USA BASEBALL NEWS

NHSI

2017 National High School Invitational Day 4

April 1, 2017

CARY, N.C.-- Senior shortstop Tristan Hanoian remembers the last time he was at the National High School Invitational with Orange (Calif.) Lutheran-they aren't great memories.

Lutheran won only once in the 2014 edition of the NHSI when Hanoian was a freshman. A few weeks prior to the 2017 tournament, the Texas Christian commit wasn't happy with how his team was playing, citing selfish at-bats as the main factor.

Now, sitting at the podium, celebrating a 3-2 win over Dana Hills (Dana Point, Calif.) in the championship game, Hanoian can look forward to replacing those memories.

"This week we really took team at-bats and we played probably the best baseball we've payed in a long time," Hanoian said. ". . . This has probably been the best team I've ever played for, too."

Orange Lutheran was the last team standing in a 16-team field after an exceptionally strong defensive showing Saturday, backing up senior starter Nicholas Janowicz (who threw two no-hit, shutout innings) and senior Zach Busalacchi, who tossed the remaining five innings and also drew a pair of crucial walks.

"What a game," Lutheran coach Eric Borba said. "It was wild. Ups and downs . . . every way you'd want a championship game to be. We didn't pitch as well as we could, but we found ways to get out of innings. We played great defense and we got the big sacrifice fly there at the end."

That sacrifice fly was a perfect example of the team-oriented approach that Hanoian was looking to see out of his teammates. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Brenden Avventino, Borba called on Jasiah Dixon, a sophomore Southern California commit.

"Coach told me to go swing a bat, and I was pretty excited," Dixon said.

Perhaps too excited at first. Dixon chased a ball low in the dirt, and found himself backed into a 1-2 count. The next pitch he saw was up. So he took it.

"And then it came, the moment," Dixon said. "I was just telling myself I've got to mentally prepare for a team at-bat right now. And once I saw that fastball up, I knew I had to go get it and put it in the outfield. Score that run."

Junior catcher Caleb Ricketts tagged from third and score the winning run.

Huntington Beach 4, Canterbury School 3
Huntington Beach (Calif.) didn't do exactly what it wanted this week in the National High School Invitational, but ended on a high note Saturday with a 4-3 win over Canterbury (Fort Myers, Fla.) High, improving to 9-3 overall during the last three years in the tournament.

"Nine and three in the national tournament over three years-nothing to be ashamed of at all," coach Benji Medure said. "This tournament really put us on the map as a program and we really feel privileged to be here. And hopefully in years to come we can get back here and try to win it again."

The Oilers topped West Chaminade, 7-2, in the 2016 NHSI championship game, but had to settle for a consolation victory behind a strong pitching performance Saturday by Hagen Danner.

Danner hit a pair of batters in his first inning before finding the feel for his curveball in the second inning. He went on to throw five innings, striking out six batters and walking one while getting regular swings and misses on his 11-5, 76-77 mph curve.

American Heritage 6, Hamilton 5
American Heritage outlasted Hamilton High in a marathon game to close out the National High School Invitational, defeating the Huskies 6-5 in 11 innings.

Hamilton led took a 3-0 lead behind five scoreless innings by Dustin Bermudez and rallied from a 4-2 deficit. Cory Acton drove home two with a double and later two on an infield chopper with the bases loaded to tie the game for American Heritage.

Little-used reliever Anthony Boix tossed four innings, giving up one in the 11th as Hamilton took a 5-4 lead, before the Patriots rallied to win won an RBI double by Alfonso Guillen to tie and an RBI single by Santiago Garavito.

Winder-Barrow 6, Rocky Mountain 5
Winder-Barrow finished the NHSI 3-1, denying a game Rocky Mountain team a victory in its final game with a 6-5 walk-off victory.

Rocky Mountain, trailing 4-3 entering the sixth, scored a pair of runs on John Sorensen's single to take the lead. However, Winder-Barrow answered with a sacrifice fly to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. The Bulldoggs won it in extra innings on a walk-off wild pitch.

"I loved it," Bulldoggs coach Brian Smith said of the NHSI. "Everything was first class, and what we have in the state of Georgia this year is a neutral-site state championship, so it will be a setting just like this. We go in and a little bit of tournament-type atmosphere to win the state, so it's great practice for that."

Merritt Island 7. Brother Rice 2
In each team's final game of the National High School Invitational, Merritt Island was able to get the win over Brother Rice, 7-2.

The Mustangs got three runs on the board in the first inning. This rally was nearly broken on a squeeze attempt, but third basemen Joe Johnson was able to get the barrel to a pitch way over his head. Two batters later, Ricardo Diaz was able to open up the inning with a two-run single.

Junior Collin Taulbee showcased a fastball that topped out at 84 mph and settled in at 80-82. He complemented this with three off-speed pitches. A sweeping curve at 68-70 that he used to break into the front door to righties, A 12-6 curve at 72-74 that had tight spin at times, and a changeup at 72-73 that showed sinking action.

Arlington 2, Hough 1
A pitcher's duel broke out on Field 3 of the National Training Complex, a game that was an afterthought in the NHSI standings and anything but that to Arlington (Tenn.) and Hough High of Charlotte, N.C.

