The coaching staff and task force will assist the 18U National Team staff in identifying athletes to be invited to the USA Baseball 18U National Team Trials. The 2018 Trials will be held immediately following the Tournament of Stars June 25-28.
American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Famer and former Clemson head coach Jack Leggett has been tapped to lead the 2018 18U National Team as it looks for its fifth consecutive gold medal at the COPABE Pan American "AAA" Championships.
Joining Leggett on the 2018 staff will be Scott Bankhead (North Carolina Baseball Academy), Joe Almaraz (St. Louis Cardinals) and Gregg Ritchie (George Washington).
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 manage the Free team. Trip Couch will join McGriff as the team's assistant coach, while Robert Woodard will serve as pitching coach.
Royce Clayton, who played on the 18U National Team in 1987 and is currently the head coach at Oaks Christian School (Westlake, Calif.), will take the helm of the Pride team. Mark Ross and Steve Stone will join Clayton on staff.
Former East Carolina University head coach and current New York Yankees scout, Billy Godwin, has been named the manager of the Brave team. Eric DuBose and Chris Carter will serve on the Brave staff as the pitching and assistant coaches, respectively.
Finally, Marc Rardin, who is currently the head coach at Iowa Western Community College (Council Bluffs, Iowa), will guide the United team as the manager. He will be joined by Tyler Kincaid as the pitching coach and former MLB All-Star Tony Womack will round out the staff as the assistant coach.
A four-person task force and two rovers will also assist the national team and Tournament of Stars coaching staffs in overseeing the event. Detroit Tigers scout Taylor Black will lead the task force, with Travis Coleman, Ryan Goll and Matt Williams assisting him. John Hendricks will serve as the pitching rover for the event, while Jeff Kunkel will be the 2018 position rover, 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, 2000 or 2001) 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 2018 COPABE Pan American "AAA" Championships in Panama City, Panama, November 23-December 2. Team USA is the four-time defending champions in the event.
For the most up-to-date information on the 18U National Team, follow @USABaseball18U and @USABaseball on Twitter.
The complete list of Tournament of Stars staff and task force, as well as their bios, is as follows:
Name, Coaching Position:
Taylor Black, Task Force
Chris Carter, Brave Assistant Coach
Royce Clayton, Pride Manager
Travis Coleman, Task Force
Trip Couch, Free Assistant Coach
Eric DuBose, Brave Pitching Coach
Billy Godwin, Brave Manager
Ryan Goll, Task Force
John Hendricks, Pitching Rover
Tyler Kincaid, United Pitching Coach
Jeff Kunkel, Position Rover
Fred McGriff, Free Manager
Scott Meaney, Cross Checker
Marc Rardin, United Manager
Mark Ross, Pride Pitching Coach
Steve Stone, Pride Assistant Coach
Matt Williams, Task Force
Tony Womack, United Assistant Coach
Robert Woodard, Free Pitching Coach
Taylor Black is currently a scout for the Detroit Tigers. Prior to that role, he served as an assistant coach at North Carolina State University. He is returning to the Tournament of Stars task force in 2018 after serving in this role for the 2017 and 2016 tournaments. 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 third year as a coach at the Tournament of Stars, as he served in the same role in both 2017 and 2016. He was also a member of the coaching staff for the 2017 18U National Team that won the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup gold medal. In addition, he was an assistant coach for the 17U National Team Development Program (NTDP) in 2016 and 2017. 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.
Royce Clayton will coach at the Tournament of Stars for the second year in a row in 2018 but his first experience with USA Baseball came in 1987 when he played for the 18U National Team. He played for 17 years in the Major Leagues from 1991-2007 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.).
Travis Coleman is currently a scout for the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros. He played collegiate baseball for Auburn University before starting his scouting career in 2014 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau. Coleman is also the owner of the Pro Elite Academy, a baseball and athlete development company.
Trip Couch returns to the USA Baseball coaching ranks after previously serving as a coach at the Tournament of Stars. He also held an administrion role with the 1999 Collegiate National Team as he was the team's Delegation Head/Business Manager. Currently the director of baseball player development at the University of South Carolina, Couch has spent time coaching at University of Lousiana-Lafayette, University of Houston and University of Texas, as well as serving as a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Most recently, he was an assistant coach at Houston where he helped lead the Cougars to four straight American Athletic Conference championship games and the tournament title in 2017.
