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August 26, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Team USA and the Red Sox

File this one under something to pay a little more attention to in the future. While there hasn’t been a lot of fanfare about it, all four of Boston’s top four draft picks from the 2011 draft played for USA Baseball last year. Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley both played for the Team USA collegiate team in 2010 (as did fourth-rounder Noe Ramirez). Barnes went 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, Ramirez picked up 5 saves while posting a 2.70 ERA, and Bradley hit .318/.395/.394. 

Meanwhile, top picks Blake Swihart and Henry Owens both played for the 18U national team. Swihart was the best hitter on the club, putting up a line of .448/.492/.845 with 5 home runs, and Owens went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA, striking out 31 batters in 19.1 innings. The most important aspect of playing for Team USA, according to Red Sox scouting director Amiel Sawdaye, is that the players have the chance to prove they can compete against the highest level of competition.  

The current Red Sox front office regime is no stranger to using its top picks on former Team USA standouts. Indeed, there is a long list of former Sox picks that played for the national team prior to their selection by Boston in the 2003-2010 timeframe, including Bryce Brentz, Sean Coyle, Garin Cecchini, Chris Hernandez, Kendal Volz, Tim Federowicz, Hunter Morris, Daniel Bard, Seth Garrison, Lars Anderson, Matt LaPorta, Jed Lowrie, Abe Alvarez, and Dustin Pedroia. Additionally, several other players that have been linked to the Red Sox in one way or another have played for Team USA during that span, including Max Stassi, Branden Kline, Jason Esposito, Yasmani Grandal, Pedro Alvarez, Nick Hill, Eric Patterson, Wes Littleton, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Given that, maybe it’s worth taking a glance at the 2011 squads for a look at potential top picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts. 

Here’s the 2011 collegiate squad:

RHP Brady Rodgers Arizona State So.
RHP DJ Baxendale Arkansas So.
RHP Kevin Gausman LSU Fr.
RHP Michael Wacha Texas A&M So.
RHP Eric Anderson Missouri So.

RHP Mark Appel Stanford So.
RHP Ryne Stanek Arkansas Fr.
RHP/IF Marcus Stroman Duke So.
LHP/1B Brian Johnson Florida So.
RHP Branden Kline Virginia So.
LHP Hoby Milner Texas So.
RHP Andrew Mitchell Texas Christian Fr.
RHP Corey Knebel Texas Fr.
LHP Matt Boyd Oregon St.
LHP Tom Windle Minnesota So.

C Tom Murphy  Buffalo So.
1B Dominic Ficociello Arkansas Fr.
2B/SS Nolan Fontana Florida So.
3B Matt Reynolds Arkansas So.
SS Deven Marrero Arizona State So.
LF Chris Elder Oral Roberts Sr.
CF Michael Lorenzen Cal State Fullerton Fr.
RF Tyler Naquin Texas A&M So.
DH/IF Erich Weiss Texas Fr.

C David Lyon Kent State Jr.
C Ronnie Freeman Kennesaw State So.
IF Stephen Yarrow San Francisco Jr.
IF LJ Mazzilli Connecticut Jr.
OF/C Josh Elander Texas Christian So.
OF/3B Brian Ragira Stanford Fr.

Here’s the team’s 2011 stats.  The season ran from June 22 to July 8, 2011. According to Perfect Game USA, Marrero, Appel, Wacha, and Stroman are considered the top incoming junior prospects on the team.   Here's the 2011 18U National Team roster:

Player, Position, Hometown, School, Graduation Year
Lucas Giolito  RHP  Santa Monica, Calif.  Harvard-Westlake  2012
Walker Weickel  RHP  Orlando, Fla.  Olympia  2012
Hunter Virant  LHP  Camarillo, Calif.  Camarillo  2012
Lucas Sims  RHP  Lawrenceville, Ga.  Brookwood  2012
Clate Schmidt  RHP  Acworth, Ga.  Allatoona  2012
Max Fried  LHP  Encino, Calif.  Montclair Prep  2012
Cody Poteet  RHP  Bonita, Calif.  Christian  2012
Ty Hensley  RHP  Edmond, Okla.  Edmond Santa Fe  2012
Matthew Crownover  LHP  Ringgold, Ga.  Ringgold  2012
Carson Fulmer  RHP  Lakeland, Fla.  All Saints Academy  2012
Troy Conyers  LHP  Lakeside, Calif.  El Capitan  2012
Chase DeJong  RHP  Long Beach, Calif.  Woodrow Wilson  2012
Cole Irvin  LHP  Anaheim, Calif.  Servite  2012

Position Players
Nelson Rodriguez  C  New York, N.Y.  George Washington  2012
Jeremy Martinez  C  Fountain Valley, Calif.  Mater Dei  2013
Chris Okey  C  Mt. Dora, Fla.  Eustis  2013
Gavin Cecchini  2B  Lake Charles, La.  Barbe  2012
Joey Gallo  3B/RHP  Las Vegas, Nev.  Bishop Gorman  2012
Rio Ruiz  3B  Covina, Calif.  Bishop Amat  2012
Alex Bregman  SS  Albuquerque, N.M.  Albuquerque Academy  2012
Addison Russell  SS  Pace, Fla.  Pace  2012
Carson Kelly  IF/RHP  Portland, Ore.  Westview  2012
C.J. Hinojosa  IF  Spring, Texas  Klein Collins  2012
Nick Williams  OF  Galveston, Texas  Galveston Ball  2012
Mikey White  IF  Hoover, Ala.  Spain Park  2012
Jesse Winker  OF  Windermere, Fla.  Olympia  2012
Albert Almora  OF  Hialeah, Fla.  Mater  2012
Mitch Nay  OF  Chandler, Ariz.  Hamilton  2012

Stats for the 2011 18U team are not really available at this time, as the squad has only played in exhibition games to this point. The remainder of the team's season will run from September 9 to October 2.  At this early stage, the top class of 2012 prospects on the team, according to Perfect Game USA, are Giolito, Gallo, Williams, Weickel, and Ruiz.