USA BASEBALL NEWS

18U

U.S. Clinches Spot in Gold-Medal Game with 2-0 Win Over Korea

September 8, 2017
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 8 0
KOR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2
Win: R. Weathers Loss: B. Gwak Save: JT Ginn
Box Score | Play-by-Play | World Cup Stats

THUNDER BAY, Canada - Ethan Hankins (Cumming, Ga.) and two relievers combined to strike out 19 batters as the USA Baseball 18U National Team clinched a spot in the gold-medal game at the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup with a 2-0 shutout of Korea at Port Arthur Stadium on Friday.

The shutout was the fourth of the tournament for Team USA, the three-time defending World Cup champions, and leaves the U.S. as the only unbeaten team remaining in Thunder Bay with a record of 7-0. The loss was Korea's first of the competition.

Team USA has one game remaining in the Super Round as it is scheduled to take on Australia at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday. The gold-medal game will be played at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday at Port Arthur Stadium.

Hankins was dominant from the start on Friday, striking out the side in the first inning and never looking back. He would accomplish that feat a total of four times on the morning, finishing with 14 punchouts over six superb innings in which he yielded just two singles, a walk, and a hit batter.

Ryan Weathers (Loretto, Tenn.) came in out of the bullpen and picked up right where Hankins left off, fanning four batters of his own in 2.2 scoreless frames before JT Ginn (Brandon, Miss.) entered the game to strike out the final batter and end the contest.

Combined, the three pitchers did not allow a baserunner past second base, marking the third time in the tournament the U.S. has done so, and struck out 19 batters.

Great pitching and stellar defense by both clubs kept the scoreboard blank for most of the game until an error and a passed ball by Korea opened the door for the U.S. to push a run across in the eighth.

The U.S. would tack on an insurance run in the top of the ninth with Brice Turang (Corona, Calif.) following a Nolan Gorman (Glendale, Ariz.) double with a base hit back up the middle to make it a 2-0 game.

Korea would threaten in the game's final frame, putting two on with two out but Ginn needed just four pitches to strike out the only batter he faced to seal the victory, earn the save, and send the U.S. to Sunday's gold-medal game.

Although he would be saddled with the tough-luck loss, Korea starting pitcher Been Gwak was outstanding on the mound as well. He struck out nine batters of his own while allowing just two runs - only one earned - on five hits over 8.1 innings.

Team USA is the three-time defending World Cup champion and is looking to become the second country to win four-straight gold medals in the tournament.

Continue to follow @USABaseball18U on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the 18U National Team.

QUOTES
USA Baseball 18U National Team Manager Andy Stankiewicz
(On earning a spot in the gold-medal game)
"That is what you play for and why we are here. That was the goal, obviously, to get to the gold-medal game. I'm proud of our guys for the way they have gone about it. That is back-to-back battles, which is great. This is what you need to have. In order to be a championship team, you have to be able to rise up in those moments. I'm very proud of how we have responded, both last night and tonight."

(On Ethan Hankins)
"He just attacks the zone. Sometimes he is a little emotional, he is young and wears his emotions on his sleeve. I think as he matures, he will be able to settle down in those big moments, but in terms of just his arm and his stuff, it is just fantastic. He did a great job of just pounding that zone. Sometimes he got squeezed a little bit but he responded well and kept making pitches when he had to."

(On Korea starting pitcher Been Gwak)
"Their guy pitched a great game, there is just no getting around it. He mixed his pitches well and he threw a nice changeup to our lefties who had a hard time seeing it. He hid it well and it came out clean like a fastball so we were out in front a lot. Then once in a while he would drop a breaking ball in on a lefty, which is just good pitching. It's a higher division of pitching to be able to do that. That is what we expected. We knew coming in that this was their guy and he pitched a great game. It was a really great ball game from a purist standpoint."

(On the team's resiliency)
"This morning we had 6:30 breakfast, 7:00 bus, and we were out taking BP when it was 37 degrees outside. They didn't care. They just said, 'Let's go, we have a job to do.' From that standpoint, that is maturity to be able to rise above the elements and focus on the task at hand over everything else."

Outfielder Mike Siani
(On earning a spot in the gold-medal game)
"It has been a battle. The competition has been great but we came together today for a tough game. Good pitching, but we battled, and the pitching was even better on our side. It is a great feeling. Kind of what we expected but we had to fight to get here and, obviously, we are excited."

(On Korea)
"The pitcher we saw, even though we haven't seen a lot of right-handed pitchers this tournament, he was good. A lot of off-speed and he was spotting up. He was tough to hit. As the game went on we worked better at-bats, worked deeper counts, and the hits came. We had eight of them which is enough, and the two runs we kind of scrapped across. Just putting the ball in play was the most important part. We didn't have as many strikeouts today which definitely helped us out."

(On playing in the gold-medal game on Sunday)
"That is the best feeling ever. We are ready to go. Obviously we have one tomorrow against Australia, and that is important too, but everybody is pumped for Sunday. The four returning guys on this team, we have to let everybody know how it is going to be, talk to the guys, and get everybody together. We are really looking forward to it."

Starting Pitcher Ethan Hankins
(On Korea)
"Korea is a really good team. We were both undefeated coming into the game so I knew they would be very disciplined hitters and that is exactly what they showed out there. I expected them to go after some high fastballs or, at least, fastballs around the zone but they were so patient. They waited for their pitch every single time until it got to two strikes and then I was able to work a little bit."

