Three area baseball players have been invited to participate in the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series in at the Team USA training facility in Cary, N.C. this month.
Sophomores Jacob Weiss (Atwater High) and Danny Casso (Buhach Colony) are flying out on Wednesday to tryout for the 17-and-under National Development Program. Buhach Colony freshman Jake Sapien (14) is leaving on Aug. 22 to tryout for the 15-and-under National Team.
Buhach Colony junior Alex Kendrick was also selected to tryout but declined the invitation to North Carolina.
For Casso and Sapien, it’s a return trip after going through earning invitations to similar tryouts last year.
“It’s super fun. It was a great experience,” said Sapien, who “I probably won’t be as nervous as last year. I think this time it’ll be easier for me.”
From there, the players were invited to a prospect game in July. Casso and Weiss impressed the coaches and evaluators during a series of games at the University of the Pacific to earn the invitation to Cary.
This is the third stage of the journey to make a national team for this trio. It started with an open tryout in Northern California. Weiss and Casso attended a tryout in Clovis in June were selected to team up with other players to represent the Northern California region in a series of games against other regional teams at the Team USA training facility in North Carolina from Thursday through Sunday.
Sapien tried out in Manteca and was chosen for the 14-and-under team from Northern California and will play games in North Carolina from Aug. 24-27. Sapien is vying for a spot on the 15-and-under National Team in 2018.
Weiss says he couldn’t believe it when he saw he was on the list of invitees to North Carolina.
“It was crazy,” he said. “My dad showed me the list of people who made it. I went down the list and saw Danny’s name first. I looked down and then saw my name.”
Weiss played varsity as a freshman this past spring at Atwater, earning all-Central California Conference second-team honors at catcher. Weiss hit .316 with two home runs and led the Falcons with 19 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
Casso is looking forward to making the trip this year with someone he knows.
“It should be a lot more fun,” said Casso, who plays middle infield and pitches. “Last year I was nervous. I didn’t really talk to anybody because I didn’t know anyone.
Casso also played at the varsity level as a freshman last season for Buhach Colony and saw limited time. He hit .231 in 13 at-bats and stole two bases.
Casso says the tryout process really opens your eyes to the type of talent that is out there. Some of the top players in their age group from across the country will be competing for these national teams.
“It really puts into perspective how many great baseball players there are out there,” Casso said. “There’s a bunch of studs out there, some Aaron Judge type of bodies.”
Sapien said he witnessed a 14-year old at his tryout already throwing 91 mph.
All three players have aspirations of playing baseball in college and ultimately a chance to play professionally. An opportunity like this allows them to go up against the top competition and also to get coaching from elite coaches.
“The U.C. Davis coach is one of my evaluators this year,” Sapien said. “It’s a chance for him to get to see me and know me.”
Going through the process will only help them improve their game.
“The competition is great,” Sapien said. “It makes you want to work harder when you realize all the talent that is out there.”