Made up of former professional players and respected collegiate, high school, and professional coaches, the 2021 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League staff will guide and evaluate the 96 participating athletes at the event from July 24-31 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, and at Calfee
Made up of former professional players and respected collegiate, high school, and professional coaches, the 2021 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League staff will guide and evaluate the 96 participating athletes at the event from July 24-31 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, and at Calfee Park in Pulaski, Virginia.
The 2021 staff will be led by USA Baseball Director of Player Development Jim Koerner as the Field Coordinator. The 96 invited players will be split into four teams, led by Team Gray Manager Cody Ellis (Patrick Henry Community College), Team Light Blue Manager Tom Griffin (Carson-Newman University), Team Navy Manager Denny Hocking, and Team Red Manager Nick Punto.
In addition to the 2021 PDP League coaching staff, the 2021 18U National Team staff, led by Manager Jason Maxwell, will serve as additional evaluators at the event to identify athletes to be invited to the USA Baseball 18U National Team Trials. Maxwell will serve as a roving instructor at the event, while 18U National Team assistant coaches Michael Cuddyer and Jack Wilson will work as the PDP League hitting and infield coordinators, respectively. The event’s pitching coordinator will be 18U National Team Pitching Coach Adam Moseley.
The 2021 PDP League staff and their bios are as follows:
- 2021 PDP League Coaching Staff
- Name; PDP League Position
- AJ Battiso; Team Navy Pitching Coach
- Homer Bush; Team Navy Assistant Coach
- Billy Butler; Team Light Blue Assistant Coach
- Andre Butler; Team Light Blue Assistant Coach
- James Cooper; Team Gray Assistant Coach
- Doug Creek; Team Gray Pitching Coach
- Michael Cuddyer; Hitting Coordinator
- Cody Ellis; Team Gray Manager
- Troy Gerlach; Team Red Assistant Coach
- Luke Gregerson; Team Red Pitching Coach
- Tom Griffin; Team Light Blue Manager
- Dave Hansen; Team Gray Assistant Coach
- Denny Hocking; Team Navy Manager
- Jim Koerner; Field Coordinator
- Jason Maxwell; Roving Instructor
- Adam Moseley; Pitching Coordinator
- Brad Penny; Team Light Blue Pitching Coach
- Nick Punto; Team Red Manager
- Joey Ray; Team Navy Assistant Coach
- Roberto Vaz; Team Red Assistant Coach
- Jack Wilson; Infield Coordinator
AJ Battisto will serve as the pitching coach for Team Gray at the 2021 PDP League. Battista is currently in his second stint at the University of New Orleans, where he is the pitching coach. He just finished his third season since returning to the Privateers in 2019, coaching three Southland Pitcher of the Week honorees. In 2020, Battisto's pitching staff had the Southland's second-lowest ERA at the time the season was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Battisto joined the UNO staff from North Carolina Central, where he guided one of the top-rated pitching staffs in the MEAC. He has coached several pitchers who have gone on to sign contracts with MLB organizations, including Eric Orze and Devin Sweet. Before entering the coaching ranks, Basttisto had a seven-year career in the minor leagues, making 167 appearances and going 21-10 with a 3.62 ERA with nine saves. He played collegitely at Georgia Southern, posting a perfect 12-0 record in three seasons with the Eagles.
Homer Bush brings seven years of MLB experience to the 2021 PDP League's Team Navy, where he will serve as an assistant coach. Bush was taken in the seventh round of the 1991 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres out of East St. Louis High School in Illinois. After getting traded to the New York Yankees in 1997, Bush made his major-league debut in that same year and then played in 45 games for New York in 1998, batting .380 to contribute to the Yankees' World Series title. Following that season, Bush was part of a trade that sent him and several other players to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Roger Clemens. He spent three seasons in Toronto, with a standout year in 1999 when he played in 128 games and batted .320 with 32 stolen bases. He then played a season with the Florida Marlins in 2002 before finishing his career with the Yankees in 2004. Bush's son, Homer Jr., currently plays for the Greeneville Flyboys of the Appalachian League.
Andre Butler will serve as a Team Red assistant coach at the 2021 PDP League after wrapping up his second season as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at Swarthmore College in this year. With the Garnet, Butler served as first-base coach while also implementing defensive strategies throughout games. He is currently in his second stint at Swarthmore after spending the 2012-13 school year as an assistant with the team and previously coaching for four seasons as an assistant at Penn State University, where he served in multiple roles, including hitting coach. His first season with the Nittany Lions was the program's best in recent history, as they earned their first winning record in four years and doubled their Big Ten win total from the previous season. Prior to his time at Penn State, Butler also coached at the University of Pennsylvania and DeSales University. In addition to his coaching experience, Butler played collegiately for four seasons at Eastern University (St. Davids, Pa.), graduating in 2012 as one of the program's all-time best hitters. He also started his own tee ball league called the "Jackie Robinson West Philly League" in Philadelphia.