(On what it will be like to wear the USA jersey while playing for a gold medal)
"It is awesome but, at the same time, all part of the plan we have going. It is going to be a feeling that I can't really describe. It is already a blessing to be able to go out in a game like this and wear the USA across your chest. To have the opportunity to do it in a gold-medal game is not something I can even put into words."

(On the team's resiliency to come back after an emotional game last night)
"We are all here for the same goal. We all want the gold medal just as bad as everyone else. We knew that this was a big morning to get us there so we came out ready to play."

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GSA Spotlight: Jonathan India

April 18, 2018

Over the course of Kevin O'Sullivan's tenure as Florida's head coach, the Gators have been college baseball's most consistent big winners, making six College World Series appearances in the last 10 years. The Gators are loaded with superstars every year, and they've produced All-Americans and premium draft picks by the bushel.

But a strong case can be made that no other Gators in the last decade matched the all-around greatness of Jonathan India in 2018. Florida's junior third baseman enters week 10 hitting .438/.562/.860, ranking him first in the nation in OBP and second in OPS - and he's doing it against the best competition college baseball has to offer, in the rugged Southeastern Conference. India leads the SEC in those triple-slash categories, and he's one off the conference lead in home runs (12). He has eight stolen bases in nine attempts. And he's quite possibly college baseball's best defensive third baseman. He's the total package, and he's performing at an incredibly high level for the nation's best team.

"We've had some other guys in the past - Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino - we've had a few guys that have gone on a run like this, but this has been different," O'Sullivan said. "It's kind of like comparing him to a Zunino type: he plays a premium position, and he's just defending at such a high level, it's not just one part of his game. All phases he's performing at an extremely high level. He's not putting any pressure on himself, I don't think the draft has been an issue at all. I think he's kind of handled himself in a way that a true veteran would."

It may seem to the casual observer that India's sensational season came out of nowhere, considering he's nearly doubled his OPS from a year ago (.774). But to O'Sullivan and to scouts, India's emergence as the nation's best college third baseman feels more like fait accompli.

India has a premium pedigree and tools to match. He showed up in Gainesville as a blue-chip recruit, and scouts tagged him early on as one of the top position-player prospects for the 2018 draft after he hit .303 with 16 doubles during a solid freshman year in 2016. But he failed to take the anticipated jump to superstardom as a sophomore, hitting a modest .274 with a .429 slugging percentage, down from .440 the year before. As he entered his junior year, many observers had begun to wonder when the production would match the tools, and the hype.

"I said to him at our end of fall meetings - he had a good fall, and the thing we were stressing with him was to match up the production with the skill set, because the skill set has always been there," O'Sullivan said. "He was a big prospect coming out of high school, just the numbers hadn't matched up with his abilities. But he had a good freshman year, a really good freshman year, and last year he just wasn't quite as sharp, but he still went to the cape and hit like .300."

Scouts liked India's bat speed and overall game in the Cape, where he finished .273/.390/.394, though he hit just one home run. It seemed like just a matter of time until the power came, and boy has it come this year. Through 117 at-bats, India already has more homers (12) than he hit in 442 at-bats over his first two seasons (10).

The power surge really began during his current 24-game hitting streak, which began March 9 against Rhode Island. That streak began with seven straight two-hit games, and has grown to include 16 multi-hit games, along with seven doubles, three triples, eight homers and 21 RBIs. India is hitting an absurd .513/.623/.975 during that 24-game hitting streak.

"I mean, I guess I have a little bit more juice this year," India said a couple of weeks ago after hitting a homer to left field against Vanderbilt in the series opener. "I'm not trying to hit homers by any means, but I just put a good swing on the ball and it carried."

Later in that weekend, India showed off his opposite-field pop, driving another long ball out to right-center. His ability to drive the ball with authority to all parts of the ballpark is a result of hard work on his approach, and innate strength in his compact 6-foot, 200-pound frame.

"He's strong in all the right places. He's strong in his core, he's got strong hands, strong forearms. he's an extremely hard worker," O'Sullivan said. "He had power out of high school, but it was only to the pull side. If you went and watched him take BP, he would launch to the pull side, but he was susceptible to balls on the outer half of the plate. It's taken him a couple years to figure that out.

"(This year) he's used the whole field. He's not really gotten into any stretches where he's just been one side of the field. He's been pretty consistent that way as far as staying through the middle of the field. I was talking to (hitting coach) Craig (Bell) the other day about his BP; in the first round, execution - he never launches the ball to the pull side unless it's the last round. Everything he hits is squared up from that right center to left center gap, and he doesn't come off it until the final round. He's trained himself to stay in the middle of the field. He hit two balls out to dead-center field at our place the other day in one round, with no wind. Which doesn't happen very often."

He's also become a more patient hitter, who doesn't get himself out nearly as often. After posting a 45-85 walk-strikeout mark over his first two seasons, India has 30 walks and 26 strikeouts as a junior.

"I've matured more as a player. I feel like I've been in the league for two years now, and I'm realizing more things, and I've learned from my past years," India said. "Not swinging at pitchers' pitches, having a good approach at the plate. And just being more mature, not getting down on myself after bad at-bats. It's working out so far, I'm happy."

In addition to showing an elite hit tool and power tool, India has proven he can beat opponents with his speed. Against Vanderbilt, India dropped down a bunt and then blazed up the line in 3.85 seconds - a premium time for a righthanded hitter on a drag bunt. He has always been an instinctive and aggressive baserunner, and he plays the game the same way no matter the circumstances. O'Sullivan tells a great anecdote that reinforces that point.

