FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
Phoenix, Ariz. – USA Baseball announced the final 18-man roster for the 18U National Team Wednesday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The team consists of seven pitchers, seven infielders, three outfielders, and a utility player. The team will travel to Edmonton, Canada, to participate in the IBAF World Junior Championships July 25-Aug 3.
The team was chosen after a one week trial period consisting of five intrasquad scrimmages that took place in Phoenix, Ariz.
Of the eighteen players, ten of them have played with USA Baseball in the past. Harold Martinez (IF; Miami, Fla.), Ryan Weber (RHP; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Matthew Purke (LHP; Spring, Texas), and Jeff Malm (IF; Las Vegas, Nev.) were all members of last year’s 18U team that took Bronze in the Pan American Games. Also, six players on this year’s roster played on the 2007 16U team that won gold in Venezuela last summer.
“We’ve got four guys from last year’s junior team that were great last year and displayed the same abilities to make the team this year” says Ray Darwin, the USA Baseball 18U National Team Director. “We had a little bit of a disappointing end to last year, losing 3-2 in the semifinals, so I hope the returning junior players can be leaders in helping to get the job finished this year.”
Darwin continues on the importance of experience, especially in regards to the confidence of having multiple 16U alumni players as well. “We have six members of the 2007 16U National Team players also, so it is great that over half of the roster understands international baseball and the unique arena that it is. It won’t be new to them.”
Joining Weber and Purke on the mound this summer will be Cecil Tanner (RHP; Waycross, Ga.), Jacob Turner (RHP; St. Charles, Mo.), Jake Barrett (RHP; Mesa, Ariz.), Colton Cain (RHP; Waxahachie, Texas), and Austin Maddox (RHP/C; Jacksonville, Fla.). Maddox could also see time behind the plate along with Max Stassi (C; Yuba City, Calif.) and Cameron Garfield (C; Murietta, Calif.).
Highlighting the infield along with veterans Martinez and Malm is David Nick (IF; Cypress, Calif.), Nick Franklin (IF/RHP; Longwood, Calif.), Nolan Fontana (IF/RHP; Winter Garden, Fla.), and utility player Jonathan Meyer (IF/RHP; Simi Valley, Calif.).
Wes Hatton (OF/RHP; Norco, Calif.), Donavan Tate (OF; Cartersville, Ga.) and Andrew Aplin (OF; Suisun City, Calif.) make up what head coach Mark Elkins (Kennesaw, Ga.) is calling a speedy outfield and an important part of what he hopes to be a great team.
“We’re really excited about the players that we picked. We feel that we have an outstanding group of young men” says Elkins. “We’re going to have a lot of team speed, [and] some great arms on the mound. We have a great group of young men that all display a great deal of character.”
Elkins heads the group of extremely talented and valuable coaching staff. “This is one of the best coaching staffs that the 18U program has seen”, says Darwin. Joining Elkins is Mark McKenzie (St. Paul, Minn.), Tommy Pharr (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Mike Power (Roswell, Ga.).
“They are a great group of guys as well. I have enjoyed spending a lot of time with them” says Elkins. “They all provide a lot of value to our coaching staff. I think they all have a lot to offer these boys not only from a baseball perspective but from a persective that will help them grow into great young men.”
The team will look to take gold in the IBAF “AAA” World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Canada, for the first time since the 1999 games in Chinese Taipei. USA claimed silver medals in 2000 and 2006 and a bronze medal in the 2002 event.