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GSA Spotlight: Indiana State’s Guerrero A Grand Surprise

April 2, 2021
If you had given a note pad to Indiana State head coach Mitch Hannahs in the fall and asked him to list five breakout candidates, there’s a decent chance that redshirt senior Geremy Guerrero doesn’t make that list. That’s certainly no disrespect to Guerrero. But in the first four years

If you had given a note pad to Indiana State head coach Mitch Hannahs in the fall and asked him to list five breakout candidates, there’s a decent chance that redshirt senior Geremy Guerrero doesn’t make that list.

That’s certainly no disrespect to Guerrero. But in the first four years of his career, he had tallied unimpressive earned-run averages, and had failed to be a front-line arm for the Sycamores.

But that was then. And now, Guerrero, much to everyone’s surprise, has transformed not only from the bullpen to the starting rotation so far during this 2021 season, but he’s also become one of the nation’s best and most productive pitchers.

He’s a slam-dunk to be on the Midseason Golden Spikes Award watch list, and it’s all because of incredibly hard work and dedication to his craft.

“I might be the dumbest guy alive if we didn’t have him starting right now,” Indiana State coach Mitch Hannahs laughed about. “When we didn’t have Tristan Weaver the first weekend of the season, we were still trying to figure out who we were going to start, and Geremy was one of the guys on the list. He was the guy that our assistant, Pascal Paul, wanted to start the year with. He really thought he would throw strikes and show a lot of poise.

“I could’ve easily started the season with Geremy in the pen, but credit to him, we didn’t do that,” he added. “He’s really improved his game, and he’s had a willingness to make adjustments. to be honest, I don’t think any of us saw this kind of year coming from Geremy. He better in the fall and there was a noticeable improvement. But now, it’s like … boom.”

Credit to Hannahs and the Sycamores coaching staff, they have not shied away from competition during this difficult COVID season. They opened the season against upstart Pittsburgh. And though they lost two out of three to the Pirates, Guerrero, a 6-foot, 240-pounder, was outstanding against Mike Bell’s club, striking out six in 5.1 shutout innings.

Little did Hannahs and ISU know at the time that it would become a precursor to what has been a special season thus far for the redshirt senior.

“He’s always been a guy with great poise, and we kind of used him out of the bullpen in the past,” Hannahs said. “He’s always been a strike thrower, but he got with our pitching coach and decided to reshape his pitches back in the fall.”

Guerrero had recorded some starts in his ISU career, but his overall numbers weren’t conducive to success. He made just one appearance in 2017, tallied 16 appearances and five starts in 2018 and had a 4.45 ERA in 30.1 innings, along with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks. Then, in 2019, he tallied a 6.42 ERA in 33.2 innings, along with a low walk total, but a high .277 OBA, before tallying a 10.13 ERA in just three appearances during the cancelled COVID season.

With his eligibility essentially over after last season, Guerrero and plenty of other veterans were tossed a lifeline by the NCAA with its ruling that no one would lose their year of eligibility as a result of the shortened season.

Like many other older players, Guerrero decided to use that extra year, and he trained in the long summer months to come back stronger than ever. That work has paid off in a big way this spring.

“It’s not every often you see a guy decide to come back for his redshirt senior year. I don’t think you see that much anymore,” Hannahs said. “He’s very, very rare, he’s always eager to learn and try to improve, and I think it says a lot about him that he was willing to return and continue to work his tail off.

“From the minute he got back, he’s worked very, very hard, and I’m so happy for him,” he continued. “You don’t get to see this a lot in coaching — where kids kind of come from nowhere to this. He had no idea what he was coming back to this fall and the spring. He could’ve easily been stuck back in the bullpen yet again. But he got locked in, and here we are.

“You’re seeing a lot of pretty competitive older players this season after they were given another year,” he added. “I think there are several kids around college baseball like Geremy who felt they had something to prove this season.”

In five starts so far this spring, Guerrero has a 1.14 ERA in 31.2 innings of work, along with 44 strikeouts and six walks, while teams are hitting him at a ridiculously low .157 clip.

So, how has this unexpected transformation come about?

It’s been a combination of pitching coach Pascal Paul’s teaching and Guerrero’s willingness to change his game.

For starters, Guerrero has tweaked and improved his upper-70s changeup. The coaches worked with the talented lefthander to try to get him to put the changeup on the same arm slot and path as the fastball. They wanted to pitch to replicate his fastball from a slot standpoint.

Second, the Sycamores added an upper-70s cutter to his arsenal. It’s a pitch he hadn’t thrown before the past fall. In addition to the cutter, Guerrero also worked diligently at tightening up his upper-70s breaking ball, while also continuing to pound the zone with his fastball.

“Pascal really went to work with him, and credit them both. Sometimes when you’re a junior or senior like that, you’re not as willing to change things. But Geremy was,” he said. “The big thing with Geremy is that he goes out there each start, and teams know that he’s going to throw three or four solid pitches for strikes.”

Guerrero’s fastball isn’t overwhelming, but he has immaculate command of the offering. His fastball will sit in the 86-88 range, and Hannahs said it will get up to 89-90 mph on occasion. His ability to have feel of the zone and command his offerings is what sets him apart from some other arms around the country. And according to Hannahs, he’s certainly no spin-rate darling.

“The most underrated thing in our game is just having the ability to go out there and have feel for the zone — know the hot zones and have the ability to really pitch,” he said. “If he’s got a down zone, he’ll live with it. He’s fine stretching the plate, too, and he understands each time out what he’s going to get from the umpire. He’s certainly not at the top end of your spin rate charts. But he’s just really managed to keep hitters off balance this season. He can pitch backwards — he will hit you with some off speed pitches in fastball accounts, and vice versa. He just has hitters on their heels.”

We said coming into the season that this spring would be filled with surprises, both from a player and team standpoint. And Guerrero and Indiana State have met both qualifications. Guerrero is having an amazing season and the Sycamores are currently sixth in the latest RPI ratings.

Perhaps Hannahs didn’t expect all of this way back in the fall. But, boy, is he enjoying it now.

And the fun part? We’ve got a long way to go.

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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GSA Spotlight: Rare Baseball Mind Makes Cal Poly’s Brooks Lee Special

April 16, 2021
Brooks Lee was sitting in a two-hour freshman sociology class on a Monday morning. He wore a different expression on his face than the big smile he had a day earlier when he stood at second base following the first hit of his collegiate career, a pinch-hit two-run double for

Brooks Lee was sitting in a two-hour freshman sociology class on a Monday morning. He wore a different expression on his face than the big smile he had a day earlier when he stood at second base following the first hit of his collegiate career, a pinch-hit two-run double for Cal Poly against Baylor.

He was bored and antsy, so he texted his father, Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee. Brooks wasn’t looking for advice or asking dad for some extra spending money to be deposited in his account. Brooks was looking for a login and asking his father for the password to Larry’s Synergy Sports account where college baseball coaches can access video of prior games.

Ninety minutes later, Brooks arrived at Baggett Stadium, a place that has brightened his mood since he was in diapers coming to watch his father’s teams play. He stopped by his dad’s office before going to get some individual work. Larry asked about Brooks’ mid-lecture request. Was he watching his lone highlight, basking in the excitement of returning to the field? He couldn’t be blamed if so, after four and a half months of rehab following knee reconstruction surgery.

But Brooks wasn’t looking back. He was actually looking forward to the upcoming weekend’s four-game series against Oklahoma, when he was slated to move into the starting lineup for the first time.

“After class he comes in and he broke down all four starters for Oklahoma,” Larry said. “I just started laughing and he was spot on. That’s just what he does.”

Brooks’ personal scouting report on Sooners’ aces Cade Cavalli and Dane Acker is quickly rattled off when the story is separately brought up to him. He comments about the velocity he was expecting to face from Cavalli in his first college start and mentions Acker had thrown a no-hitter just a couple weeks prior. “Or was it a perfect game?” he questions himself as he’s quick to tag the game was played in Minute Maid Park. (Acker no-hit LSU, allowing a walk and two hit batsmen.)

Brooks has a baseball brain. Combined with his physical attributes, including the 20-25 pounds of muscle he’s added since arriving on campus and the razor whip wrist action he creates with each swing, it’s why he was named to the Golden Spikes midseason watch list on Wednesday.

His brain is wired to assess velocity, movement and spin rather than the study of social issues; launch angle and trajectory over social theories. (Though, Brooks points out he also did well in the class and that Larry has always been on him about grades, including a 12:30 a.m. text telling him to stay on top of his school work when Cal Poly arrived back on campus Sunday after splitting a four-game series at Long Beach State.) While a freshman 101 lecture is a bore, watching hours of opposing pitchers’ video or breaking down still images of swings has always been fun for Brooks. The walls of his childhood bedroom at the Lee household are remain smothered with photos of Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and other major league hitters.

“Even when he was really young like 8 or 9 years old, he could break down video,” Larry said with a chuckle. “And there were some things that were said that just, I knew he was on the right track and had the ability to do that.”

Larry doesn’t take offense and the coaching staff doesn’t stop Brooks when he jumps in the pregame meeting with the Cal Poly hitters to give his thoughts and insights from what he’s seen on film from the opposing starting pitcher and relievers they may face. He’s only a (second-year) freshman, but his Mustangs’ teammates respect his opinion and value his perspective.

“He always joins in like he’s one of the coaches,” Larry said. “He says this is what he sees, this is probably how we should approach this pitcher. He really thinks the game and he wants to be prepared. He wants to have a very precise approach, but he also has the ability once the game starts to adjust that approach.”

Brooks was forced to make some big adjustments his first year on campus. A freak injury in the fall put his season in jeopardy. During the second week of practice, he slipped coming out of the box running to first base on a groundout. As he tried to get his feet underneath him, he hyperextended his knee. The lateral collateral ligament in his knee and his biceps femoris hamstring muscle both snapped. He also broke off a small piece of the fibular head where the fibula attaches to the knee. Doctors told Brooks there had only been 20 reported cases of a similar injury in the last 50 years. He had surgery on Halloween and was determined to work even harder to get back as soon as possible. 

“As bad as it sounds, I feel like I actually got better because of it,” Brooks said. “I completely changed my body and I’m thankful for it now for sure.”

He was able to use the first month of the season as a preview for when he was cleared. He felt ready for the speed of the game, the repertoire of the pitchers and everything else that was going to be thrown at him despite returning more than two months earlier than the doctors anticipated. He got a pair of pinch-hit opportunities against Baylor and was preparing for his first start at shortstop against the Sooners. 

The day the series was supposed to begin Brooks, like the rest of the college baseball world, was forced to adjust on the fly once more. The season was canceled due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. It was disappointing for the entire sport, but the timing was devastating for Brooks after all the work he had put in to return in 2020. He called it a “heartbreaker,” but ever the optimist, he also saw it as an opportunity to have more time to get himself ready for the 2021 season.

Lee was able to go play summer ball in Minnesota for the Willmar Stingers, where he answered any questions about his talent and the big high school numbers he had produced in a weak league (.437/.487/.630 with 78 R, 78 RBI and only 22 K in 328 plate appearances over three seasons). He was one of the top hitters in the Northwoods League, batting .345 with seven doubles, four homers and 35 RBIs in 36 games. He had a 19-game hitting streak and finished top 10 in several offensive categories.

His confidence grew even more, especially after the switch-hitter batted around .400 from the right side — where he had grown so frustrated during the early stages of quarantine he told his dad he didn’t want to swing righthanded any more.

“My dad just told me to stay with it and that’s what I did,” Brooks said. “It’s not fun when you’re not doing good on one side, but in the end, I think it’s more important to stick with it because it allows you to have more success. 

“It’s way harder to hit right on right or left on left and I never want to do it ever. I just try and stick with it, and when someone wants me to stop hitting righthanded or lefthanded, I’m going to tell them no because my dad told me not to.”

One of the hardest parts of being a switch-hitter has been getting opportunities to swing righthanded. Lefthanded pitchers were rare in high school. That’s been the case with the starting pitchers Cal Poly has faced this season too. The Mustangs have faced only four southpaw starters in 26 games this season, including Long Beach State lefty Alfredo Ruiz on Saturday. Ruiz kept Lee in check, getting him to fly out three times, but Dirtbags head coach Eric Valenzuela never felt comfortable when Lee was sauntering to the plate.

“His numbers say he’s a better lefthand hitter than righthanded, but man, he was as dangerous righthanded as well. Tough AB. He really is,” said Valenzuela, who added they were able to get him to pull off the ball with an approach early in the series, but Lee soon made an adjustment. “Other than that, he hit everything.”

Lee went 6 for 15, reaching base two other times on a walk and a hit by pitch. He had a double in each game, pushing his doubles streak to six games while moving into double digits with his hit streak. He finished the weekend with a .400/.471/.667 slash line and drove in three runs.

For Valenzuela, the damage could have been worse: “There were a couple misses that he had that were like to the fence that we threw good pitches. He’s pretty damn special.”

The scarier part for opposing coaches and pitchers? Lee doesn’t even feel like he’s in the zone right now. The first four weeks of the season, he hit .440 with four home runs, including two off Pac-12 pitching as he notched multi-hit performances in five of six matchups with USC and UCLA.

“For whatever reason, I was just in a flow state from the start of the season till about the fourth week. The ball looks big. You can see spin and you feel like you’re never off balance. Sometimes you just feel like you know the pitch before it’s coming. I swear. It’s the weirdest feeling,” Lee said. “That’s kind of when I knew that I could do some more things in the game than what I’ve been able to do earlier in my career.”

