Baseball announced the 40 players immediately after the Tournament of
Stars that it will take to the next step in its trials process. They
will eventually whittle that down to a 20 player roster to take to
Seoul, South Korea August 30-September 8 for the IBAF 18U World
the list of the 40 players, follow this link to the USA Baseball site.
Baseball’s “40-Man Roster” has a couple of obvious omissions
that are likely the result of players not being able make the huge
time commitment in August and September after school has started,
with Justin Williams and Kevin Franklin being the most notable. For
the purposes of this exercise, though, I will assume that everyone
who was in Cary, North Carolina this past week is available.
20 man “Team” below is not a top prospect list from the event,
although almost all the players listed would make a top prospect list
from the event. It’s the group of players, separated from the
numerous political and real world issues that USA Baseball has to
face in selecting a team, that I feel would give the USA the best
chance to bring home the gold.
Ryan Boldt: Boldt doesn’t quite have the overall tool package
of Colorado Rockies 2012 first round pick David Dahl but the
resemblance is unmistakable. Not only was the Minnesota left hander
the fastest runner at the TOS (6.60), he also owned the left
centerfield gap on offense.
Christian Arroyo: Arroyo might be the best present hitter in
the 2013 class. He squares up everything and squares it up hard.
His run/throw tools will not excite scouts but if you want to win
games against the best 18 year olds in the world, you want him in
your line up.
John Sternagel: Sternagel looks and plays like a big leaguer
both offensively and defensively. He’s very skilled and mature in
all areas, performs and has the tools as well. He’s just a very
solid overall talent.
Justin Williams: Williams was the top prospect at the Tournament
of Stars from a draft perspective and showed that he had
game/performance skills as well as huge physical tools. His at bat
against top 2014 LHP Carson Sands and his play in right field on
defense were two areas that resonated. I didn’t get to see his BP
home run over the batter’s eye in straight way (400’)
Pete Alonso: This was one of the hardest decisions on the
roster, as C/1B Zach Collins has big power from the left side, but
Alonso was superb in Cary and in addition to his powerful bat is an
outstanding first baseman who will impact games on defense as well
as on offense.
Jeremy Martinez: Martinez is going to make the team, as he
played on last year’s 18U team and was one of the top offensive
performers at the TOS. He doesn’t have the defensive tools and
skills of the team’s other two catchers but he is an offensive
Reese McGuire: McGuire and Chris Okey (see below) are very
similar players, outstanding defensive players who have surprising
pop in their bats. McGuire’s being a left handed hitter gives him
a platoon advantage but otherwise you’re splitting hairs to
determine who is the better player/prospect.
Kevin Franklin: Franklin hit the hardest ball I’ve seen in
years, virtually undressing 3B Gasuke Katoh Charlie Brown-style with
a rocket that must have been 110 mph off the bat. There is a
pronounced lack of outfielders in this group of 144 players and
Franklin is a primary third baseman who has the athleticism to play
left. It was no coincidence, I’m sure, that another regular
infielder, Cavan Biggio (see below), played left field later in the
event as the USA Baseball staff realized the same thing.
Connor Heady: Get used to hearing Heady’s name. Not only does
he have top of the line physical tools at shortstop, he can really
play both offensively and defensively. He’s a personal favorite of
Cavan Biggio: Biggio continued to hit in Cary the same way he
hit in Minneapolis at the PG National Showcase and one can only
conclude that’s how he hits; line drives all the time. He could be
a platoon DH with Martinez or play left field.
Nicholas Gordon: One of two 2014s on the team, Gordon and fellow
RHP/SS Chris Rivera fill an important role on a short-rostered team
in that they are legitimate high level pitchers to go with their
abilities in the middle of the field.
Chris Okey: Okey, along with McGuire, are athletic enough to
play all over the field and it wouldn’t be surprising, especially
with three catchers on the roster, to see them working out in left
field and at third base.
Chris Rivera: You could make a convincing argument for Rivera as
the team’s starting shortstop. He played very well in Cary and is
smooth and confident on defense. He might serve as the team’s
closer on the mound.
Ian Clarkin: Clarkin was a revelation in Cary after not pitching
well in the Metrodome the week before. He was 90-93 in his starting
appearance and pitched to the bottom of the zone with command and
Kevin Davis: Davis can get up to 94 mph and perhaps more when
trying to light up the guns but is a much more effective pitcher at
90-92 and using his off-speed pitches, which is exactly what he did
Dustin Driver: Driver and Davis are similar talents, strong
armed right handers with big fastballs when they need them but the
ability to mix in quality off-speed stuff and pitch as starters.
Robert Kaminsky: Kaminsky is the staff ace, the one you want to
set the rotation to have pitch against Cuba. His curveball is the
best single pitch the USA team has to offer and his fastball and
command are pluses as well. He also seems to have that “New
Jersey” attitude on the mound that indicates he’s not going to be
Carson Sands: Sands is going to be one of the top prospects in
the 2014 class and he might as well get on the big stage right away.
He tops out at 91 and has a maturity beyond his years in using his
slider and especially his change up, which has almost screwball type
movement at times.
Keegan Thompson: Thompson is a polished right hander with a full
array of off-speed pitches he can and will throw at any time in a
count, although he does pitch in the 89-91 mph area with his
Garrett Williams: Williams’ curveball is just a small notch
behind Kaminsky’s and he sits at 90 mph with command. He can also
be the team’s backup first baseman if that need arises.