately 80 of the top high school baseball players ahead of the 2020 MLB Draft. It will include competitive game play, practice & training sessions with MLB Club representatives serving as on-field coaches, and evaluation using modern technologies tailoring individualized development curriculums for each player. The PDP League will serve as a primary identification opportunity for the USA Baseball 18U National Team, slated to compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea. Additionally, the League will serve as a feeder for a new All-Star Week showcase game for the best high school baseball players, designed in a similar style to the existing SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

 "We are thrilled to join USA Baseball in announcing the PDP League, which is the newest initiative in our ongoing commitment to improving the amateur levels of our game and connecting the next generation of stars to Major League Baseball," said Morgan Sword, MLB's Senior Vice President, League Economics & Operations. "The PDP League will provide these players, the majority of whom will be in consideration for the following year's MLB Draft, with the most dynamic, development-focused experience available to high school baseball athletes. Uniquely, the PDP League will also offer players the opportunity to prepare for life beyond baseball by prioritizing leadership and character development as well as personal health and well-being."

"The creation of the PDP League signifies a new, groundbreaking opportunity to cultivate excellence amongst athletes both on and off the field," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "The development of the next generation of collegiate and professional stars has long been a core mission of USA Baseball, and we are proud to reinforce this commitment with the creation of this innovative program with the support of Major League Baseball and its Clubs. The PDP League will have an immediate and positive impact on the amateur landscape while fostering the continued success of Team USA on the international stage."

LEAGUE FORMAT & PIPELINE TO ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
The 80 participants of the 2019 PDP League, all of whom will be invited by Major League Baseball, MLB Clubs and USA Baseball, will be broken down into four teams of about 20 players. Most of the on-field activity, including competitive play and training, will take place at the IMG Academy. The teams also will have an opportunity to play at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

A percentage of the highest performing players from the PDP League will be considered for additional premier opportunities. These include events connected to MLB All-Star Week, such as the new high school showcase game as well as the High School Home Run Derby, an annual national home run hitting contest held at the All-Star host ballpark. Four of the eight participants in the 2017 All-Star High School Home Run Derby were selected in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

USA Baseball also will utilize the PDP League as the primary identification event for the USA Baseball 18U National Team. Approximately 40 players will be invited from the PDP League to attend the 2019 18U National Team Trials, which will be conducted in late August in Los Angeles. From there, the final 20-man national team roster will be selected for team training in Asia, followed by the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea in early September. The 2019 18U Team will be managed by long time Clemson University head coach Jack Leggett.

PLAYER HEALTH, WELLNESS & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
Providing all participating athletes with an environment that prioritizes their health and well-being is one of the founding principles on which the PDP League was created. The League will focus on monitoring overall workload, ensuring the necessary amount of down time and rest, prioritizing recovery management and support, establishing routines for development, and monitoring heat exposure and hydration.

Personal development will be a focus in classroom settings during the League through a variety of important educational seminars applicable to the participants' potential collegiate and professional baseball careers. Classroom lessons will be led by MLB Club, USA Baseball, and other pertinent guest speakers and will include leadership sessions, diversity & inclusion training, proper use and importance of social media, nutritional tips, and more. Content, curriculum and expertise will be borrowed from existing initiatives, including MLB's Rookie Development Program and USA Baseball's National Team Development Program.

Additionally, the participants will have the opportunity to undergo unique athletic assessments, consisting of performance vision screening, swing and ball flight analysis and precise physical testing. These voluntary assessments have already helped establish an official identification and player assessment pathway to Major League Baseball and all 30 MLB Clubs for elite high school age baseball players. In the last two MLB Drafts (2017 & 2018), 212 players who participated in 2017-2018 PDP events were selected.

ABOUT IMG ACADEMY
IMG Academy is one of the world's largest and most advanced multi-sport training and educational institutions. IMG Academy helps countless youth, adult, collegiate and professional athletes reach their full potential in and out of sport by providing world-class teaching and coaching, tailored programs and professional facilities. Based in Bradenton, Florida, IMG Academy also serves as a training and competition venue for amateur and professional teams, a host site for a variety of events, and a hub for sports performance research and innovation. Its nearly 600-acre campus includes a state-of-the-art baseball stadium, five development fields, indoor & outdoor batting cages and 16 practice mounds. It also houses the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, three dormitories, two 10,000 square foot weight rooms and a fieldhouse with professional locker rooms.

