CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named the recipients of its annual organizational awards, recognizing the top athletes, coaches, and performances from its 2021 USA Baseball national teams. Olympian Tyler Austin was honored as the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award winner, becoming the first Professional National Team alumnus to earn athlete of the year honors since 2009. The award is given annually to USA Baseball’s top player in honor of the organization’s founding Executive Director and CEO.
Professional National Team members collected top honors in several other categories in 2021, including Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year Mike Scioscia. Todd Frazier earned the International Performance of the Year award after helping Team USA clinch its spot in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and John Fierro was named the Service Provider of the Year after serving as the team’s Certified Athletic Trainer for the ninth time in his career. Additionally, the Olympic Team won USA Baseball’s Team of the Year after winning the silver medal in the Olympic Games.
Collegiate National Team Manager Elliott Avent was named the organization’s first-ever College Coach of the Year and 18U National Team Manager Jason Maxwell earned the Developmental Coach of the Year award for the second time in his career. Additionally, Troy Tulowitzki was honored as the Volunteer Coach of the Year.
Rounding out the awards in 2021 is Coach Educator of the Year Michael Cuddyer and USA Baseball Director of Development Jim Koerner, who was named the organization’s “Doc” Councilman Science Award recipient.
“We are thrilled to close out our 2021 season by recognizing a group of tremendous individuals for their contributions and successes representing USA Baseball this year,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director/CEO. “Each award recipient shined on and off the field this year but also collectively excelled as ambassadors of baseball in the United States domestically and internationally. It is a privilege to have them as members of the USA Baseball family and we will continue to honor their successes for many years to come.”
The complete list of the 2021 USA Baseball organizational award winners is as follows:
- Richard W. “Dick” Case Award: Tyler Austin, Olympic Team
- Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year: Mike Scioscia, Olympic Team
- Team of the Year: Olympic Team
- International Performance of the Year: Todd Frazier, Olympic Qualifying Team
- Service Provider of the Year: John Fierro, Olympic Team
- Developmental Coach of the Year: Jason Maxwell, 18U National Team
- College Coach of the Year: Elliott Avent, Collegiate National Team
- Volunteer Coach of the Year: Troy Tulowitzki, Collegiate National Team & 13U/14U Athlete Development Program
- Coach Educator of the Year: Michael Cuddyer, USA Baseball Develops Blog
- “Doc” Councilman Science Award: Jim Koerner, USA Baseball
Tyler Austin was awarded the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award after being named to the All-Olympic Team following Tokyo 2020. He led Team USA in eight offensive categories in the Olympic Games: batting average, runs scored, hits, doubles, total bases, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. The stars and stripes’ designated hitter finished the tournament hitting .417 with three doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, and a .462 on-base percentage. His offensive contributions led the red, white, and blue to a silver medal, its first Olympic medal since 2008.
Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year Mike Scioscia took over the USA Baseball Professional National Team program in 2021 searching for not only a spot in the Olympic Games but an Olympic Medal… and he delivered. First, Team USA finished the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball Americas Qualifier with an undefeated record to clinch its spot in the Games. Then he followed that by leading the U.S. to a silver medal in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Under his leadership, Team USA finished with an overall record of 8-2 over both tournaments in 2021, suffering its only two losses to eventual Olympic gold medalists Japan in the Olympic Games. The silver medal was Team USA’s second silver (Los Angeles 1984)–fifth overall–in Olympic history, and the first Olympic medal since 2008. Their achievements also earned them the 2021 USA Baseball Team of the Year award.
The Olympic Qualifying Team’s Todd Frazier earned the 2021 International Performance of the Year award after his perfect 4-for-4 performance against Venezuela clinched Team USA’s spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Frazier sparked Team USA in the field and at the plate, starting a momentum-swinging 5-3 double-play that thwarted a first-inning Venezuela threat. He recorded hits in each of his four at-bats and was involved in every scoring play of the night for Team USA. He came home on Eric Filia’s two-run blast, laced an RBI double in the fifth inning, and hit a critical home run in the seventh, driving in the final two U.S. runs of the night in the 4-2 victory.
