GSA Spotlight: George Kirby

May 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirby is awfully fun to watch, too. is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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Fun At Bat to be Implemented in Schools in Ibiuna, Brazil

Thousands of Brazilian children will have access to the Fun At Bat program, which currently reaches students in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico & London
February 20, 2020

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL -- Major League Baseball and USA Baseball today announced that "Fun At Bat" (, the introductory and character building bat-and-ball program designed for use in physical education (P.E.) classes, will now be available to more than 2,000 elementary school students in Ibiuna, Brazil. The free program, which is currently reaching nearly 3.5 million children in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Mexico and in London, will be administered in Brazil by Brazilian Baseball and Softball Confederation (CBBS) and Ibiuna City Hall, with support from both MLB and USA Baseball.

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, Spanish and Portuguese, also includes a literacy component focusing on character development and teaching traits such as leadership, teamwork and responsibility. Fun At Bat is part of the PLAY BALL initiative ( - 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 the initiative's launch in 2015, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has reported a 55% increase in casual baseball participation in the United States.

"The interest of baseball and softball within Brazil is a great growth opportunity for our sport," said Tony Reagins, Executive Vice President of Baseball & Softball Development, Major League Baseball. "With Fun At Bat delivered in an academic environment, the program gives kids a chance to be closely engaged with the game while also learning about developing positive leadership and teamwork characteristics. We appreciate the partnership we have with USA Baseball as we introduce kids in Brazil to the sport at its most basic levels, which we believe will be the beginning of a lifelong passion for baseball and softball."

"We are excited to expand the Fun At Bat program to the students and teachers in Brazil," said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. "The program continues to serve as a fun, safe environment for students to learn the sport in countries all across the globe and we look forward to continuing to work with Major League Baseball and the Brazilian Baseball & Softball Federation to bring the program to more schools throughout Brazil."

The expansion of Fun At Bat to Brazil is MLB's latest efforts to grow the game among young people throughout the world. Specifically in Brazil, in 2019 and 2020, MLB has held PLAY BALL events in multiple cities throughout the country, which is a continuation of youth-focused programs held throughout the years by MLB.

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2020 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List Announced

Golden Spikes Award will be presented on Thursday, June 11, in Omaha
February 13, 2020

DURHAM, N.C. -- USA Baseball announced its 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list on Thursday, beginning the process of identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2020 season. The 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be presented on June 11 in Omaha, Nebraska, for the second consecutive year.

The preseason watch list features 55 of the nation's top amateur players, from high school and college baseball. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will maintain a rolling list of players, allowing athletes to play themselves into consideration for the award throughout the season.

Headlining the 2020 watch list is two-time Golden Spikes Award semifinalist Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State). In 2019, Torkelson became one of 29 athletes since 2007 to be named a semifinalist more than once, including past Golden Spikes Award winners Strephen Strasburg (2009), Trevor Bauer (2011), Mike Zunino (2012), Kris Bryant (2013), Brendan McKay (2017) and Andrew Vaughn (2019).

Joining Torkelson are six additional 2019 Golden Spikes Award semifinalists, including Reid Detmers (Louisville), Nick Gonzalez (New Mexico State), Emerson Hancock (Georgia), Asa Lacy (Texas A&M) and Austin Martin (Vanderbilt). Additionally, Patrick Bailey (NC State), Tanner Burns (Auburn), Heston Kjerstad (Arkansas), Casey Martin (Arkansas), Max Meyer (Minnesota) and Torkelson have all been named to the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list for the second consecutive year in 2020.

"We are thrilled to kick off the 2020 amateur baseball season and the forty-third year of the Golden Spikes Award with the fifty-five-player preseason watch list," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. "This year's initial list features an incredible amount of talent and we cannot wait to follow each player's journey throughout what is sure to be a highly competitive and exciting season."

The 2020 Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list features five athletes that will look to become just the third player from a non-NCAA Division I school to win the award, following in the footsteps of Alex Fernandez (1990) and Bryce Harper (2010). Josh Elvir (Angelo State) and Luke Summers (Fontbonne) represent NCAA Divisions II and III, respectively, while Josh Sears (Freed-Hardeman) represents the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) on the preseason list.

Pete Crow-Armstrong (Harvard-Westlake High School) and Robert Hassell (Independence High School) are the only amateur high school baseball players recognized by the advisory board in 2020. Crow-Armstrong is the second Harvard-Westlake High School player to be named to the preseason watch list, following Jack Flaherty, who was named to the preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list as a high school athlete at Harvard-Westlake in 2014.

Eighteen different collegiate athletic conferences are represented on the 2020 preseason watch list with six of those conferences boasting multiple selections, including the American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conferences.

