DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced the recipients of its annual organizational awards on Tuesday, recognizing the top athletes, coaches and performances from the 2017 USA Baseball national teams. 18U National Team member Triston Casas was named the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award winner, given annually to USA Baseball’s top player in honor of the organization’s founding Executive Director and CEO. Casas is the third 18U National Team member to earn athlete of the year honors.
USA Baseball honored the World Baseball Classic Team with three awards in 2017, including the Team of the Year award after winning its first-ever gold medal in the event. Manager Jim Leyland was named the Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year and World Baseball Classic MVP Marcus Stroman earned the International Performance of the Year award following his outstanding performance in the championship game in March.
Stroman shares the International Performance of the Year award with 12U National Team member Josh Atomancyzyk, whose performance against Japan in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup kept Team USA in medal contention en route to its third consecutive Baseball World Cup title. This is the first time in USA Baseball’s history two individual performances were recognized with this award.
“We are delighted to recognize these outstanding performances that led USA Baseball to new heights in 2017,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director/CEO. “Our on-field performances are certainly paramount to our organization’s success but in addition to that, each one of these athletes represented the United States in an exceptional manner as a global ambassador for the game of baseball and our country on the international stage. We are truly proud to recognize these individuals and teams with our annual awards.”
In partnership with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Baseball also named David Sharp (12U National Team) and Bill Burniston (Collegiate National Team) the Developmental and Volunteer Coach of the Year award recipients, respectively.
USA Baseball had its most successful year in 2017 after sweeping through its international competition with gold medals at the World Baseball Classic, WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, COPABE Pan Am U-15 Championships and the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup; in addition to the Collegiate National Team winning all three of its international friendship series against Chinese Taipei, Cuba and Japan. It is the first time in international baseball history a federation has won all of its international competitions in a calendar year.
Three-time USA Baseball alumnus Triston Casas (American Heritage High School, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) was awarded the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award following his performance with the 18U National Team at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada. Casas was named the tournament MVP after leading Team USA to its fourth consecutive world championship title. A stalwart at first base, his bat did the most damage, collecting tournament-highs with 13 RBIs and three home runs, including a two-run shot in the gold medal game. The WBSC also named Casas its Baseball Player of the Year at its annual congress in Gaborone, Batswana in October.
Casas has now won three gold medals in his young career with Team USA. In addition to winning the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in 2017, he also won a gold medal with the 2015 15U National Team and the 2016 18U National Team in the COPABE Pan Am Championships. He was also a member of the 2016 17U National Team Development Program.
The World Baseball Classic Team was named USA Baseball’s Team of the Year after winning its first-ever title when it defeated Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the gold medal game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Pitcher Marcus Stroman (Toronto Blue Jays) was named the MVP of the tournament and Eric Hosmer (Kansas City Royals) and Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins) joined him on the All-Tournament Team. The team finished the tournament with a 7-2 overall record and its success led to earning the USOC Team of the Month award for March, as well as its manager, Jim Leyland, being named the USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year.
“The managerial expertise Jim brought to our World Baseball Classic team was impressive to watch,” said Seiler. “Our nation has such high expectations for success in our sport, and Jim led an incredible group of players and staff to our first gold medal in this event. We’re incredibly proud to call him an alumnus of USA Baseball and honor him with this award.”
Leyland will be honored at the Golden Spikes Award and Rod Dedeaux Foundation Award Dinner, which will be held June 28 at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.
USA Baseball honored two athletes with the International Performance of the Year award: World Baseball Classic MVP Marcus Stroman and 12U National Team member Josh Atomancyzyk (Franklin, Texas). Stroman earned his MVP award with a shutdown performance over previously unbeaten Puerto Rico in the gold medal game of the 2017 WBC. In the final, Stroman pitched 6.1 innings of one-hit baseball and struck out three, silencing a Puerto Rican offense that was averaging nearly eight runs a game. His outstanding performance paved the way for a dominant 8-0 victory and the 2017 World Baseball Classic title. He was later named the Male Athlete of the Month for March by the USOC.
With a spot in the gold medal game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup on the line, Atomancyzyk took the mound for the red, white and blue against Japan and was masterful; tossing 5.1 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, while striking out a game-high seven batters in the victory. In addition to his pitching prowess, Atomancyzyk went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two home runs and five RBIs in the 6-1 victory.
12U National Team Manager David Sharp (Huntsville High School; Huntsville, Ala.) was named the Developmental Coach of the Year after leading the 12U team to its third consecutive WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup title. Sharp led his team to an 8-1 record, defeating host-country Chinese Taipei, 7-2, in the gold medal game in front of a sellout crowd of 11,000. Under his guidance, the team outscored its opponents 107-43 and finished the tournament hitting .423 with 40 extra-base hits.
Bill Burniston was named the USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year after serving as the performance specialist for the Collegiate National Team. Burniston provided unparalleled service to the athletes by offering creative and engaging training sessions that not only allowed the national team to prepare and excel on the field, but also promoted and protected their overall long-term health.
“Bill has been an invaluable addition to our Collegiate National Team family for years,” said Seiler. “He is a world-class professional in his field and his engaging demeanor leads to positive and fulfilling relationships with the athletes that last long after their time with USA Baseball.”
USA Baseball’s Richard W. “Dick” Case Player of the Year and Team of the Year honorees serve as the organization’s nominees in their respective categories with the USOC, who honors one Sportsman and Team of the Year annually based on nominations from its National Governing Bodies.