Lee has flashed power in batting practice and in showcase events in high school, but that’s not something he ever focused on in games. Instead, he just sprayed rockets all over the yard from foul line to foul line from either side of the plate. He tried to hit low line drives and said occasionally he would get under one or out in front a little bit leading to a ball sailing over the fence. 

But Lee now has more strength after spending his time in the weight room when he was unable to play his freshman year. A slender 6-foot-3, 180 pounds when he first really opened eyes and turned heads at the Area Code Games by collecting knock after knock — including lining the only base hit against Jack Leiter, who proceeded to strike out the next five batters he faced — Lee is now a thick 205 pounds. More than the strength element, Lee feels he’s tapped into additional power because his swing has become even more fluid. He is standing taller in the box and wielding the bat with even better command.

“I just feel like it’s a pure swing now, lefthanded especially,” Lee said. “Everything flows very fluidly. That’s kind of what led me to hitting offspeed pitches for power and then going to the opposite field.”

He’s hitting fewer singles than ever while still producing a high batting average. He’s got more extra-base hits than single-base hits. He is second in the Big West with six home runs. He is second in the nation with 15 doubles and he’s chipped in a pair of triples as well. Lee leads the Big West in RBIs, slugging percentage and total bases. He’s tied for the lead in sacrifice flies and he’s third in the conference in runs scored.

And yet what stands out most to those around him is what he does for everyone else.

“I can’t speak more highly of this kid,” Cal Poly pitching coach Jake Silverman said. “He’s really good. Everyone knows that, but he works so hard, and he’s so smart, and he makes everyone around him now much better.”

Silverman has been around first rounders Christian Colon, Gary Brown and Jeff Gelalich along with major leaguers Khris Davis, Pat Valaika and Kevin Kramer among others while coaching at Cal State Fullerton and UCLA. Still, he says Lee is top three, if not the best player he’s been around. 

“Brooks just his presence and his communication and leadership ability, whether you’re a pitcher or a hitter, you’re better with him around you,” Silverman said. 

“I just want to try and get everybody as best as they can and if something needs to be said, I’ll say it,” Lee said. “I just try and put all the knowledge I can that I’ve learned mostly from [Larry] to our players. It’s a different feeling when you have like a peer say something to you rather than a coach because a coach just says the same thing over and over. I try and put it into better words, as a captain, but it’s a real cool feeling just to give my knowledge to some of the other players.”

Not only is Lee studying film of opposing pitchers and relaying the information he takes away to the Cal Poly batters. He also will pass along information about the Mustangs’ pitchers to Silverman between innings during a game. Lee will let him know what he sees from his shortstop position, like when a pitcher’s slider may not be as sharp or a fastball has more late life than usual. He’s not dissecting mechanics in the middle of his defensive approach step as a pitch is being delivered, but his feedback gives Silverman more data points to then craft subtle in-game adjustments or go in a different direction with his pitch calling.

What makes Lee’s observations so reliable?  The amount of college baseball he’s already witnessed at the age of 20 and all the countless hours of video he’s pored over dating back to when he was eight or nine years old. He’s been watching and facing college pitchers for years now. He started taking live batting practice and filling in defensively at his father’s practices when he was in seventh grade.

“I’ve just seen so much baseball from this level like as a young kid and over and over,” he said. “I just had a real long time to look at pitchers and then we used to use Dartfish, which is like an extremely old [motion-capture] computer program for pitching and stuff like that. We would go over that when we were in the old clubhouse when I was a kid. 

“Video has basically been the thing for me all along because I feel like if I look at video long enough, it just gets cemented into my brain and people with the same repeatable delivery as another pitcher that I’ve already seen, you can think of what the aspects of their pitching repertoire is going to be like.”

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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USA Baseball Unveils 2021 Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List

The 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be presented in July
April 14, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball unveiled today the 2021 Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list, moving closer to naming the top amateur baseball player in the country. The winner of the 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be announced in July. The midseason watch list features 45 of the nation's top

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball unveiled today the 2021 Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list, moving closer to naming the top amateur baseball player in the country. The winner of the 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be announced in July.

The midseason watch list features 45 of the nation's top amateur players from the high school and college ranks and includes 34 athletes who have played their way onto the watch list since the preseason list was announced on February 18. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will continue to maintain a rolling list of athletes, allowing players to play themselves into consideration for the award before announcing the semifinalists on June 8.

“We are happy to recognize forty-five amateur athletes on the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list who put together stellar performances throughout the first half of the season,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director and CEO. “Each of these athletes have proven themselves worthy of consideration for this prestigious award and we cannot wait to watch the rest of this exciting season unfold before announcing our semifinalists in June.” 

The watch list is headlined by Adrian Del Castillo (Miami) and Kumar Rocker (Vanderbilt), who both appeared on two consecutive preseason watch lists in 2020 and 2021. Additionally, Kenyon Yovan (Oregon) was named to the 2021 midseason watch list as a hitter after appearing on the preseason list in 2019 as a pitcher.

Vanderbilt University leads all 40 schools represented with three athletes on the 2021 midseason watch list while Arizona, Mississippi State, and Texas Tech each placed two athletes on the list.

In total, 17 different NCAA conferences have at least one athlete on the list. The Southeastern Conference leads all conferences represented on the midseason watch list with nine athletes, while seven players represent the Atlantic Coast Conference and five hail from the Big 12 Conference.

One National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and two high school athletes are on the midseason watch list in 2021 and will look to join Alex Fernandez (1990) and Bryce Harper (2010) as a Golden Spikes Award winner who claimed their respective trophies as a non-NCAA Division I athlete. Luis Vargas (Wayland Baptist) represents the NAIA on the list while Brady House (Winder-Barrow High School) and Jordan Lawlar (Dallas Jesuit High School) are the only high school baseball players recognized by the advisory board on the midseason watch list in 2021.

Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman took home the prestigious award most recently in 2019, 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).

On Tuesday, June 8, USA Baseball will announce the semifinalists for the 2021 Golden Spikes Award. The list of semifinalists will then be sent to a voting body consisting of baseball media members, select professional baseball personnel, current USA Baseball staff and the previous winners of the award, representing a group of more than 200 voters. As part of this selection process, all voters will be asked to choose three players from the list of semifinalists. On June 24, USA Baseball will announce the finalists, and voting for the winner will begin that same day.

Fan voting will once again be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2021. Beginning with the semifinalist announcement and continuing through the finalist round voting deadline, fans from across the country will be able to vote for their favorite player on GoldenSpikesAward.com. 

The winner of the 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be named in July. To stay up-to-date on the 2021 Golden Spikes Award visit GoldenSpikesAward.com and follow @USAGoldenSpikes on Twitter and Instagram. 

  • The 2021 Golden Spikes Award timeline:
  • June 8: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced, voting begins
  • June 15: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists voting ends
  • June 24: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists announced, voting begins
  • July 2: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists voting ends
  • July: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award trophy presentation
  • A complete list of the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list is as follows:

    • Name, Position, School, Conference
    • Luke Albright; RHP; Kent State; MAC
    • Spencer Arrighetti; RHP; Louisiana; Sun Belt
    • Sam Bachman; RHP; Miami (OH); Mid-American
    • Dru Baker; UTL; Texas Tech; Big 12
    • Will Bednar; RHP; Mississippi State; Southeastern
    • Jacob Berry; INF; Arizona; Pac-12
    • Mason Black; RHP; Lehigh; Patriot
    • Branden Boissiere; INF; Arizona; Pac-12
    • Rodney Boone; RHP; UC Santa Barbara; Big West
    • Justin Campbell; RHP/1B; Oklahoma State; Big 12
    • Wes Clarke; 1B; South Carolina; Southeastern
    • Dylan Crews; OF; LSU; Southeastern
    • Henry Davis; C; Louisville; Atlantic Coast
    • Adrian Del Castillo; C; Miami; Atlantic Coast
    • Jaden Fein; OF; San Diego State; Mountain West
    • Sal Frelick; OF; Boston College; Atlantic Coast
    • Colton Gordon; LHP; UCF; American
    • Caden Grice; 1B; Clemson; Atlantic Coast
    • Geremy Guerrero; LHP; Indiana State; Missouri Valley
    • Steve Hajjar; LHP; Michigan; Big 10
    • Dominic Hamel; RHP; Dallas Baptist; Missouri Valley
    • Tyler Hardman; INF; Oklahoma; Big 12
    • Brady House; SS; Winder-Barrow
    • Jace Jung; INF; Texas Tech; Big 12
    • Niko Kavadas; INF; Notre Dame; Atlantic Coast
    • Dominic Keegan; UTL; Vanderbilt; Southeastern
    • Austin Knight; INF; Charlotte; C-USA
    • Jordan Lawlar; SS; Dallas Jesuit
    • Brooks Lee; SS; Cal Poly; Big West
    • Jack Leiter; RHP; Vanderbilt; Southeastern
    • Tommy Mace; RHP; Florida; Southeastern
    • Ty Madden; RHP; Texas; Big 12
    • Jordan Marks; RHP; USC Upstate; Big South
    • Parker Messick; LHP; Florida State; Atlantic Coast
    • Matt Mikulski; LHP; Fordham; Atlantic 10
    • Connor Norby; INF; ECU; American
    • Kevin Parada; C; Georgia Tech; Atlantic Coast
    • Zack Raabe; 2B; Minnesota; Big 10
    • Kumar Rocker; RHP; Vanderbilt; Southeastern
    • Landon Sims; RHP; Mississippi State; Southeastern
    • Nick Sinacola; RHP; Maine; America East
    • Liam Spence; INF; Tennessee; Southeastern
    • Andrew Taylor; RHP; Central Michigan; MAC
    • Luis Vargas; OF; Wayland Baptist; Sooner Athletic
    • Kenyon Yovan; INF; Oregon; Pac-12
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USA Baseball Cancels Futures Series in Irvine

The event was scheduled for May 14-16
April 14, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today that the Futures Series scheduled for May 14-16 in Irvine, California, has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This event will not be rescheduled. For more information on the Futures Series and other USA Baseball events, visit USABaseball.com and follow

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today that the Futures Series scheduled for May 14-16 in Irvine, California, has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This event will not be rescheduled.

For more information on the Futures Series and other USA Baseball events, visit USABaseball.com and follow @USABaseball and @USABEvents on social media.

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Jim Koerner Named USA Baseball Director of Player Development

He will develop on-field programming for national team and development programs after 20 years as a college coach
April 13, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today the hiring of Jim Koerner as its Director of Player Development. Following 20 years of coaching at the collegiate level, Koerner will now be responsible for developing on-field programming for USA Baseball’s six national teams and three national team development programs. He will

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today the hiring of Jim Koerner as its Director of Player Development. Following 20 years of coaching at the collegiate level, Koerner will now be responsible for developing on-field programming for USA Baseball’s six national teams and three national team development programs. He will also produce curriculums related to player development for USABDevelops.com, the organization’s free online educational resource center.

Koerner will also serve as the Field Coordinator at the Prospect Development Pipeline League, the premier development and showcase experience for high school draft prospects from Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, and the primary identification event for the 18U National Team. Additionally, he will assist with player and staff identification for all 10 clubs in the Appalachian League and serve as a roving instructor during the season. Koerner will start with USA Baseball following the 2021 college baseball season.

"We could not be more thrilled to have Jim joining USA Baseball as our Director of Player Development,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “His passion for our game and for developing young athletes is inspiring, and the knowledge he has gained over two decades of coaching will be an invaluable asset to all of the players and coaches that come through our programs. From our national teams to the Prospect Development Pipeline League, the new MLB Draft Combine, and the Appalachian League, Jim will be integral in ensuring all of our athletes grow both on and off the field.”

“I am honored to accept this position with USA Baseball,” said Koerner. “This organization represents a standard of excellence that is unmatched in the amateur baseball world and one that I am excited to be a part of going forward. I want to thank everyone involved in the process that helped make this opportunity possible and I am excited to get started!”

Koerner has been the head coach at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) from 2011-2021. As just the second head coach in the program’s modern-day history, Koerner took NCCU baseball to new heights in his 10 years at the helm. Under his guidance, the Eagles set the school record for wins twice, in 2013 (27) and again in 2018 (28). He also coached two MLB Draft picks with NCCU, including Corey Joyce, who became the highest selection in program history when he was taken in the 12th round by the Detroit Tigers in 2019. Koerner helped lead NCCU’s transition to the NCAA Division I level in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference during the 2011-2012 season and has since coached 31 All-MEAC selections, including the 2017 and 2019 MEAC Rookies of the Year and the 2018 and 2019 MEAC Players of the Year.

Before his time at NCCU, Koerner was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Buffalo from 2007-2011, helping the Bulls reach their best offensive performances in program history in 2009 and 2010. The team recorded an all-time high in wins since 1999 during the 2009 season and set the records for team batting average (.312), home runs (46), and stolen bases (71) in 2010. In those two seasons combined, the Bulls broke over 25 season, career, team, and individual records.

He began his coaching career in 2001 as the head coach at Medaille College, where he helped found the program and was named the 2003 North Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. In 2004, he moved to the Division I ranks as an assistant coach at Monmouth University before taking the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator role at Marshall University from 2005-2006. During that time, Marshall ranked highly among NCAA teams in most offensive categories and Koerner helped Adam Frederick break the program’s all-time hits record (250) while also recruiting and signing several of the Top 100 rated players in the Northeast.

