Orange Lutheran Secures Third Consecutive Berth in NHSI Championship Game

Starting pitcher Jonathan Guzman tosses gem to lead Lancers to victory
April 4, 2019

CARY, N.C. - Behind a dominant performance by starting pitcher Jonathan Guzman, Orange Lutheran secured its spot in the USA Baseball National High School Invitational (NHSI) presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance and the Town of Cary championship game for the third consecutive year with a 12-0 defeat of Monsignor Pace on Thursday.

For the third time in as many games at the 2019 NHSI, Orange Lutheran struck first when they pushed two runners across in the top of the first inning. A leadoff double by Chad Born (1-for-3) got the game started before a Garrett Frechette (0-for-2) sacrifice fly brought in the first run of and the Lancers took advantage of a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

Monsignor Pace battled back immediately to load the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the frame but the Spartans couldn't break through. Guzman allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base before settling in and getting a pop up and two punch outs to escape the jam with no damage.

Aside from those first three batters, Guzman was dominant on the mound to earn the win. In his six innings of work, the senior allowed just two hits - sitting down the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings - without giving up a run, while striking out four and walking just one.

The Lancers would add to their lead with one run each in the second, fourth and sixth innings to make it 4-0 but struck the biggest blow in the fifth inning, scoring four runs to break the game wide open. Two walks and a hit-by-pitch started the inning and loaded the bases with just one out for Max Rajcic who took full advantage. He laced a two-RBI double down the left field line for the first two runs of the frame and Tank Espalin added a two-RBI knock of his own to give Orange Lutheran an 8-0 advantage two batters later.

Three more runs in the seventh inning got the Lancers to the final 12-0 score and secured their place in the NHSI championship game for the third year in a row.

Espalin (3-for-3) and Carl Lawson (2-for-2) collected half of the team's ten hits in the game, as well as three and two RBIs, respectively. Rajcic (1-for-2) also tallied a multi-RBI game with two of his own.

For Monsignor Pace, Yordani Carmona (1-for-3), Michael Machin (1-for-3) and Sammy Infante (1-for-3) were responsible for the Spartans' three hits on the day. Starting pitcher Luis Gonzalez was charged with the loss.

For the first time in 2019, the NHSI championship game will be played under the lights at 6 p.m. ET on Coleman Field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, following the first-ever NHSI Championship Festival. Orange Lutheran will match up against the winner of Thursday's second semifinal game that will be played at 7 p.m. ET.

The second semifinal game, as well as Saturday's championship game, will be streamed live on, and Facebook Live at

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USA Baseball Coronavirus Updates

June 25, 2020

 Important Links

Centers for Disease Control COVID-19
United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Coronavirus Updates

June 25, 2020

USA Baseball announced the cancellation of all National Team Identification Series (NTIS) events for 2020. READ

May 18, 2020

USA Baseball announced a modified schedule for its 2020 schedule due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including event postponements and cancellations. READ

May 13, 2020

The USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee release recommendations for athletes during COVID-19, including an athlete preparation plan (with videos) to utilize while training to return to the field of play. READ

Athlete Preparation Plan

May 4, 2020

USA Baseball announced an update regarding the 2020 Futures Invitational (10U & 11U) and the 2020 National Team Championships in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. Read more:

Futures Invitational
National Team Championships

April 30, 2020

USA Baseball and Major League Baseball announce the cancellation of the 2020 PDP League.

April 6, 2020

USA Baseball announced that the Futures Series event in Irvine, California, from May 15-17 has been cancelled. The event will not be rescheduled. READ

March 24, 2020

USA Baseball distributes communication to participants in the Futures Invitational (10U & 11U), Futures Series and the National Team Championships in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. Read more:

Futures Invitational
Futures Series
National Team Championships

March 16, 2020

USA Baseball suspends all events until May 15 pursuant to guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

March 13, 2020

USA Baseball announced that the 2020 National High School Invitational (NHSI), the Futures Series in Melissa, Texas, and all USA Baseball Coaches Clinics and National Team Identification Series (NTIS) regional tryouts through April 15 have been cancelled or postponed amid concerns surrounding the rapid spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) across the United States. READ

March 12, 2020

USA Baseball's executive offices in Durham, North Carolina, and its National Training Comlex in Cary, North Carolina, are closed until further notice. Currently, both locations are expected to be closed until at least April 10.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), in collaboration with event-host USA Baseball, announced the postponing of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 due to player, personnel and spectator health and safety measures amid concerns surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. READ

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USA Baseball Cancels 2020 National Team Identification Series Events

All USA Baseball National Team Identification Series events, including regional tryouts and the Champions Cup, are cancelled
June 25, 2020

CARY, N.C. - USA Baseball announced today that it has cancelled all 2020 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) events due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. All regional tryouts, as well as the NTIS Champions Cup scheduled to take place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in August, will not be rescheduled.

"Due to the ongoing transmission of COVID-19 and its continued impact within the United States, all 2020 National Team Identification Series events have been cancelled," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "It is disappointing for us to withdraw this truly unique and comprehensive national team identification opportunity from our calendar as it provides every young athlete in our country the opportunity to play for Team USA; however, the health and safety of our participants and their families continues to be our top priority during this unprecedented crisis."

The NTIS is the organization's most comprehensive player identification program and includes six age groups ranging from 11U-16U. Under the direction of USA Baseball Regional Directors, tryouts are held in every region of the country for athletes to be identified and selected for their region teams. Each region team then travels to Cary, North Carolina, for the Champions Cup, where the athletes are evaluated and scouted by national team coaches and task force members for the chance to play on a future USA Baseball national team or participate in a national team development program.

Regional identification events for the 2021 edition of the NTIS Champions Cup may begin on September 4, 2020. USA Baseball will continue to closely monitor the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and diligently evaluate the status all remaining events scheduled on the 2020 calendar, which continue to be subject to cancellation or postponement.

For more information on the USA Baseball NTIS, visit

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USA Baseball to Continue Offering Online Community Clinics

The virtual clinics will occur throughout the month of July
June 22, 2020

CARY, N.C. - USA Baseball announced today it is expanding its offerings of online Community Clinics through the month of July in an effort to support coaches and parents currently enrolled in its Coaches Certification pathway, including a Salute to Service clinic on July 1. The free clinics will take place on the following dates:

Wednesday, July 1 from 12 - 3 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 8 from 12 - 3 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15 from 12 - 3 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22 from 12 - 3 p.m. ET*

*The clinic on Wednesday, July 22, will feature a live edition of the "Abuse Awareness for Adults" course. Participants who register for this clinic online and attend the presentation will receive credit for completing this course. The "Abuse Awareness for Adults" course fulfills requirements for USA Baseball "A" Coaches Certification, as well as the educational requirements of Public Law 115-126 (Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017) and to become Pure Baseball compliant. 

