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Pitching to highlight USA trials

Joey Gallo played for the Cincinnati Reds Area Code Team in 2011. He is looking to be on the final Team USA 18U roster. Scott Kurtz/ESPNHS

Starting on September 12, Team USA will host the second set of trials at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. This will be the final tryout where the roster will be trimmed from 28 players to 20, before the team heads to Colombia for the COPABE Pan American AAA/18U Championships. Team USA is the defending champion in this event when they defeated Cuba back in 2009.

There is a major change to the event this year. It was supposed be held at the end of September, but due to a natural disaster in Colombia this August, the dates have changed to November. This could significantly change the way the roster looks especially since the tournament is at an odd time. The biggest factor is missing school and players who play another sport.

With that said let’s take a look at some of the standout players from the 28-man roster. Later we will look at some of the position players.

The strength should be the pitching. Seven of the arms hail from California and these guys are all known nationally (we are going to see some high strikeout totals in California next Spring).

Lucas Giolito; Harvard-Westlake; North Hollywood, Calif.

Gioltio is a nationally known pitcher and may be the top arm of the Class of 2012. He has a mid-90s fastball and has been clocked up to 98mph. He pitched in both the Area Code Games (Brewers) and the Perfect Game All-American this summer and threw the ball well at both events. At the Area Code Games he was rated as the No. 1 pitcher overall for the event.

Max Fried; Harvard-Westlake; North Hollywood, Calif.

It was an interesting summer for Fried and that’s because his previous high school, Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, Calif.) suddenly dropped the athletic program. Fried was a free agent and decided upon Harvard-Westlake for the academics and athletics the school offers. He throws in the mid-90s and does it from the left side. When he teams up with Giolito in 2012 the Wolverines may win a couple of games.

Hunter Virant; Camarillo; Camarillo, Calif.

We first saw the lefty pitch at the Area Code tryouts in Santa Barbara and if he wasn’t dominate then he was close to it. The rumor floating around the tryout was that he just learned to pitch within the year. He plays in the outfield for Camarillo. If that’s the case then the sky is the limit with him on the mound. He had natural movement on his fastball and his off-speed pitches were just plain nasty.

Joey Gallo; Bishop Gorman; Las Vegas, Nev.

Gallo plays for a school that has won six straight state titles in baseball, which is a story for another time. He is an infielder/pitcher and stands in at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds. When we saw him this summer in Long Beach he pitched and played first base. He struggled at the plate in the Area Code Games (if you go by stats), but showed he could handle the bat. In 2010 he reportedly hit 25 homers and on the mound is the low to mid-90s.

Ty Hensley; Santa Fe; Edmond, Okla.

Hensley pitched for the Chicago White Sox in the Area Code Games in August and also pitched in the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field. He is a big physical player, standing in at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. He has a fastball that gets up to 94, as we saw in Long Beach this August. He is another example of a big physical pitcher from Oklahoma. Hensley was named to the ESPNHS First Team Underclass All-American Team.