ADDITIONAL USAB & MLB PROGRAMMING

MLB and USA Baseball partner on a variety of different initiatives, including the PLAY BALL initiative (www.PlayBall.org), diversity-focused amateur development camps (Breakthrough Series, DREAM Series & Hank Aaron Invitational), Fun At Bat program (www.FunAtBat.org), girls baseball initiatives (Trailblazer Series, Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series), Pitch Smart (www.PitchSmart.org), Hit and Run Baseball (www.HitandRunBaseball.com), and many more. 

In August, MLB and USA Baseball announced "States Play," a new, annual high school baseball tournament to showcase some of the best rising seniors from states that historically produce a high volume of collegiate and professional players. 

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18U

2018 18U National Team Training Begins Wednesday, Nov. 14

November 12, 2018

USA Baseball invites the local and national media to the 2018 USA Baseball 18U National Team Training.

The 18U National Team will compete in six exhibition games from November 14-20 in Florida to prepare for the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships. The 18U National Team Training roster is made up of 27 of the nation's best ballplayers that are international age-eligible for 18U National Team consideration (born in 2000 or later). Following the conclusion of the event on Tuesday, November 20, the 20-man 18U National Team roster will be announced.

  • WHAT: USA Baseball 18U National Team Training
  • WHEN: November 14-20, 2018
  • WHERE: Miami, Fla., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Miami Gardens, Fla., West Palm Beach, Fla., Port Charlotte, Fla.


The 18U National Team program started in 1987 as the USA Baseball Junior National Team competing in the World Youth Baseball Championships. Since then the 18U Team has been a perennial power on the international baseball scene. The team competes in two major events in bi-yearly cycles - the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup. In 2017, Team USA went undefeated to claim its fourth WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup title in a row and give the program its seventh consecutive gold medal in international competition dating back to 2011. The program has also won five straight COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships titles and will look to add a sixth in 2018.

Credential Application

Members of the media can apply for a credential by visiting the USA Baseball Media Services page on the official website here.

18U Participants in the MLB Draft

Following a season in which the 18U National Team earned its fourth consecutive WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup title, ten members of the 20-man roster were selected in the first round in 2018. Jarred Kelenic (No. 6, New York Mets) was the first selected, followed by Ryan Weathers (No. 7, St. Louis Cardinals), Matt Liberatore (No. 16, Tampa Bay Rays), Brice Turang (No. 21, Milwaukee Brewers), Anthony Seigler (No. 23, New York Yankees), Triston Casas (No. 26, Boston Red Sox), Mason Denaburg (No. 27, Washington Nationals), JT Ginn (No. 30, Los Angeles Dodgers) and Ethan Hankins (No. 35, Cleveland Indians).

From the 18U National Team to the Major Leagues

Forty-six players representing 27 different teams in the Major Leagues have suited up for the red, white and blue as members of the 18U National Team. Notables include Albert Almora Jr. (2010-11), Alex Bregman (2011), Bryce Harper (2009), Clayton Kershaw (2005), Francisco Lindor (2010), Manny Machado (2009), Joe Mauer (1999-2000), Andrew McCutchen (2004), Buster Posey (2004) and 2018 World Series Champion Blake Swihart (2010). For a full list of 18U alums in the majors click here.

USA Baseball Coverage

Live stats: StatCrew
Social Media: @USABaseball18U (Twitter) and @USABaseball (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat)
Streaming/TV: None

Participating Players and Schedule

Twenty-seven of the nation's best ballplayers that are international age-eligible for 18U National Team consideration (born in 2000 or later) are participating in the 2018 event. For the full schedule, please visit the 18U National Team page on USABaseball.com. For the full National Team Training roster, click here.

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Online Education Center Under Construction

November 2, 2018

We apologize for the inconvenience; however, our Online Education Center at usabaseball.education is currently under construction.

Check back on Tuesday, November 6, to see our brand new Sport Development website, complete with our usual offering of great FREE content, and some new content and features.

Thanks for your continued investment in Our Pastime's Future.

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Sport Dev

USA Baseball Develops Coaching Manual for High School Baseball Programs

The manual aims to assist coaches in providing a positive, development-based experience to its student-athletes
October 10, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Wednesday the development of its High School Baseball Program Manual. It aims to support the thousands of dedicated high school baseball coaches around the country by providing a positive, development-based experience to its student-athletes.