Registration for each clinic is now open with limited spots available on

The Coaches Certification pathway is a free three-tiered program consisting of ascending levels: "A" Certification, "B" Certification and "C" Certification. All of the levels contain a series of courses that cover topics such as health and safety, creating a positive team environment, recognizing and responding to misconduct, practice planning, game management and skill-specific development.

This program requires the participation in a Community or Regional Clinic in order to obtain a "C" Certification. The clinics are typically held year-round at facilities nationwide in partnership with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and GameChanger, but will be hosted online for the first time ever in 2020. The clinics are run by veteran coaches from all levels of baseball in order to proliferate a culture of continuing education, development and mentorship.

Committed to co-host the online clinics are coaches from Cal State Fullerton, Flower Mound Marcus High School (Texas), the Minnesota Twins, the University of South Carolina, USA Baseball and Wabash Valley Community College.

Upon completion of the certification, coaches simultaneously satisfy the training requirements set forth by Senate Bill 534 (SB 534) and also begin the process of becoming Pure Baseball compliant. In November 2018, USA Baseball announced Pure Baseball, a zero-tolerance policy regarding abuse constructed in cooperation with SB 534 and the policies created by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. To concurrently become Pure Baseball compliant, coaches need only submit to and pass an annual background check, which can be done at through USA Baseball's service provider, JD Palatine.

For more information on the Coaches Certification program and to begin the courses required to complete certification, visit In addition to this new program, all courses and resources for players, coaches, parents and umpires on are available at no cost to users and aim to provide a positive baseball experience for all.

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Forty-One USA Baseball Alumni Selected in the 2020 MLB Draft

Twenty of the 37 athletes taken in the first round played for Team USA
June 12, 2020

CARY, N.C. - Forty-one USA Baseball alumni were selected through all five rounds of the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday and Thursday night, including 20 of the 37 athletes selected in the first round and 21 more alums taken in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds, collectively. Twenty selections is the third highest number of alumni drafted in the first round in USA Baseball history (23 in 2007, 21 in 2012).

Two-time Collegiate National Team member Spencer Torkelson became the eighth-consecutive Team USA alum to be taken first overall when the Detroit Tigers selected him with the No. 1 pick. Torkelson was then followed by four of his 2019 Collegiate National Team teammates: Heston Kjerstad (No. 2, Baltimore Orioles), Max Meyer (No. 3, Miami Marlins), Asa Lacy (No. 4, Kansas City Royals) and Austin Martin (No. 5, Toronto Blue Jays), marking the third time in USA Baseball history that alumni have been selected with the first five consecutive picks of the draft (2007, 2010).

The 41 alums that were selected in all five rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft represented four national team programs. Twenty-three players from the Collegiate National Team heard their names called, including eight more members of the 2019 squad, along with 16 athletes from the 18U National Team, seven from the 15U National Team and five from the 12U National Team.

Four-time Team USA alum Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 19, New York Mets), two-time alum Drew Romo (No. 35, Colorado Rockies) and 2018 alum Jared Kelley (No. 47, Chicago White Sox) were teammates on the 2018 18U National Team that won the program's eighth-consecutive gold medal in international competition at the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships.

Crow-Armstrong was also on the 2014 12U National Team and the 2017 15U National Team with Jackson Miller (No. 65, Cincinnati Reds) and Masyn Winn (No. 54, St. Louis Cardinals), who were both selected in the second round. Petey Halpin (No. 95, Cleveland Indians) was a member of the 2017 15U National Team as well, while J.T. Ginn (No. 52, New York Mets) and Cole Wilcox (No. 80, San Diego Padres) were both part of the 2017 18U National Team that won the program's fourth-consecutive world championship at the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup.

In addition to national team alumni, 44 athletes that participated in the inaugural 2019 PDP League and the USA Baseball National Team Development Program (NTDP) were also selected in the 2020 MLB Draft.

In total, 22 players that participated in the PDP League in 2019 were selected in the 2020 MLB Draft, including eight in the first round. 2019 USA Baseball Richard W. "Dick" Case Award winner and 18U National Team alum, Robert Hassell III, was the first to be drafted when the San Diego Padres took him with the No. 8 overall pick. Rounding out the first round PDP League alumni selections were Austin Hendrick (No. 12, Cincinnati Reds), Mick Abel (No. 15, Philadelphia Phillies), Ed Howard IV (No. 16, Chicago Cubs), Jordan Walker (No. 21, St. Louis Cardinals), Carson Tucker (No. 23, Cleveland Indians), Tyler Soderstrom (No. 26, Oakland Athletics) and Romo.

The second round featured six more PDP League players, as well as three participants taken in the third round, three in the fourth round and two in the fifth.

Nine past NTDP participants were also selected in the first round of the 2020 Draft, with Hendrick, Abel, Nick Yorke (No. 17, Boston Red Sox) and Crow-Armstrong taken in the top 20 picks. Tucker, Nick Bitsko (No. 24, Tampa Bay Rays), Austin Wells (No. 28, New York Yankees), Romo and Tanner Burns (No. 36, Cleveland Indians) rounded out the NTDP members drafted in the first round.

Additionally, 13 past NTDP athletes were taken in Rounds 2-5 with six selected in the second, four in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth.

The full lists of USA Baseball alumni, PDP League participants and NTDP members selected in the 2020 MLB Draft are as follows:

National Team Alumni
Round-Pick; Name; MLB Team; USA Baseball Team(s)

