BREAKING: New WBC Qualifiers Format Suggests Classic Expansion

Qualification for the World Baseball Classic has changed to a new format that seems to indicate an expansion of the main tournament by four more countries. Multiple sources, including one from a European federation, as well as newspapers in Central America and the Philippines, confirm significant changes for the qualifiers, set to take place this March.

WBC 2021 Information Already Available
Although rumours have been floating around for much of the winter, the only substantive information available until now was a tantalisingly short tweet from Joel Sherman in which he noted three details. First, that the qualifiers will be from March 12-26 and, second, the location, Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.

It was the final detail, though, that had fans and journalists—and even several federations—buzzing. Sherman reported that 12 teams would compete in Arizona. This conflicted with reports from multiple national federations, which told us that this had changed since the initial plan in September, when one qualifier of six was set for a location in Florida.

Sherman’s tweet meant, in all likelihood, one of two things. One was that the qualifiers were contracting from 16 to 12 teams, while the other possibility was that there would be another qualifier somewhere else, which promised expansion of the qualifiers.

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2019 Hong Kong Tourney Set to Start

The Hong Kong International Baseball Open begins today with its fewest number of entries and the host nation as the only national team represented. Five teams will play a round robin over the next four days, with no playoffs. The tournament has now been running for eight years and has become a year-ending fixture.

As usual, Hong Kong will compete with a split squad, Hong Kong Red and Hong Kong Blue. At the 2019 Asian Baseball Championship in October, Hong Kong finished sixth out of eighth, besting Sri Lanka 5-1 and Pakistan 17-7. After two consecutive years of participation, Singapore will not send its national team, which was usually the only other true national squad.

The field is rounded out with teams from Singapore, Taiwan, and Vladivostok. Vladivostok has competed in every edition since the first, though it played as ‘Russia’ in the past two editions. Singapore Meerkats and Taiwan’s Da-Ho Baseball finish the groups. The Meerkats are not the national team, as British umpire Thomas Haywood, who is part of the officiating crew, confirmed. Regular participants from Sydney University (Australia), Ateneo University (Philippines), and Lanzhou New Way will not participate in the HKIBO.

The tournament, as always, is sanctioned by the WBSC, though it is unclear how points could be awarded with no full national teams. It will hold the honour, in all likelihood, of being the last international baseball tournament of 2019, unless the first Haitian Baseball Cup does, in fact, go ahead.

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D.R. Team Repeats as Caribbean Cup Champions

A team representing the Dominican Republic won the second Caribbean Cup on Sunday, while the U.S. Virgin Islands earned its second-straight bronze. The seven-team tournament featured five national teams, including a squad from Jamaica that made its international senior debut. The event—which was held at the Melvin Mora Academy and the Royals’ DSL complex—featured 14 games, including an exhibition by the Dominican Republic’s women’s national team.

The story in the opening round was the clean sweep of Group B by the U.S. Virgin Islands, which included a victory over Aruba for the second year in-a-row. Thanks to home runs by Kyle Lamotta and Jorge Rivera, it topped the Latin American Prospect League, representing Venezuela. Its final game came over Jamaica. Jamaica has only recently entered international competition at any level, sending Under-18 teams to the World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament the last two years.

Aruba took advantage of Jamaica’s inexperience on the opening day of play, tossing a combined no-hitter over five innings. The Arubans reeled off 18 runs, including a grand slam by Kelvin Silvania and a home run by Eugene Helber. Jamaica was shut out in its second game as well, 12-0 by the squad from Venezuela, but finally scored its first runs in international play against the U.S.V.I.

The Dominican Republic squad allowed only two runs in Group A, defeating Perú and Haiti, which has suddenly beomce a regular participant in Americas tournaments. Meanwhile, the latter nation played in its second event ever and showed some small gains, particularly in pitching depth.

Former major leaguer Jose Cano directed the women’s national baseball team of the D.R. in a split squad game on the final day. Wearing a mixture of four different uniforms, the squad took the field for a rare appearance. Thus far, the Dominican women have played at the 2018 Women’s Baseball World Cup and 2019 COPABE Women’s Championship. Their play earned them the No. 9 ranking in the world for 2018.

The semifinals saw the U.S.V.I. challenged by Perú in what was the most exhilarating game of the tournament. The South American visitors, which have participated in both Caribbean Cups, struck early and held off rally after rally by the islanders. The ascendant Peruvians put the icing on the cake when a long drive that would have given U.S.V.I. the lead was caught on a sensational catch by Perú’s centrefielder. The 5-4 final was one of only two one-run finishes.

The D.R. team easily dispatched ‘Venezuela’ in the other semifinal and then defeated Perú 7-1 for the trophy. The U.S.V.I. then bested the the Venezuelan prospects for the second time, 8-3, to claim third place, while the Dominicans blasted Perú, 7-1.

Full results, some details, and partial rosters are available below. Pictures copyright Aqui Beisbol.

5 December
D.R. 12 – Haiti 2                               W-Fernando Fermin, L-Henry Decio
Notes: DR-Willy Guerrero 3-for-4, R, Wilson Siri 1-for-4, RBI; HAI- Francisco Sancl 2-for-2, Wander Pujols 2-for-2

USVI 8 – Venezuela 4                      W-Noel Cahete, L-Darwin Caballero
Notes: USVI-Jorge Rivera 1-for-4, HR, 3RBI, Kyle Lamotta 2-for-4, HR, 3RBI; VEN- Miguel Chacoa 2-for-3, HR, Pedro Rengifo 1-for-4

Aruba 18 – Jamaica 0 (5)                                W-Rivandrik Simon, L-Jeli Gordon
Notes: Combined no-hitter, Kelvin Silvania-2-for-4, Grand Slam, 5RBI, Eugene Helber 2-for-4, HR, 4RBI, Julio Hernández 3-for-4, 4RBI