Koerner received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1997 from St. John Fisher College (N.Y.) and a master’s degree in athletic administration from Marshall University. 

For more information on USA Baseball, visit USABaseball.com and follow along on Twitter @USABaseball.

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WBSC Americas Qualifier Set from May 31-June 5 in Florida

Many of baseball's top-ranked nations will be competing in Florida for one spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament
April 13, 2021
The World Baseball Softball Confederation today announced the official cities and venues of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, with the event to be staged from 31 May to 5 June in The Palm Beaches & St. Lucie County, Florida. The WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, hosted by USA Baseball, will see eight

The World Baseball Softball Confederation today announced the official cities and venues of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, with the event to be staged from 31 May to 5 June in The Palm Beaches & St. Lucie County, Florida.

The WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, hosted by USA Baseball, will see eight participating National Teams battle for one spot in the six-team Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament at Clover Park in St. Lucie County and The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach.

"The teams and the entire baseball world are all looking forward to this exciting moment to arrive on the road to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “Now with the dates and venues locked in place, anticipation builds even higher for this important qualifier, which we hope will provide an excellent preview of the Tokyo 2020 Games and what they represent, as a symbol of hope and inspiration.”

The competing participants will be split into two groups to start the qualifier:

Group A: No. 2 USA, No. 10 Dominican Republic, No. 11 Puerto Rico and No. 15 Nicaragua.
Group B: No. 8 Cuba, No. 9 Venezuela, No. 13 Canada and No. 14 Colombia.

After group play concludes, the top two finishers from each group will advance to the Super Round, where they will each play two games. Head-to-head contests among these teams from the opening round will carry over into the Super Round standings.

The team with the best Super Round record will be declared the winner and become the fifth National Team to advance to the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament, joining world No. 1 Japan, No. 3 Korea, No. 5 Mexico and No. 18 Israel.

The second-and the third-place teams will qualify for the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, scheduled from 16 to 20 June in Taiwan at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium and Douliou Baseball Stadium in Douliu City.

The other participating teams are world No. 4 Chinese Taipei, No. 6 Australia, No. 9 Netherlands and No. 22 China.

The format, groups and schedule of the final qualifier will be announced in a future communication.

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USA Baseball and TeachAids Unite to Provide Concussion Education

April 12, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, announces a new partnership with TeachAids, an award-winning nonprofit leader in global education innovation. Together, they will distribute CrashCourse concussion content to educate athletes, parents and coaches throughout the nation. CrashCourse is an education

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, announces a new partnership with TeachAids, an award-winning nonprofit leader in global education innovation. Together, they will distribute CrashCourse concussion content to educate athletes, parents and coaches throughout the nation.

CrashCourse is an education initiative to provide the latest medical knowledge about the prevention and treatment of concussions. It was developed alongside leading medical, education, engineering, and science researchers and with input from world-class coaches and athletes. CrashCourse offers a unique educational experience that helps correct common myths and misconceptions in order to better recognize and address symptoms of a concussion.

“CrashCourse is a fantastic tool to raise awareness and understanding of concussions in athletes,” said Dr. Josh Bloom, Chief Medical Officer of the USA Baseball Medical Oversight Commission and Medical Director for Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic. “Simply put, the more our athletes know about these injuries, the better. We are proud that USA Baseball continues to be a leader in concussion education and treatment. Providing CrashCourse education for all levels of our athletes is another important positive step.”

Concussions are one of the most widely discussed issues in sports. USA Baseball prides itself in promoting best practices for concussion education amongst its community. It is proud to join a growing cohort of national governing bodies of sport that are providing the CrashCourse concussion education materials to their members.

“USA Baseball is excited to partner with TeachAids and their team of world class medical and scientific experts,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO. “This partnership provides a valuable resource for our coaches and officials and a sound foundation for safer sport participation from youth leagues on up, both in practice and in competition.”

“We are proud to work with USA Baseball and look forward to instituting our CrashCourse concussion education into their programming. They have been a leader in supporting athletes of all ages with pedagogically grounded and effective education to make their sport safer for all,” says Dr. Piya Sorcar, Founder and CEO of TeachAids

The CrashCourse curriculum will be used throughout USA Baseball’s programs nationwide via their website. To find out more about CrashCourse by TeachAids, visit http://crashcourse.teachaids.org.

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USA Baseball Announces Development of Youth Baseball Manual

The manual aims to assist coaches in providing a safe, positive, development-based experience for athletes
April 9, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today the development of its new Youth Baseball Manual presented by US Sports Club Insurance. The manual aims to support the thousands of youth baseball coaches around the country by providing a positive, development-based experience to their athletes. The manual provides coaches with a

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today the development of its new Youth Baseball Manual presented by US Sports Club Insurance. The manual aims to support the thousands of youth baseball coaches around the country by providing a positive, development-based experience to their athletes.

The manual provides coaches with a fundamental framework to build an athlete-focused culture within their leagues and is suited for both youth leagues with longstanding traditions of on-field excellence, as well as for leagues and coaches that are building a program from the ground up. Importantly, the manual highlights health and safety resources to help ensure athletes are provided with a safe and secure environment for play.

The Youth Baseball Manual presented by US Sports Club Insurance is available to the public at no charge at www.USABDevelops.com or can be accessed directly at YouthBaseballManual.com.

“We are proud to provide free support to youth baseball programs and to thousands of volunteer coaches across the country with our new Youth Baseball Manual,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “The importance of community-based baseball programs in the development of our game cannot be overstated, and USA Baseball is excited to help create a consistent framework for those programs so that athletes can continue to learn and grow in a safe, positive, and healthy environment.”

This initiative continues USA Baseball's reach into the amateur baseball landscape and specifically reinforces its commitment to the proliferation of community-based baseball in the United States. The manual boosts the youth baseball experience and allows for the consistent development for any athlete, regardless of their skill level.

Key concepts from the Youth Baseball Manual include:

  • The importance of emphasizing enjoyment of the game and the best interests of the athletes.
  • How to create appropriate practice and game plans based on the USA Baseball Long-Term Athlete Development Plan that enables maximum engagement, movement, and physical activity.
  • The benefits of supporting athletes’ participation in multiple sports.
  • How to manage relationships within a program, including conflict resolution techniques.
  • How to develop a positive team culture.
  • Best practices concerning health and safety.
  • How to keep the game fun.
  •  

For more information on the Youth Baseball Manual, and other similar educational resources produced by USA Baseball, such as the Mobile Coach App, Long-Term Athlete Development Plan and others, visit USABDevelops.com. All resources produced by USA Baseball are provided free of charge to the public.

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GSA Spotlight: Vandy’s Leiter Proving To Be One Of A Kind

April 9, 2021
Just a few starts into his second-year freshman campaign, Vanderbilt righthander Jack Leiter is already the premier starting pitcher in college baseball. Leiter, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, put together a fine freshman campaign before the 2020 season came to an end. He tallied a 1.92 ERA in 15.2 innings of work,

Just a few starts into his second-year freshman campaign, Vanderbilt righthander Jack Leiter is already the premier starting pitcher in college baseball.

Leiter, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, put together a fine freshman campaign before the 2020 season came to an end. He tallied a 1.92 ERA in 15.2 innings of work, along with 22 strikeouts and eight walks. Teams hit him at a .098 clip. He did not make an SEC start.

Coming into this season, we were sky high on Leiter’s overall stuff and his potential. But there were some naysayers out there. They said let’s tap the brakes until Leiter actually goes head-to-head with one of the premier lineups in the Southeastern Conference.

Well, Leiter rose to the occasion and showed unbridled potential in his first-ever SEC start against South Carolina. He made history. He struck out 16 batters in the complete game performance. And the only thing separating him from a no-hitter and a perfect game? A walk to the leadoff hitter in the first inning. It was that close.

Leiter did not slow down after the South Carolina start. If anything, his dominance continued at the same rate. A week later at Missouri, he struck out 10, walked two and once again didn’t allow a hit in seven innings of work. For anyone who watched the game, was there any doubt that he would’ve thrown a second straight no-hitter had Vandy head coach Tim Corbin not done the responsible thing and taken him out of the game after 101 pitches?


 The Leit Show hit the road last weekend to Baton Rouge to face an LSU team with its back against the wall. And perhaps no single inning could encapsulate Leiter’s maturity, demeanor and overall stuff better than his first inning against LSU.

Riding a 16-inning no-hit streak in SEC play entering the game against LSU, the Tigers appeared to have Leiter potentially on the ropes in the first inning. The righty struck out talented LSU freshman Tre Morgan on a 97 mph heater to start the game, but the second hitter reached base via an error and they loaded the bases after a pair of walks.

Leiter went to work. He struck out Cade Doughty on a filthy slider for the second out, and he escaped the jam by striking out Cade Beloso on a 95 mph heater. There was no celebration or fist pumping. Leiter casually walked off the field like a true professional. After all, he expected that result. His no-hit streak reached 20 innings in that game before LSU finally got a hit to leadoff the fifth inning.

He’s that good, and his overall numbers just reinforce that feeling. For the season, Leiter has a 0.43 ERA in 42 innings, along with 71 strikeouts and 16 walks. Teams are hitting him at a ridiculously low .074 clip. His marks in the strikeout and OBA categories rank No. 1 in Division I Baseball.

“I think that’s where he kind of separates himself among a lot of people — just the maturity he has in everything that he does,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “Whether it’s in the actual classroom, or our classroom, he’s always locked in. He’s not one of those guys you ever see yawning — he’s always upright and he’s always on every word that you’re saying.

“He’s a Dean’s List type of student. You go into his locker and everything is very, very detailed,” he added. “He’s got a mental organization and maturity. I think that has a lot to do with the fact he grew up with three sisters, is a good brother and has a very intelligent mom with a great disposition about her. And they’ve certainly lived the baseball life with his dad.

“He’s just very settled into what he’s doing out there,” he added. “He’s got a very good routine and he’s just very organized when he gets to the ballpark. Jack is a baseball player first, then a pitcher. And I think Al [Leiter] should take some credit for that. He taught his kid how to pitch before he taught his kid how to throw. There’s definitely an aptitude for pitching that supersedes arm strength.”

Corbin recalled when the Commodores were recruiting Leiter early in his high school career. Though Leiter will comfortably sit in the 93-96 and up to 97 mph range with his fastball these days, that wasn’t always the case. He vividly remembers Jack having such incredible poise and command, but also sitting in the upper-80s with his fastball at times in high school career. 

“When we committed him in high school, he definitely wasn’t some ultra-high velocity guy,” He threw really, really well, but he wasn’t then what he is today. I’m not saying we made him throw hard at all, but we committed him on his instincts, maturity and projection.”

His dad, Al Leiter, also reflected on some old high school memories where his son just seemed to have ‘it’ while on the mound.

He recalled a moment when Jack was taking part in USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars. Leiter was going against guys like Riley Greene, Bobby Witt and some others. And he more than held his own and made the team. Later that summer, Jack got the ball against Panama in the Pan Am Games with a crowd — as you might expect — that was boisterous and certainly home-team heavy.

Leiter dealt. He held his own yet again. He showed maturity beyond his years, just as he has with the Commodores through seven starts this spring.

“I kind of saw that early on with Jack — just his overall temperament,” Al Leiter said. “He’s facing guys like Witt and Greene, and then when they go down to the Pan Am games, they determined he was the one who was going to pitch in the Gold Medal game against host Panama. The crowd was crazy as can be, and he absolutely nailed it. They played really well, and just watching him, he was calm and cool. He’s got that cool presence about him with some strong inner aggression.

“The temperament has always been there with Jack. He’s much calmer and cooler than I was. I was a hair on fire get mad type of pitcher, and I was a little crazy out there at times. That probably played against me at times. For Jack, the mental part was there, it was all about just staying sound mechanically. He was always pretty sound, but in this sport, you’re always tweaking and trying to clean some things up. It was always interesting to think about how much bigger and stronger he’d get, because that would equate to velocity.”

Jack Leiter might already be the total package, but staying humble is in his DNA. 


Al Leiter will never forget a moment he experienced early in his career during a stint with the New York Yankees.

He was a younger pitcher who was still enamored with the idea of playing with guys like Don Mattingly. But one day, Leiter was walking around the field before a game and noticed that Mattingly looked frustrated and bummed out. Sure, Mattingly wasn’t playing up to his personal standards at the time, but at the end of the day, Leiter said he just thought to himself ‘That’s Donny freakin’ Baseball, how could he possibly be bummed out?’. Leiter said he looked at Mattingly all confused as to how he could be so disappointed.

Mattingly’s response not only stayed with Al for the remainder of his successful big league career, but also has been carried down to Jack, his son.

“I learned something very early when I got into the big league,” Al Leiter said. “Don Mattingly had been struggling, and I was a young, goofy lefthanded pitcher at the time. I was kind of looking at him one day like why are you bummed, you’re Donny Baseball … he was just staring at his bat 45 minutes before a game.

“I couldn’t believe he was so bummed out, but at the end of the day, his level of play was not up to his standards. And he looked back at me — and I’ll never forget it — and said ‘Don’t ever forget that as good as the good is — the bad is never far behind’.

