GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD NEWS

NHSI

USA Baseball Announces 2018 National High School Invitational Field

The 2018 event will take place March 28-31 in Cary, North Carolina
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 Christian 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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CNT

Tyler Thornton Earns Spot at USA Baseball National Team Camp

May 21, 2019

MORAGA, Calif. - Freshman Tyler Thornton made the record books on Monday: the right-hander is the first baseball player in Saint Mary's history to be selected to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team training camp roster.

After a record and accolade-laden regular season campaign, Thornton will head to the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina where he will compete for a spot on the 26-man roster. The camp will consist of four intrasquad exhibition contests and a game against the Coastal Plain League. The final roster will take on Cuba, Chinese Taipei, and Japan over the summer.

Thornton earned the prestigious invitation as he is one of the top freshmen pitchers in the nation. He has amassed a 9-2 record in 12 starts (70.1 innings pitched) and his 2.56 earned run average is the lowest of any starter on the team. He is ranked 11th in the country and first in the West Coast Conference in hits allowed per nine innings (5.37) and his nine wins are tied for the 12th-most in the nation (first in the WCC). Along with teammate Carlos Lomeli (also nine wins), he has collected the most wins by any Gael pitcher since Martin Agosta's nine favorable decision in 2012 (fourth-most since 1968).

Thornton's 10.88 strikeouts per nine are ranked third in the WCC and his WHIP of 0.97 is also third in the conference (28th in the nation). The San Diego native has twice been named the WCC Pitcher of the Week and both times were in a span of three weeks. Furthermore, he went on a streak earlier this season of three starts without allowing an earned run (22.1 innings in total), allowing just six hits during that time while striking out 26 batters.

Thornton and rest of his teammates will head to Stockton this week to compete as the No. 3 seed in the West Coast Conference Tournament.

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CNT

Lacy Earns USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Invitation

Lacy is 7-4 on the season with a 2.13 ERA, and 115 strikeouts
May 21, 2019

HOOVER, Alabama - Texas A&M sophomore pitcher Asa Lacy was selected to play for the USA Baseball 2019 Collegiate National Team, it was announced Monday.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2019, beginning with the eighth USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series that will take place July 2-6 in Cary, Charlotte, Durham and Hickory, North Carolina. The U.S. travels to Taiwan and Japan to compete in the 19th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series from July 9-12 and the 43rd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 16-21.

The southpaw is 7-4 on the season with a 2.13 ERA, .162 opponent batting average and 115 strikeouts over 76.0 innings in his 13 starts. He is the first Aggie sophomore to record 100 strikeouts in a season since Michael Wacha in 2011. Lacy was named to the Perfect Game Midseason All-America Second Team and was tabbed a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist.

Lacy ranks second in the SEC in strikeouts per nine innings (13.62), third in strikeouts, fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (4.97) and opponent batting average and fifth in ERA. Nationally, he ranks seventh in hits allowed per nine innings, eighth in strikeouts per nine innings and 12 in strikeouts.

The list of recent Aggies to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team include John Doxakis (2018), Braden Shewmake (2017 & '18), Ryan Hendrix (2015), Nick Banks (2014 & 2015), A.J. Minter (2014), Daniel Mengden (2013), Tyler Naquin (2011) and Michael Wacha (2011).

For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

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USA Baseball Announces Multi-Year Partnership with Diamond Kinetics

Partnership names the Pittsburgh-based company an Official Player Development Partner for USA Baseball
May 21, 2019

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced a multi-year partnership with Diamond Kinetics on Tuesday, making the Pittsburgh-based technology company an Official Player Development Partner of the organization.

As part of the partnership, USA Baseball will utilize Diamond Kinetics' SwingTracker bat sensor and PitchTracker smart baseball technologies for its six national teams and three national team development programs, as well as select national team identification events and development programs.

"We are very pleased and excited to partner with Diamond Kinetics to usher in state-of-the-art tools, technology and collaborative content to USA Baseball," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director and CEO. "It is critical in this new era of baseball evaluation, training and development to have quantifiable, objective information accessible at a moment's notice and Diamond Kinetics will allow USA Baseball to utilize this essential data in its efforts to further develop its athletes."