1-1; Spencer Torkelson; Detroit Tigers; 2018-19 Collegiate National Teams
1-2; Heston Kjerstad; Baltimore Orioles; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-3; Max Meyer; Miami Marlins; 2018-19 Collegiate National Teams
1-4; Asa Lacy; Kansas City Royals; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-5; Austin Martin; Toronto Blue Jays; 2014 15U, 2019 Collegiate National Teams
1-8; Robert Hassell III; San Diego Padres; 2019 18U National Team
1-10; Reid Detmers; Los Angeles Angels; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-12; Austin Hendrick; Cincinnati Reds; 2019 18U National Team
1-13; Patrick Bailey; San Francisco Giants; 2016 18U, 2018-19 Collegiate National Teams
1-14; Justin Foscue; Texas Rangers; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-15; Mick Abel; Philadelphia Phillies; 2019 18U National Team
1-19; Pete Crow-Armstrong; New York Mets; 2014 12U, 2017 15U, 2018-19 18U National Teams
1-20; Garrett Mitchell; Milwaukee Brewers; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-22; Cade Cavalli; Washington Nationals; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-23; Carson Tucker; Cleveland Indians; 2013-14 12U National Teams
1-26; Tyler Soderstrom; Oakland Athletics; 2019 18U National Team
1-32; Nick Loftin; Kansas City Royals; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-35; Drew Romo; Colorado Rockies; 2018-19 18U National Teams
1-36; Tanner Burns; Cleveland Indians; 2018 Collegiate National Team
1-37; Alika Williams; Tampa Bay Rays; 2019 Collegiate National Team
2-41; Ben Hernandez; Kansas City Royals; 2019 18U National Team
2-42; C.J. Van Eyk; Toronto Blue Jays; 2016 18U, 2018 Collegiate National Teams
2-44; Jared Jones; Pittsburgh Pirates; 2016 15U National Team
2-46; Chris McMahon; Colorado Rockies; 2019 Collegiate National Team
2-47; Jared Kelley; Chicago White Sox; 2018 18U National Team
2-51; Burl Carraway; Chicago Cubs; 2019 Collegiate National Team
2-52; J.T. Ginn; New York Mets; 2017 18U National Team
2-54; Masyn Winn; St. Louis Cardinals; 2014 12U, 2017 15U National Teams
2-56; Logan Allen; Cleveland Indians; 2016 18U, 2019 Collegiate National Teams
2-58; Jeff Criswell; Oakland Athletics; 2019 Collegiate National Team
2-62; Daniel Cabrera; Detroit Tigers; 2013 15U, 2018 Collegiate National Teams
2-65; Jackson Miller; Cincinnati Reds; 2014 12U, 2017 15U National Teams
2-70; Alec Burleson; St. Louis Cardinals; 2019 Collegiate National Team
3-80; Cole Wilcox; San Diego Padres; 2017 18U, 2019 Collegiate National Teams
3-85; Kyle Harrison; San Francisco Giants; 2019 18U National Team
3-95; Petey Halpin; Cleveland Indians; 2017 15U National Team
3-96; Hunter Barnhart; Tampa Bay Rays; 2014 12U National Team
3-101; Tyler Brown; Houston Astros; 2019 Collegiate National Team
4-106; Nick Frasso; Toronto Blue Jays; 2019 Collegiate National Team
4-119; A.J. Vukovich; Arizona Diamondbacks; 2019 18U National Team
4-124; Milan Tolentino; Cleveland Indians; 2019 18U National Team

2019 PDP League Participants
Round-Pick; Name; MLB Team
1-8; Robert Hassell III; San Diego Padres
1-12; Austin Hendrick; Cincinnati Reds
1-15; Mick Abel; Philadelphia Phillies
1-16; Ed Howard IV; Chicago Cubs
1-21; Jordan Walker; St. Louis Cardinals
1-23; Carson Tucker; Cleveland Indians
1-26; Tyler Soderstrom; Oakland Athletics
1-35; Drew Romo; Colorado Rockies
2-40; Dax Fulton; Miami Marlins
2-41; Ben Hernandez; Kansas City Royals
2-44; Jared Jones; Pittsburgh Pirates
2-54; Masyn Winn; St. Louis Cardinals
2-65; Jackson Miller; Cincinnati Reds
2-72; Alex Santos; Houston Astros
3-85; Kyle Harrison; San Francisco Giants
3-90; Liam Norris; Arizona Diamondbacks
3-95; Petey Halpin; Cleveland Indians
4-111; Werner Blakely; Los Angeles Angels
4-119; A.J. Vukovich; Arizona Diamondbacks
4-124; Milan Tolentino; Cleveland Indians
5-132; Colt Keith; Detroit Tigers
5-147; Koen Moreno; Chicago Cubs

National Team Development Program Members
Round-Pick; Name; MLB Team; NTDP Team(s)
1-12; Austin Hendrick; Cincinnati Reds; 2018 17U NTDP
1-15; Mick Abel; Philadelphia Phillies; 2018 17U NTDP
1-17; Nick Yorke; Boston Red Sox; 2016 14U NTDP
1-19; Pete Crow-Armstrong; New York Mets; 2016 14U, 2018-19 17U NTDPs
1-23; Carson Tucker; Cleveland Indians; 2018 17U NTDP
1-24; Nick Bitsko; Tampa Bay Rays; 2016 14U, 2018 16U, 2019 17U NTDPs
1-28; Austin Wells; New York Yankees; 2016 17U NTDP
1-35; Drew Romo; Colorado Rockies; 2018 17U NTDP
1-36; Tanner Burns; Cleveland Indians; 2015 17U NTDP
2-40; Dax Fulton; Miami Marlins; 2018 17U NTDP
2-44; Jared Jones; Pittsburgh Pirates; 2015 14U, 2018 17U NTDPs
2-47; Jared Kelley; Chicago White Sox; 2018 17U NTDP
2-54; Masyn Winn; St. Louis Cardinals; 2016 14U, 2018 17U NTDPs
2-55; Cole Henry; Washington Nationals; 2016 17U NTDP
2-65; Jackson Miller; Cincinnati Reds; 2016 14U NTDP
3-90; Liam Norris; Arizona Diamondbacks; 2018 17U NTDP
3-94; Holden Powell; Washington Nationals; 2016 17U NTDP
3-95; Petey Halpin; Cleveland Indians; 2018 16U NTDP
3-96; Hunter Barnhart; Tampa Bay Rays; 2018 16U NTDP
4-102; Gage Workman; Detroit Tigers; 2016 17U NTDP
5-132; Colt Keith; Detroit Tigers; 2018 17U NTDP
5-134; Kyle Hurt; Miami Marlins; 2015 17U NTDP

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Twenty USA Baseball Alumni Taken in First Round of 2020 MLB Draft

Collegiate National Team alum Spencer Torkelson selected No. 1 overall by Detroit
June 11, 2020

CARY, N.C. -- Twenty USA Baseball alumni were selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday night, including number one overall pick Spencer Torkelson. USA Baseball has had 524 total athletes drafted in the first round since 1972, and 2020 marks the 18th time in the last 20 years that the first overall pick played for Team USA.

Torkelson (No. 1, Detroit Tigers) became the eighth consecutive USA Baseball alum to be selected number one overall following Adley Rutschman (2019), Casey Mize (2018), Royce Lewis (2017), Mickey Moniak (2016), Dansby Swanson (2015), Brady Aiken (2014) and Mark Appel (2013). The Tigers have selected a member of Team USA with the first overall pick for the second time in three years after also drafting Mize in 2018.

In total, 33 alumni have been selected with the number one overall pick since 1972.

Five consecutive USA Baseball players were taken to begin the Draft for the third time in the organization's history (2007, 2010) with Torkelson, followed by Heston Kjerstad (No. 2, Baltimore Orioles), Max Meyer (No. 3, Miami Marlins), Asa Lacy (No. 4, Kansas City Royals) and Austin Martin (No. 5, Toronto Blue Jays), respectively. All five were teammates on the 2019 Collegiate National Team.

Additionally, 11 of the first 15 selections in the 2020 Draft have donned the red, white and blue in their career. 2019 USA Baseball Richard W. "Dick" Case Award winner and 18U National Team alum, Robert Hassell III, was taken with the eighth overall pick by the San Diego Padres and was followed by Reid Detmers (No. 10, Los Angeles Angels), Austin Hendrick (No. 12, Cincinnati Reds), Patrick Bailey (No. 13, San Francisco Giants), Justin Foscue (No. 14, Texas Rangers) and Mick Abel (No. 15, Philadelphia Phillies).

