CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named its annual organizational award winners, recognizing the top athletes, coaches, and performances from its 2022 USA Baseball national teams and development programs. 18U National Team member Bryce Eldridge is the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award winner, the fifth 18U National Team alumnus to earn athlete of the year honors since 2011. The award is given annually to USA Baseball’s top player in honor of the organization’s founding Executive Director and CEO.
The 18U National Team collected honors in three additional categories in 2022, boasting Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year Denny Hocking, International Performance of the Year winner Christian Rodriguez, and “Doc” Counsilman Science Award recipient Adam Moseley.
Seven-time Women’s National Team alumna Kelsie Whitmore is the 2022 Sportswoman of the Year, the 12U National Team earned Team of the Year honors, and Mike Bianco capped off an incredible 2022 by being named the USA Baseball College Coach of the Year.
The Developmental Coach of the Year Award went to 15U National Team Manager Drew Briese, and the Volunteer Coach of the Year honor went to André Butler. Rounding out the awards in 2022 is Coach Educator of the Year Bill Krejci, and Daisy Nelson, the organization’s Service Provider of the Year.
“It is our honor to recognize a group of talented people for their tremendous performances both on and off the field,” said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. “2022 will go down as one of the most successful years in USA Baseball history. Our national teams combined to win four gold medals, three world championships, an international friendship series, and a bronze medal, and the efforts of this group of esteemed individuals were paramount to achieving such unrivaled success this year.”
The complete list of the 2022 USA Baseball organizational award winners is as follows:
- Richard W. “Dick” Case Award: Bryce Eldridge, 18U National Team
- Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year: Denny Hocking, 18U National Team
- Sportswoman of the Year: Kelsie Whitmore, Women’s National Team
- International Performance of the Year: Christian Rodriguez, 18U National Team
- Team of the Year: 12U National Team
- College Coach of the Year: Mike Bianco, Collegiate National Team
- Developmental Coach of the Year: Drew Briese, 15U National Team
- Volunteer Coach of the Year: André Butler
- Coach Educator of the Year: Bill Krejci
- “Doc” Councilman Science Award: Adam Moseley, 18U National Team
- Service Provider of the Year: Daisy Nelson
Bryce Eldridge earned Richard W. “Dick” Case Player of the Year honors after putting together a dynamic performance at the plate and on the mound at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup. The two-way star was named Tournament MVP after batting .316 with three homers and 13 RBIs – both tournament highs – and going 1-0 with a spotless 0.00 ERA and one save in three appearances as a pitcher. The Vienna, Virginia, native picked up at least one hit in five of his seven games at the plate and allowed just one hit over three innings pitched. Eldridge delivered in a major way in the first and last games of the tournament, kicking off the World Cup with a grand slam as part of a five-RBI game to beat the Netherlands in the tournament opener. Then, after leading the U.S. offense throughout the tournament, Eldridge cranked a three-run blast in the top of the seventh of the gold medal game before getting the final three outs on the mound as Team USA beat Chinese Taipei to secure its ninth world championship.
Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year Denny Hocking led the U.S. to its ninth world championship at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, and followed that up by leading another 18U National Team to gold at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. Under his guidance in his Team USA managerial debut, the U.S. claimed a world title on its home soil. The 13-year MLB veteran pushed all the right buttons throughout the World Cup as the U.S. went 8-1 en route to a gold medal. Hocking demonstrated his leadership ability by guiding the U.S. to two wins on the final day. Team USA scored 68 runs – its most at a World Cup since 2015 – and struck out 73 batters to lead the tournament. With the gold medal victory over Chinese Taipei, the United States captured its fifth world title in the last six editions of the event. A second 18U National Team under the guidance of Hocking then traveled to Mexico to qualify for next year’s U-18 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan. Not only did the team qualify, but the U.S. left with a gold medal after outscoring its opponents 79-24, hitting .348, and tallying 10 home runs. In total, Hocking led the 18U National Team program to two gold medals and an overall 16-1 record in 2022.
Sportswoman of the Year Kelsie Whitmore made her seventh career appearance for the Women's National Team this past summer. She played a vital role in helping the stars and stripes clinch their friendship series against Canada in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Whitmore started all five games – two on the mound, one as the designated hitter, and two in the outfield – and tallied at least one hit in four games. In the series opener, Whitmore was lights out as she was a double short of the cycle, going 3-for-3 with four RBIs, while pitching 4.2 innings of shutout ball. She led all players in the series with seven runs, eight hits, 10 RBIs, and a 1.000 slugging percentage. Along with her accomplishments with Team USA, Whitmore made history this spring by becoming the first female to play baseball in a league affiliated with Major League Baseball, making her professional debut with the Staten Island FerryHawks on April 21. She made 39 appearances in her rookie season in the Atlantic League.