"His freshman year, our last game of the year against Texas Tech in the College World Series, he hits a ball down the line, nobody on, and he gets banged out at second base - that's the last out of the season. The season's over," O'Sullivan said. "I told him, 'I want you to understand something, Jonathan: if that play happens 10 times in a row, you absolutely made the right decision to stretch that thing into a double. He had to make a perfect throw to get you, but absolutely without the shadow of a doubt, you made the right decision.' Most guys would have rounded first hard and not taken that chance, and he did.

"He never gives you a poor effort down the line. He never takes an infield off in pregame. The other neat thing is, it's hard. You can kind of get wrapped up in your own little world. These guys are 21 years old, there's a lot expected of them, especially him, he's probably elevated where he's going to go in the draft now. But he's so engaged with the team. … He's always at the right end of the dugout. He's always down there by me. When he's not hitting, he's not in the middle of the dugout BSing or screwing around, or in his own little world. He's right there with me, in every pitch. He's watching the other guys hit, encouraging them, giving them advice."

And then there's the defense piece. India isn't putting up these crazy numbers while playing first base or left field; he's manning a challenging defensive position, and he's made just three errors on the season. He filled in ably at shortstop earlier this year when Deacon Liput was suspended, before returning to the hot corner, where his footwork, body control, strong and accurate arm and instincts are all assets.

"It's the hand eye, same as the hitting ability. He's got some really, really good flexibiliy in his lower half," O'Sullivan said. "He gets below the ball, he's pretty much textbook defensively. He never gets flashy or stylish, we call it the olé, he never gets beside the ball. It's always in front of him, he doesn't shy away from balls hit hard. He can really come get a slow roller. It's just really good. You never worry about him, ever, defensively."

That entire package makes India a slam dunk first-round pick this June, and gives him a real chance to be the first position player drafted. It also makes him the best all-around player in college baseball in 2018, and a driving force behind top-ranked Florida's bid to repeat as national champion.

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 Coaching Alum Eric Kibler Named Sport Development Contributor for 2018

April 17, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Wednesday the appointment of its 2010 Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year, Eric Kibler, as a Sport Development contributor for 2018. A highly respected figure within the game, Kibler will serve as a resource and assist with USA Baseball's various educational efforts.

The Sport Development Department at USA Baseball was created as part of the organization's five-year partnership extension with Major League Baseball (MLB), which is a joint, cooperative effort to grow the game of baseball, as well as provide educational resources for coaches, players, parents, and umpires.

Currently the head coach at Horizon High School (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Kibler has served on the coaching staffs of three gold medal-winning USA Baseball national teams, helping to lead the 2009 16U National Team to a world championship at the International Baseball Federation World Youth Championships in Taichung, Taiwan, and the 2010 16U team to a first-place finish at the COPABE Pan American "AA" Youth Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico. He also helped lead the 18U National Team to a gold medal as an assistant coach at the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup in Osaka, Japan.

Kibler served as the field coordinator for the inaugural USA Baseball 14U and 17U National Team Development Programs (NTDP) in 2012, and he will do the same for the inaugural 16U NTDP in 2018. He also served as the 14U NTDP field coordinator in 2013 and 2014, and as the 17U NTDP field coordinator in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

Kibler has been the head baseball coach at Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, since 1981, and has led the program to six state titles during his tenure. In addition, he has won 17 regionals and had three runner-up finishes in the state tournament. On March 6, 2018, Kibler earned his 800th win with Horizon High School, the most wins in Arizona high school baseball history. He has coached 28 players that were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft and has seen 150 of his players go on to play college baseball.

"We are excited to have Eric Kibler joining a group of experts from a wide range of disciplines lending their support to our many sport development initiatives," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director and CEO. "Coach Kibler is a high school coaching legend who has been at the forefront of many of USA Baseball's player development initiatives, and we look forward to his continued involvement within the organization in these capacities.

"In addition, we are honored to welcome him back to the USA Baseball coaching ranks as he will serve as our field coordinator for the first-ever 16U National Team Development Program in 2018, continuing his lasting influence on the organization and its athletes."

Kibler joins a distinguished list of USA Baseball Sport Development contributors including:

  • Michael Cuddyer - 15-year MLB veteran, two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger Award winner and Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame member
  • Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS - Veteran sports registered dietician, first President of the Collegiate and Professional Sports RDs Association (CPSDA), current CPSDA Ambassador, and the Consulting Registered Dietitian for MLB/MLB Players Association and USA Baseball
  • Darren Fenster - Manager for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, founder of Coaching Your Kids LLC
  • Dr. Peter Gorman - President of Microgate USA, inventor of heart rate monitor technology, adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic
  • Dean Jordan - Managing Executive of Global Sports Properties and Media for Wasserman, served in executive positions within the Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins organizations and founded North Carolina Development Baseball, Inc.
  • Dr. Marc Richard, MD - Hand and Upper Extremity Surgeon, Orthopedic Surgeon, Microvascular Surgeon and Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Duke University
  • Skip Schumaker - 11-year MLB veteran, two-time World Series Champion, and current first base coach for the San Diego Padres
  • Dr. Anne Shadle - Certified consultant in Sport Psychology CC-AASP, member of the United States Olympic Committee's Sport Psychology registry, Athlete Advisory Committee member for USA Track and Field (USATF) and current President-appointed committee chair for Psychological Services for USATF
  • Tom Succow - Four-time USA Baseball national team coach, retired Hall of Fame head baseball coach at Brophy College Preparatory, more than 700 wins and a state championship in 40 seasons
  • Jon Torine - 17-year strength and conditioning coach in the NFL, Director of Pro/Elite Sports with EXOS, leader of the physical education and athletic development for Functional Movement Systems and trainer for the Positive Coaching Alliance
  • Dave Turgeon - Coordinator of Instruction for the Pittsburgh Pirates, former Minor League player and former NCAA Division I baseball coach at Boston College, the University of Connecticut, Duke University and Virginia Tech

 

USA Baseball will continue to produce daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly educational content at no cost to the public with the assistance of these primary contributors. For a complete listing of USA Baseball Sport Development offerings, visit USABaseball.Education. For more information on the NTDP, visit USABaseball.com and follow @USABaseballNTDP on Twitter.

