DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the task force and coaching staffs that will lead 80 of the nation's best 18-and-under players in the 2017 Tournament of Stars presented by Major League Baseball on Thursday. The staff, which is made up former professional players, respected collegiate and high school coaches and Major League scouts, will guide and evaluate this year's athletes in the event at the National Training Complex June 26-July 1.
Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) will stream the bronze and gold medal games live on USABaseball.com and MLB.com on Saturday, July 1.
The coaching staff and task force will assist the 18U National Team coaching staff in identifying athletes to be invited to the USA Baseball 18U National Team Trials, which will be held August 19-24 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Andy Stankiewicz will lead the 18U National Team for the second time in his career. In his first stint as manager, he led the 18U team to a gold medal in the 2014 COPABE Pan Am "AAA" Championships in La Paz, Mexico.
Joining Stankiewicz on the 2017 18U National Team staff will be Rusty Filter (Stanford University), Bill Mosiello (TCU) and Gregg Ritchie (George Washington University).
This year's Tournament of Stars participants will be divided into four teams of 20 players (Brave, Free, Pride and United), and each team staff will be comprised of a manager, assistant coach and pitching coach.
Atlanta Braves' Special Assistant to Baseball Operations, and 19-year MLB veteran, Fred McGriff, will lead the Brave team. McGriff will be joined by assistant coach Chris Carter and pitching coach Robert Woodard.
Former Clemson University head coach Jack Leggett will manage the Free team. Five-time MLB All-Star Todd Helton will join him as an assistant coach and Scott Bankhead will round out the team's staff as the pitching coach.
Royce Clayton, who played on the 18U National Team in 1987 and serves as the head coach at Oaks Christian School (Westlake, Calif.), will lead the Pride team. Mark Ross and Steve Stone will serve on the Pride staff as pitching and assistant coaches, respectively.
Finally, former Tulane head coach and 2009 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team manager, Rick Jones, will guide the United team as the manager. He will be joined on staff by pitching coach Willie Banks and assistant coach Jesse Cassard.
In addition to the national team and Tournament of Stars coaching staffs, there will be a five-person task force and two rovers that will help oversee the event. Ryan Schmidt will lead the task force, with Wes Theriot, DeAndre Asbury-Heath, Daniel Coles and Taylor Black joining him. Joe Barbera and Ricky Meinhold will serve as the position and pitching rovers, respectively, assisting the task force and staff with evaluating and identifying players for consideration.
The Tournament of Stars is made up of 80 of the best baseball players in the country that are international age-eligible (Born January 1, 1999 or 2000) for 18U National Team consideration. The event serves as the primary pool of talent from which USA Baseball will select its team to compete in the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 World Cup in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. The World Cup will be played from September 1-10.
Team USA is the three-time defending World Cup champion and will look to become the second country to win four-straight gold medals in the tournament.
The complete list of Tournament of Stars staff and task force and their bios are as follows:
Name, Coaching Position
DeAndre Asbury-Heath, Task Force
Scott Bankhead, Free Pitching Coach
Willy Banks, United Pitching Coach
Joe Barbera, Position Rover
Taylor Black, Task Force
Chris Carter, Brave Assistant Coach
Jesse Cassard, United Assistant Coach
Royce Clayton, Pride Manager
Daniel Coles, Task Force
Todd Helton, Free Assistant Coach
Rick Jones, United Manager
Jack Leggett, Free Manager
Fred McGriff, Brave Manager
Ricky Meinhold, Pitching Rover
Mark Ross, Pride Pitching Coach
Ryan Schmidt, Task Force
Steve Stone, Pride Assistant Coach
Wes Theriot, Task Force
Robert Woodard, Brave Pitching Coach
DeAndre Asbury-Heath will make his USA Baseball debut as a task force member at the 2017 Tournament of Stars. He was drafted out of Brookland-Cayce High School (Cayce, S.C.) in the 15th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, spending four years in the Cardinals' system from 2013-2016.
Scott Bankhead is the owner of the North Carolina Baseball Academy and is no stranger to suiting up for Team USA. He served as an 18U National Team Trials coach in 2016 and was a member of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Team. Bankhead was the 16th overall pick in the 1984 MLB Draft out of the University of North Carolina and he spent ten seasons in the Major Leagues, pitching for the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. He finished his professional career with a 4.18 ERA over 901.0 innings.
Willy Banks is currently a private instructor and played for the red, white and blue in 1986 as a member of the 18U National Team. Following his time with USA Baseball, Banks was selected 3rd overall by the Minnesota Twins in the 1987 MLB Draft. He spent nine years in the Major Leagues with seven different clubs, earning a 4.75 ERA in that time.
Joe Barbera started his scouting career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 where he worked for three years before moving to the Seattle Mariners. In 2016, Barbera moved from Seattle to the Philadelphia, where he is currently a part-time scout for the Phillies.
Taylor Black is an assistant coach at North Carolina State University. He is returning to the Tournament of Stars task force in 2017 after first serving in this role for the 2016 tournament. Before he started coaching, Black played collegiately at the University of Kentucky and professionally in the minor leagues until 2013.