Trailing Japan 3-2 in the third inning with the bases loaded and no outs in a Super Round game that would send Team USA to the gold medal game with a win, a torrential downpour set the stage for what would become the 2022 USA Baseball International Performance of the Year. The 18U National Team called on Christian Rodriguez out of the bullpen for the restart the morning after. Rodriguez needed just 13 pitches to strike out the Japan side and strand his three inherited base runners to keep the game within one and the U.S. within striking distance of a berth in the final. He would follow his masterful third inning with four more shutout innings, striking out seven batters, before his teammates would rally for the 4-3 walk-off victory. Rodriguez's performance set the tone for Team USA on the final day of the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup as the red, white, and blue capped off the event that afternoon with its ninth world championship following a 5-1 victory over Chinese Taipei in the finale.
The 12U National Team traveled to Taiwan in August and returned home with its fourth world championship in program history, earning gold at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup and later being named the 2022 USA Baseball Team of the Year. Amidst strict Covid-19 protocols, the team was required to quarantine in its hotel for three days, but it was not enough to deter the red, white, and blue, as they took care of business by going a perfect 8-0 in tournament play and becoming the first team in 12U National Team history to go unbeaten at the World Cup. After posting four wins in the Opening Round, the U.S. opened the Super Round with a walk-off win over Mexico and a victory over Chinese Taipei before taking down Venezuela twice to claim the title. Team USA clubbed 27 home runs and outscored its opponents 99-31. Seven players for the gold-medal-winning squad earned spots on the All-World Team after the tournament, including Colin Anderson, who was named Tournament MVP. The U.S. now boasts four U-12 Baseball World Cup titles, the most in the world.
Ole Miss Head Coach and 2022 Collegiate National Team Manager Mike Bianco collected plenty of hardware in 2022 to earn USA Baseball College Coach of the Year honors. Bianco led Ole Miss to its first-ever national championship as the Rebels went the distance at the 2022 College World Series. After posting a 42-23 record in regular season play, his squad won the Coral Gables Regional and the Hattiesburg Super Regional before knocking off Oklahoma to win the national championship. Bianco then took the reins as manager of the Collegiate National Team and led the U.S. to a bronze medal at Honkbalweek in Haarlem, Netherlands. Competing against nations featuring numerous players with professional baseball experience, Team USA beat Japan in the bronze medal game, 5-1. The U.S. pitching staff posted a 0.70 ERA in the tournament, the lowest team ERA in Collegiate National Team history.
Developmental Coach of the Year Drew Briese made his managerial debut this past summer with the 15U National Team and led Team USA to its second-straight gold medal at the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup in Hermosillo, Mexico. Under his guidance, the squad posted an 8-1 record, highlighted by back-to-back wins over Cuba in the semifinal and gold-medal games, as Team USA outscored its opponents 99-30 in the tournament. Briese played an instrumental role in the development of the players with his wealth of knowledge and experience at the youth and collegiate levels of baseball, helping them to prepare for the next level of their careers.
André Butler's impact in four significant events and national team programs for USA Baseball this year led to him being named the Volunteer Coach of the Year. He was a member of the Task Force at the USA Baseball National Team Championships, aiding in identifying players for the National Team Development Programs (NTDP), and a coach at the 16U/17U NTDP, where he helped prepare those kids for a future national team opportunity. Butler was also on the coaching staff at the PDP League and the 18U National Team Training Camp, where he helped identify and develop a group of athletes that would go on to win the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in September - its ninth in program history. Additionally, eight members of the 16U/17U NTDP later went on to win a gold medal at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Mexico in November.
Coach Educator of the Year Bill Krejci has been involved with USA Baseball for nearly three decades as a coach and instructor for national teams and developmental programs, and most recently as a part of the Fun At Bat program. With the Fun At Bat program, he has impacted the growth of baseball among youth, serving as a lead instructor at numerous teacher training sessions and as a lead clinician at multiple USA Baseball Homegrown Clinics in 2022. Krejci spends his time with USA Baseball demonstrating the fundamentals of the game to physical education teachers from across the country, helping them implement it into their everyday curriculum. In 2022, his service to USA Baseball has reached more than 100 teachers and 50,000 students in eight school districts using Fun At Bat and over 200 kids who attended a Homegrown Clinic.
"Doc" Counsilman Award recipient Adam Moseley is one of the foremost leaders within the USA Baseball coaching community to use scientific data and state-of-the-art technology as part of his coaching. Under his guidance as the pitching coach for the 18U National Team at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, Moseley helped lead the U.S. to its ninth world championship thanks to his tireless work using analytical data and ball flight analysis. Not only did his commitment to data allow him to scout opponents in a tournament setting, but he was also able to utilize data from PDP Performance Assessments and Trackman to aid in identifying and selecting the roster for the 18U National Team. Team USA scored 68 runs – its most at a World Cup since 2015 – and struck out 73 batters to lead the tournament.
Daisy Nelson is an unsung hero for the tremendous success of USA Baseball and its many athletes. Nelson has been responsible for staffing and training certified athletic trainers for USA Baseball national teams, training camps, and identification events since 2016. Her contributions, and the extension of her work through USA Baseball's certified athletic trainers, contributed to an unprecedented run of success for the U.S. this year as the stars and stripes won four gold medals, three world championships, a friendship series, and a bronze medal in 2022.