“That was the way the great players never got caught up in the ebbs and flows of the game of baseball. Never get too high or too low. Be consistent with your thoughts and behavior. While you’re experiencing success, you’re getting the job done and the results are great, you might have a day to enjoy it. You have to be ready for the next game. Even when I talk to guys in the big leagues right now, I let them know that pitching was not easy. I mean, I’ve stunk. I had a year in my career with an ERA over five. It’s not easy. It’s just how you keep plugging along that defines you. This game will constantly nip you if you go out each week and think you’re all that.”

Humble, but also meaning business, is the name of the game for Jack Leiter.

He’s anything but an ‘in your face’ kind of pitcher, but he sets the tone from the start. Leiter wastes little time getting out to the mound between innings, and once on the mound, he’s the enforcer. If a hitter steps out of the box, he doesn’t take strolls around the mound. He stays on the mound, glove over his mouth and nose and is dialed into Vanderbilt catcher CJ Rodriguez.


On the mound, Leiter attacks hitters with quite an impressive arsenal. His fastball sat anywhere from 93-96 mph and up to 97 mph with almost immaculate command against LSU last weekend, while he had a great deal of success throwing the 83-86 mph slider to his glove side. Leiter did a particularly impressive job of locating that offering on the outside part of the plate against righthanded hitters. His changeup will range anywhere from 85-88 mph, and the deep breaking curveball was 78-80 mph. Leiter’s primary secondary offering in high school was the curveball, while the slider has typically been his go-to secondary offering while pitching for the Commodores. Leiter also showed what appeared to be a cutter against LSU, but it apparently is a slider with a little more velocity to it. It’s unintentional. From a command standpoint, Leiter is much more advanced than a normal college pitcher. Most of his misses are barely misses, and are easily corrected a pitch or two later. His ability to make adjustments on the fly is what also sets him apart from other, even premier arms, in our sport.

“As his parent, I’m so thrilled and proud of what he’s doing right now. I’m proud as hell,” Al Leiter said. “I always watch games. But I’m always looking at his outings in a different way than most. I’m looking at it as an analyst. I do enjoy watching what he’s doing — it’s pretty amazing. But I always watch Jack am thinking, OK, what can he do to get better, and how can he execute various things a little better. With that said, the attention he is getting right now is very well deserved. He’s done a terrific job.

“With Jack, as with any pitcher, I’m really looking at a few things. Like, are you able to execute a quality pitch? Do you have two secondary pitches that you can expand appropriately? Do you know which hitters are hot, and who’s not? You know things like that. I always tell him and other pitchers to continue working on command, and to find the glove, and repeat it. In high school, his pitch was his curveball — almost a 12-6 curve — the consistency of that pitch needed to be tighter. The slider I really like, but it gets a little cutterish. I thought he threw some good changeups up at Oklahoma State, but it’s just kind of a pitch that I feel like he uses when it’s necessary.

“I thought his curveball was better than his slider in Baton Rouge last week. The quandary with breaking balls is always this — I always made sure that I had two distinct grips on my slider and curveball, respectively. My slider/cutter always crossed two seams, whereas I went with the horseshoe on the ball with the curveball. You don’t want either one to morph into the other.

“There are all stepping stones and learning experiences as you move forward in your baseball life,” he concluded. “When you play in meaningful baseball games, they all collect, and then you just have to go out there and do it. You have to experience it, and then do it without consequence. There are a lot of really good arms out there, but it’s all about how it transcends to the point when it counts the most.”


Jack Leiter is a unique starting pitcher who draws a myriad of comparisons when it comes to former, successful big league arms.

He’s much different than his cohort in crime at Vanderbilt — fellow righthanded pitcher Kumar Rocker. While Rocker has an imposing 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame, Leiter isn’t physically imposing. He’s 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, and the 6-foot-1 might be a little generous. But he does have an athletic build with strong legs.

So, who is the best comp for Jack Leiter?

The first pitcher that comes to mind is former standout righthanded pitcher David Cone. Cone, as with Leiter, didn’t have height as an advantage — he was just 6-foot tall. He also was lighter than Leiter is — he was 180 pounds, whereas Leiter is 205 pounds. But the two have similar deliveries and approaches. Both pitchers have a quick, low angle, release that allows their fastballs to explode on hitters.

“I love David — he’s a good friend of mine and we worked together at the YES Network. They’re very, very similar,” Al Leiter said. “Coney eventually used. his split finger more as he got older and he had a variety of arm angles. Jack is a little taller than Cone, but I like that comp. I think that’s a pretty fair comp.”

Other pitchers scouts have compared to Leiter include former Astros star righthanded pitcher Roy Oswalt, former star and current Auburn pitching coach Tim Hudson and former Vanderbilt star righthanded pitcher Sonny Gray.

“I do certainly see some similarities with Sonny Gray, especially in terms of stature,” Corbin said. “Jack is one of those pitchers where I’m not sure there are a lot of guys to compare him to. I see some Tom Seaver in him with his size and sturdiness, but the delivery isn’t Seaver. Jack just has such great extension and leverage. 

“You just think about those guys who had swing and miss fastballs, you’re talking about guys like Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and so on,” he added. “Jack’s ball really explodes at the plate and that allows his fastball to really play up. It plays up because he has great extension to the plate.”

Leiter will have his chance to write his own story at the big league level, probably sooner rather than later. But for now, he continues on as arguably college baseball’s premier arm, and as a pitcher who hopes to lead Vanderbilt to its third national championship in a couple of months.

We’re not surprised to see Leiter having a wealth of success. But to be this dominant so fast? He’s truly one of a kind.

But as always the case in the Leiter household, he must stay humble. The rest will take care of itself.

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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2021 Appalachian League to be Featured in New MLB Network Special

Preview Program to Debut This Saturday, April 10, at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT
April 8, 2021
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Appalachian League today announced MLB Network will air an Appalachian League Special this Saturday, April 10, at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT. Co-hosted from Studio 21 by MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger and Harold Reynolds, the new 30-minute program will preview the 10-team collegiate summer league

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Appalachian League today announced MLB Network will air an Appalachian League Special this Saturday, April 10, at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT. Co-hosted from Studio 21 by MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger and Harold Reynolds, the new 30-minute program will preview the 10-team collegiate summer league with analysis and special guests, including Hall of Famer and Appalachian League alumnus Cal Ripken Jr.

Select coaches and players who will participate in this year’s league will be detailed throughout the program.

In addition to Ripken Jr., former Cy Young Award winner, three-time MLB All-Star, and current manager for the Burlington Sock Puppets Jack McDowell, and Georgetown Baseball Head Coach and Appalachian League Steering Committee member Edwin Thompson, will join the program.

To preview the special, Amsinger says, “All you have to do is take a look at the famous baseball players who have played in the Appalachian League to see why this league is so important. It’s rich in history and gives young talent their first taste of big league life. You’ll hear from a Hall of Famer and a Cy Young Award winner on this program and they will add even more credibility to this special league with their unforgettable stories.”

MLB and USA Baseball announced the new format for the Appalachian League in September 2020, transitioning from an advanced rookie league in Minor League Baseball to a summer collegiate league as part of the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP). The PDP is a collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball to establish a player development pipeline leading to the MLB Draft for amateur baseball players in the United States.

Appalachian League participants will receive extensive visibility to MLB Club and USA Baseball national team scouts through both in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology. In addition to preparing them for careers as professional athletes, the Appalachian League also serves as an identification and development process for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and other future national teams.

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Mike Scioscia Named Team USA Manager

Three-time World Series champion to lead U.S. into final qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games, Conference call scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET
April 6, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball named Mike Scioscia its manager for the 2021 Professional National Team on Tuesday. A three-time World Series Champion as both a manager and a player, Scioscia will look to lead Team USA to a berth in the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer. Olympic qualifying will

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball named Mike Scioscia its manager for the 2021 Professional National Team on Tuesday. A three-time World Series Champion as both a manager and a player, Scioscia will look to lead Team USA to a berth in the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.

Olympic qualifying will continue for Team USA with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida in early June. Team USA will open the tournament in Group A and face the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in pool play. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the team with the best overall record will earn a bid to the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament. Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela make up Group B.

The second and third-place teams from the Baseball Americas Qualifier will advance to the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, joining Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands. This final opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games will take place June 16-20 in Douliou City and Taichung, Taiwan.

Members of the media are encouraged to attend Scioscia’s introductory conference call, scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 6.  Media can log on to Zoom here (Meeting ID: 969 4645 2682 / Passcode: 892907).

“I am extremely honored and excited to lead Team USA this year,” said Scioscia. “I am looking forward to the privilege of wearing the USA jersey and I know every member of our team will feel the same way. It is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience that will hopefully end with the USA winning an Olympic gold medal!”

“We are honored to welcome Mike Scioscia to Team USA,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. “Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title. More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family. We are thrilled to have him lead our Professional National Team in 2021 as we look to earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Scioscia will make his international coaching debut for the United States in 2021 after serving as the Angels’ manager for 19 seasons. He spent his entire MLB managerial career in Anaheim, where he led the Halos to a 1650-1428 (.536) overall record from 1999-2018, ranking him 18th all-time in career managerial wins. After breaking a 15-year playoff drought in 2002, Scioscia led the Angels to the only World Series title in its history that postseason to become the 17th person to win a World Series title as both player and manager.

He was the first manager in MLB history to make the playoffs in six of his first ten seasons, including winning five AL West division titles in six years. Scioscia was twice named the AL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America (2002 and 2009) and set the Angels’ franchise single-season wins record twice with 99 victories in 2002 and then 100 victories in 2008. He is the current all-time leader in wins, games managed, and division titles won in Angels’ history.

Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 19th overall pick of the 1976 June Amateur Draft, Scioscia spent all 13 of his years in the Major Leagues as a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1980-92) under USA Baseball Olympic gold medal-winning manager Tommy Lasorda.  He won two World Series titles (1981 and 1988), was twice named a National League All-Star (1989 and 1990), and caught two no-hitters (Fernando Valenzuela and Kevin Gross) in his playing career. To this day, Scioscia ranks fourth all-time among Major League catchers with 136 shutouts caught.

USA Baseball will announce the complete Professional National Team coaching staff next week.

The schedule for the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier will be announced at a later time at WBSC.org. Fans can follow @WBSC on social media for updates.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games baseball tournament will take place from July 28-August 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama, Japan. Host-country Japan, Israel, Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.

For more information on USA Baseball and the 2021 Professional National Team for Olympic Qualifying, follow @USABaseball on social media or visit USABaseball.com.

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One Hundred And Fifty-Nine USA Baseball Alumni On 2021 Opening Day Rosters

Twenty-nine of the 30 MLB Clubs begin the season with at least one alum on their roster
April 1, 2021
CARY, N.C. – One hundred and fifty-nine USA Baseball alumni kick off the 2021 season on Major League Baseball Opening Day rosters, the organization announced on Thursday. For the second-straight year, 29 of the 30 Major League Clubs will feature at least one former member of Team USA on their rosters

CARY, N.C. – One hundred and fifty-nine USA Baseball alumni kick off the 2021 season on Major League Baseball Opening Day rosters, the organization announced on Thursday.

For the second-straight year, 29 of the 30 Major League Clubs will feature at least one former member of Team USA on their rosters to start the season. Additionally, 21 of those clubs feature five or more players that have suited up for the red, white, and blue in the their careers.

The Cincinnati Reds lead all teams with 10 alums on their Opening Day roster, followed by the Washington Nationals with nine. In addition, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers will begin the 162-game season with eight alumni each.

Albert Almora Jr., who will make his New York Mets debut in 2021, has played for Team USA seven times in his career, the most of any alum in Major League Baseball. He is one of 51 alumni on 2021 Opening Day rosters that have suited up multiple times for the U.S.

Reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman was a member of the 2005 16U and 2006 18U National Teams and begins his 13th season with the Atlanta Braves in 2021. Corey Seager, 2010 16U National Team, enters his ninth season with the Los Angeles Dodgers after capturing a League Championship Series and World Series MVP in 2020.

Six additional USA Baseball alumni are managing around the league, including Aaron Boone (New York Yankees), Terry Francona (Cleveland Indians), Joe Girardi (Philadelphia Phillies), Dave Roberts (Los Angeles Dodgers), David Ross (Chicago Cubs), and Scott Servais (Seattle Mariners).

The complete list of USA Baseball alumni in the Major Leagues is updated daily throughout the season and can be found here.