The manual provides coaches a fundamental framework to build an athlete-focused culture within their programs and is suited for both high schools with longstanding traditions of on-field excellence, as well as for schools and coaches that are building a program from the ground up. Importantly, the manual also provides a clear direction for player growth off the baseball field with respect to personal development and support for its players' participation in multiple sports.

The High School Baseball Program Manual is available to the public at no charge at www.hsbaseballmanual.com and on the USA Baseball Online Education Center, usabaseball.education.

"To the tens of thousands of coaches who support the half a million student-athletes competing at the high school level, thank you. We recognize your selfless commitment to your players, and through works like this manual we aim to support your efforts in enriching your players lives," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "USA Baseball has never been more committed to the well-being of the high school baseball community. Through this unique resource, coaches old and new will gain insights into how to optimize their high school baseball program. With an athlete-first approach, this manual's teachings will continue to position baseball as an athletic option that supports a comprehensive student-athlete experience within a healthy and positive sporting environment."

This initiative continues USA Baseball's reach into the amateur baseball landscape and specifically reinforces its commitment to the proliferation of prep baseball in the United States. The manual boosts the high school baseball experience and allows for the consistent development for any athlete, regardless of their skill level or the school for which they compete.

Key concepts from the High School Baseball Program Manual include:

- Importance of underscoring academic goals of the athletes and school
- Practice plan directives that enable maximum engagement, movement and physical activity
- Benefits of supporting athlete participation in multiple sports
- Management tools for interpersonal relationships within a baseball program, including conflict resolution techniques
- Keys to building a positive culture that transcends the student-athlete experience
- Best practices concerning a player's health and safety
- Keeping the game of baseball fun

"I think the High School Baseball Program Manual is by far the most comprehensive publication that I have ever seen. The attention to the specific needs of the player from understanding multi-sport athletes to nutrition and rest considerations is spot on. You can sense the intentional compassion in this document. It should be considered mandatory reading for any new baseball coach and a refresher for experienced coaches," said Elliot Hopkins, Director of Sports, Sanctioning and Student Services for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). "This manual along with the many other USA Baseball programs and resources is indicative of the support and commitment by USA Baseball to the interscholastic game. This is a quality manual that will assist anyone who is interested in maximizing practice time and improving their training sessions.

"We are so appreciative of USA Baseball for this work, but more importantly for a wonderful collaborative partnership for over a decade. We both value young people playing baseball and it is always good to share that excitement and drive with a like-minded organization. We are thrilled that they are our national governing body and represents the United States so proudly in international and domestic competitions."

For more information on the High School Baseball Program Manual, and other similar educational resources produced by USA Baseball, such as the Mobile Coach App, Long-Term Athlete Development Plan (LTAD) and others, visit usabaseball.education. All resources produced by USA Baseball are provided free of charge to the public.

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NTIS

USA Baseball Announces 2018 National Team Identification Series Selections

A total of 68 athletes were selected for 2019 national team programming from the 2018 NTIS
September 10, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Wednesday the 68 athletes that were selected from the 2018 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) to participate in 2019 national team programming. The tenth-annual NTIS was held at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, from August 8-26 and for the tenth year in a row, the selection announcement was made through an online show.

Twenty-seven states and 16 regions from across the U.S. are represented by the 68 athletes chosen and fourteen states boast more than one selection.

Under the direction of USA Baseball task force, the 2018 NTIS featured over 1,200 of the nation's best players competing in 172 games, as well as skill testing and on-field evaluations. Twelve athletes were invited to compete at each of the 2019 12U National Team Trials, the 2019 14U, 16U and 17U National Team Development Programs (NTDP) and the 15U National Team Trials. In addition, eight players from the 17U NTIS were chosen to participate in the 2019 18U National Team selection process.

"Our task force had a difficult job selecting just 68 athletes out of the incredible pool of talent from across the U.S. that participated in this year's NTIS," Senior Director of Baseball Operations, Ashley Bratcher, said. "We are excited about the players chosen from the 2018 event and what they will bring to our 2019 national team programming."

The 2018 USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS) is the most comprehensive player identification program offered by Team USA. With tryouts in every region of the country, players now have greater access to USA Baseball National Team opportunities than ever before. The program includes six separate age groups - 11U, 13U, 14U, 15U, 15U and 17U.