USA Baseball will introduce this innovative technology to its 2019 programming during the Prospect Development Pipeline and the recently announced Prospect Development Pipeline League. Additionally, the Diamond Kinetics technology will be utilized during evaluation days at the National Team Championships in Arizona and Florida, and the National Team Identification Series Champions Cup at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

All USA Baseball national team and national team development program members will have access to the smart, sensor-based technology beginning in 2019 and both organizations will jointly collaborate on custom software tools to further enhance the technology and its impact on total athlete development.

"We are very excited at the opportunity to partner with such an esteemed, respected and influential organization as USA Baseball," said Diamond Kinetics CEO C.J. Handron. "Together, we can fully modernize how players are scouted and evaluated with Diamond Kinetic's wide array of smart, capable technologies. We are excited to tap USA Baseball's expertise to develop and distribute high-quality instructional and educational content through our apps and digital channels."

Furthermore, USA Baseball and Diamond Kinetics will work together to produce free educational and instructional content that will be accessible via Diamond Kinetics' mobile apps and throughout all of USA Baseball's online education platforms, including the Mobile Coach App and SportDev.org.

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GSA

GSA Spotlight: George Kirby

May 16, 2019

ELON, N.C. - It's the kind of stat you'd expect to see from a finesse pitcher: just six walks in 82.2 innings, spanning 13 starts. But Elon's George Kirby is no thumber - he's one of the premier power arms in college baseball.

Kirby also has 105 strikeouts and has held batters to a .203 average this season, while going8-1, 2.07 for the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season champion Phoenix. Kirby ranks fifth nationally with a 0.83 WHIP, and he leads all of Division I with a ridiculous 17.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

"It's quite a floor, ain't it?" said Elon pitching coach Sean McGrath. "He's the best of both worlds. He's a command guy, kind of what you see from a mid-major Friday or Saturday guy who's a mid-to-upper-80s guy, and he's doing it at 95. And beyond that, he's doing it probably better than most ever do it."

The combination of plus fastball velocity, an ideal pitcher's frame at 6-foot-4, 201 pounds, and elite strike-throwing ability gives Kirby perhaps a better combination of a high floor and a high ceiling than any other pitcher in the 2019 draft class. In his final regular-season start Sunday against UNC Wilmington, Kirby came out of the chute sitting at 96 mph with his fastball and bumped 97. He pitched comfortably at 94-95 and touched 96 repeatedly over the first four innings, and he didn't throw a fastball below 93 mph in his five excellent innings of work, before Elon pulled him at the 79-pitch mark to get him a little extra rest heading into the conference tournament and hopefully the NCAA tournament. It was typical Kirby dominance: he allowed just one unearned run on two hits while striking out nine - and walking none, as usual.

For most college pitchers, learning to pound the strike zone is paramount. Kirby, however, has had to learn to expand the zone more often.

"He's really taken to being able to leave the zone, because the beginning portion of this year, he was so much in the zone that he was putting guys in swing mode," McGrath said. "Then he learned, 'OK, I can pitch a couple balls off or I can pitch a couple balls up, and they're probably still gonna offer.' And he commands it well enough that even if you do it 1-0 and 2-1, you're not afraid you're gonna go walk them, and it gets called more because he has the reputation."

Kirby showed good control as a sophomore too, going 10-3, 2.89 with a 96-27 K-BB mark in 90.1 innings. But he's gotten better across the board as a junior.

"One thing I've done a lot better this year is be able to command and limit the walks, which has helped me a lot. I expect to do this well every time I go out," Kirby said. "I think just the work I do during the week, trying to hone in my mechanics, I think that's helped me a lot. The pitch calling helps me a lot to expand, so I just try to hit those spots, keep it out of the zone. I didn't really change anything mechanically, I just tried to add more flow in my delivery. I changed the way I step back, I'm a little quicker to the plate now, which has helped me in the flow of the game, staying consistent. … It kind of just clicked."

Kirby took an important step forward last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he posted a 1.20 ERA in 11 relief appearances for Harwich. He said he enjoyed the closer role last summer, and he gained confidence from facing the best hitters in college baseball day-in and day-out. He also worked hard to improve his changeup and slider in the summer and throughout the fall.