Four-time USA Baseball alum Billy Butler will serve as Team Light Blue's assistant coach during the 2021 PDP League after a ten-year MLB career. Butler first played for Team USA on the 2002 16U National Team, where he batted .474 with a home run and seven RBI's and played in all six of the team's games at the COPABE Pan Am Youth Championships in Venezuela. He then returned to Team USA the following year to suit up for the 2003 18U National Team and once again excelled for Team USA, batting .414, homering once, and driving in 10 runs at the Pan Am World Cup in Curacao. After being selected by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 2004 MLB Draft, Butler played for the Professional National Team on two occassions, donning the stars and stripes in four games for the 2005 Pre Olympic Qualifying Team before making eight starts for the 2006 Olympic Qualifying Team and batting .313 with a pair of home runs. Butler played eight seasons with the Royals following his debut in 2007, hitting over 15 home runs in five of those campaigns. In 2012, Butler batted .313 with 29 home runs and 107 RBI's to earn a spot on the AL All-Star Team. He then spent 2015 and part of 2016 with the Oakland Athletics before finishing his career with the New York Yankees in 2016. He was a career .290 hitter, finishing with 1,479 hits and 147 home runs.
James Cooper joins the 2021 PDP League as an assistant coach for Team Gray after completing his 12th season as head coach at Grambling State this year. Cooper, who has previously served as a coach for the 16U NTDP, is a two-time SWAC Baseball Coach of the Year. The Grambling State alum led the Tigers to a SWAC championship in 2010, his first season in charge of the program. Cooper has had seven players selected in the MLB Draft under his guidance, along with several free-agent signings and multiple players who have gone on to have careers in Major League Baseball. Cooper played for four seasons at Grambling State and was a two-time second-team all-conference member before receiving first-team honors in his final season. Cooper was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2004 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros and spent two years in Houston's organization before playing a season with the Sussex Skyhawks of the CanAm League and then beginning his coaching career.
Two-time USA Baseball alum Doug Creek joins Team Navy's staff at the 2021 PDP League as the team's pitching coach after a nine-year player career in the Majors. He made his first appearance for Team USA on the 1987 18U National Team, making two starts and posting a 1.31 ERA in a team-high 13.2 innings pitched. He then went 5-1 for the Collegiate National Team in 1989, making 11 appearances. Creek was taken in the fifth round of the 1991 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals after pitching collegiately at Georgia Tech and made his big-league debut in 1995, pitching 6.2 scoreless innings in his first season. Creek was then traded to the San Francisco Giants, where he spent two seasons splitting time in the major and minor leagues. After three MLB seasons, Creek spent time playing for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan where he made 16 starts and posted a 9-1 record with a 2.16 ERA, leading the league in earned run average and strikeouts (101) in 1998. He returned to the major leagues the following season, pitching for the Chicago Cubs in 1999 and the Tampa Bay Rays from 2000-2002 before spending time with the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays and finishing his professional career with the Detroit Tigers in 2005.
Cuddyer will serve as the hitting coordinator for this year's PDP League. He is making his USA Baseball coaching debut in 2021 as an assistant coach for the 18U National Team but is no stranger to the stars and stripes, having played on both the 1996 and 1997 18U National Teams. He hit .367 and recorded the second-most RBIs (5) on the 1996 squad. In 1997, he hit .397 with a .853 slugging percentage while leading the team in RBIs (26) and home runs (7). In that same year, he was named the Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and a USA Today All-Star. Cuddyer was selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Twins in the 1997 MLB Draft before making his MLB Debut in 2001. In his 15-year MLB career, he played in over 1,500 games, spending the first 11 seasons of his career with the Twins where he was named to his first All-Star team in 2011. From 2012 to 2014, Cuddyer played for the Colorado Rockies and was selected to his second All-Star team in 2013. Cuddyer was also a 2013 Silver Slugger and finished the season with the National League batting title, hitting a league-best .331 with a career-high 162 hits. Cuddyer was only the 30th Major League player to hit for the cycle twice in his career and was just the third to accomplish the feat in both the American and National Leagues. Since retirement, Cuddyer has been a contributor for the USA Baseball Develops blog, creating “Cuddyer’s Corner,” which is a series of online videos covering a variety of topics surrounding the game to help young athletes grow both on and off the field.
