Team Australia has announced a 35-player 2022 National Junior Squad as it ramps up preparations for this year’s WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in the US.
It includes 11 players from New South Wales, nine from Victoria, seven from Western Australia, six out of Queensland along with a pair of South Australians. An eight-player associate list, consisting of players who will be based in the US, has also been named.
FULL LIST: 2022 National Junior Squad
Baseball Australia performance pathways and player development general manager Michael Crooks said the selected players had earned their spot and overall Australian baseball was in good shape.
“There was the need for a lot of discussion by the selectors prior to agreeing on this squad,” Crooks said.
“This is a positive for Australian baseball that we are on the right path with our player development philosophies that we have now had in place for 18 months.
“We’re really excited about the character and abilities of this group and can’t wait to get into camp with the selected players later this year as we prepare for the U-18 World Cup.
“Excitingly through Baseball Australia’s partnership with Perfect Game, players will be in camp at their Florida complex for final selection, while those who do not make the final World Cup squad will gain increased opportunity by staying in the US longer, which is a massive win for their development and transition opportunities into college baseball in particular, regardless of whether they make the final team.
“This continues the ethos of the long-term development of our talented players.”
The National Junior Squad, which was selected on the back of last month’s Junior Camp in Canberra, will leave Australia for the US in late August.
Participants will be based at Perfect Game’s Fort Myers facility for a final selection camp.
The final team will then depart for the September 9-18 World Cup in Bradenton and Sarasota.
Players that are not selected for the World Cup squad will stay at Perfect Game’s facility for more recruitment and competition opportunities.
West Australian Bjay Cooke is the latest Aussie to sign a professional contract with an MLB organisation.
The 19-year-old pitcher-infielder from Swan Districts Baseball Club inked a deal with Oakland Athletics over the weekend. He had previously committed to Weatherford College but will instead join the A’s.
"Bjay is a special type of athlete. He has an amazing self-awareness for a kid his age. He knows what he wants, has a plan, and is confident in his process," Baseball WA High Performance Manager Andy Kyle said. "It's one thing for an athlete to say they want something, but they have to put actions to those words, and it has been a pleasure to see Bjay work so hard on his trade the past few years."
"He is an exciting talent - athletic, can play multiple positions, showing ability to hit for average and now some power and on top of that could easily jump on the mound and flash a low 90's FB. Bjay has a bright future in this game and I can't wait to follow his journey."
Since first picking up a bat and ball in 2009, Cooke has racked up a long list of accomplishments representing his charter, state, and country.
He was part of the Team Australia U23 side that qualified for the upcoming World Cup with a sweep of New Zealand last month. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI and threw a scoreless inning in game two.
Cooke previously played for Australia at the 2018 U15 World Cup and was also part of the Team Australia Futures’ series against Adelaide Giants earlier this year.
Cooke won a gold medal with WA at the 2020 Australian Youth Championship in Geelong and took part in the 2015 Cal Ripken World Series.
Reflecting on his baseball journey so far, Cooke says all these representative opportunities and the support of his family and coaches have helped him get where he is today.
"I started my career at Kalamunda Rangers with my dad and one of my career-long coaches, Arnie Noel," Cooke said. "I was there with six or seven guys that I then grew up playing with at Swan Districts. I was fortunate enough to have great coaches and programs growing up."
"I am very grateful Baseball WA gave me the foundation and resources to build my career, whether that be facilities, coaches, camps, tournaments and all the extra stuff that was put together."
While Cooke has many highlights from his junior career, he says the thing he looked forward to the most was playing charter and taking trips with his team.
"Those trips were the most fun and Swan Hills was always a competitive team which was a bonus. I have so many of my favourite memories coming from those tournaments," Cooke said. "I must also mention winning the U18 National Championship in 2020 with all the guys that I grew up playing with and playing against, we are all a very close group now and I hope that never changes."
As for signing with the A's, Cooke says there is no better feeling in the world.