Kirby's calling card remains that electric fastball, which served as the putaway pitch on eight of his nine strikeouts against UNCW. But he has refined his secondary stuff to the point that he now feels comfortable mixing with four quality pitches. His 85-86 mph straight changeup has been his best secondary pitch for most of his collegiate career, and he threw it with good arm speed against the Seahawks, helping him get ahead of hitters early in counts. He also excels at throwing his 78-80 mph curveball as a backdoor strike against lefties. It's not a hammer, but he has developed it to the point that he can get occasional swing-and-misses with it, as he did Sunday against Riley Zayicek, who struck out on the pitch.

"He's been able to go ahead and leave that thing short and believable, more often than he was last year," McGrath said. "Last year it was almost, how do you mix early to finish with fastball? Now we can give any assortment of pitches early in the AB and finish them whichever way we see fit late in the AB."

The biggest difference from last year is the development of Kirby's slider, an 82-85 mph offering that flashes solid-average. That's become an important weapon for him, as he has learned to throw it harder, with more intent, as he put it.

"We tried to add a slider last spring and it never really took shape. Some days he'd have it and would be able to throw a couple, and other days it just wouldn't be there," McGrath said. "And then this fall, a little bit this summer when he was up in the Cape, he was able to go ahead and fiddle around with grips and fiddle around with thoughts of what exactly he's looking to do with the slider, if he were to add one. Man, he's hammered away at it in bullpens and game plan, and it's taken shape. But he went from fastball-changeup with a show-me breaking ball, to now he can put people away with four different pitches."

Kirby and fellow junior righthander Kyle Brnovich form one of the best one-two pitching duos in college baseball, giving Elon a chance to beat any team in America in a weekend series. They have two very different styles - Brnovich pitches heavily off his devastating slider, one of the best in the country, while Kirby lives off that fastball - but they complement each other well. They also have a healthy competitive relationship; last year Kirby pitched on Friday and Brnovich went 8-2, 1.71 with 147 strikeouts in 105 innings as the Saturday starter. This year, Brnovich is 6-3, 3.81 on Fridays, and Kirby has been utterly dominant on Saturdays.

"We definitely push each other, but I'd say it's more individual, honestly," Kirby said. "We both have different styles of pitching, and we both worked on that during the week all the time, bullpens and everything. But we definitely do push each other a little bit, because Friday-Saturday, either of us could really have the Friday spot. So we're both competing with each other, and it's good to be competitive when you're good friends."

Kirby places great value in being a model teammate and helping Elon's young arms improve. He's soft-spoken and even-keeled, and he isn't afraid to offer teammates some insights.

"He's a guy's guy. Teammates love him. They know not to bother him too much on game day, but you won't to be able to tell, 'Oh, that's George Kirby.' He doesn't want to look any different than any of these other 33, 34 guys," McGrath said. "He's just one of the boys. The guys take to him. The other thing he's been really, really good at is he's been a great leader, whether it be allowing young guys to watch his bullpens and allowing them to take something from him, or he'll sit down with guys and talk about how he thinks about using his lower half, or his thoughts on certain pitches, where to execute, how to execute. He's done as much developing as I have with those freshman and sophomore arms, in terms of getting in touch with them and making sure in his catch play that he's a good example for others. He's diligent, and I think he's helped some buy-in, and other guys carry themselves pretty similarly."

"I'm just trying to share all the information I can give them," Kirby added. "A lot of times we struggle just hitting the zone, so I'll spot some things that guys are doing down there that I think have worked for me. I think having McGrath down there, we're both on the same page, so if I have something to say he'll let me say it, and he usually agrees with it. I think just giving my advice has helped them get a little more confidence on the mound, and I think it's shown. The past couple weeks the younger guys have gone out and done pretty well."

After going 19-5 in CAA play to run away with the regular-season title, Elon is now focused on winning the automatic bid that goes to the conference tournament champion, and getting the program back to regionals for the first time since 2013. With Kirby and Brnovich leading the way, and talented sophomore Jared Wetherbee rounding out the rotation with flame-thrower Ty Adcock anchoring the back of the bullpen, the Phoenix have the pitching firepower to make some serious noise in the postseason. And Elon's progression over the last three years has been very gratifying for Kirby, as you might imagine.