Olympic Team Certified Athletic Trainer John Fierro was named the Service Provider of the Year in 2021 after making his eighth and ninth appearances on a USA Baseball administrative staff, respectively, as a member of the Olympic qualifying team and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games staff. Thanks to his successful career in professional baseball that spans over 30 years, Fierro is one of the most sought-after Certified Athletic Trainers and a staple for Team USA’s Professional National Teams. With his assistance and attention to the athletes in 2021, the Professional National Team qualified for the Olympics after going unbeaten in the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier and followed by winning a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Jason Maxwell received his second career USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year award after leading the 18U National Team to a dominant and overwhelming victory over Canada in its seven-game international friendship series. Finishing with a record of 5-1-1 over its seven games, the 18U National Team outscored Canada 60-11 and dominated nearly every statistical category. Maxwell also focused on developing the team’s mental approach to the game and their lives throughout his time guiding Team USA. 2021 marks Maxwell’s second time earning this honor, having also won the award in 2018 after leading the 15U National Team to its first-ever world championship.
Elliott Avent, NC State University’s Head Coach and the 2021 Collegiate National Team Manager, had a banner year in 2021, earning the first-ever USA Baseball College Coach of the Year. Avent led his Wolfpack on a historic run through the NCAA postseason, knocking off the No. 1 Arkansas Razorbacks on their home field in the Super Regionals before eventually making the semifinals of the College World Series. Following their tremendous run and finishing the season 37-19, Avent managed the Collegiate National Team in 2021. Without an international opponent for Team USA to face due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he led an unprecedented number of athletes on two rosters in an 11-game Stars and Stripes series. Ultimately, his summer ended by facing off against the U.S. Olympic Team in a three-game exhibition series before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Five-time MLB All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, and now 2021 USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year Troy Tulowitzki coached with both the Collegiate National Team and the 13U/14U Athlete Development Program in 2021. Tulowitzki drew from his successful playing career to offer a unique perspective to the USA Baseball athletes he worked with as a coach of two programs. In addition to his regular coaching duties with the Collegiate National Team, he mentored the athletes on transitioning from amateur to professional baseball. Expanding on this role while on the coaching staff at the 13U/14U Athlete Development Program, Tulowitzki hosted a seminar for the participants and their parents to discuss college recruiting, providing in-depth strategies and insight into navigating the process. He also made himself available to all athletes and their families, engaging with them and offering additional advice as asked.
Coach Educator of the Year Michael Cuddyer is a two-time MLB All-Star, the 2013 MLB Batting Title champion, and a regular contributor to the USA Baseball Sport Development Blog. Simultaneously serving as an assistant coach for the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 2021, Cuddyer continued to produce a weekly educational series titled Cuddyer’s Corner for USA Baseball’s social media profiles, YouTube channel, and official website. Every week he focuses on a range of topics that affect the game of baseball in the United States. His unique insight as a former All-Star in Major League Baseball, a USA Baseball national team alum, and a coach helps countless coaches, parents, and leagues in the development of a well-rounded baseball player, improving their skills and overall experience within the game.
Lastly, Jim Koerner was honored with the “Doc” Councilman Science Award after working with nearly every single program USA Baseball hosted in 2021. During this season, he focused on the developmental side of baseball, utilizing every available technological offering USA Baseball provides to its athletes. Koerner allowed real-time data from swing and pitch tracking analysis, as well as statistics collected from the Major League Baseball and USA Baseball Prospect Development Pipeline Performance Evaluations, to drive his coaching efforts. His focus on developing athletes using analytics allows athletes to make immediate adjustments in practice and game situations. Moreover, Koerner also utilizes the data collection to create long-term development curricula, exercise programs, drills for athletes of all ages, and educational video series for baseball players across the country.
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) annually honors one Sportsman, Sportswoman, and Team of the Year based on nominations from its national governing bodies. Additionally, they also present Olympic, College, Developmental, and Volunteer Coach of the Year awards, as well as a Coach Educator of the Year, “Doc” Councilman Science Award, and Service Provider of the Year. USA Baseball’s award winners serve as the organization’s nominees in their respective categories with the USOPC.