The complete list of USA Baseball alumni, by Major League club, who appeared on 2021 Opening Day rosters is as follows:

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  • Arizona Diamondbacks (2)
  • Carson Kelly – 2010 16U; 2011 18U
  • Luke Weaver – 2013 Collegiate
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  • Atlanta Braves (6)
  • Ian Anderson – 2015 18U
  • Travis D'Arnaud – 2011 Professional
  • Freddie Freeman – 2005 16U; 2006 18U
  • A.J. Minter – 2014 Collegiate
  • Drew Smyly – 2011 Professional, 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Dansby Swanson – 2014 Collegiate
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  • Baltimore Orioles (5)
  • Matt Harvey – 2006 18U
  • Adam Plutko – 2012 Collegiate
  • Rio Ruiz - 2007, 2008 14U
  • DJ Stewart – 2014 Collegiate*
  • Dillon Tate - 2014 Collegiate
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  • Boston Red Sox (5)
  • Christian Arroyo - 2012 18U
  • Matt Barnes - 2010 Collegiate
  • Bobby Dalbec - 2015 Collegiate; 2019 Professional
  • Tanner Houck - 2015, 2016 Collegiate; 2019 Professional
  • Alex Verdugo - 2010 14U
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  • Chicago Cubs (7)
  • Jake Arrieta -     2006 Collegiate; 2008 Professional (Olympic)
  • Kris Bryant -      2012 Collegiate
  • Zach Davies - 2007 14U
  • Craig Kimbrel - 2013 Professional (WBC)
  • Dillon Maples - 2010 18U
  • Trevor Williams - 2012 Collegiate
  • Tony Wolters – 2008 16U; 2009, 2010 18U
  •  
  • Chicago White Sox (6)
  • Zack Collins - 2011 16U; 2014 Collegiate
  • Yasmani Grandal - 2009 Collegiate
  • Lance Lynn - 2007 Collegiate
  • Nick Madrigal - 2011 14U; 2012 15U; 2014 18U; 2017 Collegiate
  • Carlos Rodon - 2012, 2013 Collegiate
  • Andrew Vaughn – 2013 15U; 2017, 2018 Collegiate; 2019 Professional
  •  
  • Cincinnati Reds (10)
  • Nick Castellanos - 2009 18U
  • Sean Doolittle - 2005, 2006 Collegiate
  • Kyle Farmer - 2012 Collegiate
  • Carson Fulmer - 2011 18U; 2014 Collegiate
  • Sonny Gray – 2009, 2010 Collegiate*
  • Michael Lorenzen – 2008 16U; 2010 18U; 2011, 2012 Collegiate*
  • Mike Moustakas - 2006 18U; 2010 Professional
  • Tyler Naquin - 2011 Collegiate
  • Lucas Sims - 2010 16U
  • Jesse Winker - 2011 18U
  •  
  • Colorado Rockies (5)     
  • Daniel Bard - 2003 18U; 2004 Collegiate
  • Mychal Givens - 2006 16U; 2007 18U; 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Garrett Hampson - 2015 Collegiate
  • Dom Nunez - 2011 16U; 2012 18U
  • Jordan Sheffield - 2011 16U
  •  
  • Detroit Tigers (4)
  • Grayson Greiner - 2013 Collegiate
  • Robbie Grossman – 2007 18U
  • Derek Holland – 2013 Professional (WBC)
  • Casey Mize - 2017 Collegiate
  •  
  • Houston Astros (5)
  • Alex Bregman - 2010 16U; 2011 18U; 2013, 2014 Collegiate; 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Jason Castro - 2009 Professional
  • Lance McCullers - 2010 18U
  • Ryne Stanek - 2011, 2012 Collegiate
  • Kyle Tucker - 2012 15U
  •  
  • Kansas City Royals (3)
  • Danny Duffy - 2010 Professional, 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Cam Gallagher - 2015 Professional
  • Mike Minor - 2007, 2008 Collegiate
  •  
  • Los Angeles Angels (7)
  • Steve Cishek - 2013 Professional (WBC)
  • Dexter Fowler - 2008 Professional (Olympic)
  • Anthony Rendon - 2010 Collegiate
  • Max Stassi - 2006, 2007 16U; 2008 18U
  • Kurt Suzuki - 2006 Professional
  • Mike Trout - 2010 Professional
  • Justin Upton - 2004 18U
  •  
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (8)
  • Trevor Bauer - 2009 Collegiate
  • Walker Buehler - 2014 Collegiate
  • Joe Kelly – 2007 Collegiate*
  • Clayton Kershaw - 2005 18U
  • Corey Knebel - 2011 Collegiate
  • AJ Pollock - 2011 Professional
  • David Price - 2005, 2006 Collegiate
  • Corey Seager - 2010 16U
  •  
  • Miami Marlins (1)
  • Ross Detwiler - 2006 Collegiate; 2013 Professional (WBC)
  •  
  • Milwaukee Brewers (8)
  • Brett Anderson - 2004 16U; 2005 18U; 2008 Professional (Olympics)
  • Jackie Bradley, Jr. - 2010 Collegiate
  • J.P. Feyereisen - 2019 Professional
  • Josh Hader - 2015 Professional
  • Keston Hiura - 2016 Collegiate
  • Bobby Wahl – 2012 Collegiate*
  • Kolten Wong - 2009 Collegiate
  • Christian Yelich - 2017 Professional (WBC)
  •  
  • Minnesota Twins (2)       
  • Matt Shoemaker - 2011 Professional
  • Caleb Thielbar - 2019 Professional
  •  
  • New York Mets (7)
  • Albert Almora Jr. - 2007, 2008 14U; 2009, 2010 16U; 2010, 2011 18U; 2015 Professional
  • Dellin Betances - 2005 18U
  • Michael Conforto - 2012, 2013 Collegiate
  • Francisco Lindor - 2009 16U; 2010 18U
  • James McCann - 2011 Professional
  • David Peterson - 2016 Collegiate
  • Marcus Stroman - 2011 Collegiate; 2017 Professional (WBC)
  •  
  • New York Yankees (3)
  • Gerrit Cole - 2009, 2010 Collegiate
  • Giancarlo Stanton - 2013, 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Jameson Taillon - 2009 18U
  •  
  • Oakland Athletics (5)
  • Matt Chapman - 2013 Collegiate
  • Cole Irvin - 2011 18U
  • Jed Lowrie – 2004 Collegiate
  • Matt Olson - 2010 16U
  • J.B. Wendelken - 2015 Professional
  •  
  • Philadelphia Phillies (6)
  • Alec Bohm - 2019 Professional
  • Zach Eflin - 2015 Professional
  • Bryce Harper - 2008 16U; 2009 18U
  • Adam Haseley - 2010 14U; 2013 18U
  • Andrew McCutchen - 2004 18U; 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Brad Miller - 2009, 2010 Collegiate
  •  
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (7)
  • Anthony Alford - 2008 14U
  • Tyler Anderson - 2010 Collegiate
  • Trevor Cahill - 2008 Professional (Olympic)
  • Adam Frazier - 2012 Collegiate; 2015 Professional
  • Ke'Bryan Hayes - 2014 18U
  • Cody Ponce – 2019 Professional*
  • Bryan Reynolds - 2014 Collegiate
  •  
  • San Diego Padres (7)
  • Jake Cronenworth - 2019 Professional
  • Trent Grisham – 2014 18U*
  • Eric Hosmer - 2007 18U; 2010 Professional, 2013 and 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Manny Machado - 2009 18U
  • Mark Melancon - 2005 Collegiate; 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Drew Pomeranz - 2009 Collegiate
  • Ryan Weathers - 2017 18U
  •  
  • San Francisco Giants (6)
  • Brandon Crawford - 2006 Collegiate; 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Alex Dickerson - 2010 Collegiate
  • Kevin Gausman - 2009 18U; 2011 Collegiate
  • Evan Longoria - 2007 Professional, 2009 Professional (WBC)
  • Jake McGee - 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Buster Posey - 2004 18U; 2017 Professional (WBC)
  •  
  • Seattle Mariners (5)
  • J.P. Crawford - 2009 14U
  • Marco Gonzales - 2012 Collegiate
  • Tom Murphy - 2011 Collegiate; 2015 Professional
  • Justus Sheffield - 2013 18U
  • Evan White - 2016 Collegiate
  •  
  • St. Louis Cardinals (4)
  • Nolan Arenado - 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Jack Flaherty - 2013 18U
  • Paul Goldschmidt - 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Andrew Miller - 2017 Professional (WBC)
  •  
  • Tampa Bay Rays (4)
  • Chris Archer - 2010 Professional, 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Austin Meadows - 2011 16U
  • Brett Phillips – 2015 Professional*
  • Michael Wacha - 2011 Collegiate
  •  
  • Texas Rangers (7)
  • Kolby Allard – 2014 18U
  • Matt Bush – 2002 16U
  • David Dahl - 2011 18U
  • Joey Gallo - 2011 18U
  • Kyle Gibson - 2008 Collegiate
  • Ian Kennedy - 2002 18U; 2004, 2005 Collegiate
  • Jose Trevino - 2012 Collegiate
  •  
  • Toronto Blue Jays (5)
  • Cavan Biggio - 2012 18U
  • Randal Grichuk - 2007 16U
  • Robbie Ray – 2009 18U*
  • Tanner Roark - 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • George Springer – 2010 Collegiate*
  •  
  • Washington Nationals (9)
  • Erick Fedde - 2013 Collegiate
  • Josh Harrison - 2017 Professional (WBC)
  • Jordy Mercer - 2007 Collegiate; 2011 Professional
  • Joe Ross - 2007 14U
  • Max Scherzer - 2005 Collegiate
  • Kyle Schwarber - 2013 Collegiate
  • Stephen Strasburg - 2008 Colleigate; 2008 Professional (Olympic)
  • Trea Turner - 2012, 2013 Collegiate
  • Ryan Zimmerman - 2004 Collegiate
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GSARabbe

GSA Spotlight: Minnesota’s Zack Raabe Living The Dream With Gophers

March 26, 2021
Minnesota second baseman Zack Raabe has more than proven time and time again that baseball is alive and well in the North Star State. His 31 base hits led the nation a year ago before the season came to an abrupt stop, and he’s slashing .484/.600/1.032 this year through 10

Minnesota second baseman Zack Raabe has more than proven time and time again that baseball is alive and well in the North Star State. His 31 base hits led the nation a year ago before the season came to an abrupt stop, and he’s slashing .484/.600/1.032 this year through 10 games.

You may notice the inflated slugging number, and that 1.032 isn’t a typo. It’s also not by accident, but we’ll get to that shortly.

Raabe’s father, Brian, also played under legendary head coach John Anderson at the University of Minnesota, doing so from 1987-1990. That’s about 10 years into 14’s career as opposed to Zack, who is with Anderson during his 40th year at the helm of the program. Brian was named an All-American in 1990 and was drafted in the 41st round by his hometown Twins that year. He spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues with the Twins, Mariners and Rockies and currently serves as the head coach at Bethel University at the NCAA Division III level.

So, while Zack is a native of Forest Lake, Minn., Raabe didn’t just go to Minnesota because that’s where he grew up. He was born to be a Gopher.

“It’s an absolute dream come true – it really did come true coming to Minnesota,” Raabe said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I was a die-hard Gopher fan. We had season tickets to go to Gopher games: hockey, football, baseball – we’d go to all of them. I grew up in Minnesota and I’ve always loved Minnesota. Right when I got offered, this was the place I wanted to go.”

“I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else,” Raabe added about playing for head coach John Anderson, affectionately referred to as ‘14’. “Being here and being around him is a dream come true.”

Once a player attributed to hit the ball where it’s pitched – which always seems like a nice thing to say but isn’t always perceived to be a compliment – the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Raabe has spent a lot of time in the batting cage, and the weight room, looking to improve his craft knowing it’s a never-ending process. With that has come added power, as his eight extra-base hits (three doubles, four homers and a triple) in 10 games this year equal the eight (seven doubles and a homer) he hit in 17 games in 2020.

Time, after all, is the one thing baseball players were afforded more of during the pandemic.

“I work with my dad and [assistant coach Packy] Casey a lot,” Raabe said. “Pack Casey is one of the best in the business, I have nothing but good things to say about him. He knows what he’s doing, a hard worker. He studies a lot and helps all of us in ways that I can’t even imagine – they’re over my head. He’s such a good teacher on the mental side of hitting.

“The big thing he worked on with me, and our guys, is the thought process in the box, your approach at the plate, nitpicking that stuff to get the real hitting experience, the real D-I experience because that’s the difference between high school and D-I in my opinion, the mental side.

“I’ve been working a lot with him on my eyes, tracking the baseball all the way in. If you can’t see it, you can’t hit it. He works on that aspect more than any other coach. And same with my dad, we work on tracking the ball and harnessing my mental side of hitting.”

Add in Raabe’s diligent work in the weight room with strength coach Scott McWilliams and you have a physically fit player determined to add power to his already polished hit tool. Just look at the year-by-year triple slash progression to get a sense for how he has improved.

2019: .271/.337/.316

2020: .463/.526/.612

2021: .484/.600/1.032

The power isn’t a fluke. It’s not like he’s hit a stretch in which he’s just seeing the ball better and yanking line drives down the line that clear the fence. He’s driving the ball with authority, more consistently. In fact, his triple this year was mis-called by the umpiring crew after the ball bounced back into the field of play at U.S. Bank Stadium after clearing the fence. Meaning, he should have five dingers right now instead of the four that show up on his profile page.

In that same series, he hit two doubles – one that he launched over the center fielder’s head and just missed clearing the fence – and a home run that couldn’t be mis-called. And in adding power to his swing, he hasn’t lost his approach and has actually become more selective at the plate as evidenced by nine walks and only two strikeouts in those 10 games played.

For as good of a hitter as he is, when you ask Raabe about his goals he doesn’t talk about his numbers, base hits or the draft coming up in June. In fact, he actively avoids those questions until you find a way to ask so he can’t avoid it. He does, however, quickly point out the different things he can do to help his team win.

“That’s Zack. He’s a team-first guy,” Brian Raabe said about his son. “His main goal – and he truly means this – he wants to win first, more than anything else. That’s a big deal to him, it always has been. … He realizes that if he does well that’s great, that probably means the team is doing well. But if he’s not, and if it’s not his day – you know how baseball goes – if he can help in any other way [like] on defense or with his hustle or enthusiasm, then that’s what he’s going to do and bring to the table.”

Brian Raabe’s profile was very similar to his son’s. They’re both righthanded hitting second basemen with smaller statures that really know how to hit. And the elder Raabe is quick to point out that size doesn’t necessarily limit a player’s physical capabilities, mentioning the success of proven big leaguers including Jose Altuve and Dustin Pedroia.