Arlington got three of its five hits when it counted, rallying for its first NHSI victory on Noah Miller's walk-off single for a 2-1 victory. Righthander Ryan Taylor tossed a complete game for the win.

"I told the guys the other day, you learn a lot through failure, and you don't always learn from victory," Arlington coach Chris Ring said. "I told the guys, I think we've learned a lot, because we're 0-3; it was time for a win."

Trinity Christian 2, South Hills 1
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) sophomore righthander Austin Thomas is jokingly called "Big Bird" by his teammates.

And in Saturday's National High School Invitational consolation matchup against South Hills (West Covina, Calif.), Thomas certainly came up big.

The lanky long-haired righthander cruised threw a seven-inning complete game, shutting down the powerful Huskies in a 2-1 Conquerers win. Thomas struck out six and allowed three hits, walking none. He touched 88 mph while mixing in a changeup and a slow curveball.



Since 1981m, Baseball America has covered baseball at all levels from a scouting and player-development point of view. Based in Durham, N.C., Baseball America covers the majors, minors, international, colleges, high schools and the draft like no one else. BA's brand of baseball coverage is available in the print magazine, at baseballamerica.com, in our podcasts and on social media at Facebook.com/BaseballAmericaMag and @BaseballAmerica on Twitter.

View More

USA Baseball Announces 2018 Golden Spikes Award Semifinalists

May 21, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the 25 semifinalists for its Golden Spikes Award on Monday. Presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the 41st Golden Spikes Award will be presented on June 28 in Los Angeles.

The list of semifinalists spans 23 different colleges and universities, 13 conferences and two divisions of the NCAA, and features one athlete who was also a semifinalist in 2017 with Nick Madrigal (IF; Oregon State). Since 2007, 26 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) and Brendan McKay (2017).

"It is a tremendous honor to recognize the semifinalists for this year's Golden Spikes Award," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director and CEO. "This award is given to an amateur baseball player who exemplifies outstanding athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and overall contribution to the sport, and these twenty-five young athletes are incredibly deserving of this recognition.

"Year-in and year-out the talent level in the amateur landscape continues to grow and 2018 is no different. It is exciting to see Golden Spikes Award semifinalists represented from so many different conferences and, for the first time ever, an NCAA Division II institution."

Since USA Baseball introduced semifinalists to the voting process in 2007, Zack Shannon (IF; Delta State) is the first NCAA Division II student athlete to earn this recognition. Shannon has been named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week five times this season and was honored for the second straight year as the NCBWA South Region Player of the Year, First-Team All-Gulf South Conference and Gulf South Conference Player of the Year. Alex Fernandez (1990) and Bryce Harper (2010) are the only non-NCAA Division I athletes to win the Golden Spikes Award in its 40-year history.

Madrigal is a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist for the second straight year and is joined by his Oregon State University teammate Trevor Larnach (OF; Oregon State). The defending College World Series champion, University of Florida, is the only other school in the country with two semifinalists in 2018, with the selection of Jonathan India (IF; Florida) and Brady Singer (RHP; Florida).

The Pac-12 and SEC lead all conferences with four semifinalists apiece, while the Big 12 boasts three semifinalists in 2018. The ACC, Atlantic Sun, Big Ten and the Colonial Athletic conferences each have two athletes on the list.

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 Monday, May 21 through Sunday, June 3, the voting body will select three semifinalists from the ballot to be named as Golden Spikes Award finalists 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, June 6. Beginning that same day through Friday, June 22, the voting body and fans will be able to cast their final vote for the Golden Spikes Award winner.

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

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

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

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

Name, Class, Position, School, Conference
Joey Bart; Jr.; C; Georgia Tech; ACC
Alec Bohm; Jr.; IF; Wichita State; American Athletic
Kyle Brnovich; So.; RHP; Elon; Colonial Athletic
Brian Brown; Sr.; LHP; NC State; ACC
Kody Clemens; Jr.; IF; Texas; Big 12
Frank German; Jr.; RHP; North Florida; Atlantic Sun
Logan Gilbert; Jr.; RHP; Stetson; Atlantic Sun
Devlin Granberg; Sr.; IF/OF; Dallas Baptist; Missouri Valley
Luke Heyer; Sr.; IF/OF; Kentucky; SEC
Jonathan India; Jr.; IF; Florida; SEC
Josh Jung; So.; IF/RHP; Texas Tech; Big 12
Trevor Larnach; Jr.; OF; Oregon State; Pac-12
Nick Madrigal; Jr.; IF; Oregon State; Pac-12
Casey Mize; Jr.; RHP; Auburn; SEC
Joey Murray; Jr.; RHP; Kent State; Mid-American
John Rooney; Jr.; LHP; Hofstra; Colonial Athletic
Nick Sandlin; Jr.; RHP; Southern Miss; Conference USA
Zack Shannon; Sr.; RHP/IF; Delta State; Gulf South
Scott Schreiber; Sr.; OF; Nebraska; Big Ten
Brady Singer; Jr.; RHP; Florida; SEC
Bren Spillane; Jr.; IF/OF; Illinois; Big Ten
Kevin Strohschein; Jr.; OF; Tennessee Tech; Ohio Valley
Spencer Torkelson; Fr.; IF; Arizona State; Pac-12
Andrew Vaughn; So.; IF; California; Pac-12
Steele Walker; Jr.; OF; Oklahoma; Big 12

View More

MLB and USA Baseball Announce Hit and Run Baseball

May 21, 2018

MLB and USA Baseball Announce "Hit and Run Baseball," Designed to Encourage Youth & Amateur Participation in Modified Forms of the Game

DURHAM, N.C. - Major League Baseball and USA Baseball today announced "Hit and Run Baseball," a program supporting modified forms of the game that allow players to develop their skills in a more interactive format while also promoting player health and safety.