6 December
D.R. 9 – Perú 0                                 W-Edwin Adon, L-Alonso Peña
Notes: DR-Wilson Sirit 2-for-4, 3B, R, 3RBI, Junior Javier-HR; Peru-Jusumu Yoza 2-for-4, Juan Casas 1-for-3, 2B

USVI 7 – Aruba 6                             W-Roberto Soto, L-Ryan Huntingdon, SV-Steven Ventura
Notes: USVI-Jamoy Percival 1-for-4, 2B, 3RBI, Toshaw Drew 2-for-3, RBI; ARU- Kelvin Silvania 3-for-5 RBI Julio Hernández 2-for-4

Venezuela 12 – Jamaica 0               W-Carlos Alvarado, L-Derrick Reas
Notes: VEN-Carlos Alvarado 1-for-3, 2RBI, Miguel Chacoa 3-for-5, 2B, 2R, Anderson Jiménez-2B; JAM- Derrick Reas 1-for-3, Trudean Francis 1-for-3

7 December
Peru 16 – Haiti 1 (5)                         W-Juan Casas (5IP, 3H, 1ER, 5K)
Jamaica 2 – USVI 12
Aruba 1 – Venezuela 5                    W-Marcel Contreras, L-Angelo Cámara
Notes: VEN-Rubén Rojas 2-for-2, David Rodríguez 2-for-4, R, César Farías 1-for-4, R; AR-Julio Hernández 2-for-3, RBI, Jaír Thompson 2-for-4 

Group A Standings        W-L     RF        RA
D.R.                                     2-0          21           2
Peru                                     1-1          16           10
Haiti                                    0-2          3             28

Group B Standings
USVI                                    3-0          27           12
‘Venezuela’                         2-1          21           13
Aruba                                  1-2          25           12
Jamaica                              0-3          2             42

8 December
Semifinal: Perú 5 – USVI 4                                Stream
Semifinal: D.R. beat ‘Venezuela’                      Partial Stream (6-1 after 6)

Third Place: USVI 8 – Venezuela 3
First Place: DR 7 – Perú 1

Final Standings  W-L     RF        RA
D.R.                                     4-0          28           3             Missing semifinal against Venezuela.
Peru                                     2-2          22           21
USVI                                    4-1          39           20
‘Venezuela’                         2-3          24           21           Missing semifinal against D.R.
Aruba                                  1-2          25           12
Haiti                                    0-2          3             28
Jamaica                              0-3          2             42

Partial Rosters
Aruba: Angelo Cámara, Eugene Helber, Julio Hernández, Ryan Huntingdon (P), Kelvin Silvania, Rivandrik Simon, Jaír Thompson
D.R.: Edwin Adon (P), Fernando Fermin (P), Willy Guerrero, Junior Javier, Wilson Siri(t)
Haiti: Henry Decio (P), Wander Pujols, Francisco Sancl
Jamaica: Trudean Francis, Jeli Gordon, Derrick Reas (P-Hitter)
Perú: 45 (C), 44 Condesa, 53 Juan Casas (RF), 23 Huisa, 16 Ishihara (Batter), 17 Yan Kanashiro (Batter), 79 Loyola, 27 Jorge Pastor (Batter), Alonso Peña (P), 26 Reaño, 00 Jusumu Yoza
USVI: De Zhane Amy (RHP), Noel Cahete/Canete (RHP), Tahj Cunningham (RHP), Toshawn Drew, Kyle Lamotta, Michael Meléndez (LHP), Jamoy/Jahmoi Percival, Jorge Rivera, Roberto Soto (P), Steven Ventura (P)
Venezuela: Carlos Alvarado (P-Hitter), Darwin Caballero, Carlos Caicedo (P), Miguel Chacoa, Marcel Contreras, César Farías, Anderson Jiménez, Odanel Ponce, Pedro Rengifo, David Rodríguez, Rubén Rojas, Angelo Tarazana (P)

 

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2019 Southeast Asian Games Schedule

The schedule for the Southeast Asian Games baseball competition has been released. The 30th edition of the multi-sport tournament will be hosted by the Philippines beginning on 30 November, with baseball starting in the event’s second week. Games will be held in the Clark International Sports Complex.

It is the fourth time the sport has been contested in its 30 editions over 60 years, with the last in 2011. The baseball event will feature five nations: Cambodia, Indonesida, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Among previous competitors, Malaysia is a big omission, while Vietnam and Myanmar have also taken part. Laos was scheduled to make its debut, but will not compete, while Singapore will send a team for the first time.

The Philippines have won two golds and Thailand one, while Indonesia is the only other country to medal. In 2011, the Philippines romped through a four-game pool play without a difficult match, no-hitting Malaysia, before ekeing out a 2-0 win over host nation Indonesia for the title. Thailand beat Vietnam 12-4 for the bronze.

Four years earlier, host Thailand won the gold medal with a perfect 5-0 record in pool play, with no medal round. The final game was against the Philippines, which was down 5-2 in the ninth before plating two to fall just short of prolonging the game. Indonesia claimed the bronze.

In 2005, the Philippines hosted the games and won all four games in pool play before no-hitting Myanmar 9-1 in the semi-final and blasting Thailand 11-0 in the gold medal game. Indonesia claimed third.

All-Time Records:
Philippines (15-1)
Thailand (12-4)
Indonesia (9-7)
Myanmar (3-8)
Vietnam (1-4)
Malaysia (1-12)
Cambodia (0-5)

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Olympic Baseball Qualification (As of Nov. 8)

Baseball qualification for the Olympics can be maddening to understand. With major tournaments, plus an additional 10 events feeding into those qualifiers, there is a lot of which to keep track. Thus far, two of the six teams for Tokyo are known: host Japan, plus Israel, the winner of the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualification Tournament. The Premier 12 will add another two teams, while the additional pair will advance out of a pair of qualifiers. Here is where we currently stand, with the Premier 12 ongoing.

Team 1: Host nation
Japan receives an automatic bid, which is just as well for everyone else as they are No. 1 in the world.