“He’s so technically sound. It’s his swing mechanics, that is why he can do it,” Brian Raabe added. “There’s a lot of players that are a smaller stature but can flat-out hit and hit with pop. Zack’s no different. If you try to throw him away, he can hit a double to right, no problem. You throw him in and he [can drive it] to left-center. Because of that he provides a lot of problems for a pitching staff. They don’t know where to throw him, now they’re trying to trick him, and if they leave a hanging breaking ball up in the zone, he’s going to kill it.”

“I kind of chuckle every time I hear that question because it’s the biggest advantage anyone could have,” Zack Raabe said in response to working with his father. “I’d be lying if I said that I got here on my own. That’s not the case. Obviously, I’ve put the work in and all of that, but my dad has been here every single step of the way. Ever since I was a kid, he was the first person that wanted to go outside to throw whiffle balls to me, play catch with me.”

Raabe points out there have been a lot of people along the way that have helped guide him, including his father, his grandfather, Coach Anderson and the rest of the Minnesota coaching staff. It should also be noted that the family has a close connection to the family of Matt Wallner, another product of Lake Forest, Minn., who opted to play college baseball at Southern Miss.

Wallner returned home, so to speak, in June of 2019 when the Minnesota Twins selected him with the 39th overall pick of the draft.

While Wallner and Raabe are completely different athletes and hitters – Wallner is a 6-foot-5, 220-pound lefthanded slugger that you can’t miss when he takes the field – Raabe values being able to the mind of a close friend, someone that has had a taste, with success, of college baseball and more.

But Raabe isn’t one to look ahead. He clearly is grounded and focused on the present and genuinely is intent on helping his team win. With a 3-8 start to the 2021 season that part has been easier said than done. Work still needs to be done, however, as Raabe and other upperclassmen are focused on helping the first-year players find their way both on and off the field and getting through the rough patches together.

The rest will take care of itself.

“I’m not worried about the draft,” Raabe said. “I’m here to play college baseball. That’s my main focus. That’s my only focus. I just want to win games, I’m a big team guy, I’ve always been that way. I want everyone around me to have success, not just me.”

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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Chavers_Article

GSA Spotlight: Healthy Chavers Does It All For Coastal

March 19, 2021
It's been two years since the college baseball world has experienced the joys of watching this Parker Chavers — the fully healthy, unencumbered Chavers who is one of the most exciting players in the country. As a freshman All-American for Coastal Carolina in 2018, Chavers did it all, hitting for average and

It's been two years since the college baseball world has experienced the joys of watching this Parker Chavers — the fully healthy, unencumbered Chavers who is one of the most exciting players in the country. As a freshman All-American for Coastal Carolina in 2018, Chavers did it all, hitting for average and power, stealing some bases, and playing great defense in center field. Then four weeks into his sophomore season in 2019, a freak accident altered the path of his career. Chavers was returning to the dugout at T-Mobile Park in Seattle after a loss to San Diego, and he stumbled on the dugout steps, catching himself with his right arm in an awkward way, causing his shoulder to pop out of joint. It turned out, the episode also caused a tear in his labrum, which had already been surgically repaired in 2014 as a result of a high school pitching injury.

The Chanticleers prepared to be without Chavers for most of that season, but he returned quicker than expected and served as the team’s DH while attempting to rehab his shoulder. Remarkably, Chavers managed to put up even louder numbers despite playing through the injury, finishing that 2019 season by hitting .316/.435/.612 with 15 homers and 10 steals in 57 games.

Chavers went to the Cape Cod League that summer and continued to play through the injury while trying to rehab, and he threw the ball well when he returned to campus that fall. But the pain kept flaring up, and eventually he faced the reality that he needed surgery at the end of the fall heading into his junior season — his draft year. He never saw the field in 2020 before the season was canceled, and he went unselected in the shortened five-round draft.

“I had to have my labrum repaired in two different spots. They disconnected my bicep and then reattached it so it wouldn’t continue to pull on the labrum — pretty extensive surgery,” Chavers said. “No one ever wants to get hurt, and for me, the way it happened was a bummer, a freak accident, something not even really baseball related. It’s kind of easy to ask, ‘Why’d that have to happen, why me?’ And then to have surgery going into your junior draft year, something you worked so hard for since you were a freshman, it was disappointing. I was super-bummed to have surgery going into last year, and then obviously everything got canceled and it was hard for everyone. I just wanted to come back and prove how healthy I was and how good I could still be.

"Obviously the timing was unfortunate, but now I feel better than I have in probably two years, as far as being healthy. If you would have told me last December that I’d come out of surgery and feel this good right now, I don’t know that I would have believed you.”

It was clear in the fall that Chavers was back to his old self. After catching an intrasquad in November, I wrote: A quick-twitch 5-foot-11, 190-pound lefthanded hitter who coils and explodes, Chavers was a hard contact machine this fall, and I saw him hit three balls that came off the bat at 104 mph or harder, highlighted by a towering solo homer to right on a 93 mph fastball that exited at 106 mph.

Through 15 games this spring, Chavers’ home run power hasn’t really shown up yet — he has gone deep just once through 61 at-bats. But even without the long balls, he’s still providing serious value in a whole bunch of different ways, hitting .344/.453/.557 with six doubles, two triples 14 RBIs and five steals in five tries. 

“He made some swing adjustments over the break and has had to go back and figure some things back out,” Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said. “He’s missed probably five or six balls where, a quarter of an inch on the bat difference and all of them are home runs. He’s been so close, and I think he’s gonna hit his stride somewhere along the way where he catches back up with the home runs, I truly believe he’s going to. But the greatest testament to him is the amount of positive things he is doing for us offensively without hitting home runs. He is a tough bird to strike out, and I’ll tell you what man, any time he fungoes that thing around in the infield, it’s a challenge to throw the guy out. He really gets down the line — he’s getting down the line in 4-flat or under just about every time. That’s putting a lot of pressure on defenses.”

Chavers said two of his greatest points of emphasis heading into this season were to show better plate discipline and put his speed to use more often on the basepaths. He posted a 39-54 walk-strikeout mark as a freshman, then a 39-47 mark as a sophomore, but this year he has 10 walks against just seven strikeouts.

“Going through my first two seasons here and obviously that summer in the Cape, kind of the biggest thing I saw in me was, I had dynamic tools but it was the swing and miss, the inconsistency at times in the box,” Chavers said. “So this year I’m just trying to focus on being a pure hitter, show that I can do it all, cut down on my strikeouts, be as well rounded as possible. The other thing for me is using my legs a lot more. I think I’m very underrated in the speed department because I didn’t run a whole lot my first two years. But I’m trying to showcase what I can do on the basepaths and in center field with my defense.”

That’s the other big difference between this Chavers and the 2019 Chavers: now that he’s healthy, he’s back in center field, where he can provide so much more value than he could as a DH. As a prep in Alabama, Chavers was an undersized infielder (“I would say I was the smallest kid on my team growing up and still wasn’t physically mature in high school,” he said). He originally committed to play at East Tennessee State for Tony Skole, whose son played on Chavers’ travel ball team. 

But after Skole left for The Citadel, Chavers eventually got his release, and he said Coastal was looking for an infielder. Chavers was still flying under the radar as a prospect, particularly since an elbow injury his senior year resulted in UCL surgery that May. But a scout buddy of CCU pitching coach Drew Thomas passed along a tip that Chavers could really hit and had been overlooked in the recruiting process. Chavers said he made his first visit to Coastal in the third week of July after his senior year, and a few weeks later he was on campus for the start of school. He worked in the Coastal infield that fall, but with Cory Wood and Seth Lancaster back in the middle infield, it soon became clear that Chavers’ path to playing time would be in center.

“He thought he could be a shortstop, and we recruited him as one, but the throwing action and some of the things were going to be a real struggle to make him an adequate infielder,” Gilmore recalled. “It took one day watching him run around in center field to realize that’s where God meant for that boy to be.

“The bar here for center fielders is really high, and he definitely is as good as anybody that’s ever played here. You look at [David] Sappelt and Rico Noel and Billy Cook, there have been some of the better center fielders in the country that have played here, and he’s as good as all of them.”

When you put it all together — the defense, the speed, the lefthanded bat speed and the increasingly mature approach — Chavers ranks as one of the most dynamic players in college baseball. Gilmore knows how fortunate his club is to have a healthy Chavers back leading his Chanticleers as a fourth-year veteran.

“We don’t ever talk about it, I don’t ever mention it to him by any means — he has enough internal pressure on himself with the draft and the pressures of trying to be a high draft pick on top of being the straw that stirs the drink type of guy — but our success and failure over the course of the season will largely depend on how he’s able to play all year long,” Gilmore said. “If he has a career year, that will help cover up some of the issues and challenges we have in offensive areas as well as pitching areas. The kid’s an unbelievable player. If you asked me how he’s played the first 15 games, I’d tell you he’s played very good. Has he been great? No, but he’s been very good. You’d look at his numbers and say, ‘Coach, how is that not great?’ But he’s one of the best hitters and players that I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. There’s more upside to him than about anybody we’ve ever had. He’s an athletic Tommy La Stella — he’s a guy that’s got power but doesn’t strike out very much, and his athleticism is insane, it really is.”

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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2021-PDPPremierEventScheduleGraphics-FBTwitter-01

USA Baseball Announces 2021 Prospect Development Pipeline Premier Events

USA Baseball will facilitate six invite-only PDP Premier Events in conjunction with MLB
March 18, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today that it will facilitate six Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) Premier Events in 2021 in conjunction with Major League Baseball (MLB). All of the events will be conducted on an invite-only basis and will feature the top amateur baseball players in selected regions of

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today that it will facilitate six Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) Premier Events in 2021 in conjunction with Major League Baseball (MLB). All of the events will be conducted on an invite-only basis and will feature the top amateur baseball players in selected regions of the country.

The six events are currently scheduled to take place throughout the U.S. between May 1–June 6 at Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia, Pa.), the Compton MLB Youth Academy (Compton, Calif.), Dell Diamond (Round Rock, Texas), the Jackie Robinson Training Complex (Vero Beach, Fla.), T-Mobile Park (Seattle, Wash.), and the USA Baseball National Training Complex (Cary, N.C.).

The full schedule of PDP Premier events is as follows: 

  • May 1-2: PDP Premier Mid-Atlantic (USA Baseball National Training Complex)
  • May 8-9: PDP Premier Northeast (Citizens Bank Park)
  • May 15-16: PDP Premier Florida & Puerto Rico (Jackie Robinson Training Complex)
  • May 22-23: PDP Premier Northwest (T-Mobile Park)
  • May 22-23: PDP Premier Texas (Dell Diamond)
  • June 5-6: PDP Premier SoCal (Compton MLB Youth Academy)

    “We are thrilled to have these six PDP Premier Events on the calendar in 2021,” said Russell Hartford, USA Baseball Senior Director of Technology. “These events will place a heavy emphasis on data collection and use of advanced assessment technologies, making them not only a unique opportunity for young players to receive invaluable resources and actionable data that will help them create sustained development, but also a chance for the scouting community to see some of the best draft-eligible prospects in action this spring.”

    At the heart of the PDP Premier events is the PDP Performance Assessment, which is a series of comprehensive evaluations that utilize state-of-the-art technology to measure cognitive skills, speed of processing, athletic performance, and on-field talent. As part of the PDP Performance Assessment, participating athletes will take part in Hawkeye and RightEye assessments, and have their height, weight, and grip measurements collected on the first day of each event. 

    Subsequently, the second day will utilize technologies such as Rapsodo and Diamond Kinetics to assess each participant’s on-field abilities. Weather permitting, the workouts and evaluations will include both on-field and in-cage batting practice, an infield/outfield workout, bullpen sessions, and a simulation game with live at-bats.

    Following each PDP Performance Assessment, athletes will receive a fully-customized player report, inclusive of personal results and data from their evaluation, development information with guidelines for improvements, and other relevant resources to aid players and families in navigating the amateur baseball experience.

    The Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) is a collaborative effort between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to establish a player development pipeline leading to the MLB Draft for amateur baseball players in the United States. In addition to the PDP Premier Events, the PDP also includes the recently announced MLB Draft Combine, which will take place from June 20-28, and the PDP League, which serves as the primary identification event for the USA Baseball 18U National Team and is scheduled to take place from July 22-August 1. Both events will be hosted at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

    For more information on the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP), the PDP Premier Events or additional initiatives within the PDP program, please visit the Prospect Development Pipeline website or follow @BaseballPDP on Twitter and Instagram.

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GSASpotlight_Madden

GSA Spotlight: Texas’ Madden Magnificent

March 11, 2021
If you wanted to know what kind of start Texas right-handed pitcher Ty Madden had against Houston on Friday night, one just needs to let Cougars head coach Todd Whitting do the talking. “That’s about as good of an outing as I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Whitting said.

If you wanted to know what kind of start Texas right-handed pitcher Ty Madden had against Houston on Friday night, one just needs to let Cougars head coach Todd Whitting do the talking.

“That’s about as good of an outing as I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Whitting said. “I was just watching him pitch, and he reminded me a little of watching Stephen Strasburg when he was at San Diego State with that fastball straight downhill. He was throwing that breaking ball effectively in and out of the zone all night, too.

“He just pounded the zone all night. You just have to tip your hat to him a little bit.”