"I’m extremely proud to be wearing the A’s uniform. The club has a rich history and I can’t wait to be apart of the family they have! The A’s have shown me nothing but support and what they can bring to the table since the start."
"From the conversations that I’ve had with the people in the front office, they run the organisation in the most professional way possible and I will be in a great position as a player to further develop myself not only on the field but off the field too which is most important to me."
No matter what the future holds, Cooke knows he will be happy chasing his dreams and playing ball.
"My end goal like any kid that plays baseball is to become a Major League All-Star… but the main reason why I play is to inspire people to be better and chase their dreams. I love playing for my family, friends and the kids, I feel that as long as I can continue to inspire and make the people around me better, my goal has been achieved."
Cooke says none of this would have been possible without his family.
"Honestly, there are so many people that I could say thank you to and who I am very grateful for. Those people know who they are, and I can’t explain how much time I have for them," Cooke explained. "Above everyone else though comes my parents, Dee and Andy. We really made it our lives, they have done so much for me and been apart of my baseball life since the beginning."
"For dad it was the coaching, the thing that I love the most is that it isn’t always about me, he fell in love with the game just as much as I did and puts his heart and soul into it and being able to share something like this is beyond amazing. Mum just went above and beyond what any mum should do, supporting me from the scorer’s table, the stands, or back home I knew she was cheering for me even if I couldn’t hear her. I love them both very much!"
For any younger players who are dreaming of signing an MLB contract one day, Cooke has a few bits of advice that helped him along his journey.
"I like to keep things short and simple, two things mainly. First, the harder you work, the luckier you get, and second, be able to understand and let things ride out. If you’re well prepared and want something bad enough, nothing will ever stop you!"
Baseball WA is seeking coaching expressions of interest ahead of the inaugural Barclay Cup on the Gold Coast from 25 September to 1 October 2022.
A combined group of state participation managers created the Barclay Cup as a brand new national event for youth girls in honour of Jacinda Barclay, who sadly passed away in 2020.
Rather than a state team v state team event, this tournament encourages participation by welcoming multiple teams from each state depending on interest levels – BWA plans to send two teams, so two head coaches are needed. Interested applicants must have their Certificate C and WWC.
All interested coaches should email BWA Participation Manager David Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org outlining their experience and availability.
Applications close Thursday 26 May.
Click HERE to read more about the Barclay Cup.
Baseball WA is pleased to announce registration is now open for the 2022 Pro-League season.
Pro-League provides players with a high-level coaching experience and enhanced match play, helping athletes improve their skills and further develop their baseball abilities across all areas of the game.
Pro-League Major is the primary program for players who have turned 13 to 16 inclusive prior to 1 September 2022. The program will run in term 3 for two sessions per week over ten weeks.
The Pro-League Futures program is for players who nominated for the Majors program but are not selected. Both programs feature a combination of skill sessions, strength and conditioning, and gameplay with the support of expert team coaches and staff.
New this year is a dedicated women’s team, which will be the fifth team in the program with no age eligibility criteria.
Click HERE to learn more about Pro-League and complete registration HERE.
Just weeks after winning bronze at the 2022 Australian Women's Baseball Championship, seven WA representatives have been named to rosters for the upcoming women's showcase from 5-8 May in Geelong, Victoria.
The 2022 Australian Women's Baseball Showcase splits the country's best women's players across the Adelaide Giants, Brisbane Bandits, and Victoria Aces for seven top-level games, culminating in a decider on 8 May.
Grace Spano and Caitlyn Eynon will suit up for the Giants while Kelsey Brennan, Yuuki Ishikawa, Meaghan Haggart, Leah Cornish, and Kaila Borgamastro will play for the Bandits.
Baseball WA congratulations these players on such an excellent achievement and wishes them the best of luck for an action-packed showcase.
Read the latest roster releases from Adelaide Giants and Brisbane Bandits, and head to the showcase hub for the latest news. Make sure to tune in as all seven games will be broadcast on Kayo Sports.
Baseball Western Australia
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