Four-time national team alum Pete Crow-Armstrong was the next USA Baseball player taken with the 19th pick by the New York Mets and the first round ended with eight more Team USA members being selected: Garrett Mitchell (No. 20, Milwaukee Brewers), Cade Cavalli (No. 22, Washington Nationals), Carson Tucker (No. 23, Cleveland Indians), Tyler Soderstrom (No. 26, Oakland Athletics), Nick Loftin (No. 32, Kansas City Royals), Drew Romo (No. 35, Colorado Rockies), Tanner Burns (No. 36, Cleveland Indians), and Alika Williams (No. 37, Tampa Bay Rays).

Four national team programs were represented in the 2020 Draft, including 13 players from the Collegiate National Team, seven from the 18U National Team, and two from both the 12U and 15U National Teams. In total, the 20 alumni selected in the opening round have won a cumulative five international gold medals and nine silver medals.

The 2020 MLB Draft will continue on Thursday, June 11, at 5 p.m. ET.

The full list of USA Baseball alumni selected in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft is as follows:

Round-Pick; Name; MLB Team; USA Baseball Team(s)
1-1; Spencer Torkelson; Detroit Tigers; 2018-19 Collegiate National Teams
1-2; Heston Kjerstad; Baltimore Orioles; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-3; Max Meyer; Miami Marlins; 2018-19 Collegiate National Teams
1-4; Asa Lacy; Kansas City Royals; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-5; Austin Martin; Toronto Blue Jays; 2014 15U, 2019 Collegiate National Teams
1-8; Robert Hassell III; San Diego Padres, 2019 18U National Team
1-10; Reid Detmers; Los Angeles Angels; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-12; Austin Hendrick; Cincinnati Reds; 2019 18U National Team
1-13; Patrick Bailey; San Francisco Giants; 2016 18U, 2018-19 Collegiate National Teams
1-14; Justin Foscue; Texas Rangers; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-15; Mick Abel; Philadelphia Phillies; 2019 18U National Team
1-19; Pete Crow-Armstrong; New York Mets; 2014 12U, 2017 15U, 2018-19 18U National Teams
1-20; Garrett Mitchell; Milwaukee Brewers; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-22; Cade Cavalli; Washington Nationals; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-23; Carson Tucker; Cleveland Indians; 2013-14 12U National Teams
1-26; Tyler Soderstrom; Oakland Athletics; 2019 18U National Team
1-32; Nick Loftin; Kansas City Royals; 2019 Collegiate National Team
1-35; Drew Romo; Colorado Rockies; 2018-19 18U National Teams
1-36; Tanner Burns; Cleveland Indians; 2018 Collegiate National Team
1-37; Alika Williams; Tampa Bay Rays; 2019 Collegiate National Team

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USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee COVID-19 Recommendations

Recommendations for Youth and Adolescent Baseball Players During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic
May 22, 2020

The USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee has provided the following recommendations for youth and adolescent baseball players during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic:

1. Your Important Role in Social Distancing
Baseball players and their families have never experienced anything like the COVID-19 global pandemic. While we are all anxious to return to baseball, we have a bigger issue to deal with first: social distancing. Your participation in social distancing may not only save your life, but also contributes to keeping our neighbors, family, and friends safe. Please follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and your state and local governments. We are all in this together, as stated here.

2. When are we Returning?
Amateur baseball organizations are monitoring government mandates and guidelines, and will re-open when it is appropriate. As school baseball teams have been canceled for the spring 2020 season, each amateur player and family should determine a personal target for the next time they will be playing organized baseball. If they plan to return to a team in the next few weeks, the player should view the current time as preseason preparation; however, if the next season of competition is several months away, the player should view the current time as an offseason.

3. Baseball Strength and Conditioning
Staying at home because of coronavirus has created a situation with less outdoor physical activity. It is vital that amateur baseball players exercise during these times, whether indoors or outdoors. Physical activity should be fun and gratifying for physical and emotional health. The USA Baseball Athletic Preparation Plan includes videos of Arm Care, Lower Body Strength and Dynamic Flexibility exercises.

4. Baseball Skill Development
Skill training in the home and backyard requires some creativity. A few worthwhile activities for hitters are dry swings, one-handed and two-handed tee drills with a catch net or a hanging blanket, and whiffle ball. Pitchers must balance their volume of work to improve their skills but also take steps to avoid overuse. Throwing programs during the shutdown may include bullpen pitching, interval throwing, and weighted balls. USA Baseball offers a wide variety of free development-based assets online at and on its Mobile Coach App.

5. The Complete Athlete
While there may be some tempting poor lifestyle choices at home, especially during the time of a pandemic, the most successful athletes embrace proper nutrition and hydration to optimize their physical activity and recovery. Emotional well-being is also critical for thriving during these unusual and stressful times.

6. Baseball is Still a Team Sport
Although players may be apart for social distancing, the efforts of the team can still be a coordinated effort. Recommendations for coaches are located here.

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3 Up, 3 Down with Mikie Mahtook

May 20, 2020

We are joined by Mikie Mahtook. Mikie was a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2010 following his Sophomore season at LSU. He is a Louisiana boy turned LSU Baseball legend who helped lead the Tigers to a College World Series championship his freshman season. A first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays, Mikie has spent time at the big-league level with the Rays and Tigers. He is now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization after signing with the club this past offseason. 

USA Baseball (USAB): Let's first talk about your decision to attend LSU In the first place. After your senior year of high school, you had committed to the LSU Tigers, the hometown team about an hour down the road, and you were drafted by the Florida Marlins, was there any possibility you weren't headed to Baton Rouge?

Mikie Mahtook (MM): A small possibility. My dad and my uncle both played football at LSU, my whole family went to school at LSU, so I was going to LSU football games and baseball games from a young age so that's where I wanted to go, that's the place I wanted to be. My situation was a little tricky as a football player first and then a baseball player second. Football recruiting got heated a little bit earlier than baseball did so for a little while there I thought I was going to play both in college but at the end of the day I made a decision in the middle of my senior football season I just wanted to play baseball in college and LSU came to me and asked me if I wanted to go to school there and play baseball there. I initially committed to LSU as a preferred walk on because they had changed the scholarship rules that year and I had taken so long to make a decision that LSU didn't have any scholarship money left. 

So I committed as a preferred walk-on and then went through my senior baseball season and had a great high school senior season and started shooting up draft boards. I had never once in my life thought about getting drafted out of high school. My goal was to get to the major leagues, but I always thought I was going to go to college and then maybe get drafted and make it to the big leagues. But once I had that opportunity and scouts started talking to me, I had no idea what I was doing. My mom and I talked about it and thought we didn't really want to go so we gave them this really high number that they didn't even bat an eye on, so we thought maybe we should have gone higher. But we weren't really ready to sign so there were a few teams that were really high on me, but at the end of the day I called them and said I wanted to go to school and develop more as a player and I appreciated the interest and then I think the Marlins drafted me just as a courtesy selection that late in the draft. But it was a very cool experience that helped prepare me for when I would get drafted.