"Came here freshman year, we didn't do very well. Last year we got bumped out in the semis. So I'm just glad we're making progress every year," Kirby said. "We have a special group of guys, our pitching staff's really good, gave our guys a chance to win every time out there. You see we just dominated the CAA this year, so it was pretty fun to watch."

Kirby is awfully fun to watch, too.

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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CNT

Mitchell Invited to USA Baseball Collegiate National Team

May 15, 2019

LOS ANGELES - UCLA sophomore outfielder Garrett Mitchell has been invited to play with the United States Collegiate National Team this summer, it was announced on Wednesday by USA Baseball.

Mitchell, who was in the midst of a breakout sophomore season, joins a rich history of Bruins to have suited up for the Collegiate National Team. He is set to become the 18th UCLA player to don the red, white, and blue, following in the footsteps of established MLB stars such as Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Brandon Crawford, and Troy Glaus.

The Orange, Calif. native is poised to be UCLA's first position player on the Collegiate National Team since Steve Rodriguez in 2010. Current Bruin second baseman Chase Strumpf was selected to the team in the summer of 2018, but did not participate due to injury.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in series of four intrasquad exhibition games and a game against the Coastal Plain League Select before announcing a 26-man roster prior to the 8th USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series that will take place July 2-6 in Cary, Charlotte, Durham and Hickory, North Carolina.

Team USA's 26-man roster will then travel to Taiwan for the 19th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series after which USA Baseball will announce a final 24-man roster to compete in the 43rd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 16-21 in Japan.

As of May 15, Mitchell is slashing .353/.425/.544 for the Bruins with 24 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs. UCLA's leadoff hitter, he's stolen a team-high 15 bases in 19 tries. He ranks in the top-10 in the Pac-12 in a bevy of statistics, including batting average (eighth), runs (46, 10th), hits (72, fourth), doubles (14, seventh), triples (five, second), stolen bases (fourth), and total bases (111, ninth). Mitchell has also been a lock-down defender in right field - his primary position - and center field, earning a national ABCA Gold Glove nomination.

Keep up-to-date on all things UCLA Baseball by following the team Twitter account at @UCLABaseball. Fans can follow the Collegiate National Team on Twitter at @USCBaseballCNT.

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GSA

USA Baseball Names 2019 Golden Spikes Award Semifinalists

The 42nd Golden Spikes Award will be presented on June 14 in Omaha
May 15, 2019

Vote for your favorite Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist here

 

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball named the 25 semifinalists for its Golden Spikes Award on Wednesday. Presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the 42nd Golden Spikes Award winner will be announced on June 14 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

The list of semifinalists spans 20 different colleges and universities, one high school and nine NCAA conferences. The list also features three athletes who were also a semifinalist in 2018 with Josh Jung (Texas Tech), Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) and 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Vaughn (California). Since 2007, 29 athletes have been named a semifinalist more than once in their careers, including past Golden Spikes Award winners Stephen Strasburg (2009), Trevor Bauer (2011), Mike Zunino (2012), Kris Bryant (2013), Brendan McKay (2017) and Vaughn (2018).

"The twenty-five student-athletes honored as Golden Spikes Award semifinalists this year highlight the depth of elite amateur baseball talent in the United States," said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. "Each and every one of these athletes have excelled on the field this season and we are honored to continue our partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to recognize their contributions to their teams and schools."

Joining Sun Devils teammate Torkelson as a 2019 semifinalist is Hunter Bishop (IF; Arizona State), meanwhile Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt join Arizona State as the only schools with multiple semifinalists with the selections of Jake Mangum (Mississippi State), Ethan Small (Mississippi State), John Doxakis (Texas A&M), Asa Lacy (Texas A&M), JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt) and Austin Martin (Vanderbilt), respectively.

Jackson Rutledge (San Jacinto College) and Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville-Heritage High School) have also been named a Golden Spikes semifinalist in 2019. Since USA Baseball introduced semifinalists to the voting process in 2007, Rutledge is the fourth semifinalist from the junior college ranks while Witt is the first-ever high school student athlete to earn this honor. To this date, Alex Fernandez (1990) and Bryce Harper (2010) are the only non-NCAA Division I athletes to win the Golden Spikes Award.