Eric DuBose is no stranger to USA Baseball, having played for the 1994 18U National Team and the 1995 and 1996 Collegiate National Teams. DuBose was an All-American at Mississippi State University before being selected with the 21st overall pick in the 1997 MLB draft. He made his Major League debut in 2002 for the Baltimore Orioles and was with the organization until his retirement in 2007. He is currently a pitching coach for the East Coast Sox organization.
Billy Godwin is a former college head coach who led Louisburg College from 1999-2005 and East Carolina University from 2006-2014. He was named Coach of the Year by the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association in 2002 and 2007, and guided East Carolina to a Conference USA title and NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2009. Godwin played collegiately at Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, and is currently an area scout for the New York Yankees. 2018 marks Godwin's second time coaching at the Tournament of Stars, having also appeared on the staff in 2016.
Ryan Goll will serve as a member of the 2018 Tournament of Stars Task Force and will be the bullpen catcher at the event. In 2017, he also served on the task force and as a bullpen catcher for the 18U National Team Trials. Goll is currently a student manager at the University of Minnesota.
John Hendricks previously coached in the Tournament of Stars in 2015 and 2016. He is currently a scout for the New York Mets. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina, native, played collegiately at Wake Forest University and was drafted by the New York Mets in the 14th round of the 1999 MLB Draft. Hendricks, who pitched in the Mets organization for two years, is the Demon Deacons' program leader in career innings pitched, career strikeouts and career victories.
Currently in his third year as the pitching coach at Kansas State University, Tyler Kincaid started his coaching career 17 years ago. In that time, he has worked at the high school and collegiate levels. In his first year with the Wildcats, the pitching staff finished the season third in program history for total strikeouts in a single season with 440. He served as an assistant coach at University of San Diego prior to his time with Kansas State and 21 of his pitchers were selected in the MLB draft during his six seasons.
Jeff Kunkel is currently an area scout for the Detroit Tigers, covering the upper Midwest. Prior to his scouting role, Kunkel served as a bullpen catcher for the team and played six seasons (2006-11) in the organization's minor league system. He also played collegiately at the University of Michigan where he earned All-Big Ten Conference honors in 2006 as a senior. That year he hit .335 with 38 runs scored, 15 doubles and 28 RBI, while leading the team to Big Ten regular season and tournament championships. He also served as a coach at the 2017 USA Baseball 17U National Team Development Program (NTDP).
For the second year in a row, five-time All-Star Fred McGriff will coach at the Tournament of Stars. 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.
Scott Meaney will serve as the cross-checking scout at the 2018 Tournament of Stars. Meaney spent four years on the baseball team at the University of Massachusetts before graduating and joining the staff as the team's pitching coach. He is currently serving as a scout for the Cleveland Indians.
Rardin is in his 14th season as the head coach at Iowa Western Community College (Council Bluffs, Iowa). During his tenure, the IWCC Reivers won two Junior College World Series titles in three years (2010 and 2012). They have tallied 18 post-season titles in 11 seasons under Rardin, which is better than any other Division I junior college program in the U.S. over the last 10 years. Rardin re-joins the Tournament of Stars coaching staff after working at the event in 2014 and 2015.
Currently a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Mark Ross will coach at the Tournament of Stars for the second consecutive year. 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 that won a silver medal at the XXIV Baseball World Cup.
Steve Stone returns to the Tournament of Stars coaching ranks in 2018 after coaching in the event in 2017 and 2016. He is in his 19th year as the head baseball coach at Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas. In total, Stone has 23 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.
Matt Williams is a scout for the Minnesota Twins. He spent seven years in the minor leagues, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies organizations. He played collegiately at Liberty University before being drafted in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Cardinals.
Tony Womack spent 13 seasons in the Major Leagues after being selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 7th round of the 1991 MLB Draft. In that time, he played for the Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds. He was a member of the Diamondbacks team that won the World Series in 2001 and was an All-Star for the Pirates in 1997. Womack also led the league in stolen bases from 1997-1999 and was the MLB leader in triples in 2000. He finished his career with a .273 average and 363 stolen bases.
Robert Woodard is in his second 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, North Carolina, 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 returned to the event in 2017 as a coach. He also served as a coach at the 2016 17U NTDP.