Arizona State and Vanderbilt lead the list of schools represented on the 2020 list with each school boasting three players, while Arkansas, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Tennessee, UCLA and Wake Forest are all represented by a pair of athletes.

Oregon State's Adley Rutschman took home the prestigious award last year, joining a group of recent winners that include Andrew Vaughn (2018), Brendan McKay (2017), Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008) and David Price (2007).

Fan nominations and voting will once again play a part in the Golden Spikes Award in 2020. Amateur baseball fans will be able to nominate their favorite players to be in consideration for the 2020 award starting February 14 until April 6 on, prior to the announcement of the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list. In addition, fans will once again be able to vote for their favorite players, starting on May 14 with the naming of the Golden Spikes Award semifinalists.

USA Baseball will announce the finalists for the award on May 28 and fan voting will open at concurrently, remaining open through June 7.

The Winner of the 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be named Thursday, June 11. To stay up-to-date on the 2020 Golden Spikes Award visit and follow @USAGoldenSpikes on Twitter and Instagram.

The 2020 Golden Spikes Award timeline:
February 14:
USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award fan nominations begin
April 6: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award fan nominations end
April 9: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list announced
May 14: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced, fan voting begins
May 24: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists fan voting ends
May 28: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists announced, fan voting begins
June 7: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists fan voting ends
June 11: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award trophy presentation

A complete list of the 55-player USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list is as follows:

Name; Class; Position; School
Logan Allen; Jr.; LHP; Florida International
Patrick Bailey; Jr.; C; NC State
Ian Bedell; Jr.; RHP; Missouri
Alex Binelas; So.; IF; Louisville
Tyler Brown; Jr.; RHP; Vanderbilt
Alec Burleson; Jr.; LHP/IF; East Carolina
Tanner Burns; Jr.; RHP; Auburn
Daniel Cabrera; Jr.; OF; LSU
Burl Carraway; Jr.; LHP; Dallas Baptist
Cade Cavalli; Jr.; RHP/IF; Oklahoma
Colton Cowser; So.; OF; Sam Houston State
Jeff Criswell; Jr.; RHP; Michigan
Garrett Crochet; Jr.; LHP; Tennessee
Pete Crow-Armstrong; Sr.; OF; Harvard-Westlake High School
Adrian Del Castillo; So.; C; Miami
Trenton Denholm; Jr.; RHP; UC Irvine
Reid Detmers; Jr.; LHP; Louisville
Blake Dunn; Jr.; OF; Western Michigan
Josh Elvir; Sr.; OF; Angelo State
Justin Foscue; Jr.; IF; Mississippi State
Nick Frasso; Jr.; RHP; Loyola Marymount
JT Ginn; So.; RHP; Mississippi State
Nick Gonzales; Jr.; IF; New Mexico State
Emerson Hancock; Jr.; RHP; Georgia
Hudson Haskin; So.; OF; Tulane
Robert Hassell; Sr.; OF/1B/LHP; Independence High School
Cole Henry; So.; RHP; LSU
Bryce Jarvis; Jr.; RHP/IF; Duke
Heston Kjerstad; Jr.; OF; Arkansas
Brian Klein; Sr.; IF; Texas Tech
Asa Lacy; Jr.; LHP; Texas A&M
Chris Lanzilli; Jr.; OF; Wake Forest
Nick Loftin; Jr.; IF; Baylor
Austin Martin; Jr.; IF; Vanderbilt
Casey Martin; Jr.; IF; Arkansas
Chris McMahon; Jr.; RHP; Miami
Max Meyer; Jr.; RHP; Minnesota
Garrett Mitchell; Jr.; OF; UCLA
Carmen Mlodzinski; R-So.; RHP; South Carolina
Jordan Nwogu; Jr.; OF; Michigan
Holden Powell; Jr.; RHP; UCLA
Kumar Rocker; So.; RHP; Vanderbilt
Aaron Sabato; So.; IF; North Carolina
Casey Schmitt; Jr.; IF; San Diego State
Josh Sears; R-Fr.; INF; Freed-Hardeman
Bobby Seymour; Jr.; IF; Wake Forest
Alerick Soularie; Jr.; OF; Tennessee
Luke Summers; Jr.; RHP/OF; Fontbonne
Spencer Torkelson; Jr.; IF; Arizona State
CJ Van Eyk; Jr.; RHP; Florida State
Austin Wells; So.; C; Arizona
Cole Wilcox; So.; RHP; Georgia
Alika Williams; Jr.; IF; Arizona State
Ethan Wilson; So.; OF; South Alabama
Gage Workman; Jr.; IF; Arizona State

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USA Baseball Announces 2020 Women's National Team Staff

2019 Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year Veronica Alvarez returns as manager in 2020
February 4, 2020

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the coaching staff for the 2020 Women's National Team on Tuesday, highlighted by the return of 2019 USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year and five-time Team USA alum, Veronica Alvarez, as the manager. The remaining members of the coaching staff from 2019 will also return to lead the program in 2020 with Reynol Mendoza serving as the team's pitching coach and Manny Crespo, Sr. and Alex Oglesby as assistant coaches.

