DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball today named the coaching staff for the 2020 12U National Team that will compete for a second consecutive World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier gold medal, highlighted by the naming of three-time 12U National Team assistant coach R.J. Farrell as manager.
Farrell will be joined on staff in 2020 by pitching coach Seth Kenny and assistant coaches Erik Johnson and Tanner Vesely. The 12U National Team will look to defend its Americas Qualifier title and qualify for the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in 2021.
"R.J. has been a remarkable representative and coach for our organization over the years and we are excited to have him leading the 12U National Team in 2020," said USA Baseball 12U National Team Director Will Schworer. "We are confident that he, and the rest of his staff, will serve as exceptional mentors for these young athletes both on and off the field as they look to defend the U.S.'s title at the U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier this summer."
2020 marks Farrell's fourth consecutive year serving on the 12U National Team coaching staff and his first as manager. Currently, he is in his first year as an assistant coach and Athletic Support and Compliance Coordinator at Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.) after spending seven years as the head coach at Rancho Cucamonga High School (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), where 30 of his former players went on to play collegiate baseball.
Prior to coaching at Rancho Cucamonga High School, he spent one year as an assistant coach at Orange Lutheran High School in 2012, was an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Patten University (Oakland, Calif.) from 2009-2011 and served as an assistant coach at De La Salle High School (Concord, Calif.) from 2007-2008.
In his three years as an assistant coach for the 12U National Team, Farrell helped to lead Team USA to gold medals at the 2017 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup and the 2018 COPABE U-12 Pan-American Championships. In addition, Farrell has worked with USA Baseball at the 11U National Team Identification Series (NTIS), 12U National Open and the USA Baseball Futures Invitational, and also served as a 12U National Team Trials coach in 2016.
Kenny, who is making his USA Baseball national team coaching debut as the pitching coach for the 2020 12U National Team, is currently in his 10th year as the Director of Player Development and Youth Director for Top Tier Baseball. Kenny started his 20-year coaching career as a pitching coach for the Danville Dans, Austin Peay State University and Illinois State University from 2000-2008. Following his time at Illinois State, he returned to his role as pitching coach at Austin Peay, while also serving as the program's recruiting coordinator until joining Top Tier Baseball in 2010. In his career with USA Baseball, Kenny has coached at the 12U National Open since 2015, was a member of the 11U NTIS Task Force in 2017 and 2019, and was a 12U National Team Trials coach in 2018 and 2019.
Johnson is also making his USA Baseball national team coaching debut in 2020. However, he is no stranger to donning the red, white and blue, having first played for Team USA on the 1985 Collegiate National Team before suiting up as a coach. He has been involved with the NTIS since its inception in 2007, serving as a coach of the Northern California region until 2017 when he became a scouting director and coach for the Northwest Region. Additionally, he was a member of the 12U National Open coaching staff in both 2018 and 2019 and then served as a 2019 12U National Team Trials coach. Currently, he is the President and General Manager of EJ Sports where he has also been a coach since 1997.
Rounding out the staff is Vesely, who returns to the 12U National Team coaching staff after leading the 2015 squad to the program's second consecutive world championship at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. Prior to his time as manager, Vesely helped guide the 12U National Team to its first-ever gold medal at the 2013 International Baseball Federation and a silver medal at the 2014 COPABE "A" Pan-American Championships as an assistant coach.
Vesely began his national team coaching career more than a decade ago with back-to-back gold medals as an assistant coach with the 2008 and 2009 14U National Teams. In addition, he has served as a member of the Task Force at the National Team Championships in Arizona since 2008, a member of the 12U National Open coaching staff since 2013 and was a coach at the Women's National Team Trials in 2019. He was also part of the inaugural 2019 13U Athlete Development Program coaching staff and served on the NTIS Task Force in 2009, 2016 and 2018. Currently in his 15th season as an assistant coach at Corona del Sol High School (Tempe, Ariz.), Vesely also helped lead his team to the USA Baseball National High School Invitational in 2019.
The 2020 12U National Team identification process started with the 2019 11U NTIS and will continue with the 2020 11U Futures Series held in both Irvine, California, and Melissa, Texas, in March and May 2020, respectively, as well as the 2020 11U Futures Invitational from June 25-28 in Cary, North Carolina.
The 12U National Team Trials will take place immediately following the conclusion of the 11U Futures Invitational from June 28-July 3 in North Carolina. The final 18-man 12U National Team roster will then reconvene at a later date for training before participating in the 2020 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier.
For more information on the 12U National Team, follow along on Twitter @USABaseball and @USABaseball12U.