Major presence to lead Team USA
Scott Brosius has accomplished just about everything in his baseball career. He has won the World Series. He’s been the World Series Most Valuable Player. He has played in Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. More recently, he has returned to the college where he was a star player and has become a successful coach.
One thing Brosius has never done, though, is wear a Team USA uniform. That will change this summer: Brosius has been named manager of USA Baseball’s 18U National Team.
“What a wonderful opportunity it is to represent the country and put on the USA uniform,” Brosius said. “It’s something I always dreamed about growing up.”
Beginning in June, Brosius and his staff will begin the difficult process of culling a group of 144 outstanding players down to a final roster of 20. That team will compete at the COPABE “AAA”/18U Pan American Baseball Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, Sept. 23-Oct. 2.
|Scott Brosius #18 of the New York Yankees at bat during the game against the Cleveland Indians May 26, 2001. (Tom Pigeon /Allsport/Getty Images)
After an 11-year major league career, which included three straight World Series titles with the New York Yankees from 1998 to 2000, Brosius returned to his alma mater, Linfield College in his native Oregon, as an assistant coach. He became head coach before the 2008 season. In his first three years, Brosius led Linfield to a 100-38 record and two conference titles. The 2010 team set a school record with 37 victories and finished third at the NCAA Division III championship tournament.
Brosius’ proven experience as a coach was a major reason he got the job, according to Brant Ust, the national director for the USA Baseball 18U team.
“I was very impressed with his transition from playing to coaching,” Ust said. “Then once I got to know him, and got to know the type of person he is, I knew he was a natural fit to lead our program.”
The job for Brosius will begin in earnest in June, when 144 of the top high school players in the country travel to the USA Baseball complex in Cary, N.C., for the Tournament of Stars. By the end of that five-day tournament, Brosius, his coaches and the USA Baseball staff will have trimmed the roster to about 25 players.
That group will train through the end of June, then return to their hometowns before gathering again at the national baseball complex in September. After more training, the final roster will be set.
Scott Brosius as head coach of the Lindfield College baseball team.
“I love to teach; I love to instruct,” Brosius said. “Hopefully, I have something to offer in terms of what I went through at that age. A lot of these players have the same aspirations and the same goals I had when I was their age.”
If history is any guide, some of those players indeed will make the major leagues. The 2000 18U Pan Am team included three future major league All-Stars — catcher Joe Mauer, infielder J.J. Hardy and pitcher Brian Wilson — as well as future big league pitcher Jeremy Bonderman.
While having a team full of potential first-round draft picks sounds like a dream job, Brosius realizes it also comes with challenges.
“These guys are used to being the No. 1 guy in their program,” he said. “Now, over the course of a couple of weeks in June, and then again in September, we want them to put aside all their personal agendas and be part of a greater cause, which is winning the gold medal.”
Although the team will be completely different from two years ago, the Americans are coming off a gold-medal performance at the 2009 18U Pan Am tournament. To win the gold, Team USA beat Cuba, winners of the seven previous 18U Pan Am golds.
The top four finishers at the Pan American Championships receive berths in the 2012 IBAF World Junior Baseball Championship, to be played in Seoul, South Korea.
Brosius said that he would expect the team to reflect his basiccoaching philosophy, which he calls, “pressure baseball. We like to run the bases hard, use situational hitting, put pressure on the defense.” He added, though, that, “You adjust to the talent that you have.”
|Former New York Yankee Scott Brosius throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game Six of the 2009 MLB World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies at Yankee Stadium on November 4, 2009 (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)|
His coaching staff will include former Major Leaguer Brian McRae and Willie Romay — both of whom worked with the 18U team last year — and a pitching coach who has not yet been selected.
Although the roster is effectively a blank slate when the Tournament of Stars begins, two players from last year’s 18U team — outfielder Albert Almora of Hileah, Fla., and pitcher/infielder Lance McCullers of Tampa, Fla., — are still just high school juniors and could return. Ust pointed out that since the Pan Am tournament will be held in September, any former 18U players graduating this summer are likely to have been signed professionally or be in college and therefore unavailable to Team USA.
Those that make the club, Ust said, will be in for a treat.
“These kids are going to be better off for having represented their country,” he said, “and for having the chance to play for a guy like Scott.”