Patrick Henry CC skipper Cody Ellis joins the staff as Gray Manager after leading the Patriots to the 2021 NJCAA World Series. Ellis, a PHCC alumnus, returned to the Patriots in 2019 as head coach after two years as an assistant at Lynchburg University. While at Lynchburg, Ellis also worked as an assistant for the Keene Swampbats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. In addition to his collegiate coaching roles, Ellis has also served as a member on the USA Baseball Task Force at the NTIS and National Team Championships. After playing two seasons at PHCC and earning all-region honors, Ellis spent two seasons at Norfolk State. With the Spartans, Ellis was named to the All-MEAC Second Team as a second baseman. He has played professionally for both the Garden City Wind and the Topeka Trainrobbers of the Pecos League to go along with his coaching duties.
Current Chaparral High School (Scottsdale, Ariz.) head coach, Troy Gerlach, will join the 2021 PDP League staff as an assistant coach for Team Red. He served as an assistant coach on the 2018 15U National Team, where he helped Team USA to its first-ever world championship title at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-15 Baseball World Cup. He also served on the 14U National Team Development Program (NTDP) staff in 2016, 2017, and 2019, as well as the USA Baseball Task Force at the National Team Championships and National Team Identification Series. Gerlach was named the head coach at Chaparral High School in 2019 following a seven-year stint as the head coach at Arcadia High School (Phoenix, Ariz.), where he led the Titans to a 110-84 record and four Arizona Interscholastic Association Baseball State Tournament appearances. Prior to his time at Arcadia, Gerlach was an assistant coach at Paradise Valley Community College where he helped the Pumas reach the Junior College World Series in 2010 where they finished in fourth place.
Two-time USA Baseball alum Luke Gregerson will serve as pitching coach for the 2021 PDP League's Team Red after an 11-year MLB career. Gregerson was a member of both the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic Teams, helping Team USA win its first-ever championship in the event in 2017. Gregerson pitched two perfect innings for Team USA in 2013, striking out two batters, while in 2017, he maintained a 0.00 ERA and made three saves in four appearances during the tournament. Throughout his Team USA career, he has pitched six hitless innings and allowed just one baserunner. Gregerson began his professional playing career with the St. Louis Cardinals, who selected him in the 28th round of the 2006 MLB Draft before he was traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 2009 season. He made his big league debut and pitched for five seasons with San Diego, collecting a 2.88 ERA in 347.0 innings pitched for the Padres. He then spent a season with the Oakland Athletics, posting a 2.12 ERA in 72 games, before joining the Houston Astros in 2015. With Houston, Gregerson amassed 47 saves in three seasons with a 3.66 ERA. The right-handed pitcher finished his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, pitching in 23 games over two seasons from 2018-2019 and concluded his professional playing career with a 3.15 ERA with 66 saves.
Team Red Assistant Coach Tom Griffin joins the staff after completing his 16th season as head coach at Carson-Newman University. He currently owns a 448-337 record in 16 seasons at the helm in Jefferson City, and has won 632 games in his 24-year career as a collegiate head coach. Griffin has coached five Major League Baseball Draft picks and 22 total professional players in his time at Carson-Newman, including USA Baseball alum Steve Cishek. Griffin led the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament twice in his first three seasons at the helm, posting a 43-18 record in his third season. The skipper is currently in his third stint with Carson-Newman after twice serving as an assistant coach in the early 2000's. He got his first head coaching job in 2002, leading the Morristown East High School Program (Morristown, Tn.) to a complete turnaround in his first season. Griffin came to Carson-Newman after spending eight seasons at Tusculum College, where he led the Pioneers to four consecutive trips to the NAIA District 24 Tournament.
Dave Hansen brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to the 2021 PDP League's Team Gray, where he will serve as an assistant coach. Before beginning his coaching career, Hansen played for 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, spending 11 of those with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the club selected him in the second round of the 1986 MLB Draft. He hit .362 in 105 at-bats in 1993, followed by a .341 average in 44 at-bats in 1994. Hansen played for a season with the Chicago Cubs in 1997, batting .311 with 21 RBI's in 90 games, before re-joining the Dodgers in 1999 for another four seasons. Hansen also played for the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, finishing his career as a .260 hitter with 35 homers and 222 RBI's. Following his playing career, Hansen got his start in coaching as the hitting coach for the Double-A Mobile BayBears. In 2007, he was named the Arizona Diamondbacks' minor league hitting coordinator and then returned to the Dodgers once again where he served as the secondary hitting instructor before being named hitting coach in 2012. He also spent stints as the hitting coach for the Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels, as well as the minor league hitting coordinator for the San Francisco Giants. In 2021, Hansen has also served as the hitting coordinator for the Appalachian League.