 

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USA Baseball Adds New Sport Environment Course for Coaches and Parents to the Online Education Center

April 14, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. -- USA Baseball announced on Monday the addition of a new course, Building a Baseball Experience, to the USA Baseball Online Education Center. Building a Baseball Experience is hosted by sport psychologist Dr. Anne Shadle and aims to provide coaches and parents with the tools they need to provide a positive and impactful sport experience for their athletes, both on and off the field.

Topics covered in the Building a Baseball Experience course include building a coaching philosophy, engineering a sport environment and mental preparation. The course also includes several interactive features to engage coaches and parents in brainstorming, writing and reflecting about their role in the sport experiences of their children and athletes.

"The Building a Baseball Experience course is unlike any of our other offerings, and the topics it explores go beyond baseball specifics and add greater depth to the USA Baseball Online Education Center," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's Chief Development Officer. "We believe there is tremendous value in analyzing and learning from best practices in other sports and in the Olympic movement in general, and that is reflected in this course's more global approach to the youth sport experience and the on-and off-field aspects that help shape it."

Host Anne Shadle, Ph.D., is a certified consultant in Sport Psychology CC-AASP and a member of the United States Olympic Committee's Sport Psychology registry. Shadle received her Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska, where she also ran track and field. She was a two-time national champion in the mile and 1500-meter distances before going on to run professionally for Reebok and compete in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Following her three-year professional running career, Shadle received her Master of Counseling Psychology and Ph.D. in Health Education from the University of Missouri. She currently serves on the Athlete Advisory Committee and is the President-appointed committee chair for Psychological Services for USA Track and Field (USATF). Shadle is heavily involved with coaching education and certification for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and USATF.

To access the Building a Baseball Experience course, as well as other free educational resources including a catalog of more than 25 online courses, the Long Term Athlete Development Plan, the USA Baseball Mobile Coach App, the Sport Development Blog and more, visit USABaseball.Education.

All resources on the Online Education Center are free of charge to the public, and all online courses are equipped with a functionality that allows the user to select their preferred language (English or Spanish) upon launching the course.

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Vaughn Named to USA Baseball Collegiate National Team

April 12, 2018

BERKELEY - For the second summer in a row, Cal infielder Andrew Vaughn will don his country's colors in international competition as the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year has been selected to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.

After completing his freshman season in 2017, Vaughn was invited to try out for the Collegiate National Team. Not only did he make the team, he established himself as a regular for a squad that hosted series against Japan, Chinese Taipei and Cuba. Against Japan, he drove in the go-ahead run to help Team USA clinch the series win and was named series MVP after hitting .333 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Vaughn's work over the summer paved the way for the Santa Rosa, Calif. native to post even more impressive numbers over the first half of his sophomore season. Entering Cal's series against Washington State, he leads the nation in on-base percentage (.586), ranks second in home runs (15) and slugging percentage (.952) and checks in third in batting average (.442). He has earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors twice and has helped Cal to a 19-11 overall record.

That strong first half of the season also earned Vaughn a spot on the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list that was announced earlier in the week. He is one of 40 players still in the running for the title of top amateur baseball player in the country and semifinalists for the award will be announced on May 21.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2018, beginning with the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series that will be held in North Carolina from June 28 - July 2. The U.S. will then compete in the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9 in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series in Cuba from July 13-18. Seven Collegiate National Team games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube. For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

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Adley Rutschman to Play for Team USA

April 12, 2018

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State sophomore catcher/infielder Adley Rutschman has accepted an invitation to compete for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.

"I am extremely humbled that I was even considered to be selected to play for Team USA," Rutschman said. "It has always been a dream of mine to be able to represent my country."

A native of Sherwood, Ore., he will join a long list of Oregon State players who have donned the red, white and blue, with Nick Madrigal and Cadyn Grenier most recently last season. He will be the 14th different Beaver to play for Team USA since 2005.

The Beavers have had at least one player compete for the Collegiate National Team every year since 2010.

Rutschman leads Oregon State with a .383 batting average, is second with 31 runs batted in and tied for second with 10 doubles. He's also tallied two triples and three home runs, and had 19 walks to 16 strikeouts in 29 games while manning both catcher and first base.

About The Collegiate National Team
The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2018, beginning with the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series that will be held in North Carolina from June 28 - July 2. The U.S. will then compete in the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9 in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series in Cuba from July 13-18. Seven Collegiate National Team games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube. For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

The Beavers And Team USA
The following is a list of Beavers who have played for Team USA:

Brian Barden (2008 Olympic Team; 2010 Pan Am Qualifying Team)
Darwin Barney (2006 Collegiate National Team)
Matt Boyd (2011 Collegiate National Team)
Dan Child (2012 Collegiate National Team)
Michael Conforto (2012 and 2013 Collegiate National Team)
Cadyn Grenier (2017 Collegiate National Team)
Kevin Gunderson (2005 Collegiate National Team)
KJ Harrison (2015 and 2016 Collegiate National Team)
Nick Madrigal (2017 Collegiate National Team)
Andrew Moore (2014 Collegiate National Team)
Jonah Nickerson (2005 Collegiate National Team)
Drew Rasmussen (2015 Collegiate National Team)
Kevin Rhoderick (2008 Collegiate National Team

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Shewmake Earns National Team Invitation

April 12, 2018

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M shortstop Braden Shewmake was selected to play for the 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, it was announced Thursday. It marks a return invite for Shewmake who played 17 games for the Red, White & Blue in 2017.