USAB: Had you had any conversations with big league scouts prior to that draft? Did you have a sense of where you might be drafted?

MM: Yeah, like I said I'd never really expected to get drafted and then all of a sudden you start getting at-home visits, and you start getting phone calls, and then you start having people come to games more often specifically to watch me. So we didn't really know what we were doing. We talked to some people in our hometown that had been drafted, going to ask them for some advice and what we need to do. And one day I had a conversation with my family where I said look I've never focused solely on baseball in my life it's kind of cool that I'm getting looked at to further my career as a professional, but I think for my development I need to go to LSU and focus strictly on baseball. Put football aside. Once I did that, I still kind of wanted to get drafted high, just to pump the ego just a little bit. But I knew after I told him I wanted to go to school that I probably wasn't going to get drafted as high as I thought.

USAB: You get to LSU your freshman year and you guys put together one of the best seasons in program history. You win SEC Tournament MVP. You get to Omaha, cruise through to the College World Series Final, and you come up with the game-winning hit in extra innings of Game 1 against Texas. What do you remember about that game?

MM: First thing I remember was it was extremely, extremely hot. I remember I had to get an IV in the middle of the game because I couldn't stop cramping. The game was actually on TV the other day and it was the first time I ever rewatched it and they said it was 107 degree heat index so it was steaming. After that I remember in my first three at-bats I struck out. Not good at-bats. My fourth at-bat I put the ball in play but I hit into a double play. So I'm 0-for-4 and I made 5 outs. And I'm thinking this is not how I wanted this to go. Then my fifth at-bat I ended up swinging at a pitch way in the other batters box but somehow found a hole for a base hit. And then I got the game-winning hit in the 11th and it was a surreal moment. Obviously you work all year to get to that point and you hope to have an opportunity to come up with a big hit like that and I was able to battle through a tough game and was able to come through so it was exciting. I think the coolest part about that was the way my teammates reacted after I got the hit.

USAB: Were there any moments that came back to you while you were watching the broadcast? 

MM: I remember watching my swing and seeing that they are spinning me slider after slider after slider. I'm a freshman and I'm still trying to make adjustments. I know at that moment I told myself I have got to figure this out. I have got to put this ball in play. And then I finally put the ball in play and believe it or not after I hit into that double play I was able to exhale, even though it was a double play. Because I didn't hit it terrible, but I didn't hit it great because obviously it was a ground ball to the second baseman but I exhaled and thought alright, got a little of the barrel, I put the ball in the play, we have some action here. I'm okay. I can exhale a little bit. And then the next one I found the hole with a lucky hit. Then my last at-bat I tell myself just find a way to get this thing into the outfield and get the hit. And I was able to do that.

USAB: That was game one. What about the series clinching game? What are your memories of that clinching game and claiming the title?

MM: So we had to come back to win the first game. DJ LeMahieu hit a 2-RBI double in the ninth to tie it and then we won in extra innings. Then in game two we had to face Taylor Jungmann and he threw an absolute gem. I think they beat us 5-1 and we had no shot against him that day. He was just on. So the third game, we walked into the clubhouse and had this weird confidence like we knew we were going to win. So we were loose and having fun. No one was really tight. And then in the first inning Jared Mitchell hit a three-run homer and gave us all the momentum.

They actually came back to tie the game but then I hit a double in the sixth inning to give us a 5-4 lead and then I think we ended up scoring four more runs in that inning to clinch it. But we entered that game with this confidence that we knew we were going to win. Coach Mainieri talked to us before the game and said "If I had told you before the season you had one game to win the World Series would you take it?" And we said yes, obviously. We were in that situation and we knew we were going to win. We had our horses ready to go and we had that confidence and I think we ended up winning 11-4. 

USAB: So what were the next two years at LSU like? You are a Louisiana kid, your parents went to LSU, your dad played football at LSU, you won a College World Series as a freshman. Are you Big Man on Campus at that point?

MM: Coming back to campus was pretty cool. We don't have a Major League Baseball team in Louisiana so LSU is almost like the professional team here. People love baseball in south Louisiana, especially LSU baseball. So people recognize us, people want to talk to us, it was kind of cool because I had never experienced that. It was something we had to learn how to juggle to take these new responsibilities and be mature with them and we were good about it. We had our fun and enjoyed it but we knew there were bigger things we needed to do. And that next year we started out 32-6 and we were number one in the country before we had some injuries and lost some pitching depth and we struggled a little bit. We got it back together at the end of the year but ran into a buzz saw in the regional against UCLA with Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole. 

Then my junior season was a bit of a lost season. It was personally my best year statistically, but we were 36-20 and didn't make the postseason. It was a tough pill to swallow but it is what it is. It was tough to go out that way, but definitely some good moments.

USAB: I know you still keep in touch with the LSU baseball program. Partly through the No. 8 you wore during your time there. Since you left it has become tradition that the number is given to a player that symbolizes leadership and dedication to LSU Baseball. Some guys who have worn No. 8 since your time at LSU include Alex Bregman, Jake Fraley, and most recently, two-time USA Baseball alum Daniel Cabrera. How did that tradition come about?

MM: LSU football has a similar tradition with No. 18. It started with Matt Mauk and it is an honor to get No. 18. The players vote on it and it is not necessarily the most talented player on the field but more about the character and how much they loved LSU. The person you want to play at LSU. I thought it was a really cool idea so I left after my junior season and Mason Katz was still on the team so I called him and said I wanted to do something like football and asked what he thought about it. I told him I knew No. 5 was his number but I asked him if he would want to wear No. 8 and he said absolutely. So he wore it for two years and I think he hit 17 homers his senior season and he passed it down and we wanted to give it to someone who could lead the team but also have passion and energy for LSU and to represent the number well. I think the few people who have worn it have represented it the way we wanted it represented.

USAB: So you passed it down first and chose who you passed it to. Has it remained that kind of fraternity between guys who have worn the No. 8 jersey?

MM: Antoine Duplantis passed it to Daniel Cabrera and Antoine just broke the LSU hits record a few years ago. Antoine is from my hometown and I actually used to hit in the cage with Antoine and his little brother who is now an olympian. So I have known those guys most of my life. 

I stay connected with the guys, I live in Baton Rouge so I work out at the facility all the time so I talk to those guys about any questions they may have. But most of these guys are pretty set. They know what's going on and have an idea of what they want to do and where they want to be and what they want to become. That is part of wearing the number is taking that responsibility and leading the team. Cabrera, before the season got cancelled, was having a great year and doing just that. 

At the end of a year if they can't figure out who should get the number next year, they will call some of the older guys that had the jersey for their input. It has turned out to be a pretty cool thing.

USAB: That is a really cool tradition. Obviously the number still means a lot to you, and it took four or five years into your pro career to get the number back. Did that mean a lot to you to finally get number 8 with the Detroit Tigers last year? 

