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.