Team 2: Europe
Israel survived the gauntlet of European and African qualification, which included a two-level African Championship and a three-level European Championship.

Team 3: Asia
Team 4: Americas
The Premier 12 guaranteed the highest finisher from the Americas a spot in the Olympics. If the top team from Oceania or Asia (excluding Japan) finished in the top six, it would qualify.

With First Round almost complete, one of the Mexico (3-0), U.S. (2-1), Canada (1-1), or Cuba (1-1) will qualify. Either Taiwan or South Korea will likely join Japan and Israel in Tokyo. Mathematically, Australia has not quite been eliminated from the Super Round, but has a very difficult road.

UPDATE: It was, of course, Australia, that advanced, with potential ramifications for both Asia and the Americas. Australia could not only head to the Olympics, but in doing so it could also eliminate South Korea from Olympic contention (see below). Meanwhile, one of Mexico and the U.S. will now head to Tokyo.

If you are wondering how Australia advanced over two other teams with one win and two losses, it all comes down to Total Quality Balance, or TQB. Our explanation [link].

Team 5: Americas
Three qualifiers remain, with the Americas Qualifier scheduled for March in Arizona. It will include all of the continent’s teams from the Premier 12 that have not received an automatic birth, plus the top two finishers from the Pan-American Games which did not qualify for the Premier 12.

The following Premier 12 teams are already certain to attend: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. The three lowest Premier 12 finishers of Canada, Cuba, Mexico, and the US will join the above three.

UPDATE: Canada and Cuba will now be invited to the Americas Qualifier. Either Mexico or USA will join them.

They will be joined by the bronze medal winners of the Pan-American Games, Nicaragua, and Colombia, which finished fourth.

Team 6: Wild Card
The Final Qualifying Tournament is where things get really confusing. Two teams have already qualified: the second-place finisher from Europe-Africa, the Netherlands, and the top two teams from the Asian Baseball Championship.

Those two teams, though the tournament has already been played, are not yet set. This is because Taiwan, the winners, could qualify for the Olympics directly by finishing above South Korea at the Premier 12. If they do finish above South Korea, then they qualify automatically. If South Korea qualifies directly, then Taiwan heads to the final tournament. If Australia finishes above South Korea and then Taiwan or Taiwan and then South Korea, then Taiwan still heads to the final tournament.

They will be joined by the Oceania Qualifier, of which no details are known. The second and third-place teams from the Americas event will bring the total to six. It is quite possible, then, that teams from Asia and the Americas will have three chances to qualify for the Olympics, while Africa, Europe, and Oceania received only two.

Make sense? Great! Follow us for further updates on Twitter @ExtraInningsUK and here.

Posted in Africa, Asia, Asian Baseball Championship, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Europe, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, North America, Oceania, Olympics, Panama, Puerto Rico, South America, South Korea, Tournaments, USA, Venezuela | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Premier 12 Friendlies

Over the previous week or so before the Premier12, 11 the teams in the tournament played friendlies against each other in preparation for the event. Venezuela played the most contests, heading to Mexico for a pair of games before moving on to Taiwan. Cuba played three games against national teams, plus another two games versus CPBL clubs. Meanwhile, USA and the Netherlands played only a single game against each other, and the Dominican Republic did not play an exhibition game.

Asia was the unquestioned top team in friendlies, with the senior national squads going 4-1. Teams from the Americas were 5-7, while neither Australia (1-1) and the Netherlands (0-1) had winning records. The results of each game follow.

Schedule
Oct. 26 Venezuela 0 – Mexico 2
Oct. 27 Venezuela 9 – Mexico 4 (6)
Oct. 31 Canada 6 – Japan 5
Oct. 31 USA 12 – Netherlands 2
Nov. 1  Canada 0 – Japan 3
Nov. 1 Puerto Rico 0 – South Korea 4
Nov. 1 Cuba 7 – Taiwan 5 (Amateur National Team)
Nov. 1 Australia 1 – Venezuela 0
Nov. 2 Puerto Rico 0 – South Korea 5
Nov. 2 Cuba 4 – Taiwan 1 (Amateur National Team)
Nov. 2 Venezuela 12 – Cuba 6
Nov. 3 Australia 1 – Taiwan 7

Records
Australia               1-1
Canada                 1-1
Cuba                     2-1
Japan                    1-1
Mexico                 1-1
Netherlands         0-1
Puerto Rico         0-2
South Korea        2-0
Taiwan                 1-0
Taiwan (Am.)      0-2
USA                      1-0
Venezuela            2-2

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Under-10 Pan-American Championship

The second Pan-American Championship in as many years was hosted by Costa Rica from Oct. 26-Nov. 2. Games were scheduled for seven innings.

October 26
8:30        Field 1   Colombia 0 – Brazil 1
11:30      Field 1   Costa Rica vs. Guatemala suspended

8:30        Field 2   Nicaragua 16 – Honduras 0
11:30      Field 2   Dominican Republic 1 – Panama 11

October 27

8:00        Field 6   Costa Rica 1 – Guatemala 4
CR: Lester Palma 1-1, GUA-Jorge Estrada 4.2IP, ER, 10K
8:30-9:30               Opening Ceremony

10:00      Field 1   Dominican Republic 22 – Guatemala 2 (4)
Highlights: Roberto Rosario (Dominican) 3RBI, 2R, Mario Hernández (Guatemala) 2-1-
13:00      Field 1   Honduras 16 – Costa Rica 6
Highlights: Rosembell Norales 3-2, 3RBI, 2 R (Honduras), Thomas Shelvey (Costa Rica) 3-2, 2RBI, R.

