The 16U and 18U National Teams led all programs with two awards each. Recipients from the 18U team include Richard W. "Dick" Case Player of the Year Award winner Albert Almora, and National Coach of the Year Scott Brosius. The 16U National Team was recognized as the 2011 Team of the Year, and the winning pitcher from its gold medal game, Keegan Thompson, was honored as the International Performance of the Year Award winner. Almora and Brosius represent only the second youth-level (18U, 16U and 14U National Team programs) player and coach, respectively, to receive their awards.
"Seeing our 16U and 18U teams receive such high accolades for the second year in a row speaks volumes to the continued growth of our youth-level programming as a whole," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. "We have a well-deserving group of award winners, and we congratulate all of them on their successes both on and off the field in 2011."
Almora took home MVP and All-Tournament Team honors from the COPABE AAA/18U Pan American Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, last November. The outfielder finished 16-for-38 (.421) with 11 runs scored, and a team-leading five doubles and one triple over nine games. Almora also captured honors for recording the most RBIs (11) and stolen bases (9) in the tournament. Alex Bregman -- Almora's teammate on the 2011 18U team -- was the first-ever youth-level recipient of the Dick Case Player of the Year Award following a standout performance for the 2010 16U National Team. Other past winners include Stephen Strasburg (2008), Ryan Zimmerman (2004) and Ben Sheets (2000).
In competing for the 18U team in 2011, Almora also tied A.J. Hinch (1991-92 18U, 1993-96 Collegiate) for the most appearances in a Team USA uniform with six. The Hialeah, Fla., native had previously donned the red, white and blue for the 2007-08 14U National Teams, the 2009-10 16U National Teams and the 2010 18U National Team. Almora, a senior at Mater Academy in Miami, has signed a letter of intent to the University of Miami and is a top outfield prospect for the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Scott Brosius made his USA Baseball debut in 2011 and delivered immediate on-field results with a perfect 9-0 record and a gold medal at the 18U Pan Ams. The three-time World Series champion and 1998 World Series MVP with the New York Yankees is entering his fifth season as head baseball coach at Linfield College (McMinnville, Ore.). As with Almora and Bregman in the player of the year category, Brosius joins 2010 16U manager Eric Kibler as back-to-back youth-level coaches of the year. Past winners also include Davey Johnson (2005-07) and Hall of Fame inductee Tommy Lasorda (2000).
The 16U National Team continued its run of international success in 2011, winning its sixth straight international gold medal behind a 9-0 victory over host Cuba to win the IBAF World AA/16U Youth Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico. The 16U club placed four athletes on the All-Tournament Team, including tournament MVP Zack Collins, and members of the U.S. team paced the event in batting average, RBIs, home runs, and runs scored. This marks the second year in a row the 16U program has received team of the year recognition, and the fourth time it has won overall (1998, 2001).
Keegan Thompson authored one of the greatest performances in USA Baseball history in helping the 16U National Team take home a gold medal for the sixth time in a row last summer. On the mound, he earned the win for Team USA, throwing a complete game, nine-inning shutout, allowing only four hits, and striking out 12. Thompson not only starred on the mound for the U.S., but he led the team at the plate as well, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. The International Performance of the Year Award was founded in 2010, and Thompson joins top MLB pitching prospects Jameson Taillon (2010) and Chris Archer (2011) as the award's only recipients.
Almora and Thompson will be honored with framed jersey presentations at to-be-determined locations and times.
In addition to Brosius's recognition as USA Baseball's National Coach of the Year, the organization also honored 2011 14U National Team manager Jeff Hewitt with its Developmental Coach of the Year Award and Kerry Kincaid with its Volunteer Coach of the Year Award.
Hewitt led the 14U National Team to a gold medal at the 2011 COPABE A/14U Pan American Championships in San Felipe, Venezuela, in August. The 14U team went 8-0 under Hewitt at the event, outscoring its opponents, 92-27, en route to the title. Hewitt has worked with USA Baseball in a variety of capacities over the last three years, and he has served as the head coach of the Pinecrest High School (Southern Pines, N.C.) baseball team since 2000.
Kincaid served as a volunteer instructor, task force member and coach for USA Baseball in 2011, working closely with the organization's various youth teams and events at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. He was most recently the head baseball coach at East Wake High School (Wendell, N.C.) from 2008-2011.
The USOC annually honors one SportsMan and Team of the Year from nominations from its National Governing Bodies (NGB). USA Baseball's nominations for the awards also serve as the organization's selections for the Dick Case Player of the Year and Team of the Year Awards. The 2011 awards also mark the final appearance of the 14U and 16U National Teams in the voting process. USA Baseball announced in early January that the federation will no longer field teams at those age levels, instead moving forward in 2012 with a 15U National Team, and 14U and 17U National Team Development Programs.
Click here to view a complete history of USA Baseball award winners.