Denny Hocking will serve as manager of Team Navy at the 2021 PDP League, bringing 13 years of major-league playing experience to the dugout. Hocking was a 52nd round draft pick in the 1989 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins, where he spent 11 of his 13 professional seasons. Hocking made his big-league debut in 1993 and played in 84 games over his first four seasons with the Twins before getting his first extended playing time in 1997, appearing in 115 games and batting .257. He was a staple with the Twins for the following six seasons, with the best one coming in 2000 when he batted .298 with four home runs and a career-high 47 RBIs. He then spent time with the Colorado Rockies before playing his final professional season with the Kansas City Royals in 2005. Throughout his career, Hocking served as a utility player, playing every position besides catcher and pitcher. Following his playing career, Hocking spent time as an analyst and reporter for MLB.com and Fox Sports Radio before becoming a coach. His coaching career began as the hitting coach for the Single-A Frederick Keys in 2010 before he joined the Double-A Bowie Baysox in 2012. Hocking made his managerial debut the following season, managing the Los Angeles Angels' minor-league affiliate Inland Empires. He has been a minor league field coordinator and had three more stints as a minor league manager over the course of his career, most recently with the Single-A Modesto Nuts.
USA Baseball Director of Player Development Jim Koerner will serve as the Field Coordinator for the 2021 PDP League. In his role as Director of Player Development, Koerner is responsible for developing on-field programming for USA Baseball’s six national teams and three national team development programs. He also produces curriculums related to player development for USABDevelops.com, the organization’s free online educational resource center. Additionally, he assists with player and staff identification for all 10 clubs in the Appalachian League and serves as a roving instructor during the season. Koerner was 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. 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. He broke into the Division I ranks as an assistant at Monmouth University before a stint at Marshall University.
2021 marks Maxwell’s third time coaching for Team USA and his second stint as a manager for the red, white, and blue as he will serve as skipper for the 18U National Team. After helping to guide the 2016 15U National Team to a WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup bronze medal as an assistant coach, Maxwell made his managerial debut in 2018 and led the 15U National Team to the program’s first-ever world championship. The U.S. finished the tournament with an 8-1 record, a .323 batting average, 69 RBIs, 17 doubles, five triples, and three home runs while outscoring opponents 88-13. In addition, the pitching staff tallied a collective team ERA of 1.24 over 58 innings of work and four of Maxwell’s players were named to the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup All-World Team. The team was named the 2018 USA Baseball Team of the Year and Maxwell was honored as the 2018 USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year for his work with the squad. Maxwell has also served as the field coordinator for the 2017 14U National Team Development Program (NTDP) and has worked at numerous National Team Trials, the USA Baseball National Team Championships, and the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS) throughout his tenure with USA Baseball. Maxwell is the head coach at Ensworth School (Nashville, Tenn.) and is currently in his 17th season at the helm. He has led the program to eight straight playoff appearances and two Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association quarterfinal appearances. Prior to his coaching career, he was an All-Conference player for Middle Tennessee State University in 1992 and 1993 before being selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 1993 Major League Baseball Draft and playing 12 years of professional baseball. After six seasons in the minor leagues, Maxwell made his Major League debut with the Cubs in 1998. He also saw playing time in the major leagues with the Minnesota Twins in 2000 and 2001 before beginning his coaching career in 2004 as the first coach in school history for Ensworth School. Maxwell finished his minor league career with 991 hits, 103 home runs, and 487 RBIs.
Moseley, who is the pitching coach for the 18U National Team, will join the 2021 PDP League staff as the pitching coordinator. Moseley served as Maxwell's pitching coach for the World Cup-champion 15U National Team in 2018, and the Alabama native's USA Baseball coaching experience also includes stints at the 2017 14U NTDP and 15U Trials. Additionally, he was named to the 2020 15U National Team staff before the 2020 WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup was postponed. Moseley is currently the head coach at Hoover High School (Hoover, Ala.), where he led the Buccaneers to an Alabama State Baseball Championship in 2017. Before taking the head coaching position at Hoover following the 2014 season, Moseley led his former high school, Grissom High School (Huntsville, Ala.), to the state quarterfinals in four of his final five seasons. Moseley has coached high school baseball for 14 seasons and has compiled an overall record of 390-218.