10:00      Field 2   Panama 2 – Colombia 3
Highlights: David Murillo (Panama) 4-1, R, Julián Gómez (Colombia) 3-2 with 2RBI.
13:00      Field 2   Brazil 4 – Nicaragua 6
Highlights: Amazonian Joao Silva shone in his performance at bat at the 4-2 league with two runs scored. NIC’s Kamil Talavera 1-for-4, 2R

October 28
8:30        Field 1   Nicaragua 5 – Panama 6
Highlights: Sharlone Rigby (Nicaragua) 2-2, 2RBI, 2 R, Jeycol De León (Panama) 3 innings of work, one allowed run, 5 strikeouts and took the victory.
11:30      Field 1   Costa Rica 1 – Brazil 11
Featured: Kaui Soares (Brazil) 3-2, RBI and 2R, Erly Zapata (Costa Rica) 2-2.

8:30        Field 2   Colombia 5 – Dominican Republic 4
Highlights: Einer Guzmán (Colombia) 3-2, RBI and CA, Hanlet Guantes (Dominican) 3-2, RBI, R.
11:30      Field 2   Guatemala 3 – Honduras 13
Highlights: Jorge Estrada shone in a performance of four innings and two thirds, in which he did not allow any runs and fanned 10.

October 29
8:30        Field 1   Honduras 2 – Colombia 7
Highlights: Ayberson Ortega, was key to the Colombian attack by leaving 3-2 with one scored and driven. The Honduran Óscar Ortega was one of the few to flirt from unstoppable in a turn at bat.
11:30      Field 1   Costa Rica 0 – Nicaragua 11
Highlights: Sharlone Rigby continues with a devastating rhythm to the offense by flirting 3-3, four RBIs and two scored, subtracting only the home run to hit the cycle. For Costa Rica, Thomas Shelvey also wore an unstoppable two visits to the plate.

8:30        Field 2   Brazil 5 – Dominican Republic 8
Highlights: Luis Sabino (Brazil) 4-3, RBI, 2CA, Washly Jiménez (Dominican) 3-3, 3 RBI, 2 CA.
11:30      Field 2   Guatemala 0 – Panama 17 (4)
Highlights: 13 races in the same first inning for Panamanians were enough to direct the result in their favor. Andrés Valderrama had a perfect day by hitting 2-2 with four teammates brought home, in addition to stepping on home plate three times. Mario Hernández was 1-1.

October 30
8:30        Field 1   Colombia 13 – Guatemala 0 (5)
Highlights: COL-Jesús Romero 3-for-3, 5RBI, R; GUA-Christian Álvarez 1-for-2
11:30      Field 1   Panama 16 – Costa Rica 1 (5)
Highlights: PAN-David Murillo 2-for-3, 2RBI, 3R; CR-Mauricio Tijerino 1-for-2, R

8:30        Field 2   Brazil 6 – Honduras 4
Highlights: BRA-Victor Sekiguchi 2-for-4, RBI, R; HON-Rosembell Norales 4.1IP, 2R, 8K
11:30      Field 2   Dominican Republic 2 – Nicaragua 4
Highlights: DR-Jean Toribio 3-for-3, 1RBI, 1R; NIC-Howard Moya 2-for-4, R

October 31
8:30        Field 1   Dominican Republic 6 – Honduras 1
Highlights: DR-Hanlet Guantes 3-for-3, 3R; HON-Gabriel Girón 1-for-2, R
11:30      Field 1   Colombia 8 – Costa Rica 0
Highlights: COL-Julián Gómez 2-for-3, 3R; CR-Gabriel Aguirre 4IP, 3R, 2K

8:30        Field 2   Nicaragua 16 – Guatemala 0 (4)
Highlights: NIC-Dereck Alonzo 3-for-4, 4RBI, 2R; GUA-Javier Sandoval 1IP, 1R
11:30      Field 2   Panama 10 – Brazil 0
Highlights: PAN-Yilmar Samudio 2-for-3, 3RBI, 2R; BRA-Kaue Soares 1-for-3

First Round Standings
Colombia                            5-1
Panama                               5-1
Nicaragua                           5-1
Dominican Republic         3-3
Brazil                                   3-3
Honduras                            2-4
Guatemala                          1-5
Costa Rica                          0-6

November 1
8:30        Field 1   Third Place Game: Nicaragua 10 – Dominican Republic 0 (5)
Highlights: DR-Victor Padilla 1-for-1; NIC-Fabián Flores 5IP 2H 0R, 3K
11:30      Field 1   First Place Game: Panama 3 – Colombia 2
Highlights: PAN-Jahir Díaz 3IP, 1ER, 3K; COL-Julián Gómez 3.2IP, 1ER, 3K

Final Standings
Panama                               6-1
Colombia                            5-2
Nicaragua                           6-1
Dominican Republic         3-4
Brazil                                   3-3
Honduras                            2-4
Guatemala                          1-5
Costa Rica                          0-6

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Europeans in University 2019: Players V-Z

Our glance at Europeans playing baseball at North American high schools and universities concludes with 14 players representing 10 different countries. These include the only athlete with Russian connexions, the top Lithuanian prospect, and three players that were selected for the MLB Elite Tournament in England. Four players ended their collegiate careers this spring, however, one of them has the consolation of playing in Tokyo next summer. Our post-season awards will follow soon.

Vytas Valinčius, 1B-RHP (HS SO, St. Laurence H.S. [35-6], Ill.) [Bio]
The youngest player on this list, Valinčius might very well be its biggest prospect, with plaudits like “one of the top sophomores in the Midwest” [link], and Prep Baseball Report’s U.S. No. 24 for the Class of 2021 [link]. Already committed to South Carolina, Valinčius was born in the U.S., but speaks fluent Lithuanian.

 

Weighing in at 6-3, 240, he is praised for an advanced bat that boasts a 107 mph exit velocity and moves extremely well at first. On the mound, Valinčius throws 84-87 with a curveball and changeup [link]. His St. Laurence team was ranked No. 1 in Illinois in February 2019 and within the Top 50 nationwide [link].

Nikola Vasič, 2B (SR, Southern Illinois University 26-29], Ill.) [Bio]
Vasič wrapped up a solid four-year career by leading off all of the Salukis’ 55 games as its second baseman. A member of the national team of Serbia, Vasič has advanced plate discipline, drawing 37 walks. He also stole 26 stolen bases and scored 49 runs while slashing .236/.368/.379.