MM: I tried to get it even in the minor leagues. I tried to get it in High-A, but someone was there, an older player who already had it, so I couldn't get it there. Then I tried in Double-A, but couldn't get it again. Then I got to Triple-A and the number 8 was retired because of Crash Davis with the Durham Bulls. So I can't get the number anywhere and it is frustrating. 

Then I get to the big leagues and I'm a rookie so I'm not going to ask for a specific number, because you can't do that as a rookie. So then I just decided to embrace wearing No. 27 which is the number they gave me. And then I got traded to Detroit and Justin Upton was wearing No. 8 at the time. And then Justin got traded so in the offseason I asked our clubbie what he thought of me wearing No. 8 now that Justin got traded and he said yes so I was fired up. I actually just got that jersey framed. I only have No. 8 jerseys framed in my house so that is pretty cool.

USAB: Let's get to your time with the Collegiate National Team in 2010. It was a loaded roster, with Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray, George Springer, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brad Miller and plenty of others. Do you still have relationships with guys from that team?

MM: We keep in touch. Obviously life happens, guys get married and have kids so it's not as much as when we were 20, we don't have as much free time. But whenever we do see each other the conversations are easy, you always have that bond. I'm actually now doing these daily zoom calls with amateur athletes and bringing on other athletes and George Springer came on and did one the other week. And these are relationships you build when you are 20 so they last a long time and it is really a cool thing. 

I think that is one of the coolest things about playing for Team USA is that I got to play with these guys that you don't necessarily get to play with ever again. I think the only person I played with again after Team USA was Brad Miller. Brad Miller and I are really really good friends. So you may not get to play with them all again so you have to embrace it when you're together and it was a really cool experience. 

USAB: What were your favorite memories of that 2010 Collegiate National Team? Anything in particular stick out either on or off the field? 

MM: We had a lot of fun together. We got to go to Tokyo and I had never been to that part of the world so flying together and getting to hang out with each other in Tokyo was really cool. One thing I remember is that we were at the tournament in Tokyo and we were playing Japan, the host team, and the place is packed. All with their fans because we are obviously nowhere near home. So the first inning Springer hits a grand slam. We were going nuts, it was crazy, and we ended up winning the game 4-1 and it was the only runs we scored. But that entire game was so intense and you got to see how much their fans really loved baseball and that was really cool.

We ended up playing Cuba in the finals and it was a hard fought game but they ended up walking us off in extra innings. And that Cuba team was stacked. They had Cespedes and Jose Abreu and those guys. But those two games are what I remember most about that year.

USAB: After playing on that team with so many other talented players, what did you learn and how did you grow as a player after that experience? 

MM: I grew a lot. Like you said that was the first time I played on a team with that much competition outside of college and it was awesome. The outfield was Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, George Springer in left and I was in right. So you get to play in the outfield with guys that are going to be first rounders, guys that are going to be in the big leagues.

And then in the Trials you get to face pitchers who didn't even make the team who are now big leaguers. Pitchers that are aces in the big leagues that were on our team. We had to face those guys at Trials. And just to see how those guys approached the game and competed on the field was really great to be a part of. 

USAB: So a lot of us are in this holding pattern waiting for baseball to resume. Tell me, what is life like right now?

MM: Being back here in Baton Rouge I actually have some nice facilities I can take advantage of. I have a batting cage I can use so I hit every day. The neighborhood I live in, there are still three or four guys that still play professionally so we kind of have our own little mini spring training in the neighborhood. Kevin Gausman lives right around the corner from me and we will go to an empty lot or the edge of a golf course and long toss. He actually bought a portable pitchers mound so he'll set it up in his backyard and throw bullpens. 

Other than that it is like being a kid again. A lot of home workouts. Just trying to find out whatever you can do around the house to stay in shape. It has been tough but it has been kind of fun too. Fun trying to figure out how and where we are going to get these workouts done.

USAB: Anything outside of baseball?

MM: I mentioned earlier that I started this project with a mentor of mine it is called the Champions Rise Challenge. Professional athletes aren't the only athletes affected by this COVID-19 pandemic. More so than us it is these amateur athletes who lost their season and maybe lost their opportunity to get recruited. And not having the resources a professional athlete has can be kind of scary. So we decided to have these daily zoom calls, it is free to sign up, and we are trying to get as many athletes, nutritionists, coaches, all influencing these younger kids. Coming on to donate their time to these athletes. 

We are also encouraging parents to come on because when you're young you look for someone to lean on you want someone to help direct you. So if these parents are doing the same things the kids are doing, they are able to help them grow and get through this tough time. It has been awesome. The feedback has been great. We have a week and a half left but we are so excited about it we are looking at ways to maybe continue it even further than that. 

USAB: Lastly, let's talk about your foundation, The Mikie Mahtook Foundation. It can be found @MahtookCares on Twitter and @MahtookFoundation on Instagram. Tell us about the foundation.

MM: I started this foundation in 2014 to honor my dad. He was Mikie Mahtook Sr. He passed away unexpectedly when I was four years old due to cardiomyopathy. The foundation promotes and educates about the prevention of heart disease. We have recently moved into the testing sector. We are in the process of partnering with another organization that is able to test for free. We want to be able to detect heart disease so these kids and their parents can get diagnosed and get treatment. 

I was four years old when my father passed away and I had twin sisters that were two. So all of a sudden my mother was a young single mother of three and that kind of thing can rock a family. So if I can help just one family prevent a loss like that, then we are doing something right. It has been great, we have a lot of plans for the future, and we have some ambitious goals for it. In the next two or three years, it is going to be a household name.

Give Mikie a "follow" on Instagram and Twitter at @MikieMahtook8!

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USA Baseball Modifies On-Field Programming Schedule

All events continue to be subject to cancellation or postponement
May 18, 2020

CARY, N.C. - USA Baseball announced today a modified schedule of events for its 2020 summer season due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Created in adherence to the regulations set forth by the appropriate federal, state and local governments, the updated schedule is tentatively set to begin with the 14U Cup from July 24-26 at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

All of these events continue to be subject to cancellation or postponement based on the future state of the evolving coronavirus situation. The organization will monitor the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), as well as consult its Medical/Safety Advisory Committee in order to evaluate the status of its upcoming tournaments.

All further decisions will be made in as timely a manner as possible with respect to the safety and well-being of all the participating athletes, coaches and fans. If these tournaments run as scheduled, teams and fans will be required to follow a series of return to play guidelines developed by USA Baseball. These guidelines will be shared with all participants within an appropriate timeframe leading up to the event.

"As the national governing body for baseball in the United States, we feel it is in the best interest of the thousands of baseball athletes in our country to postpone our return to the field due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "We share in the longing for baseball's return, but we believe it is prudent to continue assessing the situation and finalizing a course of action that prioritizes the overall health and safety of our participants and their families in light of the continued transmission of this disease.

"This schedule was structured in an effort to secure as many opportunities as possible for athletes who hope to one day play for Team USA. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to this charge; however, we will continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and monitor the guidelines set forth by the CDC and the USOPC in case additional modifications need to be made."