After last season's College World Series run, Shewmake played 17 games for Team USA, hitting .209 (9-for-43) with five runs, two doubles, one triple, six RBI and two stolen bases.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team is slated to play in three international friendship series. The first of the trip is the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Series booked for June 28-July 2 in North Carolina. The U.S. will next play the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9 in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The campaign wraps up with the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series in Cuba from July 13-18.

The list of recent Aggies to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team include Nick Banks, Ryan Hendrix, Daniel Mengden, A.J. Minter, Tyler Naquin and Michael Wacha. Shewmake is the first to play on the team in back-to-back summers since Nick Banks in 2014 and 2015.

This season, Shewmake is batting .311 (42-for-135) with four doubles, four triples, three home runs, 31 RBI and nine stolen bases. He was well represented on the Preseason All-America teams. The Aggie sophomore was named All-America First Team as a shortstop by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. He was also tabbed All-America Second Team as a second baseman by D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game.

In 2015, Nick Banks and Ryan Hendrix represented Texas A&M on the USA College National Team. That year, Banks batted .386 with three doubles, one home run and 11 RBI in 17 games and Hendrix combined on the first-ever no-hitter of the Cuban National Team. In 2014, Banks batted .241 with two doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI and Minter pitched 12.1 innings without allowing an earned run. In 2013, Daniel Mengden posted a 1-0 record with a 1.35 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 13.1 innings. In 2011, Tyler Naquin batted .321 in 12 games, logging four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 10 RBI and Wacha went 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.

Seven Collegiate National Team games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube. For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

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Baylor Baseball's Shea Langeliers Chosen to USA Baseball National Team

April 12, 2018

WACO, Texas - Baylor baseball sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers has accepted an invitation to play on the 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.

Langeliers is the first Baylor player to earn the privilege since Kendal Volz in 2008. Overall, the Keller, Texas, native is the eighth different BU player and ninth selection to represent the U.S. He joins Pat Combs (1988), Jason Jennings (1997-98), Bryan Loeb (1998), Jon Topolski (1998), Zane Carlson (2000), Michael Griffin (2003) and Volz among Bears to play for Team USA.

Langeliers already gathered several preseason honors as he adds to his list of 2018 accolades. He is on the Johnny Bench Award and Golden Spikes Award watch lists, in addition to receiving preseason All-America honors from D1Baseball.com (first team), Baseball America (second team), Perfect Game/Rawlings (second team) and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) (third team). The quartet of preseason All-America accolades mark the first BU player to earn three or more in a single preseason since at least 1998. The program also has back-to-back years with preseason All-Americans (Troy Montemayor in 2017 and 2018) for the first time since 2004 and 2005.

One of three from the Big 12 on the list, Langeliers was the first freshman in Baylor baseball history last season to earn Freshman All-America honors from three or more different publications as he was honored by Baseball America, the NCBWA, Collegiate Baseball, D1Baseball.com and Perfect Game/Rawlings.

Langeliers was named to the 2017 All-Big 12 second team and Big 12 All-Freshman team as well. During the 2017 season, he hit .313 with 43 runs, 66 hits, 14 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 38 RBI, 114 total bases and 24 walks. He also threw out 26 base stealers at a 44 percent rate with a .991 fielding percentage in 55 starts. He set the BU freshman catcher home run record and was one shy of tying the program's all-time freshman home run record (Max Muncy, 11, 2010).

Through 31 games this season, Langeliers has 23 runs, 27 hits, eight doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 17 walks, two steals and 23 RBI. Behind the plate, he has thrown out 10 of 18 base stealers.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will participate in three international friendship series in 2018, beginning with the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series that will be held in North Carolina from June 28 - July 2. The U.S. will then compete in the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series from July 3-9 in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the 7th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series in Cuba from July 13-18.

Seven Collegiate National Team games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube. For more information on USA Baseball and the Collegiate National Team, follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and @USABaseballCNT on Twitter.

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GSA Spotlight: Davis Martin

April 12, 2018

Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock saw this type of career coming from righthander Davis Martin.

Sure, it's hard for anyone to predict that a freshman would be an All-American and they'd have a career ERA well under three going through their draft year. But Tadlock had a hunch. He knew Martin, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, had all the tools and ingredients to be a premier arm and a game-changer for the Red Raiders. Martin has been exactly as advertised in his three years on the South Plains, and his role in this program has never been more important than it is now after junior lefthander Steve Gingery went down with a season-ending injury earlier this season.

With Gingery going down, more pressure and potential workload was placed on Martin's shoulders. Some pitchers might succumb to the pressures of trying to keep a top-five team's head above water. But not Martin. He's thriving more than ever, putting up career numbers as the Red Raiders try to get back to the College World Series after falling just short last season.

Rising to the occasion is just part of Martin's DNA, and it's precisely why he's one of the best and most feared arms in the game.

"Well, what's the saying, pressure is a choice. He wants the ball every time we play and he'd take it from you if you gave it to him," Tadlock said. "He's an absolute guy and he's got what you need to win. He's been that way ever since he stepped on campus.

