GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD NEWS

GSA

USA Baseball names 2017 Golden Spikes Award finalists

June 14, 2017

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball named the four finalists for the 2017 Golden Spikes Award on Wednesday. The Golden Spikes Award is presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation and for the fourth consecutive year the award will be presented live on ESPN's flagship program, SportsCenter, on Thursday, June 29.

2017 marks the 40th consecutive year the Golden Spikes Award has been awarded to the top amateur baseball player in the United States based on their athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and overall contribution to the sport.

J.B. Bukauskas (North Carolina), Adam Haseley (Virginia), Brendan McKay (Louisville) and Brent Rooker (Mississippi State) are the 2017 finalists after receiving the most votes among the 25 semifinalists announced on May 31.

J.B. Bukauskas earned ACC Pitcher of the Year honors in 2017 after tallying an 8-0 record and 106 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched. He also ranked top-five nationally with a 1.87 ERA as the Friday-night starter for North Carolina. He was named first-team All-ACC as well as a first-team All-American by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. The Houston Astros drafted Bukauskas in the 2017 MLB Draft with the 15th overall pick.

Virginia's Adam Haseley was named first-team All-ACC and a first-team All-American by Baseball America in 2017 after he finished the regular season as the league's batting champion with a .400 average. He also led the ACC in runs scored (64) and on-base percentage (.498). In addition to his offensive prowess, Haseley also served on the Cavalier's weekend rotation as a starting pitcher and went 7-1 with a 3.58 ERA. He was drafted eighth overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2017 MLB Draft.

University of Louisville two-way standout, Brendan McKay, was named the 2017 ACC Player of the Year while also earning All-ACC first team honors as both a starting pitcher and designated hitter. Offensively, McKay hit .361 with 15 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .683 slugging percentage in 53 starts as a hitter, and was equally effective on the mound. He led the ACC in strikeouts with 116 while also accumulating an 8-3 record with a 2.22 ERA in 13 starts. A first-team All-American selection by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, McKay was drafted fourth overall in the 2017 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brent Rooker was named first-team All-SEC in 2017 and is the first Mississippi State player to earn SEC Player of the Year honors in school history. He led the league in nine offensive categories and finished the regular season atop the national rankings in slugging percentage and doubles. Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball named him a first-team All-American after posting a .415 batting average, 28 doubles, 20 home runs, 73 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and a .873 slugging percentage in 2017. The Minnesota Twins selected Rooker in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft with the 35th overall pick.

The Golden Spikes Award voting committee, which selects the finalists and the Golden Spikes Award winner, is comprised of over 200 voters, consisting of past Golden Spikes Award winners, past USA Baseball National Team coaches and press officers, members of the media highly attuned within the amateur baseball landscape, select professional baseball personnel and select current USA Baseball staff members. The voting committee will have the opportunity to vote for the winner from today until Friday, June 23.

Fans will also be able to vote for the 2017 award winner by visiting the online home for the award, GoldenSpikesAward.com; which is powered by MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM). Voting for fans ends at 5 p.m. EST on Friday, June 23, and the finalist with the most fan votes will receive one overall vote.

Following the nationally televised announcement of the winner on June 29, all four finalists and their families will be celebrated at the Jonathan Club Los Angeles as part of the 2017 Rod Dedeaux Foundation Awards Dinner. Hosted by the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the dinner will honor the Golden Spikes Award finalists, the Rod Dedeaux Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award winner, former USA Baseball assistant coach, Augie Garrido, and the 2016 Rod Dedeaux USA Baseball Coach of the Year award winner, George Horton (Oregon).

USA Baseball recently announced a ten-year partnership extension with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation that provides the marketing and sponsorship rights surrounding the Golden Spikes Award to fund the foundation's mission to support youth baseball and softball programs in underprivileged areas.

For more information on the Golden Spikes Award and the four 2017 finalists, follow along on social media @USAGoldenSpikes on Instagram and Twitter.

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GSA

GSA Spotlight: Hunter Bishop

March 21, 2019

No player in college baseball has made a bigger leap forward from last year to this year than Arizona State junior outfielder Hunter Bishop. Through 19 games, he ranks third in the nation in OPS (1.535), which is more than double the OPS he finished with last year (.759). He's hitting .438/.549/.986 with 10 home runs in 73 at-bats, matching his career long ball total in 293 at-bats over his first two seasons. He's 8-for-8 in stolen bases, matching his career total entering the season in that category too.

In short, Bishop is a bona fide star for a 19-0 Arizona State club, the nation's last remaining unbeaten team. And while his rise to stardom has been dramatic, it certainly hasn't come out of nowhere. He's tantalized with his enormous raw tools since he set foot on campus; it's just taken him a little longer to harness those tools because of his multi-sport background and limited baseball experience in high school.

Bishop said he didn't start playing baseball "seriously" until his sophomore year of high school. His first love was football, and he originally committed to play wide receiver for Washington, where his older brother Braden played baseball from 2013-15. Braden, a third-round pick by the Mariners in 2015 who just earned a trip to Japan for the big league team's season-opener, was supportive of Hunter's football ambitions, but he also encouraged Hunter to give baseball a chance too.

"Braden was instrumental in all parts of my career … He's my hero, he's my role model, and I try to model every part of my game after him. Because he plays the game super hard and works harder than anybody I've ever met," Hunter Bishop said. "I loved baseball in high school, but I didn't really see what everybody else saw in terms of how I played the game, and what I brought to the game, because I still had no idea, honestly. So he was really important in telling me, 'Hunt, you've just got to stick with it, baseball's super hard, keep working at it, keep working hard, and everything else will take care of itself.' I put a lot of trust into him, and it's paying off."

Arizona State coach Tracy Smith has always targeted big, strong-bodied athletes on the recruiting trail, dating back to his days at Indiana, where he famously coached future big leaguers Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis. The 6-foot-4 Bishop was exactly the kind of projectable talent Smith covets, so it should be no surprise that Bishop's raw tools caught his eye at the Area Code Games, even though he didn't play a lot there. At that time, Bishop was already committed to play football at Washington, but Smith had a relationship with Bishop's father Randy, so he placed a call just in case.

"At the time, my son was going through the football recruiting process, and he had changed his mind a couple different times through that process," Smith said. "I remember picking up the phone one time, because I liked his dad, I said, 'Hey here's the deal, he's going to play football, that's awesome, my son's football, whatever. But here's the thing, I think your son's going to be a really good baseball player, if he ever chooses that. There's some question on the NFL thing, but I guarantee you he's going to be a professional baseball player. If he ever changes his mind, do not be embarrassed to pick up the phone and call me.'