Dylan Verdonk, RHP (RS JR, Seton Hall University [25-28], N.J.) [Bio]
Verdonk missed the year due to injury and took a redshirt season, which allows the Dutch right-hander to have another season of eligibility. The 6-9, 220-pound right-hander has transferred to Florida Gulf Coast University for his senior season.

Antoine Villard, RHP (FR, Arizona Western Community College [38-18], Ariz.) [Bio]
Villard sat out the 2019 season and has transferred to Clarendon College, where he will be reunited with France teammates Leo Jiminian and Maël Zan.

Jordan Vujovich, OF (RS SO, University of Oklahoma [33-23], Okla.) [Bio]
Only a sophomore, Vujovich appeared in more than 80 percent of the Sooners’ games, showcasing an excellent batting eye. One of six Team Serbia members at American universities, Vujovich drew 39 walks in 44 games and played flawless outfield defence. After hitting .310 for 2018 California JuCo champions San Joaquin Delta College, Vujovich hit .246/.444/.338 in 130 at bats in 2019.

Frédéric Walter, 3B (SO, Seminole State College [39-14], Okla.) [Bio]

Walter played sparingly in the second half of the season, receiving only a single at bat after March 22. It is possible that he was injured as he performed well in limited at bats beforehand. His best game came on Feb. 26, when he went 2-for-2 with a home run and a walk against Redlands, the only multi-hit game of 2019.

In total, he was 7-for-21 with two doubles, the dinger, and two walks against six strikeouts, bringing his two-year career for the Trojans to .216/.250/.351 in 37 at bats. In 44 chances of 29 games in 2018-19, his fielding percentage was a solid .955.

Benny Wanger, 1B-RHP (SR, Yale University [18-23], Conn.) [Bio]

Wanger collected a number of awards during his four years for the bulldogs, including All-Ivy as a first baseman in 2017 and a relief pitcher in 2018. Wanger missed most of the 2019 season, appearing in only five games, during which he went 7-for-15 with eight walks, a double, a home run, and two stolen bases. The Israel wunderkind struck out three of the four hitters he faced on the mound.

Over 127 games in four seasons, Wanger hit .256/.384/.435. His results on the mound are bloated by a rough freshman year, with a 4.52 cumulative ERA and 1.46 WHIP; however, in his two seasons as an upperclassman, Wanger struck out 35 in 31.1 with an ERA of 0.86.

Kyran Weemaels, RHP (JR, Cabrini University [31-11], Penn.) [Bio]
Weemaels was named to the Atlantic East All-Conference First Team after turning in a solid season in the Cavaliers’ rotation. His best start of the season came on Mar. 19 against Eastern University, when he struck out six and did not allow a run or a walk in seven innings. Weemaels had a complete game seven-hitter on Apr. 6 against Newmann, whiffing six.

The Belgium national teamer finished with a 4.07 ERA, though that mark was at 1.96 before his final two starts of the season. In 48.2, he allowed 51 hits and 15 walks, striking out 32 as batters hit .268 against him. All of the figures were career bests as he lowered his total ERA to 4.84 in 106 innings.

Terrance Whittle, Head Coach (Second Season, Stillman College [13-30], Ala.) [Bio]
Whittle’s Tigers took a step back in 2019, finishing 13-30 after a 19-22 campaign in his first year at the helm. Stillman featured one All-Conference player in the university’s first year in the Southern States Athletic conference. Whittle was a former MLB International Envoy Coach (2002-2010), working with Nigeria and South Africa particularly. He won the Envoy Coach of the Year Award in 2004.

Angelo Wicklert, RHP (FR, Arizona Western College [38-18], Ariz.) [Bio]

Wicklert teamed up with Hackl to give the Matadors an all-European battery in a few games for the second year in-a-row. The Dutch right-hander did not appear in a game until March, seeing regular action until April 13, after which Wicklert did not pitch again.

The first-year hurler’s first eight games were without an earned run as Wicklert totalled 7.1 frames with only six hits, one free pass, and seven Ks. His final line included 12 innings with six runs on 10 hits and nine walks, plus 12 strikeouts.

For those curious, Wicklert has his own website detailing his career,team selections, and accomplishments [link].

Noah Williamson, OF-1B (RS FR, Point Loma Nazarene University [32-21], Calif.) [Bio]
A rare U.S. resident of Switzerland’s national team, Williamson has yet to appear in a game for the Sea Lions, taking a redshirt season in his first year at the university. The 6-3, 185-pounder was a member of the Under-17 NTIS US Southwest Team in 2017.

James Wood, LHP (SR, Concord University [33-17], W.V.) [Bio]
For the second season of his four, Wood did not appear in a single game. Over his time with the Mountain Lions, the Cambridge-born southpaw saw action in five innings over six games, finishing with a 10.70 ERA.

Joey Yancey, RHP (SO, Transylvania University [16-24], Ky.) [Bio]
Yancey is a singular exception on this list as both the only player from Russia and also the only known adoptee. The righty was born in Krasnoyarsk and adopted by a family from the States. Yancey had a great rookie year in 2018, finishing second on the team in both ERA (3.09) and strikeouts per nine (10.41). After pitching 23.1 innings last season, however, Yancey’s total dropped to 11.2 as he struggled with command (10 walks, eight hit batters, and two wild pitches), striking out only seven and finishing with a 7.71 ERA.

Maël Zan, OF (FR, Clarendon Community College [28-26], Tex.) [Bio]

Zan got to man the outfield for the Bulldogs in three games with his teammate for France, Leo Jiminian, playing side-by-side in centre (Jiminian) and right (Zan). Zan, however, saw a full season’s worth of games and showed an intriguing blend of skills. Checking in at 6-3, 198, Zan was also the model of consistency, never going more than three games without a hit.