This is Chris Carter's second year as a coach at the Tournament of Stars, as he served in the same role in 2016. He was also an assistant coach for the 17U National Team Development Program (NTDP) last year. Carter is the athletic director at Woodmont High School in Piedmont, South Carolina, and held the same position at nearby Easley High School from 2009-2013. Carter was a catcher at Clemson University in the 1990s and formerly served as the head baseball coach at Easley and Byrnes high schools from 1998-2008, prior to transitioning into an administrative role.
Jesse Cassard also served on the task force at the 2016 Tournament of Stars. He is currently the athletic director for Zachary Community Schools outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Cassard, who played at McNeese University from 2000-2001, has served as the head baseball coach at Zachary High School since the 2007 season, leading the Broncos to three consecutive state titles from 2007-2009.
Royce Clayton's first experience with USA Baseball came in 1987 when he played for the 18U National Team. He played for 17 years from 1991-2007 in the Major Leagues after being selected in the first round of the MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants in 1988. He currently serves as the head coach at Oaks Christian School (Westlake, Calif.).
Daniel Coles is currently an area scout of the New York Mets. Prior to his time with the Mets, Coles spent eight seasons coaching at Pinecrest High School (Southern Pines, N.C.) where he helped lead the Patriots to Conference Tournament Championships in 2010, 2011 and 2016.
Todd Helton played collegiately at the University of Tennessee before he was selected with the 8th overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. In his 17 years playing in the Major Leagues with the Rockies, Helton was a five-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers and finished with a .316 career batting average. Following his professional career, he returned to Tennessee as the Director of Player Development for the Volunteers. He also played for the red, white and blue during his college career, appearing on the Collegiate National Team in 1993.
Former Tulane head coach Rick Jones will also join the coaching ranks at the Tournament of Stars this year. Jones spent 21 years at the helm of the Green Wave program, where he tallied a 814-439-2 coaching record. His teams appeared in 12 NCAA Regionals, three Super Regionals and made it to the College World Series twice. He was also a part of three different Team USA coaching staffs. He managed the 2009 Collegiate National Team, was an assistant coach on the 1989 USA Baseball Presidential Cup staff and served as a member of the 1990 USA Baseball National Team coaching staff. Earlier this year, Jones was inducted in to the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame.
Jack Leggett served as Clemson University's head coach for 22 seasons. In that time he led the Tigers to 955 victories, 21 NCAA Tournament appearances and six College World Series berths. Clemson was the seventh-winningest program in the nation during his time as head coach, while his six trips to Omaha tied for ninth most in the nation during his tenure. Leggett was a three-time ACC Coach of the Year recipient and was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame in 2014.
A five-time All-Star, Fred McGriff played 19 seasons in MLB from 1986-2004. He spent five of those seasons with the Atlanta Braves, where he helped the team to a World Series Championship in 1995. He also won three Silver Slugger Awards throughout his time in the big leagues and finished his career with 493 home runs. Following his playing career, he returned to Atlanta where the Braves hired him as a Special Assistant to Baseball Operations in 2015.
Ricky Meinhold is a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals. Meinhold was a pitching coach at Lindenwood University and Coker College from 2011-2013, prior to joining the Cardinals organization. He pitched collegiately at Drury University and went on to play for an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, becoming the first pitcher in Drury program history to play professional baseball.
Currently a scout for the Houston Astros, Mark Ross played in the Major Leagues for six years with the Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Toronto Blue Jays. He finished his professional career with a 3.83 ERA. Prior to his time in MLB, Ross played at Texas A&M and was a member of the 1978 USA Baseball National Team team that won a silver medal at the XXIV Baseball World Cup.
Ryan Schmidt is the head coach at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas and was named Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Coach of the Year while at Pratt Community College in 2012. Schmidt, who pitched at Kansas University from 1999-2000, has also coached at Barton Community College. 2017 marks Schmidt's third year on the Tournament of Stars task force.
Steve Stone returns to the Tournament of Stars coaching ranks in 2017 after coaching in the event last year. He is in his 18th year as the head baseball coach at Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas. In total, Stone has 22 years of coaching experience, previously spending time at Rider and Euless Trinity high schools. He is a former standout catcher at Texas Christian University, where he was named team MVP in 1988.
Wes Theriot is a hitting instructor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Theriot played collegiately at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Southeastern Louisiana University, and served as a player representative for Beverly Hill Sports. He is the brother of former MLB veteran infielder Ryan Theriot. 2017 is the second consecutive year he has served as a task force member at the Tournament of Stars.
Robert Woodard finished his first year as the pitching coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining the Hokies staff in 2013, Woodard coached at UNC, his alma mater, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Woodard is the Tar Heels' all-time winningest pitcher with a record of 34-5 and spent three years in the San Diego Padres' farm system after being selected in the 20th round of the 2007 MLB Draft. The Charlotte, N.C., native has also coached for the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod League. In 2016, Woodard made his Tournament of Stars debut as a pitching rover at the event, and he also served as a coach at the 2016 17U National Team Development Program (NTDP).