"Something told me to put that call in just to tell him that, like, 'Hey man, don't be embarrassed.' About two or three weeks passed, and all of a sudden I get this call from his dad saying, 'You know, a few other people have said he might be a baseball player, he'd like to go look at Arizona State.' Because it was so late, we didn't have a letter of intent to him through the draft, so we had to actually physically wait until after the draft, and he turned down a lot of money with no letter of intent in hand, and I'll always be grateful to that family for that."

Doing It '4Mom'

Another factor that played into Bishop's decision to turn down pro baseball was the health of his mother, Suzy, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's when Hunter was in high school. Smith thinks Hunter was drawn to the idea of going to college and having a safety net to help support him during that ordeal.

Naturally, Suzy's condition helped shape Hunter as a person and a baseball player.

"It made me grow up really, really fast, because the last four or five years I haven't really had a life with a mom. She's still there but it's not who my mom was growing up," Hunter said. "It's been really hard, but my family is super supportive of me and everything I've done in my baseball career and my personal life. So I'm really thankful for the people I have in my life. But as a baseball player, last year was a super hard year for the team and for me, but it just made me realize how small baseball really is in comparison with the bigger picture, with my family and what my mom's going through. So it really put everything in perspective and allowed me to realize baseball's just a game. I obviously love playing it, I love my teammates, but at the end of the day family's the most important thing to me."

Hunter and Braden decided to try to make something positive out of a difficult situation. They started an organization called 4MOM to raise money for Alzheimer's research; Hunter said Braden was the pioneer, using his platform in pro ball to take the lead on the effort, but Hunter plans to get more involved once his pro career gets underway. They worked together to plan a recent 4MOM event at Top Golf in Glendale, which drew a great turnout from pro players and Hunter's Arizona State teammates.

"Obviously it's a really bad situation, but whatever way we can turn it positive is huge for us," Hunter said.

Hunter said Suzy is struggling with the disease but hanging in there. He went home just before this season started to see her, and he said it was "pretty special to see her still smile through it all."

"So it definitely gave me a really good perspective to be able to go home right before the season and reflect on everything that I've been through," he said, "and just say, 'You know what? Go out and have fun this year, because it can be taken away from you in one second.'"

Learning To Stay The Course

That sense of perspective is rare for a college junior, and it has played an integral part in Bishop's maturation as a player. Another key part of Bishop's emergence has been his commitment to a consistent approach at the plate.

Smith said in his first two years, Bishop would tinker with his stance or his swing just about every two weeks - "probably against our wishes," Smith said.

"We got to a point where we said, 'Hey man, we're going to do this, or we're not going to do it at all,'" Smith said. "I just think it's that wanting to do well - here's a guy who hadn't played a ton of baseball. He's a great kid, so probably listening to too many people or trying to please too many people. I think once he finally put the arms up and said, 'OK man, I'm yours,' with our hitting guy Mike Earley, it's been really good. And he's had success doing it, which helps buy-in too."

Bishop agreed that simplifying his approach and sticking with it has been crucial to his success. He said he had a tendency to get jumpy on his back side and fly open his first two years, and he would chase pitches in the dirt, or foul off pitches he should be hitting.

"So the biggest thing me and Coach Earley tried to work on was how can I get myself into a consistent hitting position over my back side? So I start pretty tall now, and I just kind of sink into the back side, instead of doing some big leg kick or something that's too much, or could get me not in that consistent position," Bishop said. "So for me it's just simplifying everything and staying over that back side with a slow and smooth load. The smoother I am, the slower I am, the more I can see the ball, and when I can see the ball, I feel as if I can hit it more consistently and hit it hard."

Bishop said he saw glimpses of his emerging power last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he hit four home runs but hit just .233, striking out 45 times in 120 at-bats. But he really took off when he returned to campus in the fall, and he's been a force of nature ever since. Smith estimated that Bishop has probably hit 30 to 35 home runs since the fall in scrimmages and games, counting the 10 he has already this spring.

"In the fall I really started to see the jump in the home runs, and it kind of surprised me," Bishop said. "I knew I had the power, but it just kind of surprised me how many and how consistently I was hitting them in the fall. I think now I'd attribute a lot to Spencer (Torkelson), they're worried so much about him hitting a home run that I think they're already tired when they get to me, and they just throw it down the middle. So I attribute a lot of my success to him and guys like Carter (Aldrete), they do a great job protecting me in the lineup."

Bishop's dramatically improved plate discipline has also contributed to the power spike. After posting a 33-94 strikeout-walk mark in his first two seasons combined, Bishop has 15 walks and just 11 strikeouts so far this spring. And he's continued to improve as a defender in center field, where his plus speed helps him cover plenty of ground, and his first step has continued to improve. He said the coaches have emphasized over the years that even if you can't make a play on offense, go out and make a big play on defense - and Bishop has taken that to heart. "And I like to think of myself as a pretty good defender now," he said. "I take a lot of pride in it as well."

Bishop's only tool that doesn't project as at least above-average is his arm, which is fringe-average but very playable. But his loudest tool is his raw power, which draws double-plus grades from some scouts. Smith said he sometimes hears scouts question Bishop's long-term track record, but he finds that baffling.

"I think it's just funny, I've been thinking a lot about this, I hear guys talk about it. As always, you try to pick apart what he doesn't do - 'Oh he doesn't have any history, this and that.' I'm sitting here saying, 'I dunno, I've coached some pretty darn good players in my career. This guy's a freak, physically,'" Smith said. "He hits balls as far as anybody I've ever coached, he runs as fast as anybody I've ever coached. So not having history? To me that's a plus. Look at the jumps that he's made, to me it's the tip of the iceberg. There aren't people I've seen out there in college baseball doing what he's doing, not many of them, quite frankly in the last 10 years. His bat speed, it's ridiculous. He's in the same breath as Schwarber and Travis, but faster. I think he has the ability to play center field in the big leagues with that power. That's rare, I think."

Indeed, Bishop is a rare talent, with rare life experience and makeup. And by the time his special season at ASU comes to a close, he might find himself as a first-round pick and a leading contender for the Golden Spikes Award.

Not that Bishop is filling his head with such notions. He's just enjoying the ride with a tightknit group of Sun Devils.

"Our motto this year is 'for us'. How can we make everything for us, just our team, that's it. No one else, no outsiders, just us," he said. "How can we make this year special for this group? I think it's showing, right? Nineteen wins in a row is tough to do in any conference, any games.

