The British Baseball Federation is excited to announce the roster for next month’s U23 European Championship.
With no competitions at other age groups, this is the signature event for Great Britain Baseball in 2017. Crucial World Baseball & Softball Confederation (WBSC) ranking points are at stake.
The squad will assemble for final preparations at Farnham Park in early August before travelling to Austria and the Czech Republic for the tournament.
Competition for selection to the roster was fierce. While several players have been ruled out by injury or academic-athletic commitments in the US, National Teams Programme Director Liam Carroll believes that this group can challenge for medals:
“This is a talented and exciting team that is going to excel on the international stage. We have depth at all positions, some dynamic athletes, and a ton of national teams experience at the youth and senior levels.
“It’s great to see so many clubs represented that these players will do proud and I can’t wait for the British Baseball community to get behind them as we compete for a championship.”
This will be the first U23 Euros, following the WBSC expanding the age group from U21 at last year’s World Cup.
Dating back to the previous age range, this will be the first British entry at this level.
16 nations have entered the championship, which offers the most world rankings points of any Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) event this year. While the Czech Republic are the official tournament organisers and will host two of the four groups in Blansko and Brno, a third group will play in Slovakia and a fourth, featuring Great Britain, will play in Wels, Austria.
In addition to the hosts, Great Britain are pitted against Poland and Spain.
Great Britain will play their three Group B games on consecutive days, opening against Austria on 7th August before playing Poland and then Spain. A top two finish is needed to qualify for the Quarter-Finals, where Great Britain will match up with Group A, comprising Belarus, Croatia, Netherlands and Russia. All playoff games will be played in the Czech Republic.
There’s a lot at stake at this championship. A gold or silver medal is required to qualify for the 2018 U23 Baseball World Cup. After the Premier 12 and World Baseball Classic, the World Cup offers the third biggest distribution of world rankings points at international tournaments. Following the tournament, CEB will create a qualifying pool for future U23 championships, as is done across all age groups, and a top six finish is required to secure top tier status for 2019.
Finally, there’s prospect of finishing on the podium at a major international tournament – bringing home Great Britain’s first medal since a runner-up finish at the 2007 European Championship.
While this will be Great Britain’s first entry into a major competition at this age group, it’s certainly not the first iteration of a GB U23 team. The most recent effort, launched in 2011, sent a team to New England in the summer of 2012 to play collegiate summer league teams. Adding this age group to the national teams programme helped to bridge the gap for players between the U18 and senior levels, and was subsequently expanded to older players and re-branded as the GB Lions.
The 2017 version is set to represent the BBF with an exciting group of players, most of whom have extensive experience within the national teams programme and will offer the coaching staff and British Baseball community a glimpse into the future at the senior level.
Several players (Elliot Berger, Conner Brown, Conrad Cornell, Jacob Dean, Juan Diaz, Jordan Edmonds and Callum Vinall) have already played at a European Championship, while two (Nolan Bond and Edmonds), played in 2016’s World Baseball Classic Qualifier. All but three players are graduates of the U18 National Team and only one, Hayden Platt, will make their National Team debut; but for commitments to his collegiate team Platt would have been in the mix for a European Championship and WBC spot last year.
In addition to developing within the national teams programme, the BSUK High Performance Academy has made a big impact on the roster, with 14 players actively or historically involved in the programme.
Perhaps most importantly for British Baseball, a wide selection of clubs are represented, from Exeter in the south to Cartmel Valley in the north. In addition to their present teams, several players owe additional clubs for contributing to their blossoming careers.
At the helm for the championship will be Liam Carroll, assisted on the field by Zach Graefser (Pitching Coach), Cam McHarg (First Base Coach) and Bill Percy (Third Base Coach). Alan Dean, GB Baseball’s Sports Science Director will join the coaching team in the dugout, and Operations Director Glen Robertson rounds out the staff.
The competitions website of CEB will feature the full tournament schedule, stats and live play by play feeds for all games.
For additional news throughout the tournament, check out the official website.
GB Third Base coach – and ABCA Hall of Famer – Bill Percy with Head Coach, Liam Carroll
|Michael Anunobi||Essex Arrows|
|Luke Armstrong||Cartmel Valley Lions|
|Elliot Berger||Zurich Barracudas|
|Nolan Bond||University of Houston|
|Richard Brereton||Emory University|
|Conner Brown||Cologne Cardinals|
|Rory Chandler||Essex Arrows|
|Carlos Casal||Essex Arrows|
|Conrad Cornell||Mercer University|
|Jacob Dean||Essex Arrows|
|Juan Diaz||Southampton Mustangs|
|Jamie Dix||London Mets|
|Jordan Edmonds||Hamburg Stealers|
|Johnny Fretheim||Vandegrift High School|
|Eli Hackney-Rose||Exeter Spitfires|
|Hayden Platt||Elon University|
|Miguel Rodriguez||Southampton Mustangs|
|Ollie Thompson||Essex Arrows|
|Callum Vinall||Southampton Mustangs|
|Matt Waddington||Liverpool Trojans|