The program will serve youth leagues, tournament providers and amateur coaches with recommended game formats that can be easily applied at all levels of youth & amateur baseball. Additionally, operators can create their own modified rules to best suit their individual league, tournament or team needs. More information on Hit and Run Baseball is available for coaches, players and administrators at HitandRunBaseball.com.

Hit and Run Baseball is designed to encourage youth organizations to utilize alternative formats for gameplay, particularly during practices, scrimmages, and tournament play. The program provides customizable templates and recommended formats that can be applied to various age groups and stages of player development.

The basic tenets of Hit and Run Baseball encourage the following:

  • Quicker pace-of-play with more game action by reducing the number of pitches per at-bat, increasing the frequency of balls-in-play, and giving teams bonuses for hitting certain pace-of-play goals;
  • More engagement with youth players by introducing more diverse game situations, giving players the opportunity to play different defensive positions and providing more opportunities to participate defensively;
  • Improved player health and safety by limiting player pitch counts, particularly among the youngest age groups; and
  • More teaching opportunities for coaches to provide immediate feedback to players.

 

Pilots of the Hit and Run Baseball program have shown that games are played in a shorter timeframe with more plate appearances and more balls in play, while at the same time requiring pitchers to throw fewer pitches. Hit and Run Baseball applications during tournament play are particularly helpful in managing pitch counts and ensuring there is enough time to play all brackets of a tournament.

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.: "Hit and Run Baseball was created as a teaching tool designed to remind baseball participants that playing our game does not require a one-size-fits-all approach. There are many different ways to structure practice, games and tournaments so that players get the most out of their experiences, particularly through crisp pace of play while also limiting pitch count burdens on pitchers. We have assembled an advisory board, some of whom represent the highest levels of our sport, who will ensure that Hit and Run Baseball remains effective and focused on the overall development and enjoyment of young participants of our game."

"The importance of fun and actionable forms of game modification was identified early on in our strategic plan for growing our sport," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "By creating this platform, we aim to make baseball available to a wider audience of participants by normalizing alternative methods of gameplay and further energizing the experience within the game. We're grateful for the continued support of our member organizations and other amateur partners who are championing initiatives like Hit and Run, as we collectively serve the millions of families engaged in our great sport."

The following youth & amateur organizations actively support Hit and Run Baseball and the general movement to encourage alternative formats of the game: American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), American Legion, Babe Ruth League, Dixie Youth, Dixie Boys & Majors, Little League International, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF), Ripken Baseball, USA Baseball, NCTB, PONY Baseball and Softball, and Perfect Game.

Future adjustments and strategy for the program will be guided by a committee consisting of leadership from throughout the professional and amateur levels of the sport, including the following:

  • Cal Ripken, Jr. - Baseball Hall of Famer; MLB Special Advisor; Vice Chair of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation
  • Michael Cuddyer - Special Assistant, Baseball Operations, Minnesota twins; USA Baseball Sport Development Contributor; Two-time MLB All-Star; Member of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame;
  • Steve Keener - President & CEO of Little League International Elliot Hopkins - Director of Sports, Sanctioning, and Students Services of the National Federation of State High Schools Association
  • Paul Mainieri - Head Coach, Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers
  • John Vodenlich - Head Coach, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks
  • Josh Bloom, MD, MPH, CAQSM - Medical Director, Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic & Head Medical Team Physician, Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) and USA Baseball
  • Kyle Stark - Vice President, Assistant General Manager, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Shaun Larkin - Coordinator of Skill Development, Los Angeles Dodgers Organization; former Minor League Manager & Coach; former Collegiate and High School Coach
  • Sean Campbell - Senior Director of Sport Development, USA Baseball
  • David James - Vice President, Baseball & Softball Development, Major League Baseball; Head of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI)
View More

Andre Pallante Selected to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team

May 19, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. --- Andre Pallante has been selected to the 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and will join the squad this summer in three international friendship series across the U.S.

The sophomore is ascended in 2018 to the ace of the UC Irvine staff while becoming one of the best pitchers in the Big West Conference and making marks among the nation's best.

After leading the club in 2017 with six wins, he's built upon that with an 8-1 mark as the Friday starter tying himself for the conference lead, and has been backed by conference bests in ERA at 1.32 and strikeouts with 103.

His 1.32 ERA currently ranks seventh in the nation, and he is on pace to set an Anteater single-season record. In his 13 starts this season, he's registered a quality start in 12 of them while holding opponents' batting average under .200 for most of the year.