Following an undefeated run to a gold medal at the 2019 COBAPE Women's Pan-American Championships, the staff will look to guide this year's team to the program's first world championship title since 2006-and third overall-at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Baseball World Cup in Monterrey, Mexico, from September 11-20.

"Veronica and her staff did an outstanding job guiding, teaching and helping our athletes to grow both on and off the field last year," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO, Paul Seiler. "We could not be more excited to have this incredibly talented staff back in 2020 and we look forward to watching them develop a team that will look to compete for another world championship."

Alvarez became the first woman to be named the organization's Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year for her work at the helm of the 2019 Women's National Team. Under her direction, Team USA finished its tournament with a perfect 7-0 record and the program's first gold medal since the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. The U.S. outscored its opponents 124-20, held a cumulative .500 batting average and hit a record 11 home runs. The team was also named USA Baseball's Team of the Year after its dominating performance last summer.

In addition to making her managerial debut with the Women's National Team in 2019, Alvarez also served as an assistant coach on the 2018 staff and played for Team USA five times in her career as a catcher. Her time with the red, white and blue started in 2008 and every team she participated on medaled in international competition.

"Coaching together in 2019 allowed us the opportunity to build a foundation of trust, understanding and respect, and I am extremely excited to work with this group once again in 2020," Alvarez said. "That foundation, combined with the knowledge and passion that these coaches have, will bring the best out in each of our players and that will ultimately lead to a world championship."

Since finishing her playing career in 2016, Alvarez has continued to help grow the next generation of female baseball players as a coach at the Trailblazer Series from 2017-2019 and the Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series Showcase & Development Camp in 2018 and 2019, joining the collaboration between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to foster the next generation of female baseball players in the United States.

Additionally, Alvarez will serve as a coach with the Oakland Athletics at Major League Baseball Spring Training for the second consecutive year in 2020 and she has previously coached at the USA Baseball Women's National Team Identification Series and the 2019 12U National Open.

Crespo returns to the Women's National Team staff in 2020 as an assistant coach. Most recently, he spent 14 seasons as the Director of Latin American Player Development for the Detroit Tigers and has also worked in the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees and Miami Marlins organizations. Crespo was selected in the third round of the 1968 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox and spent nine years playing professionally before his retirement in 1978. In addition, Crespo served as a bench coach during the 2013 World Baseball Classic and was a manager during the 2017 event.

Also rejoining the Women's National Team coaching staff is Mendoza, who will once again serve as the team's pitching coach in 2020. Under his leadership, the 2019 pitching staff finished with a collective 3.16 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 37 innings of work. He is currently the head coach at Eagle Pass High School (Eagle Pass, Texas), where the Eagles have made playoff appearances in each of the last thirteen seasons and played in the regional finals in both 2013 and 2014. The Miami Marlins selected Mendoza in the seventh round of the 1992 MLB Draft and he spent seven years in the Marlins system, including three seasons at the Triple-A level.

Rounding out the staff is Women's National Team alum Alex Oglesby, who also returns to her role as assistant coach after serving in the same capacity in 2019. Oglesby was a member of the inaugural Women's National Team that won a gold medal at the IBAF Women's Baseball World Cup in 2004 and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Prior to representing the U.S., she played in the Ladies Professional Baseball League and was the youngest player when the league began in 1997. At just 17 years old, Oglesby led the San Jose Spitfires to the league's first World Series Championship and was named both Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for her efforts. She also helped form the California Women's Baseball League in 2002, where she earned MVP honors twice.

Most recently, Oglesby has served as a coach at the Trailblazer Series from 2017-2019, as well as at the first-ever Major League Baseball and USA Baseball GRIT in 2019. In addition, she was a member of the coaching staff at the 2018 Women's National Open and the 2018 Women's National Team Trials.

The 2020 Women's National Team identification process will begin with the Women's National Open from July 3-5 at The First Academy in Orlando, Florida. Forty athletes will then be selected from the event and remain in Orlando to compete at Women's National Team Trials from July 6-9 for a spot on the 2020 Women's National Team roster. The final 20-player roster will be announced following the conclusion of Trials.