"There's a reason we were in line to get him out of high school," he continued. "We were very fortunate that he and his family trusted us enough to get him. It's been a lot of fun to watch, that's for sure." While Martin is having a season to remember as a junior and is ranked the No. 36 college prospect, up from 51 in the preseason, he established his consistency and brand on the national stage a long time ago. He made his presence felt two seasons ago, tallying a 10-1 record and a 2.52 ERA in 89.1 innings, along with 61 strikeouts and 27 walks. Incredibly, that was as a freshman, as the San Angelo, Texas, native helped the Red Raiders reach the CWS for the second time in three seasons, this after the program had never made a trip to Omaha before 2014.

His sophomore campaign was good, but it had some serious road blocks. Martin was diagnosed with tendinitis and discomfort in his arm, and was sidelined from the middle of March until the Big 12 tournament in late May. Even with the setback, Martin still managed to tally a solid 3.07 ERA and a 4-2 record, while also throwing 44 innings, striking out 37 and walking just 10 and holding teams to a .259 average, which was an improvement over the .271 OBA his outstanding freshman season.

In his first start back from the injury last season, a date with Oklahoma State in the conference tournament, he sat 90-91 in the first inning and settled in at 87-89 - a slight change from the velocity he showed in the Shriners College Classic and against Mississippi State earlier that season - 93-94 early and 89-92 for six innings. Still, getting him back on the mound was good news for the Red Raiders, and helped set the tone for what has been a fruitful 2018 campaign thus far.

"I think he's gotten better each week for us. He's been really, really steady. He's been as advertised," Tadlock said. "His breaking ball and changeup have been fine, and his fastball has been above average. But he still has that great makeup.

"His makeup is just off the charts. His mound presence - it's off the charts," he continued. "He's one of those that guys who as a hitter when you step into the batter's box, you know you better jump in there ready to hit. He's just got it, and that's the biggest thing about Davis. And he's going to continue getting better."

He's put together strong results for the Red Raiders so far this season, and quite frankly, he's had to. We talked about the loss of Gingery for the season, but Tech is also without Erikson Lanning for the rest of the season, while Jake McDonald, who was supposed to be a premium arm who would log some significant innings, also is out the rest of the spring with a shoulder impingement. In essence, Tech's bullpen depth has been depleted a great deal, and that means guys like Martin need to put together consistent starts. That hasn't been a problem despite dealing with chilly conditions in Kentucky earlier this season and at Kansas this last weekend.

After dealing with tendinitis and discomfort last season, Martin sticks to a rather simple workout regiment - he makes sure he has a ball in his hand each day. He obviously doesn't throw bullpens every day, but Tadlock said if there's a ball around, even the day after he pitches, he's out there playing catch with someone. Tadlock said that simple change has helped his prized righty alleviate soreness - at least so far this season.

"He's throwing every day right now, and I think that has really helped him. It's certainly an old school way of doing things, especially when you have some guys who take the entire next day or two off after they pitch," he said. "He's very diligent about making sure he has a ball in his hand the next day." For the season, Martin continues to tally All-American type of numbers. He has a 5-2 record with a 2.63 ERA in 41 innings, along with 49 strikeouts and 16 walks. Most striking is the difference in opponent batting average from his first two seasons to now. Teams hit .271 against him as a freshman, .259 last year, but this year? Teams are hitting the West Texas native at a low .182 clip.

Why, you ask? Martin's stuff has gotten better. He has better feel for his entire arsenal, and his fastball command and velocity have improved. While he's dipped down to 89-92 at times this season, particularly when it's cold, Tadlock said his velocity has been more 91-93 and up to 94 at times, while also showing the ability to reach back and touch 95 and even 96 at times.

Martin has also made strides with his secondary stuff. The slider continues to be an effective pitch, though Tadlock doesn't notice much different about it so far this season. Meanwhile, he has shown better feel for the changeup, which has resulted in the Red Raiders calling it more this spring.

"I'd say the biggest difference with him is his fastball command. I would say maybe where in the past he was relying too much on his stuff, he's now commanding both sides of the plate much better," Tadlock said. "He's gotten better and better each week. I would say he's been up to 96, and it's been very good.

"I'm not sure there's much different about the slider, but I do think his secondary stuff has been a little crisper so far, " he continued. "The biggest thing with Davis is there are no worries week to week right now. He's 100 percent and he's ready to go and wants the ball every time out. He's always the kind of pitcher who wants more. He doesn't want to stay where he's at on a given day. He works really hard each day, and that type of attitude makes everyone around him that much better."

Davis Martin has already had a career that will long be remembered by Tadlock and Texas Tech fans alike, but there's plenty of time to add more scenes to this movie.

Given his past, perhaps we should be ready for a Martin trilogy.

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 Releases Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List

April 10, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball released the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list on Tuesday, moving closer to naming the top amateur baseball player in the country. Presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the 41st Golden Spikes Award will be presented on June 28 in Los Angeles.

The midseason watch list features 40 of the nation's top amateur players from the college ranks. 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 May 21.

"We are excited to announce the forty players on the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director and CEO. "These athletes have proven themselves worthy of consideration for this prestigious award through the eyes of the advisory board and from the overwhelming fan support through our nomination process."

Joey Bart (Jr., C, Georgia Tech), Blaine Knight (Jr., RHP, Arkansas) and Casey Mize (Jr., RHP, Auburn) have each earned a spot on the midseason watch list for the second straight year, joining two-time midseason watch list selections Luken Baker (Jr., 1B/DH, TCU) and Seth Beer (Jr., IF, Clemson). Baker and Beer were also recognized on the list as freshmen in 2016 with Beer ultimately being named a finalist for the award that year.

