DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the recipients of its annual organizational awards on Friday, recognizing the top athletes, coaches and performances from the 2018 USA Baseball national teams. Collegiate National Team member Adley Rutschman (Sherwood, Ore.) was named the Richard W. "Dick" Case Award winner, becoming the 12th Collegiate National Team member to earn athlete of the year honors. The award is given annually to USA Baseball's top player in honor of the organization's founding Executive Director and CEO.
Collegiate National Team manager Paul Mainieri earned the program's second award of the year when he was named the Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year. USA Baseball also recognized the 15U National Team with two awards in 2018, including Team of the Year and naming Manager Jason Maxwell the Developmental Coach of the Year after the team won its first-ever world championship at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-15 Baseball World Cup.
18U National Team member Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville, Texas) was honored with the International Performance of the Year Award for his strong showing in the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships gold medal game, while Women's National Team member Megan Baltzell (Stafford, Va.) took home the Sportswoman of the Year Award following an exceptional performance in the 2018 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Baseball World Cup.
Lastly, Karsten Whitson was named the Volunteer Coach of the Year after serving as a pitching coach at the 2018 14U National Team Development Program.
"We are excited to celebrate the people and performances that made 2018 another outstanding year for USA Baseball," USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler said. "It is an honor to be represented by coaches, athletes and staff that are such exceptional global ambassadors for our country and the game of baseball on the international stage. We are extremely proud to recognize their 2018 accomplishments with these awards."
USA Baseball continued its incredible success against international competition in 2018, finishing the year with gold medals at the COPABE U-12 Pan-American Championships, WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup and the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships. After winning the WBSC U-15 World Cup, Team USA is now the defending world champions for all three youth age levels. The Collegiate National Team also built on its 2017 success when it once again won all three of its international friendship series against Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba in 2018
Rutschman was awarded the Richard W. "Dick" Case Award following a strong summer showing for the Collegiate National Team. He joined Team USA after winning the 2018 NCAA College World Series with Oregon State and was immediately a leader both on and off the field. He paced the team in batting average (.355), slugging percentage (.516) and on-base percentage (.432), and also finished the summer leading the squad in doubles with five in nine games.
In addition, Rutschman personified the off-field qualities that the Richard W. "Dick" Case Award honors. The catcher was the quintessential teammate and an undisputed leader in the clubhouse while also exemplifying sportsmanship and love of the game throughout the summer.
Mainieri was named the Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year after leading the Collegiate National Team to series wins over Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba for the second year in a row. Under his guidance, Team USA started its summer undefeated against international competition with a five-game sweep of Chinese Taipei and finished with a 11-3 record. The series win against Cuba marked its fourth in a row in the annual series and was just the second time in Collegiate National Team history that Team USA has claimed a series win on Cuban soil.
USA Baseball's Team of the Year award was given to the 15U National Team after it won its first-ever world championship with a 7-1 gold medal-game victory over Panama at the 2018 WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup. The team finished the tournament with an 8-1 record, a .323 batting average, 69 RBI, 17 doubles, five triples and three home runs while outscoring opponents 88-13 en route to the gold medal. In addition, the pitching staff tallied a collective team ERA of 1.24 over 58.0 innings and four players were named to the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup All-World Team. Maxwell's tutelage, leadership and guidance of the squad as this year's manager led to him being named the 2018 Developmental Coach of the Year.
"Jason Maxwell has been an asset to USA Baseball for many years and he brought an impressive amount of leadership and expertise to the 2018 15U National Team," Seiler said. "His ability to develop and guide these young players to new heights was evident and the team's journey to the program's first world championship was impressive to watch. We couldn't be happier to honor him and this year's team with these awards."
Witt Jr. earned the 2018 International Performance of the Year Award after hitting for a natural cycle in the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships gold medal game. The Colleyville, Texas, native hit a single in the second, an RBI-double in the third, a lead-off triple in the fourth and completed the cycle with a two-run home run in the fifth to lead the red, white and blue's offense in the 17-2 defeat of Panama. Following the game, Witt Jr. was named the tournament MVP and also picked up the best slugger and highest batting average awards after hitting .576 with three doubles, three triples, three home runs and 18 RBI in nine games.
Two-time Women's National Team alum Baltzell was named Sportswoman of the Year after hitting a team-high .500 in the 2018 WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup and leading the tournament in home runs with two. The lefty now owns the WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup home run record after hitting one in the 2016 World Cup and two in 2018. In addition to being named to the All-World Team following the event's conclusion, Baltzell also won two individual awards for her stellar 2018 performance, taking home the hardware for most home runs (2) and most RBI (10).
Lastly, Karsten Whitson, who won a gold medal as a player on the 2009 18U National Team, was named the 2018 Volunteer Coach of the Year after serving as a pitching coach for the 14U National Team Development Program's Stars team. The pitching staff thrived under Whitson, combining for 16 strikeouts in the three-game series. Six of those pitchers were invited to the 15U National Team Trials and one - Karson Bowen - was named to the 2018 15U National Team.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) annually honors one Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year based on nominations from its National Governing Bodies, as well as Developmental and Volunteer Coach of the Year awards. USA Baseball's award winners serve as the organization's nominees in their respective categories with the USOC.