He recently earned his 150th career strikeout, and hit 100 strikeouts for the season in his last start, just the 14th occurrence in program history. He has put up 10 strikeouts in a game three times already this season including a career high 12 punchouts against Gonzaga where he allowed one hit over 12 innings in a shutout.

Pallante marks the second straight Anteater to join the squad following in the footsteps of Keston Hiura last summer where he hit .289 with three home runs including the game-winner to clinch team USA's first series win against the Cuban National Team in Cuba.

The 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team
The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2018, beginning with the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series that will be held in North Carolina from June 28 - July 2. The U.S. will then compete in the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9 in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series in Cuba from July 13-18. Seven Collegiate National Team games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube. For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

View More

GSA Spotlight: Nick Sandlin

May 17, 2018

"Hey, what have you heard about Nick Sandlin?"

Out of the all the questions I've been asked by scouts throughout the 2018 campaign, this simple question might just lead the way. Before this season, the Southern Miss junior righthander was one of the nation's premier relievers. He tallied identical 2.38 earned-run averages over the last two seasons, and he struck out 80 batters in just 56.2 innings last season.

He was already a prospect, but he was also 5-foot-11, 170 pounds. Not exactly a physical specimen that scouts dream about.

But this season has been different. Sandlin is no longer just a reliever who comes in and slams the door on teams from a funky slot and angle, and with velocity. He's now a starting pitcher. Scratch that, he's now one of the nation's premier starting pitchers, and there's a strong case he's second nationally behind only Auburn righthander Casey Mize, who's likely to be the top overall pick in the MLB draft. That's good company to be in … especially when you're 5-foot-11, 170.

"I don't want to say he'd put up the exact same numbers in a league like the SEC, but I'd bet he'd be pretty close," a National League crosschecker said. "The first time I saw him, I remember walking up to the bullpen and noticing how small he was. He's really small. But then, you go out there and watch him pitch, and you look up in the seventh inning, and the line score is filled with zeroes.

"I think he's a tough kid and he's a grinder," the scout continued. "I think he's really confident and he's a big-time strike-thrower. He doesn't seem to back down from anyone, and he's really tough and throws his stuff all over the zone. It's an extremely uncomfortable at bat for any hitter."

Those uncomfortable at bats are something that USM pitching coach Christian Ostrander got to experience the last two seasons during his time at Louisiana Tech. He remembers Sandlin well, especially after the hard-nosed righthander tossed 4.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen in a USM sweep over the Bulldogs last season.

So, when he took the USM pitching coach job after Mike Federico went to Louisiana-Monroe, he was curious to see what Sandlin was all about - this time, as his coach.

"Being at Tech the last two years, I gotta feel for him from another spectrum - as a closer. I had an opinion of the guy, and I knew that he he wasn't scared of competition, and that he loved attacking hitters," Ostrander said. "I got here over the summer and we built a relationship rather quickly. He's a very mild-mannered dude and he simply does not get sped up at all.

"He's extremely confident in his ability to go out there and pitch well," he continued. "On top of that, he's a very smart young man. He knows what he needs to do to be successful. He knows when to put juice on the ball, and he has tremendous feel and maturity."

Ostrander watched his veteran pitcher put up good numbers in the fall. Then, he watched him chop up hitters throughout the first part of spring workouts. At that point, the Golden Eagles planned to use Sandlin as a reliever, and potentially a guy who could go three or four innings out of the pen on a given night.

The more Ostrander watched Sandlin pitch, the more he thought the righty was destined to be in the weekend rotation.

So, Ostrander approached USM head coach Scott Berry about the possibility. He wanted Sandlin to move to the weekend rotation. A bold move, of course. While Sandlin had experience dominating hitters out of the bullpen, the move to the rotation isn't always easy. And once a pitcher fails at it, it's often tough to regain confidence after moving back to the bullpen.

But the Golden Eagles decided to roll the dice. They had that much confidence in Sandlin.

"You know, you always have that concern that when you make the big step to move someone to the rotation, that it sometimes doesn't work," Ostrander said. "But we built up his pitch counts leading up to the season and felt pretty good about it.

"I just thought we needed a stabilizer on Friday nights, and Nick is obviously that. There were a lot of things involved in moving him to the rotation," he continued. "We had talked to Nick about it in the fall, but he was a good sport - he was never abrasive about having a need to start. I just thought he was more than someone who could throw 75 pitches on a weekend. I thought he could go much deeper than that." Sandlin's first test of the season was a big one, a date with Mississippi State at home. You know, the same MSU that eliminated the Golden Eagles on their home field last June.

He was marvelous. The righthander struck out nine, didn't walk anyone and allowed just four hits in seven shutout innings.

That was the beginning to what has been an incredible junior season. Sandlin gained a plethora of confidence from that start against the Bulldogs, and was terrific the first couple months of the season. The righty missed a couple of starts in the middle of the season because of arm soreness, but was more dominant than ever in his return starts against Old Dominion and UAB.

In addition to throwing complete game shutouts against both teams, he allowed nine hits, struck out 19 and walked just four batters.