"If you would have told me this before the season, I don't know if I would have believed 19-0, but to be honest before the season I knew the group we had was special compared to the years before. So I just think you could see it in the fall from the roster growing up a little bit and taking a more mature approach to the game, and it's really special to see."

Bishop's maturation has been awfully special to see, too.

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

2019 NHSI Set to Begin on Wednesday, April 3

Eighth-annual event to be held at the National Training Complex
March 20, 2019

USA Baseball invites the local and national media to the 2019 USA Baseball National High School Invitational (NHSI) presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) and the Town of Cary.

The NHSI is a 16-team, single-elimination championship tournament and each participating team is guaranteed to play four games. The NHSI will present participating athletes with national exposure in addition to providing the opportunity for the best teams in the country to compete against each other.

 

What: USA Baseball National High School Invitational (NHSI)
When: April 3-6, 2019
Where:

USA Baseball National Training Complex
7445 Green Hope School Road
Cary, N.C., 27519

 

The NHSI will bring together 16 of the top prep teams in the country to compete against each other in what has become the premier event on the high school baseball calendar. As no event currently brings in a level of talent from top to bottom that which the NHSI promises, the eventual tournament champion will kick off their respective season with recognition as the top high school baseball team in the country.

The two-time defending champions Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.) returns to the NHSI in 2019 looking to complete the first three-peat in tournament history. The Lancers became the second program in NHSI history to repeat as champions after defeating Green Hope High School (Cary, N.C.), 9-3, in the 2018 finale. Mater Dei is the only other school to win back-to-back titles (2011 and 2012).

Credential Application
Members of the media can apply for a credential by visit the USA Baseball Media Services page on the official website: http://www.usabaseball.com/about/media-services

NHSI Championship Festival
USA Baseball, in collaboration with the Town of Cary, will host the first-ever National High School Championship Festival on Saturday, April 6. The festival is slated to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET and will include family-friendly activities, including games and music on the front lawn of the National Training Complex. In addition to games, the festival will also have a food truck rodeo, which will feature six of the most popular vendors in the area.

PLAY BALL Event
In addition to the closing ceremony, USA Baseball will host a PLAY BALL event prior to the championship game of the NHSI on Saturday, April 6. Children between the ages of 4-12 are eligible to attend the free event. All participants will receive a free PLAY BALL t-shirt, wristband and a bat and ball set, courtesy of Major League Baseball. All of the children participating in the event will receive free admission to the championship game, which is set to take place at 6 p.m. For more information on PLAY BALL click here.

USA Baseball Coverage
Live Stats: GameChanger
Social Media: @USABEvents (Twitter) and @USABaseball (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Streaming/TV
Select games will be broadcast live on USABaseball.com, MLB.com, and Facebook Live

Participating Teams and Schedule
In total, 10 states are represented in the 2019 NHSI field:

  • Arizona: Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.)
  • California: Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.), Huntington Beach High School (Huntington Beach, Calif.), La Mirada (La Mirada, Calif.), Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.)
  • Florida: Hagerty High School (Oviedo, Fla.), IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), Monsignor Pace High School (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
  • Georgia: Blessed Trinity Catholic High School (Roswell, Ga.), South Forsyth High School (Cumming, Ga.)
  • Illinois: Marist High School (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Missouri: Christian Brothers College High School (St. Louis, Mo.)
  • New Jersey: Delbarton High School (Morristown, N.J.)
  • Nevada: Desert Oasis High School (Las Vegas, Nev.)
  • North Carolina: Northwest Guilford High School (Kernersville, N.C.)
  • Tennessee: Hendersonville High School (Hendersonville, Tenn.)

 

For the full schedule, please visit the NHSI Schedule page on USABaseball.com.

Past Champions
2018:
Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.)*
2017: Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.)*
2016: Huntington Beach High School (Huntington Beach, Calif.)*
2015: San Clemente High School (Calif.)
2014: The First Academy (Fla.)
2013: Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
2012: Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
* denotes participants in the 2019 NHSI

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NHSI

2019 NHSI Preview: Pod 3

March 18, 2019


Blessed Trinity

Roswell, Ga.


Marist

Chicago, Ill.
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 5
  • Perfect Game Preseason No. 4
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Perfect Game Preseason No. 33
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • C.J. Abrams (2018 18U National Team)
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • None
Players to Watch:
  • C.J. Abrams (No. 3, Baseball America; No. 5, MLB Pipeline)
  • Steele Chambers
Players to Watch:
  • Jason Hodges (No. 99, Baseball America)
  • Justin James

 

Matchup: The top of the third pod features two teams that will make their NHSI debut in 2019, Blessed Trinity (Roswell, Ga.) and Marist (Chicago, Ill.). Blessed Trinity enters the 2019 event after advancing to the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) 4A semifinals in 2018, leading them to a No. 4 ranking by Perfect Game and No. 5 on the MaxPreps preseason charts. C.J. Abrams, a 2018 USA Baseball 18U National Team member, leads the charge into the season for the Titans. Abrams has shown plenty of first-round Draft potential, landing at the No. 3 and No. 5 spot in the Baseball America and MLB Pipeline prospect rankings, respectively.

The Titans face a tough task immediately, as they take on Marist, the No. 33-ranked team in the country according to Perfect Game, in the first round. The 2019 RedHawks will look to build on a fantastic 2018 season, after going 29-9 and competing in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) tournament. Marist is led by star Jason Hodges, who is ranked No. 99 on Baseball America's top prospect list.

 

 
La Mirada

La Mirada, Calif.

 
IMG Academy

Bradenton, Fla.
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 22
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 2
  • Perfect Game Preseason No. 2
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • Jared Jones (2016 15U National Team)
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • Brennan Malone (2018 18U National Team)
Players to Watch:
  • Jared Jones
  • Darius Perry (No. 122, Baseball America)
Players to Watch:
  • Rece Hinds (No. 24, Baseball America; No. 23, MLB Pipeline)
  • Brennan Malone (No. 10, Baseball America; No. 10, MLB Pipeline)
  • Joshua Rivera (No. 110, Baseball America)
  • Kendall Williams (No. 41, Baseball America)

 

Matchup: The bottom of the pod features two more teams that will make the trip to Cary, North Carolina, for the first time in 2019: La Mirada (La Mirada, Calif.) and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). The Matadores and 2016 15U National Team member Jared Jones enters the 2019 season following a 26-4-1 campaign and an appearance in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) second round in 2018.