The following events have been tentatively rescheduled on the 2020 calendar:

• 17U National Team Championships North Carolina (July 27-30)
• 14U and 15U National Team Championships Arizona (July 27-30)
• 16U and 17U National Team Championships Arizona (July 31-August 3)
• 15U National Team Championships North Carolina (August 4-9)
• 10U Futures Invitational (August 6-9)
• 16U National Team Championships North Carolina (August 11-16)
• 11U, 12U, 13U and 14U NTIS Champions Cup (August 19-23)
• 15U and 16U NTIS Champions Cup (August 26-30)

The following events and national team programming have been cancelled:

• 11U Futures Invitational
• 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP)
• 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP)
• National Team Championships Florida

The 14U Cup (July 24-26) and 11U/13U Futures Series Irvine (August 28-30) are set to take place as originally scheduled.

Additionally, USA Baseball continues to work closely with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) with respect to the international baseball calendar. To date, the WBSC has postponed the Americas Baseball Olympic Qualifier, U-15 Baseball World Cup and the Women's Baseball World Cup until further notice. The U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier has also been postponed but will not take place this year.

"USA Baseball fully supports the WBSC and its decision to indefinitely postpone the events on the baseball calendar in an effort to protect our national team athletes at this time," continued Seiler. "When the time comes for Team USA to return to the field, we will be ready to continue our longstanding tradition of excellence on the international stage."

Corresponding to the status of the international baseball calendar, USA Baseball has cancelled all 12U National Team programming events for 2020, meanwhile any future events planned for the 15U National Team, 18U National Team, Collegiate National Team and Women's National Team this year will be announced as necessary.

The Medical/Safety Advisory Committee has published a free Athlete Preparation Plan that provides a series of at-home exercises aimed to prepare young athletes for their return to the diamond following a prolonged disruption from on-field activity. To access this plan and to read its recommendations for baseball players during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Further information on USA Baseball updates relating to COVID-19 can be found here. For up-to-the-minute updates on the organization and its events, follow @USABaseball on social media.

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Pro Team

USA Baseball Mourns the Loss of Bob Watson

Former Team USA General Manager led the stars and stripes to an Olympic gold medal and back-to-back world championship titles
May 15, 2020

CARY, N.C. - USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler released the following statement mourning the loss of Bob Watson. Watson, also known as "The Bull," was a pioneer in every sense of the word within the game of baseball and was an integral part of a tremendous period of success for Team USA on the international stage from 1999-2009.

"'Bull' was one of those rare people in life who made everyone around him better, both on the field and off. His baseball résumé is legendary, but the impact he made on others in every walk of life is what truly sets his legacy apart. Personally, and professionally, I am honored to have called him a friend and humbled to have learned so much from him. On behalf of USA Baseball, our hearts are heavy today for his wife, Carol, his children, Keith and Kelley, and for all who were lucky enough to have known him."

Serving as the General Manager for four USA Baseball national teams, Watson helped lead the U.S. to unprecedented heights, winning the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, qualifying the U.S. for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and winning back-to-back International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Cup titles in 2007 and 2009. Team USA held a 27-3 cumulative record during his tenure as General Manager with the red, white and blue. Additionally, he was vital to the introduction of professional athletes to the USA Baseball national team program for the first time in 1999 and served on the selection committee for the XIII Pan American Games roster, which ultimately won a silver medal and earned its spot in the Sydney 2000 Olympic baseball tournament.

Watson was a two-time All-Star for the Houston Astros in 1973 and 1975, and spent 19 years playing in the Majors. He finished his career also playing for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, holding a .295 career batting average with 184 homers, 989 RBIs and 802 runs scored.

After his playing career ended in 1984, he went on to be the hitting coach for the American League pennant-winning Oakland Athletics in 1988 before becoming the second African American General Manager in major league history when the Astros hired him in 1993. Watson then served as the GM for the New York Yankees from 1995-1997, where he helped the Yankees win the World Series in 1996-their first title since 1978.

Watson would later work for MLB beginning in 1997 as the vice president in charge of discipline and of rules and on-field discipline before retiring in 2010.

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3 Up, 3 Down with Travis Swaggerty

USA Baseball caught up with the 2017 Collegiate National team alum and 10th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft on Instagram Live
May 8, 2020

We are joined by 2017 Collegiate National Team alum Travis Swaggerty. Travis ranked second on the team in hits (21) and on-base percentage (.449) and third in stolen bases (6) and batting average (.328) along the way to a 15-5 record. He also earned batting champion honors in the Chinese Taipei series in route to a four-game sweep, as well in the five-game series victory against Cuba.

Travis spent three years at the University of South Alabama where he racked up 27 home runs and numerous top player rankings throughout his career, including being named to the 2018 All-Sun Belt First Team. Afterwards, he was taken 10th overall, second-highest in South Al history, in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates where he is currently a member of the Bradenton Marauders.

USA Baseball (USAB): When did you realize that playing baseball professionally was more than just a dream and was an actual obtainable goal?
Travis Swaggerty (TS):That's a good question, I would probably say after my freshman year college. You know in high school I was a good player but I was going to South Alabama, not a huge school but still some big names coming out of there. My Freshman fall I still had an "I hope I make it" kind of mindset versus "I'm going to make it". I actually had a really good freshman year and came off that. I got the whole summer off and once I came back to school my sophomore year I was in the best shape of my life. I was feeling good, balls starting to fly little bit and I was like "hey man, I can do this," so I kind of put my nose to the grindstone after that and here I am.

USAB: At any part in that process did you really believe, "I'm not just a draft pick but like a top 10 pick?
TS:That actually never became realistic until it happened. Honestly, I guess the goal when I got to college like maybe top ten rounds would be awesome. You know what that was a pretty reachable goal I thought. I think once I got to Team USA, honestly. I went out there and I still didn't feel like I fit in because there was a bunch of big school guys. I was really one of the few smaller school guys so I was like man I really have to prove myself. Once I made the team and started playing I start playing pretty well and I was like man I can hang these guys. Right then I knew I had a good shot but I didn't really understand until it happened.

USAB:You are a product of the University of South Alabama believing in yourself is a big thing. Who comes to mind in terms of people helping you believe that along the way?
TS:A lot of people. I think South Alabama was perfect for me because we kind of have that blue-collar aspect being a smaller school so a couple of my teammates and coaches really kept me level-headed where I needed to be. Some of the names that come to mind one is Brendan Donovan (Cardinals) and Dylan Hardy (Red Sox) and those two guys are actually going to be in my so we're really close. Those guys have a similar work ethic to me and we surrounded ourselves with each other but I think we kind of fed off each other and now we're all playing professionally so I think that that's no surprise.

USAB:Let's go back to draft day, were you expecting your name to be called and what was it like?
TS:I was at the draft. I had no idea. I had my dad, my cousin, my best friend and mine now fiancé by me. You know must people who sit at home get a call but I was sitting in my chair in the corner. I had my phone in my pocket but I couldn't check it, there's cameras on you so I didn't have any calls or anything. So as soon as commissioner Manfred went up and called my name it was a huge shock.