"What he's done this year, sitting close to 80 innings, it's been phenomenal," Ostrander said. "To have the stuff he has - real stuff, it's special. His stuff is always moving somewhere, and to be able to command the zone given that tells you a whole lot. He's not invincible, but it's been fun to watch. It's a lot of fun as a pitching coach to call a pitch and see how he executes it. Typically, he does a tremendous job because he has outstanding feel."

Sandlin, who could go as high as the third or fourth round in the draft, has tallied incredible numbers this season. He has an unblemished 7-0 record with a 1.15 ERA in 78.1 innings, along with 114 strikeouts and just 14 walks. Teams also are hitting Sandlin at a .148 clip.

"There aren't a ton of sidearmers in the big leagues with his stuff," the crosschecker said. "And he consistently does what he does for nine innings. It's impressive. I'm not sure he can start in the big leagues, but I do think a team will put him in the bullpen right away, and I also think he'll move relatively fast through the system."

The stuff has been firmer this spring. For instance, Sandlin sits anywhere from 89-93 and up to 94 and even 95 at times with his fastball. He darts the fastball low and around the zone, not giving hitters a clue where it might be going next. He also shows excellent feel for a slider that ranges 79-86 on the radar gun, while his changeup, sitting at 81-85 mph, has made serious strides.

"The changeup has really evolved for him. It's a real weapon to lefthanded hitters. You see all that stuff, and then you see a guy who's pitching with good control," Ostrander said. "He's proven he can maintain his velocity with the fastball. I mean, he's still up to 92 and such in the ninth inning. He has strength and stamina, and he's maintaining his stuff.

"He has really good depth on his changeup, and it sometimes comes across as a slider, but it's not a slider. It's really been a plus pitch," he said. "He's just found a great routine and he has great feel for things. I think what he's done this season is really going to help his future. He knows what he's capable of doing, and he's going to take that with him the rest of the way."

With the way his season has gone, it's hard to imagine that Sandlin once was somewhat of an unknown to some in the industry.

But now, he's excelling as a starter, and everyone is taking notice.

No more questions need to be asked.

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

Brnovich Named to 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team

May 17, 2018

ELON, N.C. - Elon University sophomore right-handed pitcher Kyle Brnovich has accepted an invitation to join the 24-man USA Baseball Collegiate National Team roster this summer.

"This is a huge honor and I'm very excited to represent the United States this summer," said Brnovich. "I'm very thankful for the opportunity and I am looking forward to playing the game I love for my country."

The 2017 Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, Brnovich ranks second nationally with 132 strikeouts this season. That number is an Elon single-season record and ranks 10th on the CAA's single-season chart. The resident of Milton, Ga., also ranks among the national leaders with a 1.83 ERA (26th), 4.79 hits allowed per nine innings (fourth), 13.45 strikeouts per nine innings (sixth) and a 0.91 WHIP (20th). Brnovich is 7-2 on the year and has held opponents to a .156 batting average over 88.1 innings of work.

Brnovich has made 13 starts this season and has struck out 10 or more eight times. He has twice fanned a season-best 14 hitters and has thrown one complete game. He is on the watch list for both the Golden Spikes Award and the College Baseball Foundation's Pitcher of the Year Award.

Over his two seasons at Elon, Brnovich has gone 13-7 with a 2.47 ERA. His 235 career strikeouts rank fifth in program history.

"I am so excited and thrilled for Kyle," said Elon head coach Mike Kennedy who served as the pitching coach for the Collegiate National Team in 2009. "Very few get the chance to represent their country. To be a part of USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I know he will take full advantage of. Kyle has had an awesome spring and I know he will work very hard to duplicate that with Team USA. USA Baseball is getting a great one!"

Brnovich will be the first Elon baseball player to don the Stars and Stripes.

Brnovich will have the opportunity to play alongside some of the top collegiate players in the country and for a top-notch coaching staff. The head coach of the 2018 team is LSU's Paul Mainieri. East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin will serve as an assistant, while Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor will be the team's pitching coach. Serving as the team's bench coach will be Jim Hendry of the New York Yankees. Jorge Perez of St. Thomas will also serve as an assistant coach.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2018, beginning with the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series that will be held in North Carolina from June 28-July 2. The U.S. will then compete in the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9 with games being held in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. Finally, the team will participate in the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series in Cuba from July 13-18. Seven Collegiate National Team games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube.

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

View More

Jung Invited To USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Camp

May 15, 2018

LUBBOCK, Texas - Texas Tech baseball's Josh Jung has been invited to play for USA Baseball's 2018 Collegiate National Team this summer, it was announced today.

The sophomore infielder is the ninth Red Raider to earn an invitation from USA Baseball and marks back-to-back years the Red Raiders have had a student-athlete play for the squad. Last summer, left-handed pitcher Steven Gingery pitched for the collegiate national team.

In 1997, catcher Josh Bard and RHP Monty Ward played for the team, while Larry Hays served as assistant coach. The next year, Bard joined RHP Shane Weight on the squad, as outfielder Miles Durham was also selected for the team. Outfielder Roger Kieschnick was named to the summer squad in 2006 & 2007, while RHP Chad Bettis pitched for the stars & stripes in 2009.