Last year, Cal's Vaughn took home the prestigious award, joining a group of recent winners that include Brendan McKay (2017), 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).

Beginning with the announcement of semifinalists, a ballot will be sent to the Golden Spikes Award voting body consisting of national baseball media, select professional baseball personnel, previous Golden Spikes Award winners and select USA Baseball staff, totaling a group of over 200 voters. From Wednesday, May 15 through Sunday, May 26, each voting member will select three athletes from the Golden Spikes Award ballot of semifinalists and fan voting will simultaneously be open on GoldenSpikesAward.com. Selections made by the voting body will carry a 95% weight of each athlete's total, while fan votes will account for the remaining 5%. 

The finalists will then be announced on Wednesday, May 29. Beginning that same day through Monday, June 10, the voting body and fans will be able to cast their final vote for the Golden Spikes Award winner.

The winner of the 42nd Golden Spikes Award will be named on Friday, June 14.

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

A complete list of the 25 Golden Spikes Award semifinalists is as follows:

Name, Class, Position, School, Conference
Hunter Bishop, Jr., OF, Arizona St., Pac-12
JJ Bleday, Jr., OF, Vanderbilt, SEC
Isaiah Campbell, RS-Jr., P, Arkansas, SEC
Reid Detmers, So., P, Louisville, ACC
John Doxakis, Jr., P, Texas A&M, SEC
Ryan Garcia, Jr., P, UCLA, Pac-12
Nick Gonzales, So., IF, New Mexico St., WAC
Emerson Hancock, So., P, Georgia, SEC
Kody Hoese, Jr., IF, Tulane, AAC
Josh Jung, Jr., IF, Texas Tech, Big 12
George Kirby, Jr., P, Elon, CAA
Asa Lacy, So., P, Texas A&M, SEC
Jake Mangum, Sr., OF, Mississippi St., SEC
Alek Manoah, Jr., P, West Virginia, Big 12
Austin Martin, So., IF, Vanderbilt, SEC
Jackson Rutledge, So., P, San Jacinto, Region XIV
Adley Rutschman, Jr., C, Oregon St., Pac-12
T.J. Sikkema, Jr., P, Missouri, SEC
Ethan Small, RS-Jr., P, Mississippi St., SEC
Noah Song, Sr., P, Navy, Patriot
Bryson Stott, Jr., IF, UNLV, MWC
Zack Thompson, Jr., P, Kentucky, SEC
Spencer Torkelson, So., IF, Arizona St., Pac-12
Andrew Vaughn, Jr., IF, California, Pac-12
Bobby Witt Jr., HS-Sr., IF, Colleyville-Heritage High School

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CNT

Spencer Torkelson Named to USA Baseball Collegiate National Team for Second Time

Torkelson is the first player from Arizona State to be named to the Collegiate National Team twice
May 14, 2019

PHOENIX - For the second consecutive season, Sun Devil Baseball's Spencer Torkelson will shed the Maroon and Gold this summer in favor of the Red, White and Blue as the sophomore infielder has been selected to represent the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and will join the 2019 edition of Team USA in three international friendly series this summer.  

Torkelson is the first Sun Devil to become a two-time selection for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team since Ryan Burr was selected in 2013 and 2014. Torkelson, Burr and Dustin Pedroia represent the only Sun Devils in program history to represent their country on more than one occasion.  

Torkelson joins an illustrious list of Sun Devils to represent their country over the years, including Floyd Bannister (1975), Bob Horner (1976), Kevin Romine (1981), Oddibe McDowell (1984), Dustin Pedroia (2002 and 2003) and current MLB players Mike Leake (2008), Deven Marrero (2011) and Trevor Williams (2012).  

In total, 36 Sun Devils have been selected a total 40 times to represent the United States with Torkelson's addition this summer. Only USC (70) and Stanford (51) have more all-time selections than ASU among all teams in the NCAA.  

After an All-American caliber freshman season, Torkelson has followed that with an equally impressive sophomore campaign for the Sun Devils. Torkelson has 19 home runs this season, second in the Pac-12 and ninth in the country. He has at least one home run in each of the last nine weekend series that the Sun Devils have played - including every single series of Pac-12 play.  