In our first look at Madden this season Opening Weekend against Mississippi State, his performance certainly was not Strasburg-ian. He allowed four runs on four hits in four innings. And though the fastball was electric and up to 98 mph at times, the secondary stuff left something to be desired.

Perhaps that was kind of a wakeup call for the steady and supremely talented Longhorns righthander, because he’s been outstanding since that start against MSU.

Last weekend against BYU, Madden got back to business, striking out what used to be a career high 11 batters, while walking just one and allowing just one hit in seven innings.

He was really good in that start.

Somehow, he was even better against a better team in a complete game performance, 1-0 victory Friday night.

“I thought Ty Madden was incredible tonight,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “He pitched off his fastball and I thought he pitched with total conviction. He prepares year around for nights like this one. What a performance he put together for us.”

Madden, who retired the final seven batters he faced against the Cougars, dazzled scouts and fans alike in the ninth inning with a 1-2-3 frame that included a fastball — even over the 100-pitch mark — that touched 96-97 mph, with some radar guns even getting 98 mph on the offering.

It was a brilliant end to a masterpiece of a performance.

But the foundation for this type of start was set much earlier in the contest.

Madden knew he needed to pitch well early in this one. Houston lefthanded pitcher Robert Gasser was matching him with zeroes in the first few innings. Gasser, who surprised some in attendance with a fastball up to 94-95 mph — he sat in the 90-93 mph range later in the game — had some iffy command at times, but he was a hard-nosed lefthander who attacked the Longhorns offense with a fastball that was well located on the outside part of the plate to righthanded hitters, while he showed a slider at 81-82 mph, a changeup at 83-87 mph and a true 12-5 curveball at 76-78 mph later in the game. Every time Gasser needed to make a pitch to get out of a jam, he made it. And he put together a strong start, striking out five batters, walking two and allowing four hits in seven shutout innings.

“That’s two weeks in a row that Gasser was very good, and that’s why he’s pitching for us on Friday nights,” Whitting said. “He’s tough as nails and that fastball has great life working away from righthanded hitters. He pitched good enough to win, and we should win a bunch of games if he keeps pitching like that.”

He’ll also win a lot more games if he doesn’t have a guy like Madden manning the other team’s mound.

You knew Madden was in for a good night in the first inning.

Madden allowed a runner to reach base in the first. But he was poised and seem totally dialed in. He finished out the first inning with a pair of strikeouts and was showing pure gas with the fastball, getting up to 97-98 mph with the offering with a spin rate approaching 2740 at times.

Madden proceeded to retire eight-straight UH hitters from the first inning on. And in the fourth, even though the Cougars got the leadoff hitter on base, he avoided that frame with no damage and ended it with a strikeout. His fifth inning of work was his most impressive, as he struck out the side with an 86 mph changeup and a pair of fastballs at 95 and 97 mph, respectively.

Madden’s fastball has always been a weapon, and that was no different tonight. He attacks hitters with the offering at a tough downhill angle, and it’s especially difficult to hit when he has life on it like he did tonight. However, the biggest key for Madden versus his earlier start against Mississippi State was his ability to locate and show premium stuff with the secondary offerings, particularly the slider. Madden’s slider was very good against the Cougars, showing a spin rate around 2500-2700 at times. The breaking ball had two different shapes — one a bit more typical of a slider and another tighter in nature. Both were terrific offerings against the Cougars.

“The slider — that was the difference for him,” Whitting said about Madden’s start. “You think all right all you have to do is go out there and sit on the fastball, then he drops in that slider, and he threw it for a strike enough to where when he buried it in the dirt, we swung at it.

“I’ll tell you what, too, he elevates that fastball,” he added. “He can really command it and elevate the fastball, then he comes back with that slider buried in the dirt. It’s pretty tough.”

Overall, Madden finished the night with another career high in strikeouts with 14. He walked just two UH hitters and allowed two hits in the complete game performance, while also throwing 110 pitches — 79 of those pitches for strikes.

For the past year or so, everyone has always believed in Ty Madden’s fastball. Now, after two-straight outstanding performances, and tonight, showing a filthy slider, perhaps there are now almost as many believers in the secondary stuff for the premier righty.
It was indeed a masterpiece.

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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USA Baseball Names Drs. Bloom and Osbahr Co-Chief Medical Officers of New Medical Oversight Commission

Dr. Bloom also elevated to Chairman of the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee
March 9, 2021
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball named today Dr. Josh Bloom and Dr. Daryl Osbahr Co-Chief Medical Officers of the newly created USA Baseball Medical Oversight Commission. Additionally, Dr. Bloom has been chosen to assume the role of USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee Chairman from former Chairman Glenn Fleisig, PhD., after

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball named today Dr. Josh Bloom and Dr. Daryl Osbahr Co-Chief Medical Officers of the newly created USA Baseball Medical Oversight Commission. Additionally, Dr. Bloom has been chosen to assume the role of USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee Chairman from former Chairman Glenn Fleisig, PhD., after serving on the committee since 2010.

The newly created Medical Oversight Commission, which will operate separately from the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee, is responsible for quality assurance, medical control, scope of practice, medical standards of curricula, and other related issues as assigned by the Board of Directors. In their roles as Co-Chief Medical Officers, Drs. Bloom and Osbahr will ensure that USA Baseball meets all of its responsibilities in order to continue the organization’s commitment to creating a safe, healthy, and secure environment for all athletes within the sport of baseball.

“Collectively, Doctors Bloom and Osbahr have been integral to the success of our national teams, programs, and events for more than twenty years,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “Both have worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of USA Baseball athletes and staff, and they bring an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to these positions after working with a variety of teams, leagues, sports, and events in their careers. We could not be more excited to have them at the helm of our new Medical Oversight Commission.”

Bloom has served as Head Team Physician for USA Baseball since 2005, where he is responsible for the oversight of medical and athletic training personnel, domestic and international game and event coverage, and medical care of players, coaches, and staff. He has also been a partner physician at Carolina Family Practice & Sports Medicine since 2004, has served as the Medical Director of the Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic since 2008, and has been the Team Physician for Apex Friendship High School (N.C.) and Cary High School (N.C.) since 2005 and 2015, respectively. In addition to those roles, Bloom started working with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes in 2005 as a team physician before assuming his current role with the team as Medical Director and Head Medical Team Physician in 2014. His responsibilities with the Hurricanes include medical care of players and staff, oversight of the medical and athletic training team, and management of the team’s concussion program.

Additionally, Bloom serves on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and the NHL Concussion Sub-Committee, while also holding clinical positions in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC School of Medicine and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Duke University.

Bloom attended Tulane University School of Medicine, where he also earned a master’s degree in Public Health, before completing his Family Practice Residency and Sports Medicine Fellowship at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. Prior to medical school, Bloom received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, where he was an Academic All-American linebacker and was honored by the National Football Foundation as one of the top 15 scholar football players in America in 1994.

Osbahr has served as a USA Baseball Team Physician and a member of the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee since 2013, and is currently the Managing Director & Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute in Florida. Additionally, Osbahr is an Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at AdventHealth in Central Florida, a professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, and an Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Florida State University College of Medicine.

In addition to his role as a USA Baseball Team Physician, Osbahr has served in a variety of roles for a wide range of teams and events throughout his career. He has a long history of working with Major League Baseball (MLB), including his roles as Team Physician and Affiliate Team Physician for the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, Taiwan Venue Team Physician at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and member of the MLB Shoulder Research Committee. Furthermore, Osbahr has been an Orthopedic Consultant for the Professional Golf Association (PGA), the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), and the Symetra Tour. In addition to those roles, Osbahr has served as a Network Team Physician for U.S. Soccer, including his role as a Team Physician for the U.S. Soccer Men’s National Team.

Osbahr earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina in 1997 before graduating from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 2005. Following graduation, he completed an Orthopedic Surgery Residency at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, New York, and an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Fellowship at American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama.

For more information on the USA Baseball Medical Oversight Body and the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee, please visit USABaseball.com.

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GSA Spotlight: Sal Frelick

March 4, 2021
It all started years ago, well before Sal Frelick and Cody Morissette and Mason Pelio and their classmates even showed up as freshmen at Boston College. Even as 16-year-olds, this group had a very specific vision. “I think my recruiting class, my junior year in high school, we actually named

It all started years ago, well before Sal Frelick and Cody Morissette and Mason Pelio and their classmates even showed up as freshmen at Boston College. Even as 16-year-olds, this group had a very specific vision.

“I think my recruiting class, my junior year in high school, we actually named our group chat ‘Omaha 2021.’ That’s always been our mentality,” said Frelick, now a third-year sophomore center fielder and a second-team preseason All-American. “I think when we set our goals so high, especially attainable ones, it’s just fun to try to chase them. We’re doing that one game at a time, but it’s always in the back of our head. Since I’ve been a freshman here, that’s just kind of been the switch we’ve seen in the culture here.”

Of course, every Division I baseball player dreams of Omaha, but this was a particularly bold ambition for a BC program that hadn’t reached the College World Series since 1967. When Frelick, Morissette, Pelio, Peter Burns and the other members of BC’s 2018 recruiting class first committed, BC was still playing at Shea Field, the worst facility in Power Five baseball, with a chain-link fence, a few rows of metal bleachers, and a playing surface that doubled as a parking lot for football games on fall Saturdays. Back then, the Brighton Field complex and the Pete Frates center were still just a dream. Aside from the Californian Pelio, this class was composed mostly of native New Englanders who could have left for warmer climates and better facilities and a richer college baseball tradition.

But Frelick (from Lexington, Mass.), Morissette (Exeter, N.H.), Burns (Reading, Mass.), Emmet Sheehan (Darien, Conn.) and Ramon Jimenez (Chicopee, Mass.) saw the potential of a BC program coming off a surprising 2016 run to super regionals. They believed in BC coach Mike Gambino’s vision and passion. They believed they could be a part of something special, and lead a New England college baseball team to Omaha for the first time in decades.

“I was such a big advocate for keeping local talent local. I wanted to play in New England because I was born and raised here,” Frelick said. “I think a lot of times, even when I was growing up in high school, kids older than me were going down south, out west to play college baseball. I was always like, ‘Man, we breed such good baseball talent here, let’s keep it local.’ I was so fired up, Cody Morissette, basically my whole recruiting class was roughly New England, with some Connecticut kids. I think it’s just a brand of baseball that we like to play. BC baseball offered that kind of grittiness, that fast-paced baseball that I love. I think it’s New England brand, so I was all for staying here.”

And Frelick epitomizes the New England brand, in so many ways. He became something of a folk hero during his prep days as a football, hockey and baseball star, earning the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year award in football after throwing 52 touchdown passes as a senior. Whenever I tweet about Frelick, responses like this flood in from Boston-area media people and sports fans:

Frelick said he committed to play baseball at BC when he was a high school freshman, but by the time he was a junior he was getting serious interest from college football programs, who viewed him as a Julian Edelman-style playmaker out of the slot. He said he was actually committed to play football and baseball at BC “for maybe a week,” but then he took a step back and decided baseball is the sport he has the best chance to play the longest, so it made sense to concentrate on the diamond.

He injured his knee in his final game of summer ball before the fall of his freshman year at BC, resulting in the first of two knee surgeries in the span of less than a year. Being sidelined for fall ball was tough for him, but he rehabbed quickly and got himself ready to play when the season started in 2019. And Frelick hit the ground running, putting up a .367/.447/.513 line with four homers and 18 steals in 21 tries over the course of 39 exhilarating games.

And then he hurt his knee again chasing down a ball in center field, and he had surgery again in May to report partially torn cartilage. I remember chatting with him in the stands at the ACC tournament that year, with his leg propped up on the seat in front of him and his crutches by his side. He was friendly and gregarious as always, but he was struggling beneath the calm façade.

“I remember I was actually here in Durham watching the ACC tournament on crutches, and I was just biting my lip, I was so angry I couldn’t go out there and play,” Frelick said. “I think the first couple weeks after that second surgery were a really big mental toll on me. I was in a dark place, it was tough watching my team go out and compete and I couldn’t go out and help them in any way. And then as I got into the summer, I said, ‘All right, let’s really pick this thing up, let’s make sure we come out of this not just 100 percent but 150 percent, because we’re trying to get faster and stronger here, not just back to where you were.’ So I hit a really rigorous program that summer and came back to school that fall maintaining that program. I don’t think my body’s ever felt as good as it does now.”

Speed is such a huge part of Frelick’s game, so it was thrilling to see him showing top-of-the-charts speed this weekend at Duke, proving that the knee injuries are well behind him. On one “routine” ground ball to second base, he blazed up the line in 3.91 seconds from the left side, causing all the scouts in the stands to compare their stopwatches and make sure they had it right (everyone around me had him in the low 3.9s). The Duke second baseman had to rush that throw and still didn’t get it to first base in time. He beat out another grounder to second base later in the game (initially scored as a hit, then changed to an error that was clearly forced by Frelick’s speed), in addition to a pair of crisp line-drive singles to center and right. Last year, when Frelick hit .241 in the shortened season, he clearly wasn’t all the way back from that knee surgery. Now he’s back to being a 5-foot-9, 175-pound stick of dynamite.

“I mean, he wasn’t there last year. Guys were getting 4.2s down the line, but now he’s a consistent 3.8, 3.9 down the line,” Gambino said. “In some ways, you talk about what Trea Turner did, I remember telling our infielders when Trea was here \[at NC State\], ‘Every ground ball is basically a do or die. Like, every one you gotta go get and get rid of.’ And that’s what it feels like when Sal’s hitting.”