Jung has started all 50 games this season for the Red Raiders at third base and leads the team in several offensive categories. He paces the squad in hits (80), RBI (69) and runs (57), while putting together a team-leading 27 multi-hit & 20 multi-RBI performances at the plate in 2018.

He also leads the Big 12 in batting average, hits, RBI, runs, total bases and on-base percentage heading into the final weekend of the regular season, helping Tech lead the conference in average. Jung has been named Big 12 Player of the Week twice and earned NCBWA Co-Hitter of the Week honors after hitting for the cycle on April 17 at New Mexico.

The 2018 Collegiate National Team will train at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, and compete against teams in the Coastal Plain League from June 26-27, before hosting the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series from June 28-July 2. All seven of these games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com and Facebook Live. The team will then host the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9.

Jung and the Red Raiders return to action for their final series of the regular season on May 17-19, traveling to Stillwater to take on No. 14 Oklahoma State at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.

View More

GSA Spotlight: Joey Murray

May 10, 2018

Kent State has been the most consistent program in the North since the 1980s. The Golden Flashes recently reached the 30-win plateau for the 30th consecutive season - a streak that includes eight 40-plus win seasons, 12 trips to regionals and a run to the 2012 College World Series. The program has kept winning through coaching changes, from Bob Todd to Danny Hall to Rick Rembielak to Scott Stricklin to Jeff Duncan - there hasn't been a dip.

There are some common threads running through all those years of success. For one thing, Kent State always seems to have a big-time ace atop the rotation, especially in the last 22 years under pitching coach Mike Birkbeck. KSU has produced a couple of first-round picks this decade (Andrew Chafin and Eric Lauer, whose 0.69 ERA in 2016 was college baseball's lowest in 30-plus years). The Flashes have produced six big league pitchers, from Matt Guerrer to John Van Benschoten, Dirk Hayhurst to Andy Sonnanstine to Chris Carpenter and Chafin.

So it means something to be the Friday night ace at Kent State. And Joey Murray is a worthy bearer of the flame for the Flashes.

Murray, a junior righthander, is well on his way to becoming Kent State's latest All-American. Through 12 starts, he's 8-1, 1.02 with 117 strikeouts and a .146 opponents' batting average in 79.1 innings. His name is all over the national leaderboards - he ranks first in fewest hits allowed per nine innings, fourth in ERA and strikeouts, 10th in WHIP.

"Obviously when you're rolling out a Friday guy like Joey Murray, it's kind of like rolling Lauer out two years ago," said Duncan, Kent State's fifth-year head coach. "At times it seems unhittable."

Not bad for a guy who flew under the radar during his high school days in Dublin, Ohio.

"He was the last recruit we got in that class," Duncan said. "We got him at an unsigned senior showcase at the beginning of the fall of his senior year. Birky and I were sitting behind home plate and saw him strike out 16 of 18 hitters. And that's exactly what he's doing now, basically. Probably at that point in time, the velo was 84-86, but he's a big kid, he's strong, he's got a big lower half. The arm really works, it really works, and I don't know how he slipped through the cracks, we were lucky."

Duncan and Birkbeck saw the feel for pitching and the ability to miss bats at a young age, and they envisioned that Murray would add velocity as he matured. Now he's a 6-foot-2, 185-pound workhorse who pitches in the 88-91 mph range and bumps 92.

Last week against Bowling Green, Murray found another gear from the third inning on, which is pretty typical for him, according to Duncan. He pitched at 90-92 from the third to the sixth, and that's when he really racked up many of his 14 strikeouts over seven shutout innings of work.

Murray has a quality four-pitch mix, and Duncan said all four pitches have gotten just a little bit better since last year, when he went 6-1, 1.80 with 110 strikeouts in 75 innings. He can use all four pitches to keep hitters off balance, but his fastball and downer curve are his out pitches, accounting for most of his punchouts.

"He's very deceptive, really good fastball command," Duncan said. "Now this guy, it's one of those things, every Friday night he starts, we've got 15 to 20 scouts coming in to watch him, and they're not saying he's lighting the gun up, but man, the swings and misses he gets, I think he's third in the country in Ks, he's averaged almost two strikeouts an inning since he's been here. It's been pretty phenomenal, his spin rate out of his hand is unbelievable. It's like his fastball rises, got a rising action to it, guys have a tough time getting on top, will either pop him up or swing right through it. Then he's got a really good breaking ball to go with it, changes eye level. He'll go fastball up in the zone then his breaking ball will start up in the zone, and it's really late 12-6 so it breaks down. He'll pitch in, he'll use all four points of the plate with his fastball. … He throws across his body a little bit, high three-quarters, and it comes out of his hand - it's one of those fastballs that look like it's 97."

Duncan said he expects Murray to be a high-rounds pick based on his arsenal, his command and his superb performance over multiple seasons. But he also stands out for his competitiveness - he sets the tone for Kent State every Friday night. Duncan describes his personality this way: "Give me the ball on Friday. And don't take me out. That's the best way to put it."

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

Matt Wallner Named to 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team

May 10, 2018

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss sophomore outfielder/pitcher Matt Wallner (Forest Lake, Minn.) has accepted an invitation to join the 24-man USA Baseball Collegiate National Team roster this summer.