USAB:What was the first thing on your mind and what were your emotions to hear the commissioner himself mention your name as the next draft pick?
TS:I honestly had no thoughts all I could do was cry. It had finally happened for me, the dream you know. I had nothing going through my mind but like thank goodness, I'm so blessed I made it and now the real work has to begin.

USAB:What have you found is the biggest difference between how you expected entering minor league baseball to be and reality?
TS:I feel like I expected what happened but it really its the everyday grind you know in college you get Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday sometimes Wednesday but you get a lot of practice days some off time but pro ball you don't get any. You get some leisure time spent in the morning before the game and most of the time people want to sleep because you're so tired because you play every day. That and the bus trips every week. I wasn't expecting to travel like that. I thought it would be a little bit easier; it is not. You play a night game on the road on Wednesday, you get on the bus and you drive back home 8 hours, you wake up the next morning and you've got to get up and eat and go back to the park. So it's just nonstop.

USAB:Do you think that playing at a school like South Alabama helped prime you better than other guys that are in the minors?
TS:I don't necessarily think so. I mean we never got to really fly anywhere except one trip a year. I don't think that really prepared me any more than the work ethic piece. I think because it was a blue-collar school we thought we had to work a little harder to be able to compete with everybody else, so I think taking that attitude was a huge advantage for me.

USAB: You performed really well with the Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2017. What did you learn from that experience?
TS:I think I learned how to handle the Scouts a little better. You know before that I really didn;t have a lot of eyes on me and every day you look in the stands and there are scouts from every single team. You have to be able to perform with eyes on you and I think that primed me to be able to just play and focus on the game and not worry about who's in the stands.

USAB: What do you remember about the build-up to it? Was it an unexpected call when you got the invite to training camp with the CNT?
TS:Our head coach Mark Calvi knows someone with Team USA and he got my name out there and Eric Campbell came and watched when we played at Appalachian State in North Carolina. I didn't have a very good weekend but I was having a good year and he told me that because I was the first guy out of the dugout to congratulate the guys for doing something well and just being a good teammate, he said I was the type of guy that he wanted. I was very fortunate that even though I didn't play well I just kept my head down and tried to be a good teammate and at the end of the day that's all that matters.

USAB: What was the mentality heading in and getting to know a lot of bigger school guys?
TS:I got to be around guys like Madrigal and Vaughn and Steele Walker and Shumake and a lot of those guys I got close with. They all approach the game a little bit different way so I got to see what their routine was in the cage and what they liked to do off the tee and I took some of that with me. We fed off each other a lot. You know I thought at the beginning I would try to do a little too much because I was small school guy but it actually turned out to be the opposite I tried to do less and because I tried to do less I got to slow the game down and a little bit and was actually able to have success.

USAB: When you're on a USA Baseball roster, you only get a few months to be around your teammates. How do you bond with those guys in such a short period time and what was your experience like?
TS:It was very easy because we're all going through the same thing, you know. There's some growing pains like learning to get with a new team but everybody's there for the same reason so I think we gelled pretty quickly. Along with staying in the hotel together with was huge. We had as much comradery as possible. We'd go out to eat every day and just try to do something to get to know people. We'd play cards in the anything we could do to get acclimated and it happened pretty quickly. I thought we became friends within the first couple of days before games even started so it was probably the easiest acclamation I ever had.

USAB: Among the handful of guys that you mention is former Golden Spikes Award winner and two-times Collegiate National Team guy, Andrew Vaughn. What's your relationship like with him?
TS:I have a funny story about Vaughny. The first night I was asleep because he flew in really late and apparently, he woke me up and I introduced myself. I woke up next morning and had no recollection so I had to reintroduce myself again. He made fun of me pretty good for that. And then on the second night I was FaceTiming my now fiancé and he starts laughing because he said that she had a really thick southern accent, which she does. And he says, "I need to get me a southern belle like that." So, I told my fiancé and now he's with her best friend who is her maid of honor actually. So, we got them together and sparks flew and now here we are. A California boy with a Mississippi girl, that's right.

USAB: You made the decision to leave South Alabama after your junior year when you were drafted. How did you know it was the right time?
TS:It was relatively easy based on being picked 10th overall so I didn't really have any issue with that. It was really getting into pro ball and being the first-round pick. I feel like at the time I put a lot of pressure on myself trying to show why I was the first-round pick, even though people were telling me not to worry about that. That was tough for me. You were talking about on the water in Alabama and then I had to go up to West Virginia in the mountains and I had never been in the mountains so it was a bit of a culture shock but it wasn't too bad. I was really just playing my game that was all I had to do. I actually ended up having a pretty good summer so it worked out.

USAB: What was the best advice you received beforehand about the differences between college and pro ball?
TS:You get more information. I think the best advice was to do more studying. I think you don't really get a lot of information in college. For us at least at [South Alabama] before games our hitting coach would come up to us round us up in a circle and say, "this is what the pitcher's got, go out there and play." It's not that simple anymore. Now we have video you can watch, there's scouting reports and so much information. Basically, I was told to learn how to study, learn how to break down the data and it'll work in your favor so I think that was the best.

USAB: Do you find yourself diving into analytics on a year-to-year basis and digging into your performance and evaluating yourself that way?
TS:Not necessarily. I think for me I can feel how my body feels and what my body's telling me. So, hitting wise I can feel when something doesn't feel right versus watching. I video myself if something doesn't feel right. I'm sure every hitter is aware of where they hit the ball well and where they don't. I don't really need to see that. Mainly to look into the data I look at the pitcher I'm facing that way I can actually derive a plan. Before I get into the cage I have to have a plan against that guy. I would say I use the data more for pitchers than myself.

USAB: What's it been like as you are currently waiting things out and waiting for the season to begin?
TS:It's strange. I will say that it's strange because we don't really have a timeline really yet. I'm sure we'll get one soon but it's hard to know what to prepare for. Do you go hit in the cage five or six times a week or how much do you throw like we don't know, so that's just uncharted waters for everybody so I don't feel like I'm at a disadvantage. The part that does stink a little bit is not having a gym to go to so you're just using equipment around the house and just make shifting anything just to get something in. I hit a lot, probably 5-6 times a week. We have a high school around here that still has its doors open for us. You know you're supposed to take advantage of any crisis that we go through and I think I've spent a lot more time with the family and it's a good thing. At least with no baseball I get to be around the family so it's good. It's been going well.

USAB: When you were drafted you said your two favorite hobbies were cooking and playing PlayStation golf, is that still true?
TS: I still cook a little bit stay sharp, but I'm back on Call of Duty now, that takes up more of my time anyway. For the most part I try to spend as much time with the family and dogs as possible. I try to cook something every day to stay sharp and keep my weight up. I will say the last time I tried to cook deer sausage I burned it. So, I've been making sure I don't burn it anymore, I've been babying it so I'm getting better at it so I don't make any more mistakes. I'm eating good around here.


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