The right-fielder had his best game on Feb. 28, when he roped three doubles and a three-bagger in four at bats, walking in his other plate appearance. Zan posted three-hit days on Mar. 19, Apr. 5, and May 4, while finishing the season with an unusual line score: 1-for-1 with three runs, five RBI, one walk, and a home run. In sum, Zan slashed .277/.433/.431 with seven stolen bases, striking out 40 times in 137 at bats but also drawing 32 walks, most on the team.

Nick Zouras, C (SR, Illinois State University [36-26], Ill.) [Bio]
Zouras finished his career on a high note as the Redbirds advanced all the way to the Louisville NCAA Regionals and won 14 more games than the year before. Zouras won the final MVC Player of the Week award to end his career after going 7-for-13 with three doubles.

Along the way, the team won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game. The potential Greek national teamer slashed .231/.314/.343 as Illinois State’s regular catcher, all around his career marks.

Stay tuned for our post-season awards. Previous installments in the series:
Introduction [link]
Players A-B [link]
Players C-D [link]
Players E-J [link]
Players K-M [link]
Players N-R [link]
Players S-T [link]

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Europeans in University 2019: Players S-T

Our penultimate group of players from Europe or eligible for the continent’s national teams includes a baker’s dozen of players with surnames starting with ‘S’ and ‘T’. They include two players that were invited to the MLB Elite Tournament at Farnham Park near London, plus four high school players. In total, eight nations are represented, including Ollie Thompson (pictured above), one of three players herein that have donned Great Britain’s jersey, with another three eligible for Greece.

Conor Santoianni, OF (SO, Springfield College [20-17], Mass.) [Bio]
Santoianni never got going in a tough spring season, slashing .132/.195/.211 in 38 at bats before suiting up for Ireland at the B-Level European Championship.

Jonah Schaller, RHP-1B (HS JR, Abbeville H.S., S.C.) [Bio]
No information is available on Schaller, nor is it clear whether he attends Abbeville H.S. in South Carolina or Louisiana. The two-way player has already seen international time for Switzerland and was born in Düdingen.

Brendan Scott, SS-OF (SR, Queensbury H.S., N.Y.) [Bio]
Scott has already suited up for Ireland as a high schooler and has shown some versatility, playing shortstop and centre in 2019 after catcher and pitcher a year prior. Scott’s tryout video can be viewed here [link].

Ari Sechopoulos, 1B (JR, College of Charleston [36-21], S.C.) [Bio]
The Ontario-born Sechopoulos struggled through a very difficult season in 2019, collecting hits in only 14 games out of 52 played. After a promising 2018, the Greek national teamer once more failed to take hold of the starting first base spot and slashed .202/.312/.327. On the other hand, Sechopoulos dramatically cut his strikeout rate to 19.2% from 34.5% in 2018 and had a .993 fielding percentage.

The highlights for the season were a 4-for-5 day with two doubles and a home run against crosstown rivals Charleston Southern on May 7 and a 2-for-2 day on February 17 against UNC-Asheville in which he doubled and homered. This scorching stretch set him up for a splendid performance at European Championship Qualifier after the season ended. Sechopoulos can finish on a high note in 2020 and improve further on his .246/.336/.453 career line in his senior year.

Adam Skiles, IF-RHP (HS SO, Cambridge H.S. Junior Varsity [14-4], Ga.) [Bio]
The youngest player on our list, Sweden’s Skiles played internationally before even making his high school’s varsity squad. Checking in at 5-9, 145, Skiles can play infield and pitch.

Nolan Soliveres, C-OF (JR, Webber International University [38-22], Fla.) [Bio]
Soliveres transferred to WIU after two successful seasons at Hillsborough Community College and played in almost half of the Warriors’ games. Most of his starts came earlier in the season with excellent results, suggesting that the catcher-outfielder for France had some injuries.

In his first 11 games, Soliveres was 13-for-37 with four doubles, two triples, and a home run. He had eight walks and 12 strikeouts, leading to a .351/.479/.649. From that point onward, Soliveres collected only a pair of two-baggers, a single home run, and only one walk and played in only five games in April.

Behind the dish, Soliveres threw out 3-of-18 runners with six passed balls and a .977 fielding percentage. Soliveres’ final line was .220/.314/.396 with 36 strikeouts in 91 at bats, but his early-season hot streak must leave Webber hopeful of a big senior season.

Matteo Sollecito, RHP-3B (SR, St. Peter’s Prep School [18-10], N.J.) [Bio]
Sollecito started at the top of the lineup for the Marauders as a third baseman and pitcher. Only partial statistics are available, but they suggest a key contributor, especially on the mound. In six starts, Sollecito struck out 49 in only 36.1 innings, surrendering only 18 hits.

Sollecito pitched back-to-back one-hitters in a six-day span in April, striking out 11 in 11 innings with no runs. He finished with two-straight 10-strikeout games, needing only 5.2 and five innings to total those marks. In total, Great Britain’s two-way player finished with a 1.16 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, though he did walk 18.

The righty topped out at 88 on the season, sitting 84 with his fastball, with a change-up at 79, and a breaking ball at 71 [link]. At 6-3, 200 and with those numbers, it is unsurprising that Swarthmore College scooped him up for the 2019-20 season.

It was not just on the mound that Sollecito excelled, however, as he slashed .286/.412/.558 with 20 walks and 27 strikeouts in 97 at bats. He added nine stolen bases while showcasing an electric arm at the hot corner.

It is unclear whether Matteo’s brother Alex, who played for Great Britain at one point, is still playing.

Nick Spiliotis, Manager of Baseball Operations (Dayton University [20-17], Ohio) [Bio]
Spiliotis finished his university career in 2018, but played outfield for the Greek national team. He manages day-to-day operations for the Flyers, including use of Rapsodo and Synergy technologies.

Zach Stroman, 1B (SR, St. Ambrose University [15-26], Iowa) [Bio]
Stroman capped a four-year university career with his best season, more than doubling his career total in home runs. Stroman launched four round-trippers for the Fighting Bees and started more than 60 percent of the team’s games, ending his career with a bang.

