(DURHAM, N.C.) - USA Baseball announced Thursday 23 players who will represent the United States at the 2009 International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Baseball World Cup in Europe from Sept. 9-27. Players eligible for selection were those not currently on 25-man Major League Baseball (MLB) rosters. The 2009 World Cup is the 38th installment of the IBAF's biennial world championships.
USA Baseball will name a 24th - and final - player for the roster prior to September 1. Team USA is the defending World Cup champion, having defeated Cuba, 6-3, in the 2007 final in Taiwan. It was the first World Cup title for the U.S. since 1974.
Six alumni of past USA Baseball teams are among the 23 players selected for the World Cup Team. These players include IF Pedro Alvarez (2006-07 Collegiate National Team), IF/OF Ike Davis (2003 16U and 2004 18U National Teams), LHP Kasey Kiker (2003 16U National Team), IF Trevor Plouffe (2002 16U National Team), IF Justin Smoak (2007 Collegiate National Team), and most recently, IF Terry Tiffee, a veteran of the bronze medal-winning 2008 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team.
Also selected to the team were C Jason Castro and LHP Trevor Reckling who, along with Alvarez, represented Team USA in the 2009 XM All-Star Futures Game. The Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights led all minor league clubs with three players on the World Cup roster, including RHPs Lucas Harrell and Ehren Wassermann, and IF/OF Josh Kroeger.
"We have what we think is a solid mix of young players and veterans on this team," said Bob Watson, USA Baseball General Manager of Professional Baseball Operations.
"For the first time in over 30 years we head into a World Cup as the defending champion, and we think this team is more than capable of returning to the medal stand."
Twenty countries will begin IBAF World Cup competition in five groups of four teams, with the top two from each group advancing to the second round (the top-four third-place teams also advance). Once there, they will be joined by Italy and the Netherlands - the two hosts of Round 2 - to form a 16-team quarterfinal. The top-eight teams from the quarterfinals advance to the third round, which will be held exclusively in Italy, where they will be split into two pools and advance to the finals based on best pool-play record. The U.S. will kick off World Cup play on Sept. 10 in Regensburg, Germany in Pool E and will be joined by China, Germany and Venezuela. In addition to Regensburg, the World Cup will also feature first round pool play in Barcelona; Prague; Sundbyburg, Sweden; and Zagreb, Croatia.
The World Cup Team will first gather in Cary, N.C. at the USA Baseball National Training Complex where it will train from Sept. 2-6. It will work out on Sept. 2 and square-off against the Canadian World Cup Team Sept. 3-6.
Last week USA Baseball announced the coaching staff for the 2009 World Cup, with Eddie Rodriguez being named manager of the club. Joining Rodriguez are pitching coach Kirk Champion, hitting coach Ernie Young, 3rd base/bench coach Jamie Quirk, bullpen coach Rolando "Roly" de Armas, and auxiliary coach Jim Bowie. Rodriguez (2000 Olympic), Champion (2001 World Cup and 2006 Olympic Qualifier), Young (2000 Olympic and 2003 Olympic Qualifier - both as players), and de Armas (2006 Olympic Qualifier, 2007 World Cup and 2008 Olympic) are all veterans of past USA Baseball teams.
The gold-medal winning 2007 World Cup Team finished with a 9-1 record and was made up of some of the best minor league players in baseball who have since advanced to the big leagues, including Tampa Bay Rays All-Star 3B Evan Longoria; OF Colby Rasmus of the St. Louis Cardinals; 2007 World Cup MVP and Chicago White Sox 2B Jayson Nix; and IF/OF Brian Bixler, C Jason Jaramillo, RHP Jeff Karstens, 3B Andy LaRoche, IF/OF Steve Pearce, and IF/OF Delwyn Young, all of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Overall, the 2009 roster is made up of 15 Triple-A and eight Double-A players. Reckling is the youngest player on the roster at 20 years old and RHP Jason Childers is the oldest, at 34. The Philadelphia Phillies join the White Sox as the MLB organization with the most players on the team with three, and the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers are each represented by two players.
The entire roster can be found here