Brad Penny joins the 2021 PDP League staff as Team Light Blue's piching coach after a 14-year playing career in the Majors that included two All-Star Game selections. Penny was taken in the 5th round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school and finished his career with 121 wins, 1,273 strikeouts, and a 4.29 ERA in 1,925.0 innings pitched in the big leagues. The Blackwell, Oklahoma, native made his first All-Star Game appearance in 2006 and finished the year with a 4.33 ERA, a career-high 148 strikeouts, and a league-leading 16 wins. He also made the All-Star Game in 2007, finishing the year with a 3.03 ERA, 135 strikeouts, and a league-best .800 (16-4) win percentage. In addition, Penny finished third in Cy Young Award voting in the National League that season. Penny spent the final year of his playing career with the Miami Marlins in 2014, returning to the organization he won a World Series with in 2003. Penny played a key role in the 2003 Fall Classic for the World Champion Marlins, picking up two wins and ending the series with a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched.
Nick Punto, a 14-year MLB veteran, joins the 2021 PDP League as the Team Gray manager. Punto was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 21st round of the 1998 MLB Draft and spent five professional seasons with the organization before making his Major League debut in 2001, when he played in four games for the Phillies. He got his first extended time in the big leagues in 2003, playing in 64 games for the Phillies and batting .217. Prior to the 2004 season, Punto joined the Minnesota Twins, where he would spend the bulk of his career. In 2006, Punto batted .290 with a career-high 45 RBI's while stealing 17 bases. After seven seasons with the Twins, Punto signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and went on to have a career-best .388 OBP in his one season with the club, winning a World Series in 2011. He then played for the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Oakland Athletics before officially retiring in 2016. Punto is a Saddleback College Athletics Hall of Famer.
Current Flowery Branch High School (Flowery Branch, Ga.) head coach, Joey Ray, will join Team Navy as an assistant coach at the 2021 PDP League. Ray, who has been at the helm of Flowery Branch since 2017, has also been involved with USA Baseball since 2013, serving in numerous roles in that time, including as an assistant coach for the 2016 12U National Team. Prior to joining Flowery Branch, Ray served as head coach at Milton High School (Milton, Ga.) from 2008-2016. In that stretch. Ray led Milton to two appearances at the USA Baseball National High School Invitational Tournament, as well as to five region championships, two state finals, and a state championship in 2013. Ray has been awarded five Region Coach of the Year awards, along with two Georgia Dugout Club Coach of the Year awards. In addition to his duties as head coach, Ray also serves as an associate scout with the Atlanta Braves.
Former Golden Spikes Award finalist Roberto Vaz joins Team Red an as assistant coach after completing his seventh season as an assistant at LSU Eunice. Vaz is currently in his second stint with the Bengals, re-joining the staff in 2017. The Brooklyn native is in charge of base running, hitters, and outfielders, helping guide the team to the 2018 NJCAA National Championship. Vaz also won a championship with the Bengals in 2012, helping the team to a then-school record 57 wins. He entered the coaching ranks in 2006 as an assistant coach at Grissom High School (Huntsville, Ala.) before earning his first head coaching gig with the North Alabama Expos in 2009. Vaz's other coaching stops included three years as head coach of the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs of the Perfect Game Collegiate League, as well as two assistant roles at McNeese State and Buckhorn High School (Hunstville, Ala.). He played collegiately at Northeast Texas CC, winning the 1996 NJCAA National Championship before spending a season at Alabama. There, Vaz finished as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, also earning spots on the All-American First Team as well as All-SEC First Team. Vaz was drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Athletics in the 1997 MLB Draft, playing seven years of professional baseball.
Wilson joins the 2021 PDP League staff as the infield coordinator, in addition to his duties as 18U National Team assistant coach. Currently the head coach at Thousand Oaks High School (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Wilson led the Lancers to a 24-6 overall record, including a 10-2 mark in league play, en route to winning the Marmonte League championship in 2019. He followed that by managing the squad to an 8-0 start to the 2020 season and a No. 1 CIF-SS Division 2 ranking before the pause in play caused by COVID-19. Under Wilson’s guidance, the program picked up where it left off in 2021 as the Lancers claimed another Marmonte League championship and finished with a 27-1 record. Prior to his coaching career, Wilson played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, and Atlanta Braves over 12 years in the big leagues. He led the National League with 12 triples in 2004, earning a spot on the National League All-Star team and a Silver Slugger award for his efforts. In 1,370 MLB games, Wilson recorded a .265/.306/.366 career slash line with 61 home runs and 426 RBIs.