There were several highlights along the way. From March 8-10, Stroman’s Fighting Bees faced Soliveres’ Warriors, though the two only played in the same game once, on March 9, when both went hitless.

In his final 11 games, Stroman went 14-for-34 with four doubles and four home runs, collecting eight walks. That included an April 20 game against Trinity Christian in which he went 3-for-5, launching two dingers and a double, walking once. The last game of Stroman’s career was a huge performance, as the London native went 5-for-7 with a double and a walk, driving in three and recording 16 putouts in a 17-16, 12-inning walk-off loss.

Stroman’s final line was .258/.346/.452 in 30 games, 25 starts. Overall, in four seasons in the U.S., the first-sacker hit .273/.385/.364, showing a strong batting eye.

Tijmen Takke, IF (FR, Phoenix College [25-30], Ariz.) [Bio]

Takke played regularly in his rookie campaign for the Bears, though he missed the final three weeks of the season. His first two weeks were arguably his finest, as he went 5-for-13 with three runs, a triple, a walk, and no strikeouts.

The Dutch outfielder took on Sammy Hackl’s Arizona Western in a doubleheader on March 26 and both were 0-for-3 in the first game. Takke was 0-for-1 in the nightcap, in which countryman Angelo Wicklert pitched, though Takke did not face him. Takke struggled after his initial hot streak, finishing with a .190/.269/.253 line with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts in 93 plate appearances. He had a .976 fielding percentage.

Ollie Thompson, OF (FR, New Mexico Junior College [42-17], N.M.) [Bio]

Thompson had quite an experience in his first university season as the Thunderbirds advanced all the way to the JuCo World Series. The outfielder for Great Britain was then selected for the MLB Elite Camp in his home country and threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches in the second game of the London Series.

Thompson had an excellent season on the field, playing in 22 games, though he did not receive an at bat after April 18, missing the final six weeks of the season. Thompson will not soon forget March 8, in which he ripped his first collegiate home run in the second game of a doubleheader against El Paso Community College, also collecting a single, a walk, and his first steal. It was one of five two-hit games, with a pair coming in a twinbill against Luna Community College on March 30.

NMJC faced two other regional colleges that feature Europeans, with Thompson facing Odessa College, which features Andretta, Cihlar, and Monello on March 26, going 1-for-5. None of the Wranglers’ Europeans played in the 20-15 win for New Mexico. In the reverse on April 27, Thompson served as a defensive replacement, while Monello went 1-for-3 with a double. On April 18, Thompson was 0-for-1 against Clarendon college, while France’s Maël Zan was 2-for-3.

Thompson slashed .333/.467/.521 for the season, the first and last figures slightly below average on for the slugging Thunderbirds. Still, 10 walks in 60 plate appearances is an excellent showing for a first-year player, even with 15 strikeouts. Thompson will return for a second season to the Top JuCo and attempt to top 2019’s incredible feats.

Conner Tomasic, RHP-IF (FR, Purdue University [20-34], Ind.) [Bio]
Tomasic saw plenty of action in his first season for the Boilermakers, pitching in 14 games and appearing in another nine at third base. The righty twice tossed 3.2 innings in relief, once against Ball State on March 19, when he struck out five and permitted only a single hit, and again on Apr. 12, allowing one run. Tomasic’ season ERA was an excellent 2.75, with 15 strikeouts and seven walks in 19.2 frames. The national teamer for Serbia was 3-for-12 with a triple and five strikeouts at the plate.

Thomas Triantos, LHP (RS JR, Cal Poly State University [28-28], Calif.) [Bio]
Triantos cut down on his walks in his third college season, but gave up significantly more hits in 2019. The Greek-eligible southpaw threw 24.2 innings with a 5.47 ERA and only 13 strikeouts.

We return tomorrow with our final segment and players U-Z. Previous installments:
Introduction [link]
Players A-B [link]
Players C-D [link]
Players E-J [link]
Players K-M [link]
Players N-R [link]

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Europeans in University 2019: Players N-R

Our season wrap-up of European-eligible amateurs playing baseball at American universities and high schools continues with letters ‘N’ to ‘R’, which includes one of the few Belgians on the list, our only player raised in Scotland, and a player for France that was born in Munich. There are also three athletes with Greek connexions, plus players for Czech Republic, Israel, Poland, and Sweden, while the Dutch player that ends the list is one of the top hitting prospects.

Nick Niarchos, IF-RHP (SR, High Point University [27-27], N.C.) [Bio]
Niarchos saw more playing time his senior year than his previous three seasons combined, serving as both the backup 3B and an occasional pitcher, even starting two games on the bump. The results were career highs in most categories, including his first extra base hits (three doubles) and stolen bases (two).  A .216/.293/.275 batting line upped his four-year averages to .189/.265/.230.

Niarchos had never been tabbed for a start on the mound in his previous three years, in which he had recorded a 4.91 ERA in 33 innings. Greece’s right-hander pitched another 13 innings, but gave up 18 runs on 21 hits (nine for extra-bases) and nine walks, striking out eight. Niarchos finished his collegiate career with a deep run into the postseason as High Point played giant killer in the conference tournament. 

Martin Nicolay, C-IF (SO, Averett University [8-30], Va.) [Bio]
Averett struggled through another difficult season, with Belgium’s Nicolay now sporting an 18-58 record over two years. This year, the former backstop’s playing time increased as he transitioned to the infield, starting occasionally at 2B and appearing at third as well. Nicolay finished with a .207/.258/.241 line in 14 games, of which he started 10. Nicolay finished with a 5-for-18 stretch and will return for his junior season.

Radim Novotny, OF-MIF (FR, Wake Technical Community College [28-15], N.C.) [Bio]
Novotny was the second of a pair of Czechs at Wake Tech in what has become a tradition in recent years. Novotny played sparingly for most of the season, only once appearing in more than two games in-a-row. Appearing mostly as a corner outfielder, Novotny finished with a .200/.304/.300 line, swiping five bases in 13 games.