"It is an absolute honor to represent my country and play alongside the best amateur players in the world," said Wallner. "None of this would be possible without the help of so many individuals including my parents, coaches and teammates along the way."

The reigning national Freshman of the Year by Baseball America, D1Baseball.com and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, earned a trip to the team's training camp last summer following his freshman campaign that saw him collect a .336 average with 19 home runs and 63 RBI. His homer total ranked No. 1 among freshman a year ago, while his RBI number ranked second.

The 2018 Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year holds a .355 batting average with 10 doubles, 11 home runs and 49 runs batted in to go along with a .609 slugging percentage and a .484 on-base percentage. He is one of three players to start in all 47 games for the program that has been ranked all season in the Top 25 and currently holds a 35-12 record. His average, home run and RBI totals each rank second on the club this season.

Of his 11 home runs, three have been grand slams of which he totaled those in a six-game period. In addition, he has made just one error in the outfield in 91 attempts. As a pitcher, Wallner is 1-0 with five saves over eight appearances with a 4.00 earned run average. He has fanned nine in nine innings of work.

Wallner is the second Southern Miss baseball player asked to play for his country as Tony Phillips played on the 1991 Collegiate National Team that participated in the Pan American Games in Cuba that summer.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2018, beginning with the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series that will be held in North Carolina from June 28 - July 2. The U.S. will then compete in the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9 in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series in Cuba from July 13-18. Seven Collegiate National Team games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube.

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

View More

USA Baseball Announces 2018 12U National Team Staff

May 8, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. -- USA Baseball announced the 2018 12U National Team staff on Tuesday, highlighted by the naming of four-time national team assistant coach Todd Fine as the manager. Fine was the pitching coach for the 2015 and 2017 12U National Teams that won a gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup.

Coming off winning its third consecutive WBSC world championship, the 2018 12U team will head to Aguascalientes, Mexico, looking for its first-ever gold medal at the COPABE Pan Am "A" Championships.

"Todd has been a mainstay within our 12U National Team program staffs for years and we are honored to have him take the reins of the team in 2018," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director at USA Baseball. "He has a plethora of coaching experience within multiple USA Baseball national team programs and we are confident in his ability to lead our 12U National Team in a positive and influential way."

Joining Fine on the 2018 12U team staff is pitching coach Jason Sekany and assistant coaches RJ Farrell and Marc Wiese.

Fine's résumé is laden with USA Baseball experience, highlighted by four stints as the pitching coach for the 12U National Team from 2014-2017. He has also coached at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars and the 18U National Team Trials. Fine is the founder and CEO of Top Tier Baseball based out of Chicago, Illinois, where under his guidance he has coached over 500 college baseball players, 63 Major League Baseball draft selections and eight MLB alums.

As the pitching coach for the 12U National Team from 2014-2017, the teams won two world championships and two silver medals. His pitching staffs have held a cumulative ERA of 3.21 and has an overall record of 30-5.

"I am extremely humbled and excited to be named manager of this team," said Fine. "Me and the rest of our staff are looking forward to putting together a team made up of athletes with both high level talent and character. Our sights are set on bringing home a Pan American Championships gold medal for the first time in 12U National Team history."

Sekany returns to the 12U National Team coaching staff in 2018 where he will serve as the team's pitching coach. He was an assistant coach for the inaugural 2013 and 2015 12U National Teams that won a gold medal at the IBAF U-12 Baseball World Cups and has served on the task force at the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS) and Tournament of Stars. A second-round selection by the Boston Red Sox in the 1996 MLB Amateur Draft, Sekany is the founder and lead pitching instructor at The Pitching Center in Pleasanton, California, and a varsity coach at Granada High School (Livermore, Calif.). In addition to his responsibilities at The Pitching Center and Granada High School, he is also the 15U, 16U and 17U NTIS regional director for Northern California.

Serving as an assistant coach for the 12U National Team coaching staff for the second consecutive year is RJ Farrell. Farrell is in his fifth year as the head coach at Rancho Cucamonga High School (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) where five of his players have gone on to play collegiate baseball. Prior to coaching at Rancho Cucamonga High School, he was an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Patten University (Oakland, Calif.) from 2006-2008. He has worked with USA Baseball at the 11U NTIS, 12U National Open and the USA Baseball Futures Invitational, and also served as a 12U National Team Trials coach in 2016.

Wiese is making his national team coaching debut in 2018 after serving on coaching staffs at the 2016 and 2017 12U National Team Trials, and the 2015 17U National Team Development Program. He is the current head coach at Puyallup High School (Puyallup, Wash.) and has led the Vikings to 11 straight South Puget Sound League titles and two state championships (2014, 2017). Wiese, who was drafted in the 1987 MLB First Year Player Draft by the New York Mets, also led Puyallup High School to the 2015 USA Baseball National High School Invitational, finishing with a 3-1 record and outscoring its opponents 20-6.

The coaching staff will be joined by Bill Krejci, who will travel as the 12U National Team's business manager. Krejci has been involved with USA Baseball for the last 23 years.

The 12U athlete identification process began with the 2017 11U NTIS and will continue with the 11U Futures Invitational at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, from June 21 - June 24; followed by the 12U National Open in Castaic, California from July 23 - 25.