The 2020 Women's National Team will train from September 4-8 before traveling to Monterrey, Mexico, for the 2020 WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup, taking place from September 11-20.

For the most up-to-date information on the Women's National Team, follow @USABaseballWNT on Twitter.

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Pro Team

Team USA to Kick-Start Olympic Qualifying in Arizona

January 31, 2020

MEXICO CITY -- The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) announced the groups and the schedule for the Americas Baseball Olympic Qualifier on Thursday. The event will take place from March 22-27 at Surprise Stadium (Surprise, Ariz.) and Tempe Diable Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.).

Visit, the official tournament website, for more information. The website is available in six languages: English, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Traditional Chinese.

Team USA is currently ranked No. 2 in the WBSC World Baseball Rankings and will look to join host-country Japan, Korea, Israel and Mexico in the six-team Olympic baseball tournament. The U.S. will open the tournament in Group A with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico.

The top two teams from Group A and Group B will advance to the Super Round. The winner of the tournament will earn a spot in Tokyo 2020. The second and third place teams will advance to the WBSC Final Olympic Qualifier in Taiwan.

The opening round schedule for Team USA is as follows:

March 22: USA vs. Nicaragua (7 p.m. MT)
March 23: USA vs. Dominican Republic (7 p.m. MT)
March 24: USA vs. Puerto Rico (7 p.m. MT)

Stay tuned to and follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the most up-to-date information on the USA Baseball Professional National Team and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying.

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Sport Dev

MLB, USA Baseball Recognize Pitch Smart Compliant Organizations for 2020

Baseball New Zealand becomes the first international baseball federation to join USA Baseball as Pitch Smart compliant
January 29, 2020

DURHAM, N.C. - Major League Baseball and USA Baseball recognized on Wednesday the amateur and youth organizations that have fully adopted the Pitch Smart Compliance Program's guidelines and principles for the 2020 season. The updated compliance program includes the addition of Baseball New Zealand, the first international baseball federation to join USA Baseball in adopting the Pitch Smart program. In total, 28 international, national and regional organizations are fully compliant in 2020.

Pitch Smart is a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball that provides safe pitching practices and guidelines to help reduce the risk of arm injuries in amateur players. The program includes a growing number of resources on its home site at It is further supported by a free online educational course available at USA Baseball's Sport Development website at that is hosted by Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz.

"Major League Baseball is pleased with the continued growth of Pitch Smart, which has effectively educated leagues, coaches, parents and players on the importance of arm health & safety on the mound," said Chris Marinak, Executive Vice President of Strategy, Technology & Innovation, Major League Baseball. "The international expansion to Baseball New Zealand is a significant development as we look to make Pitch Smart guidelines the standard throughout amateur baseball around the world."

"Baseball New Zealand is fully committed in implementing and enforcing the USA Pitch Smart guidlines across all Baseball New Zealand competitions," said John Fellet, Baseball New Zealand's CEO. "As a rapidly developing baseball country it is vital that we look after and care for our young Kiwi arms. The Pitch Smart educational guidlines and educational platforms will help to educate both players and coaches around the dangers associated with overuse injuries. To further grow baseball within New Zealand and become competitive on the world stage we must develop both our pitchers and catchers throughout the country, which cannot be done without healthy arms."

Baseball New Zealand joins 27 international, national and regional organizations who were also fully compliant with the Pitch Smart program in 2019. Full Pitch Smart compliance represents the highest level of commitment to the program and is defined by the incorporation of Pitch Smart guidelines pertaining to pitch counts and rest periods across all competitions, as well as supporting Pitch Smart educational efforts across all platforms.

Full Compliant Organizations (International, National and Regional):

  • American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC)
  • American Legion Baseball
  • Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League
  • Baseball Factory
  • Baseball New Zealand
  • Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League
  • California Collegiate League
  • Cape Cod Baseball League
  • Coastal Plain League
  • Dixie Baseball Boys & Majors
  • Dixie Youth Baseball Inc.
  • East Coast Pro Showcase
  • Florida Collegiate Summer League
  • Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League
  • Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League
  • IMG Academy
  • Little League Baseball ®
  • National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF)
  • National Youth Baseball Championships
  • New England Collegiate Baseball League
  • New York Collegiate Baseball League
  • PONY Baseball
  • Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI)
  • Southern Collegiate Baseball League
  • Sunbelt Baseball League
  • USA Baseball
  • Valley Baseball League
  • Wilson Premier Baseball


In addition to the Full Compliant organizations, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball also recognize organizations that are Select Compliant and Educational Supporters. Select Compliance of the Pitch Smart program is defined by the implementation of Pitch Smart guidelines pertaining to pitch counts and rest periods across select competitions, supporting Pitch Smart educational efforts across all platforms, and a plan to progress towards the adoption of all standards of full compliance in coming years.