Slater O’Brien, LHP (JR, Saint Joseph’s University [21-28], N.Y.) [Bio]
Ireland’s O’Brien struggled through his third university season, surrendering 10 runs in seven innings, namely because of the 14 walks. The Hawks’ southpaw did strike out eight.

Nick Pantos, RHP (SO, Old Dominion University [35-21], Md.) [Bio]
Pantos made the leap from JuCo ball to NCAA Division I and showed he was up to the task, drawing the Opening Day start and finishing with very solid numbers as only a sophomore. Pantos made the Conference USA leaderboards in a number of categories including batting average against (.220, third), strikeouts (74, 11th), ERA (4.05, Top 15), and innings pitched (80, 13th).

Pantos started and ended on high notes, tossing five shutout innings against Nick Niarchos’ High Point on Feb. 15. That set off a four-start run of dominance that ended with a start at Kansas State in which Pantos scattered six baserunners over 8.1 shutout innings. Six of his next seven starts were forgettable, but the exception was a 5.2-inning gem in which he struck out 12.

The Greek-eligible right-hander then reeled off three-straight solid starts to finish the regular season, including a nine-K, two-run start over five innings against Western Kentucky. Pantos finished with a tough game in the playoffs, but still emerged as one of Conference USA’s most intriguing young starters.

Andrew Papantonis, IF-OF (FR, San Jacinto Community College [42-12], Tex.) [Bio]
A move from D-I Virginia to a Texas JuCo suited Papantonis, though his season unfortunately came to an end on Feb. 24. The Greek-eligible infielder has been injury-stricken in his career, including two surgeries on the right knee meniscus, another on the left that came with an ACL tear, and an ulnar nerve transposition.

The results while Papantonis were on the field were undeniable, including five multi-hit games among his 15 on the field, two of which featured longballs. His final line was .340/.417/.528 in 53 at bats and he saw time at both infield corners as well as 2B and 3B. Papantonis announced he will suit up for Houston for the 2020 season.

Daniel Patrice, 3B-SS-P (SR, Thiel College [17-22], Pa.) [Bio]
Patrice wrapped up a stellar four-year career for the Tomcats in which he was named to an All-Conference Team ever season. The Munich-born player for France hit .343/.425/.517, tying for 12th in the Presidents Athletics Conference (though only fourth on his team!) in average, ninth in slugging, and tied for fourth in doubles (14). Patrice also had more walks (20) than strikeouts (16).

Patrice had 18 multi-hit games in only 39 games, including a five-game stretch in mid- March when he ripped 11 hits in 21 at bats. A three-game set in April that kicked off a seven-game hitting streak saw him go 7-for-13 with a double and a triple.

After shifting to 1B in 2018, Patrice moved back to 3B, starting all but one game at the hot corner for Thiel. The right-hander also pitched two-thirds of an inning, bringing his career total to eight over the four years.

In total, Patrice hit .332/.386/.464 with an incredible 41/46 BB/K ratio in 470 at bats across four seasons. He finished tied for fourth all-time in Thiel history with 42 doubles.

Thomas Paulich, 3B (SO, Stevens Institute of Technology [18-21], N.J.) [Bio]
Paulich was the Empire 8 Rookie of the Year in 2018 and improved on his freshman numbers in his second season for the Ducks. Soon to be one of three northern Europeans on the roster, Paulich slashed .275/.384/.396. He had as many walks as strikeouts (17). Paulich’s defence did drop a notch, with one error becoming five.

Jordan Petrushka, 1B (SR, IMG Academy, Fla.) [Bio]
An absolute behemoth at first, the Holy Cross commit played his second year at IMG Academy in 2019. Already 6-5, 215 before his 18th birthday, Petrushka played for Israel’s Under-18 National Team over the summer. Next year, the first-sacker will team up with Ireland’s Liam Dvorak on the Crusaders.

Matthew Rienzi, RHP (JR, St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn [15-21-1], N.Y.) [Bio]
One of Poland’s U.S.-based players, Rienzi made significant strides in 2019, more than doubling his career-high total in innings and finishing with a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 frames. The righty surrendered 28 hits and six walks against only 11 strikeouts.  

Gabriel Rincónes Jr, OF-RHP (HS JR, Plant High School [17-9], Fla.) [Bio]
Rincónes had a solid season for the Panthers, hitting .286 with eight doubles, six home runs, and 11 stolen bases and was named to the All-813Preps as an outfielder. He scored 25 runs in 26 games and is listed by Perfect Game as No. 653 among all outfielders at U.S. high schools. Rincónes is listed at 6-4, 225 and has committed to St. Petersburg College.

Julian Rip, OF (JR, University of South Carolina-Upstate [23-30], S.C.) [Bio]
One of our 2018 All-Stars, Rip delivered in his first season in NCAA Division I. The outfielder finished seventh in the Big South in on-base percentage (.417), 10th in slugging (.500), 10th in OPS (.917), tied for second in triples (3), and tied for ninth in sacrifice bunts (9).

Although the team had a down season, it started well, splitting a four-game series with a Kansas University team that had represented the U.S. at the World University Games in summer of 2018.

It took a while for Rip to get going, hitting .140 in his first 14 games, but turned it on from there and never cooled down, finishing with a 12-game hitting streak. Rip had 14 multi-hit games, including a monster four-hit game against UNC-Asheville on March 15 in which he had two doubles and a homer, and another four against Winthrop on May 16, chipping in a pair of two-baggers.

Rip’s final line read .319/.417/.500, leaving his career line through three university seasons at .309/.423/.544. The Dutch outfielder will have more season to add to his impressive career numbers and would make a nice addition to a Hoofdklasse team.

We return tomorrow with players N-R. Previous installments:
Introduction [link]
Players A-B [link]
Players C-D [link]
Players E-J [link]
Players K-M [link]

Header of Julian Rip copyright USC-Upstate Athletics. 

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