La Mirada has a tough road to the title, as it faces star-studded IMG Academy in the opening round. IMG Academy will be one of the favorites in their first year at the NHSI after earning the No. 2 ranking in the country by both MaxPreps and Perfect Game. The Ascenders feature four players that have earned prospect rankings, including 2018 18U National Team member Brennan Malone. IMG Academy also boasts 17 division one commits on the roster, that will look to bring the trophy back to Florida for the second time in the history of the NHSI.

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GSA

GSA Spotlight: Tanner Burns

March 14, 2019

Auburn sophomore righthander Tanner Burns learned so much from Casey Mize, he decided to wear his number this season.

Just a year ago, Burns was a freshly minted righthander who had to learn the ropes. First, he had to figure out his role, then he needed to learn what the SEC was all about. He had the perfect role model to follow in Mize, who had a stellar spring and was the top overall pick in the MLB draft last summer, but who also had a gradual rise and had to make adjustments early in his Auburn career.

Burns, a six-foot, 205-pounder, had a 2018 campaign to remember. He was outstanding in Southeastern Conference play and finished the season as a Freshman All-American. But the passing of another season has brought about new challenges. No longer does Burns have Mize leading off the weekend, ultimately taking the pressure off him every weekend.

Now, Burns is the guy everyone looks to each weekend for that perfect start to a series, and that role only has been magnified during the early part of the season with an injury to righthander Davis Daniel. Daniel should be back in the next couple of weeks, but his absence has put more of the load on Burns' back.

But just like last season, the righty hasn't flinched due to a lofty challenge. He's only gotten better.

"Just in the same way that Keegan Thompson took Casey Mize under his wings two seasons ago, Mize did that with Tanner last year, and it worked out great," Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. "He showed Tanner the ropes and was his throwing partner each day. He kind of showed him how it's done.

"And I think Tanner was thankful for that," he continued. "I think Tanner wanted to find the best way to thank Casey, so he changed his number to '32' this season. I think that's pretty cool if you ask me."

It's one thing to learn the ropes from and be Mize's cohort in crime last season on the way to  a solid freshman campaign. It's another for Burns, so far this spring, to essentially dwarf the numbers Mize put up early last season. That includes Mize's no-hit performance against Northeastern. At this stage last year, Mize had a 2.13 ERA in 25 innings along with 38 strikeouts and three walks, along with a .119 OBA. So far this season? Burns has a 0.68 ERA in 26.2 innings, along with 39 strikeouts and four walks and a .124 OBA.

That's all with a year less experience, and his start to the season has even caught Mize's attention as he continues Spring Training with the Detroit Tigers.

"I thought it was really cool that he decided to do that," Mize said about Burns wearing his number this season. "That jersey and number was something I wore with pride for three years, so if he did that to kind of honor me, that's really awesome.

"Tanner is one of the best teammates I've ever had. I don't know if I've ever met a more likable person in my life. Everyone just loves him," Mize continued. "I think he loves to work and prepare almost as much as he loves to compete. His talent and work he puts in shows every time he takes the mound and it was a lot of fun to watch last year. He's even taken a step forward this year, and that's really awesome to see."

Thompson is a wizard with pitchers. The list of premier arms he's developed over the years is lengthy. So, when he says he saw something in Burns from the get-go his freshman year, you just sit back and listen.

Burns, like most freshmen, wasn't a complete product last season. But the potential was all there. The fastball played up a big way, and while the breaking ball wasn't where it needs to be, it had potential. So, Thompson and the talented righty went to work and he managed to piece together an impressive campaign that ended with All-American honors.

"Tanner was one of those freshmen that just looked like he belonged and could compete at this level," Thompson said about last season. "He had a fastball and a half. He had a half breaking ball some days, and others, it was a changeup. But he competed with his fastball.

"He went in there and competed with what he had," Thompson continued. "The fastball, I thought, played up big time, and he really hung in there as the season progressed. He has continued to develop his arsenal from last season, and I think he learned so much last year. We're really grateful, too, that Casey kind of took him under his wing."

In Burns' first start this season, he allowed a run on three hits in five innings, while also striking out seven and walking one. The next week against UCF, he paved the way to an important road series win with another strong performance, striking out seven, walking two and allowing a run on two hits in 5.2 innings. And he's been even more dominant the last two weeks, striking out an insane 15 batters on the way to a complete game shutout against Cincinnati before punching out 10 and walking just one in seven innings in his most recent start against UTSA.

"I think what he did last year kind of took some pressure off him this season," Thompson said. "He got to sit back and watch Casey kind of lead things off every weekend last year. He got to watch a game or two and then pitch to teams. Now he's the one leading us off, and I think he's having success because of what he learned from those experiences.

"I saw those numbers [Burns' numbers now vs. Mize's last year]. Casey's run last year for about the first eight weeks was about as good as anything I've ever seen," he continued. "Talk about someone trying to pick up where the other left off. Wow. It's really hard to replace the first pick of the draft, so what Tanner has done so far this season is pretty special."

Burns has taken his stuff to another level. He's still sitting in that low-to-mid 90s range with his fastball, but the evolution of his secondary offerings is evident. He's still throwing that fastball with conviction but has begun to mimic his fastball grip to throw that slider, and that has led to a sharper offering. Furthermore, he continues to make strides with the changeup.

"We went back to what's our best pitch -- which is the fastball and decided to do a breaking ball grip of the same genre as the fastball," Thompson said. "The grip is really comfortable for him and it's in close relation with that fastball group. He's sharing space with the two pitches and he can flip that breaking ball in there to get ahead in the count. It's just made him feel a lot more comfortable out there.

"His ability to share space with that breaking ball and fastball and be able to throw both pitches with a 0-0 count -- that's been big," he continued. "That's allowed him to go out there and throw and not to be so predictable."

He's also navigated the past two weekends without too much pressure. Just like he was the security blanket for Mize last season, sophomore lefthander Jack Owen has evolved into a security blanket for Burns. He was inserted into the weekend rotation after the UCF series and has been out of this world, striking out 29 and walking just two, while having yet to allow a run in 34.2 innings of work.

Owen's rise and Davis' eventual return, and the big arm of Burns gives Thompson and the Tigers a lot of confidence entering SEC play.

Burns might very well have his ups and downs in SEC play, like most premier pitchers do. But his run through the first four weeks has been remarkable.

Everyone has taken notice, including the guy for whom he wears the jersey number for.

 

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

2019 NHSI Preview: Pod 2

March 11, 2019


Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, Calif.


