2011 U18 Team USA yields eight draft selections among top 60

Team USA was well-represented during the first day of the draft. (El Universal)

The 2011 U18 Team USA baseball team may one day go down as one of the best teams ever assembled. Coached by former major leaguer Scott Brosius, a roster of 21 high school players from Florida to California set out on a mission to win a gold medal for their country at the Pan Am Championships held in Cartagena, Colombia last fall.

Team USA was the favorite coming into the tournament and despite some very good teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela and Canada, they proved no match for the competition. They showed up to Colombia focused and with one goal in mind and they succeeded by dominating in every aspect of the game.

They beat, in order, Aruba 15-0 (7 innings), Mexico 3-1, Argentina 16-2, Colombia 4-0, Bahamas 16-0 (5 innings), Puerto Rico 8-2, Panama 9-0, Venezuela 5-1 and Canada, in the gold medal game, 12-2 (8 innings).

They annihilated their opponents 88-8 over nine games, going 9-0, winning four games by mercy rule and brought home the gold medal. It was an absolute masterful performance in every aspect of the game, and every single player on the team played well and contributed big in one way or another.

Some more numbers to show their dominance:

  • The offense hit .353 with a .451 OBP, while the pitching staff held opponents to a .165 average and .238 OBP.
  • The team stole an insane 45 bases over the nine games. Their opponents stole eight as catchers Jeremy Martinez, Nelson Rodriguez and Chris Okey did a great job of preventing their opponents from being too aggressive.
  • The offense scored 88 runs, a 9.8 average, while the pitching staff held their opponents to just eight runs, a 0.9 average.
  • The defense committed just two errors, both coming in the gold medal game. Their opponents committed 22 errors, which led to 21 unearned runs.
  • The team drew 50 walks, led by Joey Gallo and Jeremy Martinez with seven a piece. The pitching staff walked 20.

It should come to no surprise that many of these players were going to be high draft picks in this year’s draft. Through the first round, including the compensatory picks, eight members have already been selected.

Albert Almora, OF – drafted #6 by the Chicago Cubs

Almora, the veteran and leader of the team having been a member of Team USA a record six times, was named the MVP of the tournament. He went 16-for-38 (.421), and led the team with 11 runs, five doubles, 11 RBI and nine stolen bases. He also played a flawless centerfield

David Dahl, OF – drafted #10 by the Colorado Rockies

Dahl, a left-handed outfielder with elite speed and one of the purest hitters in the country hit .364 with nine RBI and seven stolen bases. He also scored 11 runs while batting leadoff for the team.

Addison Russell, SS – drafted #11 by the Oakland Athletics

Russell hit .393 with nine RBI, four stolen bases and hit the team’s only home run of the tournament, a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning against Canada that put the game away early for Team USA.

Gavin Cecchini, 2B – drafted #12 by the New York Mets

Cecchini hit .469 to lead the team and also added 10 RBI and eight stolen bases. He went 4-for-5 with two RBI in the opener, and 2-for-4 with an RBI in the gold medal game.

Nick Travieso, RHP – drafted #14 by the Cincinnati Reds

Travieso, a 6’-3”, 210-pound right-hander used his power arm to overpower his opponents by tossing six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out eight.

Joey Gallo, 1B – drafted #39 by the Texas Rangers

Gallo, normally a third baseman, hit .286 with five RBI and four stolen bases while playing first base for the tournament. He went 2-for-4 with a 2-run doubles in the opener against Aruba and had a big RBI in the team’s 3-1 win over Mexico.

Jesse Winker, RHP/3B – drafted #49 by the Cincinnati Reds

Winker started the tournament off by tossing seven shutout innings against Aruba, allowing just three hits while striking out five to one walk. He was named the top pitcher at the event as he went 2-0, with 10.1 scoreless innings.

Walker Weickel, RHP – drafted #55 by the San Diego Padres

Weickel went 2-0 0.66 ERA and had 12 K/ 2 BB over 13.2 innings. He was brilliant in their only real competitive game against Mexico, tossing 5.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits picking up the win.

Day two is sure to see the rest of the team drafted with the exception of catchers Jeremy Martinez and Chris Okey, both underclassmen who are already projected as top draft picks next year. Martinez is rated the number-one high school prospect by ESPN, and Okey number nine. Pitchers Hunter Virant, Cody Poteet, Carson Fullmer, Carson Kelly, Cole Irvin, Chase DeJong, Clate Schmidt and Troy Conyers are sure to be selected tomorrow, most very high. Infielders Alex Bregman and Mickey White also figure to go early tomorrow, completing a clean sweep of draft picks for the team.

Quite an impressive feat from quite an impressive bunch.

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