DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the 2019 12U National Team staff on Thursday, including the return of Todd Fine as the manager for the second year in a row. The rest of the 2018 staff will also return to the program in 2019 with Jason Sekany as the team's pitching coach and RJ Farrell and Marc Wiese once again serving as assistant coaches.
After leading the 2018 12U National Team to its first-ever COPABE U-12 Pan-American Championships gold medal, the staff will look to guide this year's team to the program's fourth-consecutive world championship title at the 2019 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup.
"We are honored to welcome back Todd and the rest of last year's staff to lead the 2019 12U National Team," USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler said. "This is an extremely talented group of coaches and, after leading the team to its first-ever COPABE U-12 Pan-American Championships gold medal last year, we are excited to see what new heights these coaches will take our 12U National Team to in 2019."
Last year's team went undefeated under Fine's guidance, outscoring its opponents 127-7 and winning all nine of its games by a 13-run average margin of victory en route to the gold medal.
In addition to managing the 2018 squad, Fine also served as the 12U National Team pitching coach from 2014-2017. The program claimed two world championships and two silver medals while the pitching staffs held a cumulative ERA of 3.21 and an overall record of 30-5.
Fine has also coached at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars and the 18U National Team Trials in his time with the organization. He is the founder and CEO of Top Tier Baseball based out of Chicago, Illinois. Under his guidance, Top Tier Baseball has had over 500 college baseball players, 63 Major League Baseball draft selections and nine MLB alums.
"It is a great honor to be the first back-to-back 12U manager," Fine said. "Anytime you are the three-time defending champions, having beaten the host country the last two times; there will be a huge target on our backs. The crowd intensity of 11,000 host fans chanting the entire game, the media coverage and the moment itself does not get bigger for an 11 or 12-year-old kid."
Sekany returns to the 12U National Team coaching staff in 2018 where he will serve as the team's pitching coach for the second year in a row. He was an assistant coach for the inaugural 2013 and 2015 12U National Teams that won a gold medal at the IBAF U-12 Baseball World Cups and has served on the task force at the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS) and Tournament of Stars. A second-round selection by the Boston Red Sox in the 1996 MLB Amateur Draft, Sekany is the founder and lead pitching instructor at The Pitching Center in Pleasanton, California, and a varsity coach at Granada High School (Livermore, Calif.). In addition to his responsibilities at The Pitching Center and Granada High School, he is also the Northwest regional director for the NTIS.
2019 marks Farrell's third consecutive year serving as an assistant coach for the 12U National Team. He is in his seventh year as the head coach at Rancho Cucamonga High School (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) where 23 of his players have gone on to play collegiate baseball. Prior to coaching at Rancho Cucamonga High School, he was an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Patten University (Oakland, Calif.) from 2006-2008. He has worked with USA Baseball at the 11U NTIS, 12U National Open and the USA Baseball Futures Invitational, and also served as a 12U National Team Trials coach in 2016.
After making his national team coaching debut with the 12U National Team in 2018, Wiese returns to the staff for a second year. Previously, he served on coaching staffs at the 2016 and 2017 12U National Team Trials, and the 2015 17U National Team Development Program. He is the current head coach at Puyallup High School (Puyallup, Wash.) and has led the Vikings to 11 straight South Puget Sound League titles and two state championships (2014, 2017). Wiese, who was drafted in the 1987 MLB First Year Player Draft by the New York Mets, also led Puyallup High School to the 2015 USA Baseball National High School Invitational, finishing with a 3-1 record and outscoring its opponents 20-6.
"This is a testament to the strength of last year's staff and the continuity of a common goal," Fine said. "Having the comfort level with these coaches is as good as it gets. Being on the same wavelength and knowing what to expect from one another is something that doesn't happen overnight. I am extremely excited to continue what we started last year as we look toward bringing home the program's fourth world championship title in a row."
The 12U athlete identification process began with the 2018 11U NTIS and will continue with the 2019 11U Futures Invitational June 20-23 at Middle Creek Park in Cary, North Carolina, as well as the new 12U NTIS.
Held in various locations throughout the country, the 12U NTIS will offer athletes across the U.S. the opportunity to become involved with Team USA, while providing instruction, evaluation and fun. Players from the 12U NTIS will be recommended to USA Baseball officials and, from those recommendations, USA Baseball will invite 128 players to participate in the 12U National Open, which will take place July 13-15 in Santa Clarita, California.
The 12U National Team Trials will be held immediately after the 12U National Open from June 16-18, followed by training July 19-22 before the team travels to Tainan, Taiwan for the 2019 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup that will take place July 26-August 4.
For more information on the 12U National Team, follow along on Twitter @USABaseball and @USABaseball12U.