After posting 25 homers as a freshman, Torkelson now has 44 in his career at ASU - tied for sixth in program history despite only being a sophomore and just 12 shy of the Sun Devil school record of 56 held by Bob Horner. He is one home run away from joining Horner as the only other player in ASU history to have 20 or more home runs in consecutive seasons.  

With another big fly, Torkelson would also join former Missouri State First-Round Draft Pick Jake Burger as the only player in the BBCOR era of batting standards to log multiple seasons with 20 or more home runs.  

Torkelson enters this weekend ranked in the Top-10 in nearly every major offensive category, including average (10th/.351), slugging percentage (4th/.688), RBIs (3rd/57), runs (4th/58), doubles (10th/13), total bases (2nd/143), walks (8th/36) and hits (3rd/73) in addition to his spot among the home run leaders. He sits in the Top-30 nationally in home runs, run, RBIs, slugging and total bases.  

Defensively, Torkelson has made huge strides and helped turn 12 more double plays than any other player in the Pac-12 (51). He has just two errors on the year despite being in the Pac-12 in defensive chances (404) and one of those came while he was playing out of position in right field for one inning in a game earlier this season. Among Pac-12 players with 350 or more chances, Torkelson's two errors are third behind Stanford's Andrew Daschbach and Oregon's Gabe Matthews (1).  

2019 TEAM USA BASEBALL
The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2019, beginning with the 8th USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series that will take place July 2-6 in Cary, Charlotte, Durham and Hickory, North Carolina. The U.S. will then travel to Taiwan and Japan to compete in the 19th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series from July 9-12 and the 43rd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 16-21. For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

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GSA

GSA Spotlight: Corbin Carroll

May 10, 2019

For OF Corbin Carroll (Lakeside School, WA), the high school season is over. Lakeside was eliminated in the playoffs Monday, but on Tuesday, Carroll lifted weights and hit. A season is over and chapter closed, but much is still to come for the UCLA recruit. So the work doesn't stop.

"I'm just thinking what got me to this position," Carroll said. "I don't think anything is changing right now. I'm just trying to work as hard as I can."

That hard work has made him one of the top high school players in the country, one who will likely hear his name called early in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft, less than a month away. It would put a stamp on the last 11 months, an impressive run in which Carroll traveled the United States to play in different showcases and tournaments, as well as to Panama where he helped Team USA's 18U National Team win a gold medal in the 2018 Pan Am Championship. As part of the squad's offensive dominance, Carroll hit .500 with three home runs, 15 RBIs and nine stolen bases in eight games. An important time for many rising seniors, the summer and fall seasons served as a proving ground for Carroll.

"I learned that I can go out there and compete with whoever I want to compete with," he said. "The biggest thing for me was confidence. Going into that summer, not really playing at that level before, and then coming out of that summer feeling like I can hang with anyone. That was huge for me and pretty cool to see, given that I didn't really have those expectations going in per se."

Carroll's confidence, and talent, extends off the field as well. He was just selected to the all-league academic team and hasn't received a B since he was a sophomore. That's a noteworthy accomplishment in itself, but Lakeside is an academically rigorous institution and boasts an impressive alumni list that includes the co-founders of Microsoft-Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

"The community there is really incredible and supportive," Carroll said. "One of the coolest things about being at such a rigorous academic school is you're constantly challenged. I'm constantly challenged in the classroom, which is really cool, competing in those different ways."

Carroll has a bright future in baseball, no matter which direction his path takes next month. However, if a Plan B were to become necessary, science seems to be his calling. His declared major for UCLA is physiological sciences and he's currently taking sports medicine and physiology courses. That same drive that elicits success on the field, helps off it too. Being a senior and baseball being his likely career, it would be easy for Carroll to hit cruise control.

"(I'm) not making excuses for myself from the baseball front," he said. "(I'm) going in with the mindset that I'm just another student here and I need to get my business done. That's really paid off for me. I was named to the all-league academic team. Seeing that hard work pay off has been rewarding for me."

Rewarding and a testament to the work he's put in since freshman year. As much as he's proven as a player, he's also done so as a student.

"I definitely wasn't this caliber of a student going into the school freshman year," Carroll said. "School was definitely a lot tougher for me then. I didn't have some of the study habits that I do now. I just think that's a testament to the work I've put in, as well as the school.