Northwest Guilford

Greensboro, N.C.
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Baseball America Preseason No. 6
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 30
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Unranked
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • None
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • None
Players to Watch:
  • Brett Barrera
  • Jag Burden
  • Josh Hahn
  • Jake Vogel
Players to Watch:
  • Joey Rezek
  • Hayden Summers

 

Matchup: 2016 NHSI champion Huntington Beach (Huntington Beach, Calif.) will return to Cary, North Carolina, for the fourth time in five years in 2019. The Oilers head into the 2019 season boasting a No. 6 ranking from Baseball America and a No. 30 spot in the MaxPreps preseason rankings. Huntington Beach is led by a pair of UCLA-bound student-athletes, Josh Hahn (2019) and Jake Vogel (2020), and Stanford commit Brett Barrera.

Huntington Beach will face 2019 host-school Northwest Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.) in the first round of the tournament. The Vikings are looking to become the second host team to win an opening round game of the NHSI after Green Hope's (N.C.) made it all the way to the championship game in 2018. The Vikings are coming off an appearance in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) playoffs in 2018 and will be led by North Carolina commit Hayden Summers and East Carolina signee Joey Rezek.

 

 
Corona Del Sol

Tempe, Ariz.

 
Monsignor Pace

Miami Gardens, Fla.
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Unranked
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 18
  • Perfect Game Preseason No. 16
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • None
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • None
Players to Watch:
  • Hunter Haas
  • Brian Kalmer
Players to Watch:
  • Victor Mederos
  • Sammy Infante

 

Matchup: The bottom half of the pod features two teams that will make the trek to Cary, North Carolina, for the first time in its history in 2019, Corona Del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) and Monsignor Pace (Miami Gardens, Fla.). Corona Del Sol is led by Dave Webb, who has guided three USA Baseball national teams, and assistant coach Tanner Vesely, the 2015 12U National Team manager and two-time national team assistant coach. Coming off of an appearance in the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) playoffs in 2018, the squad will be motivated to show the rest of the country their potential in 2019. The Aztecs will be led by Hunter Haas, who has committed to the 2018 College World Series Champions Oregon State, and Brian Kalmer (Arizona State).

The Aztecs face a tough test in the first round in Monsignor Pace, who enters the NHSI ranked No. 16 by Perfect Game and No. 18 by MaxPreps. The Spartans enter the tournament as no strangers of playing in high-pressure situations and coming out on top after winning the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) 5A State Championship in 2018. Pace is led by six players that have signed with major division one college programs, including five players that have committed to the hometown University of Miami. 

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GSA

GSA Spotlight: Nick Gonzales

March 7, 2019

New Mexico State sophomore second baseman Nick Gonzales homered in all four games of the Aggies' sweep over Delaware this past weekend. For Gonzales, that performance qualifies as a nice weekend, but it was nothing extraordinary in the context of his season to date.

After all, Gonzales already has 10 home runs in just 13 games this season. Three weeks into the spring, it's an anomaly when he doesn't go deep.

Gonzales' numbers are simply mind-boggling. He leads all of Division I in all three triple crown categories: home runs, batting (.590), and RBIs (37 … in just 28 at-bats). Not surprisingly, he also leads the country in slugging (1.213), runs (28), total bases (74) and hits per game (2.77). Certainly it's worth noting that New Mexico State plays in one of the nation's most extreme hitters' park, and the entire team has feasted (to the tune of a .408 batting average and 29 homers) against overmatched early-season competition - although Texas Southern and Yale were our preseason picks to win their respective leagues, and the Aggies won seven of eight against them, scoring 13 or more runs in all seven wins.

But caveats aside, Gonzales has performed at an unbelievable level. On a team full of dangerous, disciplined, veteran hitters, Gonzales has become the unstoppable centerpiece.

"His numbers are incredible, but he's really within his own zone, he has tremendous bat speed. And right now if the ball is in his zone, he's not missing it," New Mexico State coach Brian Green said. "Yale had an unbelievable dramatic shift, they used four outfielders against him, twice when they did that he just flipped the ball to the right side to lead the inning off. It was pretty cool."

That kind of maturity is uncommon for a young slugger - heck, even 15-year big leaguers struggle to slap balls the other way to beat the shift. But for Gonzales, it helps that he was a natural born hitter first; he didn't grow up as a feast-or-famine slugger. He's just 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, after all - the Aggies certainly never envisioned him becoming this kind of power threat on the recruiting trail, when Gonzales only drew offers from Austin Peay and NMSU out of Arizona's Cienega High School.

"He was not recruited by many schools. For me to tell anybody when they ask, 'Did you guys see this coming on the recruiting process?' Absolutely not - are you out of your mind?" Green said. "We knew he was a great makeup guy, we thought he'd play center field or second base, we thought he was mentally tough and a baseball rat. His family is unbelievably supportive, it's everything you look for. That was the piece about him coming in here was the makeup part, and you're seeing it now, he's getting everything he's earned."

Green has no shortage of stories to illustrate Gonzales' work ethic. He tells of running a hitting camp for high school players in December, and at lunch break, all the other kids were eating their sandwiches - but Gonzales wanted to pick Green's brain about hitting approaches. He tells of Friday nights in the offseason, when the rest of the Aggies were going out to the movies, and Gonzales was bringing his own exterior lighting to the batting cages and working on a tee by himself.

"That's Nick, he's the ultimate guy who's going to be a lifelong learner, and nobody's gonna get in his way," Green said. "He's clearly one of the best players in this part of the country today, but that's not the way he views it. He thinks like, 'I'd better show up and work hard or I'm gonna lose my job."

So how did Gonzales go from an overlooked, undersized high school player who was content to push the ball the other way at the plate, to one of the most dangerous sluggers in college baseball? Green remembers the "Eureka!" moment when he realized there was more to Gonzales than meets the eye.

"I remember a story with Nick, we were in the cage late in the fall [of his freshman year], we were just doing some drill work, doing some high tee stuff, some exaggerated top hand stuff," Green said. "And the ball started coming off his bat different. You have those moments with your hitters where you kind of look at each other, you both see something. I said, 'Nick, I think you have a chance to have real power, are you aware of that?' He said, 'I guess, I dunno, I never really considered that.' I said, 'You have a chance to have real power.' That was something I never saw on the recruiting process. I saw a good player from a good family with character. But I remember that moment when it changed, the ball started jumping off the bat with backspin.