The 2018 National Team Identification Series selections are as follows:

Name; Position; Hometown

2019 12U National Team Trials Invitees:
(from 11U NTIS)
Anthony Del Angel; OF/IF; Rio Rancho, N.M.
Parker Friend; C/RHP; Germantown, Md.
Gavin Hottle; IF/RHP; Irvine, Calif.
Bryant James; IF/RHP; Herndon, Va.
Elijah McNeal; Dublin, Calif.
Luis Mejia; IF/OF; Phoenix, Ariz.
Owen Robinson; LHP/IF; Greensboro, N.C.
C.J. Sampson; RHP/IF; Magnolia, Texas
Kruz Schoolcraft; IF/LHP; Aloha, Ore.
Jayden Stroman; IF/RHP; Medford, N.Y.
Eli Willits; IF/RHP; Fort Cobb, Okla.
Miles Young; IF; Cypress, Texas

2019 14U National Team Development Program invitees:
(from 13U NTIS)
Kai Caranto; IF/RHP; Castaic, Calif.
Angel Cepeda; OF/IF; Union City, N.J.
Carson Dean; OF/IF; Frisco, Texas
Ian Duarte; OF/RHP; Santa Clarita, Calif.
Terry Dunsford; IF/RHP; Grand Bay, Ala.
Keondre Fields; OF/RHP; Nesbit, Miss.
Gavin Grahovac; C/IF; Orange, Calif.
Houston Hirschkorn; IF/RHP; Kingsburg, Calif.
Andre Modugno; IF/Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Brandon Olivera; RHP; Hialeah, Fla.
Kellon Parnell; OF/IF; Pascagoula, Miss.
Brooks Wright; UT/RHP; Knoxville, Tenn.

2019 15U National Team Trials invitees:
(from 14U NTIS)
Mason Balsis; C; Bristow, Va.
Maxwell Clark; OF; Franklin, Ind.
Tyson Dewall; RHP; Folsom, Calif.
Demitri Diamant; OF/RHP; Las Vegas, Nev.
Termarr Johnson; IF; Atlanta, Ga.
Steven Milam; IF; Las Cruces, N.M.
Louis Rodriguez; RHP; Long Beach, Calif.
Logan Saloman; RHP/IF; Chandler, Ariz.
Christopher Scinta; LHP; Tamarac, Fla.
Tyrus Williams; OF; Oxford, Miss.
Jaxon Willits; IF; Fort Cobb, Okla.
Colton Wombles; C; Salem, Ala.

2019 16U National Team Development Program invitees:
(from 15U NTIS)
Jesse Bullard; IF/RHP; Riverside, Calif.
Korbyn Dickerson; OF/RHP; Jeffersonville, Ind.
Jake Geis; RHP; San Jose, Calif.
Rafael Gross; OF/IF; Pearland, Texas
Trevor Haskins; IF; San Jose, Calif.
David Horn; IF/RHP; Murrieta, Calif.
Kyndon Lovell; LHP; Fort Cobb, Okla.
Jaron Nevarez; LHP/IF; San Ramon, Calif.
Xavier Perez; RHP/OF; Corpus Christi, Texas
William Rogers; C/IF; Shoreview, Minn.
Chase Spencer; IF/RHP; Plano, Texas
Austin Young; RHP; Saint Peters, Mo.

2019 17U National Team Development Program invitees:
(from 16U NTIS)
Jackson Baumeister; C/RHP; Jacksonville, Fla.
Mark Black; C/OF; Pittsburgh, Pa.
Michael Davinni; IF/RHP; Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Kade Grundy; RHP/OF; Somerset, Ky.
Samuel Hunt; C/IF; Minneapolis, Minn.
Joseph Mack; C/IF; Williamsville, N.Y.
Michael Morales; RHP/IF; Enola, Pa.
Joshua Pearson; OF/IF; West Monroe, La.
Joseph Quick; RHP/IF; Lake Jackson, Texas
Kurtis Reid; IF/RHP; Hamilton, Ohio
Nate Savino; LHP/OF; Sterling, Va.
Tyler Wiederstein; RHP/IF; Greensburg, Pa.

2019 18U National Team selection process invitees:
(from 17U NTIS)
Jag Burden; OF/IF; Huntington Beach, Calif.
Colten Keith; IF/RHP; Biloxi, Miss.
Harold Coll; IF; Hyde Park, Mass.
Mac Guscette; C/IF; Nokomis, Fla.
Cayden Wallace; IF; Greenbrier, Ark.
Jonathan Vaughns; IF/RHP; Glendora, Calif.
Alex Urban; OF; Lexington, S.C.
Cameron Brown; RHP/IF; Flower Mound, Texas

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