"Freshman year, I was mostly a B student. And then I haven't had a B since sophomore year. From the work perspective, what that looked like, was those two hours a night not really making excuses and saying I've done enough. Just pushing through that extra hour and finding ways to get my stuff done. If I have a 45-minute free period and I've got work to get done, I have the self control now where I say, 'I'm not gonna goof off with my friends. I'm gonna go get some work done.'"

The work is only beginning for Carroll, but you can bet he'll find his way on Lakeside's notable alumni list.

The Prep Baseball Report is the No. 1 resource for amateur baseball in each state it covers through its variety of events, boots-on-the-ground scouting staff, daily coverage, and multimedia platforms.
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CNT

Patrick Bailey Named to USA Baseball Collegiate National Team

Bailey returns to Team USA for second consecutive summer
May 9, 2019

DURHAM, N.C. - NC State's Patrick Bailey been named to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team (CNT) roster, announced on Thursday by the organization.

"It's an honor to represent the United States," said Bailey. "I'm excited for the valuable experience I'm going to gain, as well as the opportunity to play with the best players in the country and compete against the best players in the world."

This is Bailey's second selection, as the sophomore from Greensboro, N.C., earned an invitation last year to the USA Baseball CNT training camp. 2019 marks the third consecutive year that an NC State player has been named to the team.

"I'm excited for Patrick to have the honor to represent the United States. He joins a great list of NC State players that have had the privilege to wear the red, white and blue," said Wolfpack baseball head coach Elliott Avent.

"It's a great opportunity for him to improve as a player, challenge himself as an individual, and help USA Baseball grow our game on a worldwide scale."

Avent was a member of the Collegiate National Team coaching staff in 2004 and won a gold medal at the World University Games in Chinese Taipei. He additionally was a part of Team USA in 2015.

Below is the full list of NC State players to make Team USA since 1984:
2019: Patrick Bailey
2018: Patrick Bailey, Will Wilson
2017: Will Wilson
2013: Trea Turner, Carlos Rodon
2012: Trea Turner, Carlos Rodon
2007: Eric Surkamp
2006: Andrew Brackman
2004: Joey Devine
1997: Tom Sergio
1993: Andy Barkett, Pat Clougherty, Terry Harvey

Bailey, who was recently named to USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, has started in 48 games this year behind the plate. He currently owns a .309 clip with 58 hits, a team-leading 16 doubles and nine homers.

Last season he was tabbed ACC Freshman of the Year with Second Team All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman Team honors, as well as a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2019, beginning with the 8th USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series that will take place July 2-6 in Cary, Charlotte, Durham and Hickory, North Carolina. The U.S. will then travel to Taiwan and Japan to compete in the 19th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series from July 9-12 and the 43rd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 16-21.

For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

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GSA

GSA Spotlight: TJ Sikkema

May 9, 2019

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For most pitchers, it would have been a major disruption. For Missouri lefthander TJ Sikkema, it was business as usual.

A two-hour weather delay cut short Sikkema's start Saturday at Tennessee in the third inning - a setback for the Tigers at the time, but it came with a silver lining. Sikkema's early exit meant he'd be available out of the bullpen in Sunday's rubber game. And that offered the Tigers serious peace of mind heading into the finale.

"We set it up that if we could get late in the game and have the lead, he would take this opportunity," Missouri coach Steve Bieser said. "He said [Sunday] when he came out, 'I feel pretty good, I feel like I could go more.' When we got to the latter part of the game he was wondering when he was gonna go in. He's just a great young man and a tough, tough competitor. He's got a lot of good qualities, but that's probably one of his best qualities."

The Tigers called upon their not-so-secret weapon in a tight spot Sunday, with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. He minimized the damage to one run, then breezed through two perfect innings in the eighth and ninth, helping lead Mizzou to a huge series-clinching 10-8 win.

Sikkema has been a Swiss army knife for Missouri since his freshman year, regularly pitching out of the bullpen early in a series if the Tigers need key outs, then coming back to start later in the weekend. He was primarily a bullpen weapon during his standout freshman year, going 8-2, 2.72 in 22 appearances (three starts). Last year was more of a hybrid role; he posted a 3.34 ERA in 16 appearances (10 starts). This year has been more of the same - 15 appearances, 11 starts.