"Then three months later, he's not a starter, he gets his first real shot in Tucson, one of our players made a couple errors. The first pitch he sees in Tucson, he hammers the ball off the wall, you hear it - BOOM! - he slides in, pops up, pumps his fist, he's yelling loud. A kid from Tucson having a moment like that. He didn't come off the field after that, and next thing you know he's a unanimous freshman All-American."

Indeed, Gonzales went on to hit .347/.425/.596 with nine homers, 17 doubles and 35 RBIs in 57 games as a freshman. Very good numbers … and yet he's already exceeded last year's home run and RBI totals in just 13 games as a sophomore. He's even driving the ball out to all fields - Green estimated that five or six of his 10 homers have gone to left field, his pull side, but that another four or five have gone out to center or right-center.

And if that's not enough, Gonzales has improved by leaps and bounds as a defender at second base. Gonzales and shortstop Joey Ortiz (who is hitting .463 himself) have pushed each other hard to see who can become the better player, Green said, and they have become a superb middle infield tandem. That's a big reason New Mexico State leads the nation with 16 double plays.

"When we recruited him, we really thought as a second-year player, he'd be a starter in center field. That's what we projected him at," Green said. "He was a shortstop who could catch, played some center field in high school. But that was our projection, center. Last year at second base he was just OK, but he was so good offensively he wasn't coming out. His double play turn, he only had one, he could only step back at second base. He was really only skilled going to his left, he struggled going backhand side or any ball that was a slow roller. But now if you profile him, I think you're looking at a legitimate offensive big league second baseman. Now he can really turn it, we lead the nation in double plays. His backhand has improved dramatically, last year he struggled with that. He can throw from different arm slots. These are all throws he didn't have. I think he profiles there now, as a legit plus-armed, plus-exchange second baseman, and he's very athletic."

He's even improved his speed. Green said he typically got from home to first in 4.4-plus seconds last year, but now he's getting up the line in 4.3 - and Green said he thinks next year it'll be down to 4.15 or 4.2, as he continues to improve his strength and athleticism. Green sent Gonzales to Cotuit in the Cape Cod League at the end of last summer to work on his basestealing skills with Kettleers coach Mike Roberts, who excels at teaching that particular skill. Gonzales is slated to return to Cotuit to focus on his baserunning even more next summer - although there's a legitimate chance he could start off the summer with Team USA's Collegiate National Team.

And who would have thought two years ago that Gonzales would find himself on Team USA's radar? Who would have thought he'd turn himself into a potential premium prospect by the time he was a sophomore? At the rate he's improving, it's fun to imagine what Gonzales will be in another five years.

But for now, it's fun for Green and the rest of the Aggies just to watch Gonzales terrorize opposing pitching on a nightly basis.

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

'Fun At Bat' Program to Be Implemented by All Elementary Schools in Puerto Rico

Nearly 90,000 students will have access to the entry-level "Bat-and-Ball" program, which Is currently reaching more than one million students in all 50 states & Washington D.C.
March 6, 2019

SALINAS, PUERTO RICO - Major League Baseball and USA Baseball today announced that "Fun At Bat" (www.funatbat.org), the bat-and-ball program designed for use in elementary school physical education (P.E.) classes throughout the United States, will now be available to all elementary school students in Puerto Rico. The program, which is currently reaching more than one million children in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., will be administered by the Puerto Rico Department of Education to serve nearly 90,000 young students throughout the island. Long time MLB and USA Baseball partner, Franklin Sports, has created custom Fun At Bat Baseball equipment to help activate this program since its inception in 2016. Baseball Hall of Famer and MLB special consultant in Puerto Rico Roberto Alomar as well as the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation are supporting the initiative. 

A joint MLB and USA Baseball youth program, Fun At Bat promotes fun and active lifestyles for children, while also teaching the fundamental skills of bat-and-ball sports. The program, available in English and Spanish, also includes a literacy component focusing on character development and teaching traits such as leadership, teamwork and fair play. Fun At Bat is part of the PLAY BALL initiative (www.PlayBall.org) - the sport's largest collective effort to encourage young people to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal and casual forms of play. Since its launch in 2015, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has reported a 52.8 percent increase in casual baseball participation. 

"Puerto Rico has proven to be one of our sport's greatest sources of talent and passion over the years, and now we are excited to bolster both the expansion of this grassroots 'Fun At Bat' initiative to the Island," said Tony Reagins, Executive Vice President of Baseball & Softball Development, Major League Baseball. "One of our main goals here at Major League Baseball is to make baseball and softball as accessible as possible. We are confident that the presence of this energetic and introductory program will further ensure that youth from Puerto Rico will have direct and regular opportunities to play the game." 

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver this program to students across Puerto Rico," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "Fun At Bat is the fastest growing bat-and-ball program in the world. With its comprehensive curriculum and fun-first approach, it is the ideal way to be introducing kids and new participants to our great game."

Julia Keleher, the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education said: "We thank USA Baseball and MLB for this partnership with the Department on an initiative that seeks to expose our children to sports through Fun At Bat. You can count on our commitment and collaboration, including the support of our excellent physical education teachers, to ensure this is a stimulating and enriching experience for our children. We are very pleased with the support USA Baseball and MLB has shown the Department and we know that we will continue to partner together on projects for the benefit of Puerto Rico's students".

Alomar said: "I'm proud to partner with Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, and the Department of Education in bringing the Fun At Bat program to the students of Puerto Rico. It's an exciting initiative that will help grow the game of baseball by making it more accessible to the youth on the island."

The expansion of Fun At Bat to Puerto Rico is just one of MLB's latest efforts to provide baseball-centered education tools to young students across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Some of the educational initiatives and programs operated, in part, by MLB include: (a)"Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life," which is co-administered with daughter of Jackie Robinson and MLB Educational Consultant Sharon Robinson and Scholastic, a bilingual program highlighted by an essay contest encouraging students to describe personal barriers they have overcome through the example of Jackie Robinson; (b) the partnership with Discovery Education to add dynamic new baseball-themed content to Science Techbooks with the goal of fueling deeper student engagement in science and STEM; and (c) the free baseball-themed education course the "Summer Slugger" aimed at preventing students from losing math and literacy skills during the summer break from school, a result of MLB's and Everfi's joint efforts. 

Additionally, MLB has teamed up with ESPN on "Shred Hate," a multi-faceted bullying prevention program that seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness. As part of the program, No Bully, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that trains and gives schools the tools to activate student compassion as a method for eradicating bullying and cyberbullying, provides innovative, bullying prevention curriculum, and works directly with local school districts and cooperating schools. Shred Hate was launched with the X Games in 2017, and schools that have gone through the curriculum last year were able to reduce instances of bullying by 94%. 

