FROM USA BASEBALL
CARY, N.C. — USA Baseball (USAB) has announced a group of 34 players who will be considered for inclusion on its 2009 18U National Team for international competition. The 34 players, along with 10 alternates, were selected from those who participated this week in the 17th Annual Tournament of Stars, presented by Major League Baseball, at USAB’s National Training Complex in Cary.
“I think we have an excellent blend of very talented ballplayers each of whom have outstanding character,” said Gary LaFevers, Head Coach of the 2009 18U National Team. LaFevers was the associate head baseball coach this past year and a former head coach at Buckeye Union High School in Buckeye, Ariz. He will be the pitching coach at Phoenix (Ariz.) College next spring.
“The players selected have a high knowledge of baseball and a good aptitude about how the game is played,” LaFevers added. “This will make the coaches’ jobs easier once we get to the Trials as far as getting everyone on the same page with what we want to do. Going into the Trials, we have more overall team speed than what I expected to find. We have selected 34 outstanding players who will compete and push each other to the next level. ”
Following the announcement of the 34 invitees and alternates, the athletes will return to their respective homes. The group will reassemble in Cary on Sept. 12. Player evaluation then will continue via practices, intrasquad scrimmages and exhibition games. Following evaluation during the Trials, a final 20-player 18U National Team roster will be selected Sept. 17. After a Training period, the team will depart Sept. 24 for Barquisimeto, Venezuela, where Team USA will compete Sept. 25-Oct. 4 in the COPABE “AAA” Pan American Junior Championships. The 18U National Team competes in two major events in bi-yearly cycles – the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Junior Championships and the COPABE Pan American Junior Championships. The Pan Am Championships serve as a qualifier for the ensuing year’s World Championships.
The USA Baseball 18U National Team is a perennial power on the international baseball scene. Only once in the 24-year history of the IBAF World Junior Championships has the United States failed to capture a medal. During this time, the program has earned five gold medals, 11 silver medals and seven bronze medals.
LaFevers will be a member of his fifth USA Baseball coaching staff. He served as an assistant coach for the 16U National Team in 2004 and 2005. As head coach of the 2006 and 2008 16U squads, he guided Team USA to back-to-back gold medals at the IBAF “AA” World Junior Championships in Barquisimeto (2006) and in Veracruz, Mexico (2008).
Joining LaFevers on the 2009 18U National Team coaching staff will be assistants Bill Krejci, Willie Romay, Matt White and auxiliary coach Robert Craven. Like LaFevers, Krejci will be making his fifth appearance on a USA Baseball coaching staff. He was head coach of the 16U National Team in 1999 and directed the 18U squad to a silver medal at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Canada. Romay, making his Team USA coaching debut, is a former professional player and now a scout for the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau. White, who also will be in his first USA Baseball coaching assignment, played for Team USA on 18U National Teams in 1995 and 1996. Craven, former coach at LaQuinta (Calif.) High School, will be in his third stint as an auxiliary coach for USA Baseball.
Click here for a complete list of Trials invitees.