"It's a little different, but at the same time I'm here for the team, and I'm just gonna compete when they give me the ball," Sikkema said. "I knew there was a good chance that I was gonna come out and throw today, and even after we went down seven runs [in the first two innings], I was still pretty confident that we were gonna come back and I was gonna get a chance to pitch in this game where it meant a lot. … It's just really working hard on recovery, we have a good program set up with our strength and conditioning, and it's really helped me these past three years, so I think that's a big part of it."

"The luxury with that is you're not putting him into a foreign situation," Bieser added. "There are a lot of starters that could probably come in and close, but since they've never done it, you always wonder how they're going to respond in a different role. He's done everything in our program, from starting to opening to middle relief, you name it he's done it, and he's done it at a high standard."

Indeed, Sikkema has been a standout his entire collegiate career, but he's really taken his game to another level as a junior this spring. He ranks fourth in the nation with a sparkling 1.22 ERA, along with a 6-3 record, two saves, a .189 opponents' batting average and an 87-27 K-BB mark in 73.2 innings. Sikkema says his experience in the Cape Cod League (where he was an all-star) last summer helped him make this leap as a junior.

"I think it's just a little bit more mature. I'm learning how to pitch," Sikkema said. "I think this summer really helped me, I learned how to pitch with all four of my pitches, going out there reading hitters' swings, really knowing what to throw after a batter takes a selected type of swing, you just have to read that. I think that's the biggest part I've really grown on, just the mental side of the game."

As Bieser said, Sikkema is a premier competitor, and he as an innate feel for pitching that is rare - in some ways he's like former South Carolina star Michael Roth, but with better stuff. Like Roth, he can vary his arm slots and add and subtract from his fastball deliberately to keep hitters off balance. But Sikkema has more velocity; he touched 93-94 from a three-quarters or slightly higher slot this weekend. Then he'll drop down to sidearm or a tick above and give lefthanded hitters fits.

"Each year his stuff has improved. Now when he needs to or wants to, he'll run it to 93-95," Bieser said. "What makes him effective is it's such a tough angle. He slings it, he's way on the first-base side of the rubber, and you never see a pitch the same speed. So it's anywhere from 88 to 95 with the fastball, and he's changing it intentionally. Then his breaking ball, he's got a couple different arm slots, he throws one harder. So it's just so many different speeds, and it's really tough for a hitter when they have to face him.

"I don't think you teach what he has. It's something that he's grown up and done all of his life. You start trying to teach that, usually they're not effective and they don't know when to use it. But he's done it all his career. Those things are invaluable. There's days he hasn't had his best stuff, and he starts changing more arm angles, and he starts turning that little sidearm throw over a little bit to get more sink. So he's a smart guy, he's a baseball guy."

Sikkema said his 81-82 mph slider from a lower slot is his go-to out pitch against lefties, and it's a filthy strikeout weapon for him. But he prefers to use more of a downer curveball at 78-79 against righties, and he also will mix in a changeup.

"But I lean heavy on my fastball just because of the deception and everything," Sikkema said. "I feel confident in all my pitches, and I think that's one of the biggest things for me."

So there are many reason's for Sikkema's incredible success - and his excellence is a major reason Missouri is closing in on a regionals berth, with a No. 20 RPI and a 12-11-1 record in the rugged SEC. Bieser said the Tigers feed off Sikkema and fellow star Kameron Misner, and the team plays with a little extra confidence when Sikkema is on the mound and rolling.

The Tigers haven't been in the NCAA tournament since 2012, so Sikkema and his teammates are well aware of how much it would mean for the program to break the drought. And he's enjoying the ride.

"It's fun. It's very special," he said. "These guys are my brothers, and it's an awesome ride. We're playing really well as a team. As you can see, we have a lot of fight. We've worked for this all fall, we had a tough fall, tough winter. And I think it's now starting to show: these guys aren't gonna give up, and there's nobody who's not ready for the challenge. So a lot of guys stepped up, and a lot of guys came up big for us, so it was a huge team weekend.

"Hope we can continue this, and I'm sure we're gonna fight hard and keep going, so I'm excited to see what the future holds."

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