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NHSI

2019 NHSI Preview: Pod 1

March 5, 2019


ORANGE LUTHERAN

Orange, Calif.


SOUTH FORSYTH

Cumming, Ga.
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Baseball America Preseason No. 43
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 2
  • Perfect Game Preseason No. 4
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Unranked
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • Karson Bowen (2016 12U, 2018 15U)
  • Jasiah Dixon (2016 15U)
  • Max Racjic (2018 18U)
  • Christian Rodriguez (2014 12U)
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • Landon Sims (2016 15U)
Players to Watch:
  • Jasiah Dixon
  • Garrett Frechette (No. 108, Baseball America)
  • Max Racjic
  • Christian Rodriguez
Players to Watch:
  • Landon Sims (No. 60, Baseball America)

 

Matchup: Two-time defending National High School Invitational (NSHI) champion, Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.), returns to Cary, North Carolina, searching to become the first team in tournament history to three-peat. After falling in the CIF State Semifinals in 2018, the Lancers were tabbed with a No. 2 ranking in the country by MaxPreps and No. 4 from Perfect Game.

The Lancers feature four players (Karson Bowen, Gabe Briones, Jasiah Dixon and Max Rajcic) that have played on a USA Baseball National Team, with two, Bowen and Rajcic, wearing the stars and stripes in 2018. Orange Lutheran is also led on the diamond by two-time USA Baseball manager alum Eric Borba.

Orange Lutheran will have a tough road to the finals if they hope to win a third straight title as it faces South Forsyth (Cumming, Ga.) in the first round of the tournament. The War Eagles are coming off of a dominating season in 2018 that culminated in a loss in the GHSA 7A Second Round. SFHS will be led by the No. 60-ranked draft prospect, according to Baseball America, and 2016 15U National Team member Landon Sims.

 

 
DESERT OASIS

Las Vegas, Nev.

 
DELBARTON

Morristown, N.J.
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Baseball America Preseason No. 11
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 55
  • Perfect Game Preseason No. 18
2019 Preseason Ranks:
  • Baseball America Preseason No. 18
  • MaxPreps Preseason No. 19
  • Perfect Game Preseason No. 10
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • None
USA Baseball National Team Alums:
  • Jack Leiter (2018 18U)
  • Anthony Volpe (2013 12U, 2016 15U, 2018 18U)
Players to Watch:
  • D.J. Jefferson
  • Aaron Roberts
  • Josh Sharman
Players to Watch:
  • Jack Leiter (No. 20, MLB Pipeline; No. 35, Baseball America)
  • Shawn Rapp
  • Anthony Volpe (No. 64, Baseball America)

 

Matchup: In what is sure to be one of the best matchups in the first round of the tournament, Desert Oasis High School (Las Vegas, Nevada) will face off against Delbarton High School (Morristown, N.J.).

Desert Oasis will be motivated for greatness in 2019 after falling in Nevada's Class 4A State Championship game after a 30-5 season. The Diamondbacks boast No. 18 and No. 55 rankings by Perfect Game and MaxPreps, respectively, and will be led by seniors D.J. Jefferson, Aaron Roberts and Josh Sharman.

On the other side of the ranked first-round matchup, is No. 10 and No.19-ranked Delbarton High School. The Green Wave are coming off an 18-6 season in 2018, where they fell in the NJSIAA Second Round. Delbarton will be led by seniors and 2018 18U National Team teammates Anthony Volpe and Jack Leiter. Leiter enters the year as one of the top-rated pitchers in the draft class, ranking No. 20 overall and the ninth overall pitcher in MLB Pipeline rankings. The pair and the rest of the Green Wave squad will try to use their experience to advance to the second round for a matchup against Orange Lutheran or South Forsyth.

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18U

WBSC Awards Hosting Rights of 2021 U-18 Baseball World Cup to USA

The 2021 youth world championship will take place in Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida
March 5, 2019

SARASOTA-BRADENTON, Fla. - The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today announced it has awarded the hosting rights of the U-18 Baseball World Cup® 2021 to USA Baseball and the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida. This marks the first time since Cape Cod and Fenway Park hosted the 1995 Junior World Championship that the top youth international baseball event will be held in the United States.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference held at the Powel Crosley Estate in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, featuring WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari, USA Baseball President Mike Gaski, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler, Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly, Orioles-Sarasota Vice President David Rovine and representatives from Visit Sarasota County and the Bradenton Area Sports Commission.

The 30th edition of the U-18 Baseball World Cup will take place in September 2021 and feature the world's best players from 12 countries in the U-18 category (16 to 18 years old). As the host nation, the USA Baseball 18U National Team-the current four-time defending U-18 world champions-will be granted an automatic berth into the global tournament.

All 50 U-18 World Cup games will be played between Ed Smith Stadium and LECOM Park, the Spring Training homes for Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively.

Team USA is the four-time defending U-18 Baseball World Cup champions (2012, 2013, 2015, 2017) and will look to win an unprecedented fifth consecutive world championship at the 2019 U-18 Baseball World Cup that will be held in Gijang, Republic of Korea, from Friday, August 30 to Sunday, September 8, 2019.

"USA Baseball presented an excellent bid, vision and venue plan for one of youth sport's most prestigious world championships, the U-18 Baseball World Cup," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. "The world's best young players and next generation of superstars will have an iconic stage-the same stadiums where top professionals play and train-to perform and showcase their talents to the passionate fans in the stands and those watching across the world. While the sport of baseball has never been as global as it is today, there has never been a more opportune time to bring the U-18 Baseball World Cup back to the U.S., where baseball, together with softball, has furthered its position as the most practiced team sport, with participation numbers increasing over 20% to 25 million over the last five years, in the U.S. alone."

"USA Baseball is honored to be selected to host the U-18 Baseball World Cup and we aim to provide a truly once-in-a-lifetime baseball experience to the athletes and fans who take part in this premier event," said USA Baseball President Mike Gaski. "Our national pastime continues to be a major influence in the culture of the United States and we are proud to partner with the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, to welcome the international baseball community to the birthplace of baseball."

Sarasota and Bradenton are located south of Tampa Bay on Florida's Gulf Coast, a region known for award-winning beaches and a long history of arts and culture. The two cities have jointly hosted numerous international youth and amateur sports competitions including the 2017 World Rowing Championships and the 2017-2018 International Triathlon World Cups.