The final level of Pitch Smart compliance, Educational Supporters, includes organizations that agree with the philosophies of the Pitch Smart program, support Pitch Smart educational efforts across all platforms, and will work towards select and full program compliance upon organizational review.

"Pitch Smart and its educational efforts continue to be a major initiative for USA Baseball as we continue our governance within the amateur game," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director/CEO. "The support of the organizations who have adopted and implement this program is paramount to the overall health and safety of our athletes and their futures."

Select Compliant Organizations (International, National and Regional):

  • Babe Ruth League
  • Baseball Heaven
  • Game Day USA
  • NCTB Baseball
  • Perfect Game
  • Prep Baseball Report


Educational Supporters (International, National and Regional):

  • AAU Baseball
  • National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
  • Ripken Baseball


Ninety-two additional state and local organizations have also been recognized as Full Compliant, Select Compliant or Educational Supporter organizations for 2020, and USA Baseball will continue to collaborate with all organizations on their Pitch Smart progress throughout the season.

For a complete list of all full compliant organizations, select compliant organizations and educational supporters, as well as more information about Pitch Smart and an application for inclusion in the compliance program, visit

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USA Baseball Unveils 2020 National High School Invitational Field

The ninth annual NHSI will take place April 1-4 in Cary, North Carolina
January 14, 2020

Durham, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Thursday the 16 teams that will compete in the 2020 National High School Invitational (NHSI) presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance and the Town of Cary. The ninth annual event will take place from April 1-4 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, and select games will be streamed live on, and Facebook Live.

View the full schedule for the 2020 NHSI here.

Reagan High School (Pfafftown, N.C.) will serve as the host team in this year's tournament. Led by Head Coach Gary Nail, the Raiders finished the 2019 season with a 21-7 record and advanced to the semifinals of the NCHSAA AAAA state playoffs.

"USA Baseball is excited to continue celebrating high school baseball on the national stage with the ninth annual National High School Invitational," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "In its sterling history, the NHSI has drawn elite baseball talent and the premier prep teams from across the United States for a truly one-of-a-kind tournament, and this year will be no different. We look forward to welcoming all sixteen teams, their families and their fans to our National Training Complex for an unforgettable baseball experience."

The three-time defending champions, Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.), return to the NHSI in 2020 for the sixth time in program history (2012, 2014, 2017-19). The Lancers have won its last 13 consecutive games at the NHSI dating back to 2014 and holds an 15-4 all-time record at the event.

Also returning to the NHSI in 2020 is American Heritage School (Plantation, Fla.), Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), three-time NHSI finalist Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.), Mount Carmel High School (Chicago, Ill.), Parkview High School (Lilburn, Ga.), Regis Jesuit High School (Aurora, Colo.) and St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

In total, nine states are represented in the 2019 NHSI field, led by California and Florida with four teams apiece. Joining Harvard-Westlake and Orange Lutheran out of the Golden State is Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) and Thousand Oaks High School (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), who are both making their first-ever trip to Cary. Florida returns three schools to the NHSI in 2020 with American Heritage Plantation, Calvary Christian and St. Thomas Aquinas, and they are joined by newcomer American Heritage School (Delray Beach, Fla.). Georgia is the only other state with multiple schools participating in the event in North Gwinnett High School (Suwanee, Ga.) and Parkview.

Rounding out the 2020 field are schools from Alabama, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, whom are all making their debut at the NHSI: Bob Jones High School (Madison, Alabama), Red Land High School (Lewisberry, Pa.) and Baylor School (Chattanooga, Tenn.).

"The National High School Invitational is the gold-standard event in high school baseball," said Scott Dupree, Executive Director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance. "There is no better national showcase of premier teams and elite players at the high school level, and USA Baseball has done a fantastic job of creating and cultivating this event, both in terms of generating excitement and its economic impact. The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance is proud to be on board as a host partner."

The National Training Complex (NTC), in partnership with the Town of Cary, has been the official home of USA Baseball since 2007, and the NHSI since its inception in 2012. The NTC has had numerous Major League Baseball players venture through its gates, including Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Mike Trout. The Town of Cary received the National Gold Medal Grand Plaque Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in 2016. The award honors U.S. communities that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition.

There has been no shortage of premium talent to take the field at the NHSI in the nine years following its debut. Major Leaguers Cody Bellinger, Joey Gallo, Austin Meadows, and Jack Flaherty are just a few of the more notable professional athletes who have played in the event, with more recent standouts including MLB first-round draft selections CJ Abrams, Triston Casas, Riley Greene, Matthew Liberatore, Brice Turang and others.