Frelick’s 80 speed on the 20-80 scale could be worth 50 or 100 points of batting average over the course of the season, and it has helped him hit .429/.484/.607 through six games this year. But he also drives the ball to all parts of the field, regularly squaring up hard line-drive contact. On Saturday, he hit a ball off the opposite-field Blue Monster so hard that even with his speed, he was held to a single. And he showed the ability to turn on the ball with authority in Sunday’s series finale, ripping a two-run homer to right in the seventh inning, effectively putting the game away and helping BC clinch the series.

“My freshman year, I felt like the biggest part of my game was putting the ball in play. I really wanted to develop into that collision-contact hitter, with some power,” Frelick said. “I don’t think it was ever a change in, ‘I gotta put on some weight, I gotta get stronger.’ It was just a change in my approach, saying, ‘Let’s drive some baseballs here, not just flick them the other way.’ I’ve known I’ve had it in me for a while now, but I think it’s starting to emerge, a little bit last year and now this year.”

With speed, power, baserunning acumen, premium range and superb instincts in center field, Frelick can change the game in so many different ways. There might not be a more exciting player to watch in all of college baseball. And his makeup is just as special as his athleticism. Frelick just has a very rare magnetism about him, on and off the field.

“He very rarely has a bad at-bat. And he also is that guy everybody just knows in a big spot, he’s gonna get it done. He just is. He’s just ‘that kid,’” Gambino said. “My wife was in a grocery store like six months ago and had a BC baseball sweatshirt on. And some kid was like, ‘Oh, do you know Sal Frelick?’ He just went to a neighboring high school. The other guys just call him, ‘That kid.’ Like, he’s just ‘that kid.’ And part of it is the complete confidence, but with complete humility; he’s that good of a kid. Everybody has a story about awesome stuff he’s done \[on the field or in the rink\], but everybody has a story about how good a kid he is too. It’s just that real.”

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.
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GSA Spotlight: Ole Miss’ Hoglund Forming Into Complete Pitcher

February 25, 2021
Ole Miss has won a school-record 18-straight games after Sunday’s 5-4 win over Texas Tech to improve to 2-0 at the State Farm College Showdown. And each step along the way of this winning streak, there has been at least one constant. That’s Gunnar Hoglund. Hoglund hasn’t had the easiest

Ole Miss has won a school-record 18-straight games after Sunday’s 5-4 win over Texas Tech to improve to 2-0 at the State Farm College Showdown. And each step along the way of this winning streak, there has been at least one constant.

That’s Gunnar Hoglund.

Hoglund hasn’t had the easiest path to success at Ole Miss. He drew a combination of praise and consternation coming out of high school after turning down the Pittsburgh Pirates as a first-round pick. When you’re a first-round pick and you choose the college route over the big bucks, expectations couldn’t possibly be higher.

So, to say Hoglund’s freshman campaign was a learning experience for the ultra-talented righthander would be quite an understatement. It was that and more. Hoglund earned 16 starts and appeared in 17 games for the Rebels as a freshman, tallying a 5.29 ERA in 68 innings. He struck out 53 and only walked 14, but teams hit him at a shockingly high .282 clip.

There was a reason for that.

As a high school prep star, Hoglund had a big-time fastball that climbed into the mid-90s on a consistent basis. He also had a curveball. But more often than not in high school, he could just blow that fastball past hitters and get away with it without having to rely much on his secondary stuff.

That changed in a variety of ways in his first year at Ole Miss. In addition to needing to shelve the curveball, his fastball velocity wasn’t what it was in high school. As a freshman, he was more 88-91 and up to 92 mph with the offering, while the 74-76 mph curveball wasn’t missing bats at an elite level.

Something had to change between the fall before the 2020 campaign, and that was ditching the curveball to focus primarily on the slider and changeup.

Hoglund was well on his way to showing his complete self before the ’20 campaign was shut down. He tallied a 1.16 ERA in 23.1 innings, while also striking out 37 and walked four. Most notably, teams were hitting him at just a .205 clip when the season came to a close.

But when the season was shuttered, some wondered if Hoglund would continue this spring where he left off last season.

That answer is a resounding yes.

Facing one of the nation’s premier offenses Sunday afternoon, Hoglund, who admittedly didn’t have his best slider after the first couple of innings, struck out 11, walked three and allowed just three runs on three hits in 5.1 innings of work.

“The biggest thing you didn’t see today was the dominant slider. The slider was a big reason why his strikeout numbers were so good last spring,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “He had a fastball, curveball and changeup as a freshman, and the curveball in high school. That works for him then. But he didn’t get swings and misses from those curveballs.

“I think he’s learned he doesn’t have to throw every pitch for a strike,” he added. “He can go out there and pitch more, and when you have super command like him, that’s what makes him special.

“There are guys out there that throw harder than him. There are guys out there that throw the slider harder than him, but he’s the whole package,” he added. “He has four pitches in the strike zone and really commands it well. To hit him, you really have to go out there and work. He was locating it in and out — against a pretty good offense.”

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound, was terrific in the first inning against the Red Raiders, going 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts — one on a 95 mph fastball and the other on a 96 mph heater. He allowed a two-run home run from Nate Rombach in the second inning and didn’t allow another run until Dylan Neuse greeted him with a solo home run to leadoff the sixth inning. He struck out Easton Murrell and was lifted for Austin Miller.

From a stuff standpoint, Hoglund has what you want from a frame standpoint, and has an easy, consistent, delivery. He was consistently 92-95 and up to 96 mph with the fastball early in the contest, while it was more 92-94 as the game progressed. He was 90-92 with the fastball in his final inning of work. He also threw some changeups at 83 mph, while the slider was effective at times at 83-87 mph — a couple of ticks higher from a velocity standpoint than last season.

“I thought he was pretty terrific against a very good offense,” Bianco said. “That’s a lineup that makes you work. It was not his best stuff today, but he had great command of the fastball and had velocity. Maybe after the first inning the slider was nonexistent, but he located the fastball well.

“Some of the things we tried to improve on — and credit him — is just trying to get more tilt on his fastball. I wanted more ride to his fastball, and we’re seeing that,” he added. “I’m not sure he’s throwing his fastball any harder than he did in high school, it’s just more consistent now.”

As for Hoglund, he credits a combination of technology and hard work for his continued improvements that have him a very safe bet to be a top two-round pick this summer.

“Using technology has been a big part of my improvement,” Hoglund said. “I was working on all my pitches — trying to get a complete arsenal. I can use any of my pitches in any count now.

“I can definitely tell a difference with my fastball,” he added. “If it’s at 88-90, someone can catch up to it, but when you’re pounding the zone at 92-95, you’re going to get some swings and misses.”

Ole Miss entered this season with high expectations, partly because of an expected rise by Hoglund.

More good days are certainly ahead for the Rebels, and for Hoglund, too.

D1Baseball.com is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.



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2021 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List Announced

The 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be presented in July
February 18, 2021
CARY, N.C. ­– USA Baseball announced its 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list today, beginning the process of identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2021 season. The 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be presented in July. The 2021 preseason watch list features 55 of the

CARY, N.C. ­– USA Baseball announced its 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list today, beginning the process of identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2021 season. The 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be presented in July.

The 2021 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 2021 watch list is top MLB Draft prospect Kumar Rocker (Vanderbilt), who is making his second consecutive appearance on the preseason watch list this year. Rocker is joined by seven other 2020 Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list members, including Alex Binelas (Louisville), Colton Cowser (Sam Houston), Adrian Del Castillo (Miami), Trenton Denholm (UC Irvine), Josh Elvir (Angelo State), Bobby Seymour (Wake Forest), and Ethan Wilson (South Alabama). Additionally, Kevin Abel (Oregon State) returns to the list in 2021 after being named to the 2019 Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list.

“We are thrilled to be bringing the Golden Spikes Award back this year and kicking off the 2021 amateur baseball season with the fifty-five-player preseason watch list,” said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. “The athletes who make up this year’s initial watch list have an incredible amount of talent and we are looking forward to their return to the diamond so we can follow their journeys during what will undoubtedly be a highly competitive season.”

The 2021 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). Elvir returns to the preseason watch list for the second year in a row representing NCAA Division II, while Mo Hanley (Adrian) and Luis Vargas (Wayland Baptist) represent NCAA Division III and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA), respectively.

Jordan Lawlar (Dallas Jesuit High School) and Andrew Painter (Calvary Christian High School) are the only high school baseball players recognized by the advisory board for the 2021 preseason watch list. Lawlar and Painter are the first players from their respective schools to be named to the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list.

Sixteen different collegiate athletic conferences are represented on the 2021 preseason watch list with eight of those conferences boasting multiple selections, including the American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Big West, Pac-12, Sun Belt and Southeastern Conferences.

Florida leads the list of schools represented with three players on the 2021 list, followed closely by Arkansas, Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Ole Miss, Tennessee, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wake Forest, which all boast a pair of athletes.

Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman took home the prestigious award most recently in 2019, 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 voting will once again play a part in the Golden Spikes Award in 2021. Amateur baseball fans will be able to vote for their favorite players on GoldenSpikesAward.com, starting on June 8 with the naming of the Golden Spikes Award semifinalists. USA Baseball will announce the finalists for the award on June 24 and fan voting will open at GoldenSpikesAward.com concurrently, remaining open through July 2.

The winner of the 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be named in July. To stay up-to-date on the 2021 Golden Spikes Award visit GoldenSpikesAward.com and follow @USAGoldenSpikes on Twitter and Instagram.

  •  

  • The 2021 Golden Spikes Award timeline:
  • April 14: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list announced
  • June 8: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced, fan voting begins
  • June 15: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists fan voting ends
  • June 24: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists announced, fan voting begins
  • July 2: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists fan voting ends
  • July: 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; Position; School; Conference
  • Andrew Abbott; LHP; Virginia; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Kevin Abel; RHP; Oregon State; Pac-12 Conference
  • Hunter Barco; LHP; Florida; Southeastern Conference
  • Alex Binelas; 3B; Louisville; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Mason Black; RHP; Lehigh; Patriot League
  • Tyler Black; 2B; Wright State; Horizon League
  • Brooks Carlson; 2B; Samford; SoCon Conference
  • Parker Chavers; OF; Coastal Carolina; Sun Belt Conference
  • Maxwell Costes; 1B; Maryland; Big 10 Conference
  • Colton Cowser; OF; Sam Houston; Southland Conference
  • Ryan Cusick; RHP; Wake Forest; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Henry Davis; C; Louisville; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Adrian Del Castillo; C; Miami; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Trenton Denholm; RHP; UC Irvine; Big West Conference
  • Josh Elvir; OF; Angelo State; Lone Star Conference
  • Jud Fabian; OF; Florida; Southeastern Conference
  • Max Ferguson; 2B; Tennessee; Southeastern Conference
  • Richard Fitts; RHP; Auburn; Southeastern Conference
  • Christian Franklin; OF; Arkansas; Southeastern Conference
  • Sal Frelick; OF; Boston College; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Zack Gelof; 3B; Virginia; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Hunter Goodman; C/UTL; Memphis; American Athletic Conference
  • Peyton Graham; INF; Oklahoma; Big 12 Conference
  • Steve Hajjar; LHP; Michigan; Big 10 Conference
  • Mo Hanley; OF/LHP; Adrian; Michigan Intercollegiate Conference
  • Jaden Hill; RHP; LSU; Southeastern Conference
  • Gunnar Hoglund; RHP; Ole Miss; Southeastern Conference
  • Grant Holman; RHP/1B; California; Pac-12 Conference
  • Jordan Lawlar; INF; Dallas Jesuit High School
  • Jack Leiter; RHP; Vanderbilt; Southeastern Conference
  • Seth Lonsway; LHP; Ohio State; Big 10 Conference
  • Tommy Mace; RHP; Florida; Southeastern Conference
  • Christian MacLeod; RHP; Mississippi State; Southeastern Conference
  • Ty Madden; RHP; Texas; Big 12 Conference
  • Robby Martin; OF; Florida State; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Michael McGreevy; RHP; UC Santa Barbara; Big West
  • Matt McLain; SS; UCLA; Pac-12 Conference
  • Troy Melton; RHP; San Diego State; Mountain West Conference
  • Robert Moore; 2B; Arkansas; Southeastern Conference
  • Cody Morissette; 3B; Boston College; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Dylan Neuse; OF; Texas Tech; Big 12 Conference
  • Doug Nikhazy; LHP; Ole Miss; Southeastern Conference
  • Braden Olthoff; RHP; Tulane; American Athletic Conference
  • Andrew Painter; RHP; Calvary Christian High School
  • Connor Pavolony; C; Tennessee; Southeastern Conference
  • Zach Pettway; RHP; UCLA; Pac-12 Conference
  • Connor Prielipp; LHP; Alabama; Southeastern Conference
  • Kumar Rocker; RHP; Vanderbilt; Southeastern Conference
  • Bobby Seymour; 1B; Wake Forest; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Alex Toral; 1B; Miami; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Jose Torres; INF; NC State; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Luis Vargas; OF; Wayland Baptist; Sooner Athletic Conference
  • Luke Waddell; SS; Georgia Tech; Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Jordan Wicks; LHP; Kansas State; Big 12 Conference
  • Ethan Wilson; OF; South Alabama; Sun Belt Conference
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