"Visit Sarasota County and the Orioles are pleased to welcome some of the world's top baseball players to our region for the 2021 U-18 Baseball World Cup," said Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley. "We look forward to working with USA Baseball and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to produce a memorable, world-class experience for all participants."

"We are thrilled to have been awarded the bid to host the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup in September 2021-one of the top youth championships in all of sports," said Sean Walter, Director of Sports at the Bradenton Area Sports Commission. "Both the Bradenton Area and the Pittsburgh Pirates organization stand ready to provide the ideal setting for the world's best players, who will go on to become future leaders in the sports industry."

The successful staging of the 2017 U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada, helped the Thunder Bay International Airport break its all-time monthly passenger record for the month of August, while generating a CAD 6.3 million economic impact on the city, as well as multi- millions in brand exposure for sponsors and commercial partners.

The U-18 Baseball World Cups, along with its continental qualifiers, have consistently featured players who have gone on to become some of the biggest names in the sport, such as Japan's Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani; Korea's Shin-soo Choo; Cuba's Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman; and the United States' Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Buster Posey.

For more information on the 2021 U-18 Baseball World Cup, visit SarasotaBradenton2021.com, or follow @SARBRAD2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Ticket information will be available in early 2020.

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2019 MLB GRIT Invitational to be Played in Dallas and Arlington from March 7-10

MLB & USA Baseball to Host More Than 60 Teens from Around U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico for Event Played At Globe Life Park & Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy
February 28, 2019

MLB Grit, Which Is Being Held During Women's History Month, Will Feature Special Panels and Coaching from Former Major Leaguers and Members of the USAB Women's National Team

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball will host more than 60 young women (ages 18 and under) to participate in 'MLB Grit,' an inaugural high school invitational designed specifically for girls who play baseball. The inaugural event, which is scheduled during Women's History Month (March), will include a special opportunity for these young athletes to play a game in a Major League ballpark - Globe Life Park, the home of the Texas Rangers - as well as participate in a premier development experience. These games, as well as those played at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy, are scheduled from Friday, March 8th, which is International Women's Day, through Sunday, March 10th.

The roster of participants features girls from 21 states, Washington D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico, including players who competed with Team USA, Canada and Puerto Rico in the Women's Baseball World Cup in August 2018. Additional roster highlights include the following:

  • California features the most players (12), including three from San Francisco.
  • More than a dozen MLB Club markets are represented, including hometown Dallas.
  • There are eight players each from Canada and Puerto Rico.
  • There are five players who competed in the Women's Baseball Cup last summer:
    • Team Canada - Allison Schroeder and Liz Gilder
    • Team Puerto Rico - Eva Cristina Torres Vega
    • Team USA - Ashton Lansdell and Emily Tsujikawa

**The full roster of participants can be found here.**

Some of the nation's top female baseball figures, including players & coaches from the USA Baseball Women's National Team, and former Major League players will serve as team coaches. The players will be divided up into teams and play in a competitive tournament-style format that will begin at Globe Life Park on Friday, March 8th and finish with the final games at the Rangers MLB Youth Academy on Sunday, March 10th. In addition to the on-field action, participants will be treated to special panel presentations designed to prepare the young women for the collegiate recruiting process and offer information about alternative careers within baseball. 'MLB Grit' joins the 'Trailblazer Series' and the 'Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series' as MLB and USA Baseball-operated events designed to support and provide exposure for girls playing baseball.

WHO: MLB & USA Baseball Executives
Kim Ng - Senior Vice President, Baseball & Softball Development, MLB
Ashley Bratcher - Senior Director, Baseball Operations, USA Baseball

Special Speakers
Emily Jones McCoy - Texas Rangers Reporter, Fox Sports Network
Katie Pothier - Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Texas Rangers
Kim Eskew - Senior Software Developer, Texas Rangers

MLB Grit Invitational Coaches
Homer Bush - 1998 World Series Champion; Former MLB Infielder (7-year career)
Marvin Freeman - Former MLB Pitcher (10-year career)
Antonio Grissom - Head Coach, Morehouse College
Ila Borders - Former Northern League Pitcher; former USA Baseball Women's National Team Development Program Coach
Malaika Underwood - Eight-time Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team
Tamara Holmes - Member of the Colorado Silver Bullets women's professional baseball team; seven-time Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team
Donna Mills - Three-time Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team
Shelby Estocado - Two-time Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team
Meggie Meidlinger - Four-time Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team
Alex Oglesby - Former Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team
A.J. Hamilton - Two-time Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team
Robin Wallace - Associated Coordinator, Baseball Development, MLB; Former MLB Scout; Former Member of USA Baseball Women's National Team

WHERE:   Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy, 3500 Goldman St., Dallas, TX 75212
Globe Life Park, 1000 Ballpark Way, Arlington, TX 76011
Hilton Anatole, 2201 N. Stemmons FWY, Dallas, TX 75207

 

'MLB GRIT' SCHEDULE: GAMES & INSTRUCTION

Media is invited to cover general baseball workouts and games at both Globe Life Park and the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy. Below is the schedule:

Date Time Event Field
March 8 8:45-11:30 a.m. Positional Workouts RYA Field & Indoors
March 8 1:30-4:00 p.m. Team 3 vs. Team 4 Globe Life Park
March 8 5:00-7:30 p.m. Team 1 vs. Team 2 Globe Life Park
March 9 8:15-10:30 a.m. Team 2 vs. Team 3 RYA
March 9 10:45-1:00 p.m. Team 4 vs. Team 1 RYA
March 9 2:30-4:45 p.m. Team 2 vs. Team 4 RYA
March 9 4:45-7:00 p.m. Team 1 vs. Team 3 RYA
March 10 8:00-10:30 a.m. Third Place Game RYA
March 10 10:30-1:00 p.m. First Place Game RYA

*All times Central time*

 

'MLB GRIT' SCHEDULE: SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Participants will attend special presentations from figures connected to baseball that will provide various levels of advice and insight, including tips on the collegiate recruiting process and offer information about careers within baseball. Speakers are listed below:

Date Time Presentation Location
March 7 7:30-8:45 p.m. Welcome and Careers in Baseball Panel: Katie Pothier & Kim Eskew Hilton Anatole
March 9 1:10-2:00 p.m. Only One: Emily Jones McCoy & Ila Borders Hilton Anatole
March 9 8:00-9:00 p.m. College Recruiting Roundtables with MLB Grit Coaches Hilton Anatole

*All times Central time*

 

CONTACT:

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