The NHSI is a single-elimination championship tournament, with each participating team guaranteed to play four games. The 2020 championship game will be played under the lights on Coleman Field with the first pitch scheduled for Saturday, April 4, at 6 p.m.

USA Baseball will host its second annual NHSI Championship Festival beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the National Training Complex. Prior to the first pitch of the title-game, family-friendly activities-including a baseball skills competition, games and music-will be available for fans on the front lawn, in addition a food truck rodeo featuring six of the Triangle's most popular vendors.

The complete list of 2020 NHSI participants is as follows:

High School (City, State)
American Heritage School (Delray Beach, Fla.)
American Heritage School (Plantation, Fla.)
Baylor School (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
Bob Jones High School (Madison, Ala.)
Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.)
Mount Carmel High School (Chicago, Ill.)
North Gwinnett High School (Suwanee, Ga.)
Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.)
Parkview High School (Lilburn, Ga.)
Reagan High School (Pfafftown, N.C.)
Red Land High School (Lewisberry, Pa.)
Regis Jesuit High School (Aurora, Colo.)
St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Thousand Oaks High School (Thousand Oaks, Calif.)

For more information on the USA Baseball National High School Invitational, visit or follow @USABaseball and @USABEvents on Twitter.

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USA Baseball Elects Alvarez, Hopkins to Board of Directors

Elliot Hopkins to also serve as an officer on the Board of Directors
December 20, 2019

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Friday the election of four-time Women's National Team alumna Veronica Alvarez and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Director of Sports, Sanctioning and Student Services Elliot Hopkins to its Board of Directors. Their selections were finalized at the annual Board of Directors meeting at the MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Alvarez and Hopkins replace long-time board members Jenny Dalton-Hill and Davis Whitfield, who collectively served 14 years on the USA Baseball Board of Directors.

"Veronica and Elliot are long-time associates of the United States Baseball Federation and devoted supporters of our events, initiatives and national team programs," said USA Baseball President Mike Gaski. "We are honored to welcome them to our Board of Directors and look forward to witnessing their influence on our organization as USA Baseball continues to develop and impact the amateur sports landscape in the United States."

Alvarez is a four-time alumnus of the Women's National Team (2008, 2010, 2012, 2015) and has most-recently served as the team's manager in 2019. She managed the red, white and blue to an undefeated record and a gold medal at the COPABE Women's Pan-American Championships in Mexico and was recently honored by USA Baseball by becoming the first woman to be named its Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year. Alvarez has also continued to help grow the next generation of female baseball players as a coach at the Trailblazer Series from 2017-2019 and the Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series Showcase & Development Camp in both of the last two years. Additionally, she served as a coach with the Oakland Athletics at Major League Baseball Spring Training in 2019 and has previously coached at the USA Baseball Women's National Team Identification Series.

"I take a lot of pride in what it means to be a USA Baseball player," said Alvarez. "I aim to represent the athletes to the best of my ability so that their experience with USA Baseball continues to be nothing but the best."

Hopkins is currently the Director of Sports, Sanctioning and Student Services for the NFHS and this marks his second tenure on the organization's Board of Directors. At the NFHS, his responsibilities include being the staff liaison to the NFHS Student Services Committee, serving as the NFHS Baseball and Wrestling Rules Editor, supervising the NFHS Resource Center and directing the NFHS Student Leadership Summit. Hopkins also serves on the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee and is a former executive of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Inc. and sales representative for multiple Fortune 500 countries.

"I am thrilled to serve the baseball community on USA Baseball's Board of Directors. I feel that the voice of interscholastic baseball players is important in crafting the future of our national teams and representing our country," said Hopkins.

Additionally, Mike Gaski and Jason Dobis were also reelected as officers on the USA Baseball Board of Directors during the annual meeting, serving as president and treasurer, respectively.

For more information on USA Baseball, visit or follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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2019 Organizational Award Winners Announced

18U National Team member Robert Hassell named Richard W. "Dick" Case Award winner
December 17, 2019

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the recipients of its annual organizational awards on Tuesday, recognizing the top athletes, coaches and performances from its 2019 USA Baseball national teams. 18U National Team member Robert Hassell was named the Richard W. "Dick" Case Award winner, becoming the fourth 18U team alumnus 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.

Women's National Team Manager Veronica Alvarez was named the Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year, becoming the first woman to earn the award in USA Baseball's history. The organization also recognized the Women's National Team as its Team of the Year and infielder Alex Hugo was named the Sportswoman of the Year after she earned MVP honors at the COPABE Women's Pan-American Championships.