In total, 13 different NCAA conferences have at least one athlete on the list, including two NCAA Division II conferences in the Gulf South Conference and the Sunshine State Conference. The Southeastern Conference leads all conferences represented on the midseason watch list with nine athletes, while seven players represent both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Pac-12 Conference.

The defending College World Series champions, Florida, leads all schools with three athletes on the 2018 midseason watch list. Arizona State, Kentucky, NC State, Oregon State, and Southern Mississippi all placed two athletes on the list.

On Monday, May 21, USA Baseball will announce the semifinalists for the 2018 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 40 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 6, 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 2018. 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 41st Golden Spikes Award will be named on Thursday, June 28, at a presentation in Los Angeles. The finalists and their families will be honored at the Rod Dedeaux Foundation Award Dinner that evening at Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.

USA Baseball has partnered with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to host the Golden Spikes Award since 2013. The Foundation was formed to honor legendary USC and USA Baseball Olympic team coach, Rod Dedeaux, and supports youth baseball and softball programs in underserved communities throughout Southern California.

Last year, Louisville's Brendan McKay took home the prestigious award, joining a group of recent winners that include 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).

The 2018 Golden Spikes Award timeline:

  • Monday, May 21: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced, voting begins
  • Sunday, June 3: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award semifinalists voting ends
  • Wednesday, June 6: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists announced, voting begins
  • Friday, June 22: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists voting ends
  • Thursday, June 28: USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award trophy presentation

 

A complete list of the 40-player Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list is as follows:

Name, Class, Position, School, Conference
Luken Baker; Jr.; IF/DH; TCU; Big 12
Joey Bart; Jr.; C; Georgia Tech; ACC
Seth Beer; Jr.; IF/OF; Clemson; ACC
Alec Bohm; Jr.; IF; Wichita State; American Athletic
Kyle Brnovich; So.; RHP; Elon; Colonial Athletic
Brian Brown; Sr.; LHP; NC State; ACC
Logan Browning; Sr.; LHP/OF; Florida Southern; Sunshine State
Kris Bubic; Jr.; LHP; Stanford; Pac-12
Michael Busch; So.; IF; North Carolina; ACC
Michael Byrne; Jr.; RHP; Florida; SEC
Gage Canning; Jr.; OF; Arizona State; Pac-12
Kody Clemens; Jr.; IF; Texas; Big 12
Joe DeMers; Jr.; RHP; Washington; Pac-12
Colton Eastman; Jr.; RHP; Cal State Fullerton; Big West
Jeremy Eierman; Jr.; IF; Missouri State; Missouri Valley
Tyler Frank; Jr.; IF; Florida Atlantic; Conference USA
Logan Gilbert; Jr.; RHP; Stetson; Atlantic Sun
Luke Heyer; Sr.; IF/OF; Kentucky; SEC
Chris Holba; Jr.; RHP; ECU; American Athletic
Jonathan India; Jr.; IF; Florida; SEC
Jake Irvin; Jr.; RHP; Oklahoma; Big 12
Mitchell Kilkenny; Jr.; RHP; Texas A&M; SEC
Brett Kinneman; Jr.; OF; NC State; ACC
Blaine Knight; Jr.; RHP; Arkansas; SEC
Trevor Larnach; Jr.; OF; Oregon State; Pac-12
Davis Martin; Jr.; RHP; Texas Tech; Big 12
Shane McClanahan; Jr.; LHP; South Florida; American Athletic
Keegan McGovern; Sr.; OF; Georgia; SEC
Drew Mendoza; So.; IF; Florida State; ACC
Casey Mize; Jr.; RHP; Auburn; SEC
Tristan Pompey; Jr.; OF; Kentucky; SEC
Griffin Roberts; Jr.; RHP; Wake Forest; ACC
Adley Rutschman; So.; C/IF; Oregon State; Pac-12
Nick Sandlin; Jr.; RHP; Southern Mississippi; Conference USA
Zack Shannon; Sr.; RHP/IF; Delta State; Gulf South
Brady Singer; Jr.; RHP; Florida; SEC
Bren Spillane; Jr.; IF/OF; Illinois; Big Ten
Spencer Torkelson; Fr.; IF; Arizona State; Pac-12
Andrew Vaughn; So.; IF; California; Pac-12
Matt Wallner; So.; UT; Southern Mississippi; Conference USA

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GSA Spotlight: Kyle Brnovich

April 4, 2018

For some pitchers, the strikeout is almost a byproduct of making good pitches, rather than the intended outcome. Some guys don't care if they record an out via strikeout or groundout of flyout, as long as they get the out.

Elon's Kyle Brnovich is not one of those guys. It's no accident the sophomore righthander leads college baseball with 75 strikeouts through just 47 innings.

"The biggest thing is he's a competitor. I've been doing this for 22 years here, and he's probably the biggest competitor I can remember," Elon coach Mike Kennedy said. "He likes to strike guys out, and he tries to do it. You can't argue with the numbers. Sometimes as a coach you're like, 'Let's pitch to contact more and keep that pitch count down,' but he doesn't like contact, he doesn't like guys to hit off him. It's like a personal challenge for him to strike you out."

That mentality made me think of 2011 Golden Spikes Award winner Trevor Bauer, who told me that spring, "I like making hitters look stupid. That's fun." Bauer never gave in, always sought the strikeout, and led the nation in Ks two years in a row. In his famous 2011 campaign, Bauer averaged a national-best 13.37 strikeouts per nine innings.