The 2018 USA Baseball 12U National Team will hold its Trials from July 26-28 at VTV Baseball Complex immediately following the 12U National Open. The team will reconvene for training from August 19-22 before traveling to Aguascalientes, Mexico, for the 2018 COPABE Pan Am "A" Championships from August 25-September 2.

For more information on the 12U National Team, follow along on Twitter @USABaseball and @USABaseball12U.

View More

GSA Spotlight: Kody Clemens

May 2, 2018

The word choice was ironic.

Texas Longhorns second baseman Kody Clemens, youngest son of seven-time Cy Young winner "Rocket" Roger Clemens, was asked if he ever tried pitching.

As it turns out, Clemens pitched a bit as a closer at Houston's Memorial High, where he also competed as a shortstop, second baseman and center fielder.

"I didn't have the rocket arm," said Clemens, no pun intended. "I didn't have crazy velocity. I think I was at 88 (mph)."

But even without a rocket arm, Clemens has a boomerang bat, able to turn around pitches and send them back from whence they came like a torpedo.

Clemens, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior who bats left and throws right, is batting .333/.437/.644, ranking third in the Big 12 in OPS (1.081), tied for second in homers (13) and third in RBIs (50) and slugging.

Batting in the 3-hole, Clemens has led 24th-ranked Texas to a 30-17 record overall, 12-6 in the league.

"He was a quiet workhorse for us last year - didn't say much," Texas catcher Michael McCann said. "This year, he has the same work ethic, but he's more vocal.

"His personality and his leadership have taken over. He has the ability to communicate with a lot of different personality types. He takes the time to get to know everyone."

McCann said people gravitate toward Clemens.

"Eyes are drawn to him," McCann said. "He's one of the shining lights on the team. When he steps up in the box, everyone says, 'OK, what is he going to do now? How many runs is he going to drive in?'"

Best Of The Brothers?

Roger Clemens was on the mound when his Longhorns won the 1983 College World Series, and now - 35 years later - Kody is hoping to win his own ring.

Kody, one of four brothers, is also aiming to be the best athlete of the bunch.

Koby signed with Texas but never played for the Longhorns, signing a pro contract as an eighth-round pick. A corner infielder/catcher, he never made it to the majors and is now a coach in the Astros farm system.

Kory is "an amazing chef," according to Kody, and, for a while, owned a restaurant that had a great baseball name, "Catch 22."

Kacy, who turns 24 in July, is in Class A for the Blue Jays as a first baseman. He was their eighth-round pick last year after a solid Longhorns career.

David Pierce, who took over as Texas coach in June of 2016, was asked about Kody's pro potential.

"I know he will be drafted," Pierce said. "I would rather not comment on what range, but I'm 100 percent certain it will be in the top 10 rounds.

"I'm hoping pro organizations recognize that he's one of the top hitters in college baseball."

That Clemens enjoys that status is a testament to his resilient nature.

He had elbow surgery in August of 2016 after suffering a non-baseball injury. The issue stemmed from wrestling with one of his brothers, and the severity of the injury and how it happened threatened his career, especially since it occurred before he had played a game for Pierce.

Clemens said that just two minutes after the incident with Kory - who is a big man at 6-foot and 280 pounds - his elbow was throbbing.

The next day, it was worse - his elbow was swollen, and an MRI revealed that Tommy John surgery was necessary.

"It was a freak accident," said Clemens, whose father - ironically - never had elbow surgery despite pitching 24 years in the majors. "It was terrible that first month after surgery - I had to be so delicate with my elbow.

"But every week I was able to do a little bit more, and when I was finally able to swing a bat off a tee I had a huge smile on my face."

Comeback For Clemens

In his first season post-surgery, Clemens made 46 starts as Texas' DH and one at second base. He slashed .241/.356/.365 with five homers, six doubles and 23 RBIs.

Then he faced more adversity after he accepted an invitation to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League for the first time in his career. But since he was still two weeks away from being able to play second base, his Cape League coach released him.

Undeterred, Clemens joined his father in Boston and was able to take batting practice at Fenway Park. He then went home to Houston and worked on his speed and agility, and that has paid dividends this year.

"He committed himself to playing defense," Pierce said. "There's no doubt his best position is second base. He has the ability to play the left side - he has enough arm strength.

"But he has gotten better and better at second, figuring out the different angles to throw from and the timing and footwork."

Clemens, who has a 3.0 grade-point average and is majoring in Corporate Communications with a minor in Business, could be a coach one day or perhaps work in sports marketing.

But a major league career is his primary goal, and that powerful bat of his will be his calling card going forward.

"He's a great hitter for average, and his power is showing up because he's more confident now," Pierce said. "He has the ability to foul off borderline pitches and work for the next one … Great two-strike hitter, very disciplined and a good on-base guy."

Pierce said he wants Clemens to continue to focus on the middle of the field when he is hitting and then react to the pitch rather than going in thinking pull.

Clemens, meanwhile, seems eager to try pro ball after this June's draft, and he's been around the game his whole life, so he knows the routine.

"It's the scouts' job to understand where I will go," Clemens said. "Whatever team likes me the most will take me."

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