Alec Burleson's late-game heroics against Japan in Game 2 of the 43rd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series garnered the International Performance of the Year honors, meanwhile Collegiate National Team Bullpen Coach Xan Barksdale was named the organization's first-ever Service Provider of the Year.

Rounding out the USA Baseball 2019 award winners is 15U National Team Manager Troy Cameron, who was named the Developmental Coach of the Year, as well as Volunteer Coach of the Year Andy Pettitte and the inaugural Coach Educator of the Year Darren Fenster.

"USA Baseball is pleased to recognize these outstanding individuals and their successes from our 2019 national teams," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director/CEO. "Not only did each and every award winner excel in the field of play or as a coach, they all served as outstanding ambassadors on behalf of the United States. It was an honor to have them represent our organization and the game of baseball with class on the international stage."

USA Baseball finished the year winning gold medals at the COPABE Women's Pan-American Championships and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-15 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. The Collegiate National Team also won two of its three international friendship series against Chinese Taipei, Cuba and Japan in 2019.

The complete list of the 2019 USA Baseball organizational award winners is as follows:

Richard W. "Dick" Case Award: Robert Hassell, 18U National Team
Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year: Veronica Alvarez, Women's National Team
Team of the Year: Women's National Team
Sportswoman of the Year: Alex Hugo, Women's National Team
International Performance of the Year: Alec Burleson, Collegiate National Team
Service Provider of the Year: Xan Barksdale, Collegiate National Team
Developmental Coach of the Year: Troy Cameron, 15U National Team
Volunteer Coach of the Year: Andy Pettitte, Prospect Development Pipeline League
Coach Educator of the Year: Darren Fenster, Sport Development Blog

Hassell was awarded the Richard W. "Dick" Case Award following a summer where he was named to the All-World Team at the 2019 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea. He led the 18U National Team in 10 offensive categories in 2019, including batting average (.514), hits (18), doubles (5), home runs (2), RBIs (14), total bases (31), slugging percentage (.886) and on-base percentage (.548), among others. Hassell was a mainstay in the U.S. lineup, starting all nine games of the World Cup in the outfield, and helped lead the red, white and blue to a silver medal. He was also recognized by the WBSC as its International Baseball Player of the Year.

Just the second female manager in USA Baseball history, Alvarez became the first woman to be named the Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year. Under her leadership, the Women's National Team finished the COPABE Women's Pan-American Championships with a perfect 7-0 record and a gold medal. The U.S. outscored its opponents 124-20 in the tournament, held a cumulative .500 batting average and hit a record 11 home runs. Their dominating performance also earned the Women's National Team the USA Baseball Team of the Year award.

Two-time Women's National Team alum Hugo was named the 2019 Sportswoman of the Year. She earned tournament MVP honors at the COPABE Women's Pan-American Championships after leading Team USA in six offensive categories en route to a gold medal. In the tournament, she hit .652 (15-for-23) with five doubles and four home runs, tallied 18 RBIs, scored 20 runs, stole six bases, and amassed an astounding 1.391 slugging percentage in seven games.

ECU's Burleson earned the 2019 International Performance of the Year award after hitting his first-career walk-off home run in the 43rd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series. With the score tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 in Imabari City, Japan, Burleson lifted a 2-0 fastball over the right field fence to give the visiting U.S. a 3-2 walk-off win. His home run was the first one hit of the series and the victory tied the best-of-five-game series at one apiece for the red, white and blue.

The Collegiate National Team's Barksdale was a vital part of the team in 2019 after serving as a bullpen catcher and coach for the national team, and his efforts were rewarded with the first-ever USA Baseball Service Provider of the Year award. Barksdale provided unparalleled service to the athletes by offering creative and engaging training, bullpen and catching sessions that not only allowed the national team to prepare and excel on the field, but also promoted and protected their overall long-term athletic development.

Cameron earned the Developmental Coach of the Year award in 2019 after he led Team USA to its fourth consecutive U-15 Baseball World Cup Qualifier gold medal for the red, white and blue (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019), and the third straight international title for the 15U National Team. The U.S. finished the tournament with an 8-1 record and outscored its opponents 66-33 under his leadership.

Five-time World Series champion and three-time MLB All-Star Pettitte was named the 2019 Volunteer Coach of the Year by USA Baseball after working on the coaching staff for the inaugural joint MLB and USA Baseball Prospect Development Pipeline League. Every day, he used his experience to help players create comprehensive processes for their pitching routines and schedules, and assisted in developing pitch philosophies while fine-tuning pitcher deliveries and mechanics. Pettitte also incorporated advanced, progressive methods to the participants that resulted in significant developmental growth in an abbreviated timeframe.