Brnovich is currently averaging 14.36 strikeouts per nine.

"I coached with Team USA in 2009, and Bauer was on that staff," Kennedy said. "It's a great comparison. It's a very, very similar mentality, no question. Bauer knew he was good, and Brno has a lot of that in him too, that's what makes him special."

Of course, the other main reason Brnovich is a strikeout machine is that, like Bauer, he can really spin a breaking ball. That's his trademark pitch, and it's a serious weapon.

"It's hard to describe because he doesn't throw many of them the same. He adds and subtracts, he can throw it 82, he can throw it 74 - it does a lot of crazy stuff," Kennedy said. "The thing is sometimes you call a breaking ball, you're hoping he throws this breaking ball and he throws that breaking ball. It's slider velocity with a curveball break. It's not a traditional breaking ball, and I think that's why it's so successful. He does a lot of things with it, you can't describe it. It's really that good."

Brnovich's ability to manipulate the shape and speed of his breaking ball is rare, and he also "commands it like crazy," in Kennedy's words. But he's far from a one-trick pony. He also has good feel for a changeup that is effective against lefties, and Kennedy said it can be just as good as his breaking ball when he's really got it going. His 90-92 mph fastball is plenty firm enough to keep hitters from sitting on the offspeed stuff.

When Elon recruited Brnovich at Georgia's Kings Ridge Christian High School, he was a skinny, projectable righty with an 86 mph fastball. He had plenty of success, helping lead his team to back-to-back Georgia 6A state titles in 2014 and '15, then leading the state with 135 strikeouts in 72 innings as a senior in 2016. But Kennedy said Brnovich drew interest from bigger power-five schools that wanted him to walk on; Elon landed him by making a stronger commitment to him.

"We got in there and got a chance to see him back-to-back outings, he threw extremely well. We thought the breaking ball was really special, so we gave him a great scholarship, and I think that's what he was looking for," Kennedy said. "I think he likes our school size, a lot of what's going on here in terms of the mentality. The commitment for him was I think the biggest thing - a commitment comes with an opportunity." When Brnovich returned to campus after the holiday break in January of his freshman year, his fastball velocity started to jump, which took him to another level.

"All of a sudden he was 88-89 and able to locate it," Kennedy said. "And now he's 90-92 just about every time, and I think there's another jump in there. The arm works, he's got a little bit of effort in there and creates a little deception, but watch the arm swing and arm path, it works good. There's still room on his frame to put on some good weight, and he could pitch at 92-94 maybe. I don't think that's a stretch."

But that's a matter for down the road. In the short term, Brnovich's stuff is plenty good enough to dominate Division I hitters. Last week against red-hot College of Charleston, Brnovich racked up 14 strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on two hits to lead the Phoenix to a 9-3 win. That improved him to 4-0, 1.53 on the season, with 75 strikeouts, 19 walks, and a .156 opponents' batting average in 47 innings. He was already very good last year, when he went 6-5, 3.10 with 103 strikeouts in 90 innings to earn Colonial Athletic Association rookie of the year honors - but he's taken his game to another level as a sophomore. A day Brnovich shut down CofC, fellow prized sophomore righty George Kirby worked 5 2/3 strong innings to help lead the Phoenix to a 7-5 win, clinching a huge CAA series for the Phoenix. After starting the season 2-6, Elon has gone 15-6 since. The offense has found its stride, and the defense is very strong up the middle, led by rifle-armed shortstop Ryne Ogren (also the team's leading hitter at .378), talented center fielder Zach Evers (.322) and powerful second baseman Cam Devanney (.313 with 4 HR, 19 RBI). The bullpen has a pair of lights-out late-inning options in righty Robbie Welhaf (2.51 in 32.1 IP) and lefty Jared Wetherbee (1.80 in 15 IP), both of whom attack hitters at 90-93 with good breaking balls.

So after a few disappointing seasons marred by a seemingly endless parade of injuries, Elon is finally healthy and dangerous, with its best club since the last of its 14-straight 30-plus-win seasons in 2013. In fact, this may be the best Elon team since it won 40-plus games three times in four years from 2006-09.

And the biggest reason this team could be special is the duo of Brnovich and Kirby (5-1, 2.29), though sinkerballer Ryan Conroy (1-2, 2.80) is no slouch on Sundays either. But very few staffs in college baseball can match the pure talent Elon is running out on the mound every Friday and Saturday, which gives the Phoenix a great chance to win every weekend series, especially when combined with the Welhaf-Wetherbee bullpen pair. If Brnovich is Elon's Bauer, then Kirby is its Gerrit Cole, a flame-thrower with a fastball that regularly sits 95-96, and sat 96-98 against Georgia Southern, according to Kennedy. That's not to say Brnovich and Kirby are going to be two of the top three picks in the draft next year, like Cole and Bauer were - Kirby needs to continue to refine his secondary stuff, though he flashes an above-average changeup and a solid curveball that he's learning to throw with more power, while Brnovich doesn't have Bauer's fastball velocity. But like Bauer and Cole, Brnovich and Kirby really push each other.

"You really feel good about what's going to happen on a Friday and a Saturday, I can tell you that," Kennedy said. "Our guys play with confidence when they're out there; you have a chance to do some damage if you have guys on the front end like that. It's nice to be able to run those two dudes out there. And they both came in as freshmen together, so they're growing together, learning together, kind of feed off each other. It's fun to watch. I think there's a good battle between those guys - who's our Friday guy, so to speak? It's a good competition, and they make each other better."

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