Lastly, Fenster was named the first Coach Educator of the Year in USA Baseball history due to his continued contribution to the USA Baseball Sport Development department. While simultaneously serving as the Minor League Outfield and Baserunning Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox, Fenster draws upon his professional baseball career as a player and coach to provide unique and insightful educational content for the for the Sport Development Blog. Titled FUNdamental Skills Friday, his contributions assist coaches, parents and leagues in developing young players and improving their experience within the game of baseball.

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) annually honors one Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year based on nominations from its national governing bodies, as well as Olympic, 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.

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WBSC Names Hassell and Schrier International Players of the Year

The awards were announced at the III World Baseball Softball Confederation Congress
December 3, 2019

SAKAI CITY, Japan - USA Baseball alumni Robert Hassell (2019) and Cody Schrier (2018) were named the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) International Baseball Players of the Year at the III WBSC Congress on November 22 in Sakai City, Japan.

The award recognizes the top baseball performer from all WBSC-sanctioned events in a given calendar year. The WBSC presents its individual awards every two years at its biennial Congress.

"It is a tremendous honor to have two of our national team athletes recognized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation for their individual performances while with USA Baseball," said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. "To earn the title of international baseball player of the year is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement and it speaks volumes to the hard work and dedication they have committed to the game of baseball in their young careers. We congratulate them on this extraordinary accomplishment and are proud to call them alumni of our organization."

Hassell was named to the All-World Team following the 2019 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea and earned the award for most RBIs during the event. He led the 18U National Team in 10 offensive categories in 2019, including batting average (.514), hits (18), doubles (5), home runs (2), RBIs (14), total bases (31), slugging percentage (.886) and on-base percentage (.548), among others. Hassell was a mainstay in the U.S. lineup, starting all nine games of the World Cup in the outfield, and helped lead the red, white and blue to a silver medal.

Schrier was named the MVP of the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup in 2018 after leading Team USA to its first U-15 baseball world championship in program history. He finished the tournament earning two additional individual awards on top of his MVP honors, including the batting title and the award for most runs scored in the tournament. Schrier started all nine games at shortstop for the stars and stripes and finished with a .476 batting average and 17 runs scored. He also led the team with two home runs and four stolen bases.

Members of Team USA have now been awarded the last three International Baseball Player of the Year awards with Triston Casas (2017), Schrier and Hassell.

For more information on USA Baseball and its national team programs, visit or follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Pro Team

Four Members of Team USA Named to All-World Team

November 18, 2019

TOKYO -- Bobby Dalbec (1B), Brandon Dickson (RP), Erik Kratz (C) and Brent Rooker (DH) were named to the All-World Team by the World Baseball Softball Confederation following the completion of the Premier12 on Sunday night. The U.S. finished the tournament in fourth place with a 4-4 record.

The four players on the list were the most of any country in the tournament, followed by two each from Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea, and one from Mexico.

Dalbec finished the Premier12 first on Team USA and second in the tournament with eight RBIs, picking up four with a grand slam against the Netherlands in the opening game of the event in Guadalajara. He started all eight games of the tournament and finished with a .250 batting average with two home runs.

The closer for Team USA, Dickson tied for the tournament lead with three saves. He struck out two or more batters in each of his five appearances and tied for the team lead with 11 total strikeouts in the Premier12.

Kratz started behind the dish in all but one game of the Premier12 tournament and finished second on Team USA with a .381 batting average and two home runs. He finished the winner-take-all game against the Dominican Republic in Guadalajara a triple short of the cycle to lead the stars and stripes into the Super Round. Kratz's leadership behind the plate also led the U.S. pitching staff to a collective 3.28 ERA and 75 strikeouts.

Outfielder and designated hitter Rooker finished the Premier12 leading Team USA with a .800 slugging percentage and tied for the team and tournament lead with three home runs. He came in against the Netherlands as a substitute and contributed six total bases with a two-run home run and a double. Rooker then started six of the next seven games and hit a two-run home run against Chinese Taipei that proved to be the game winner and put the U.S. in a spot to play for a bronze medal.

Rooker also received the award for most home runs in the tournament, hitting three in just 20 at-bats.

2019 Premier12 All-World Team
SP: Yi Chang (Chinese Taipei)
RP: Brandon Dickson (USA)
C: Erik Kratz (USA)
1B: Bobby Dalbec (USA)
2B: Ryosuke Kikuchi (Japan)
3B: Wei-Chen Wang (Chinese Taipei)
SS: Ha-Seong Kim (Korea)
OF: Jung-Hoo Lee (Korea)
OF: Jonathan Jones (Mexico)
OF: Seiya Suzuki (Japan) - Tournament MVP
DH: Brent Rooker (USA)

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