Led By 2014 Winter Olympian Eddy Alvarez, Meet The U.S. Olympic Baseball Team
by Todd Kortemeier
Eddy Alvarez runs the bases after hitting an RBI triple during the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier Super Round on June 4, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Baseball fans waited eight years from the final out of the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 to see the official addition of baseball to the Tokyo Olympic program in 2016.
Then there was the postponement of the Games to 2021.
And with the Games almost here, fans now know who will be wearing the red, white and blue on the diamond later this month. USA Baseball announced the 24-man roster — 12 players and 12 position players — on Friday for the first U.S. Olympic Team since the one that won bronze in Beijing. While the roster contains no active MLB players, the team includes some former MLB All-Stars and top minor-league prospects from around baseball. Twelve players return from the team that won the Olympic qualifying tournament and officially booked Team USA’s place in Tokyo.
Here’s a closer look at the U.S. Olympic baseball team.
The infield for Team USA contains the team’s one Olympian — just not an Olympian in baseball. Miami Marlins farmhand Eddy Alvarez grew up playing baseball and speedskating, and turned down a college baseball scholarship to pursue his Olympic dream. Alvarez didn’t just make it, he medaled in the 5,000-meter relay. He then hung up his skates and returned to baseball, making his MLB debut in 2020.
The infield group also boasts a two-time MLB All-Star in Todd Frazier. Frazier played 11 years in the big leagues, mostly at third base. He played most recently with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season.
The top-ranked prospect among the infielders is Triston Casas, currently at the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and ranked No. 30 by MLB Pipeline. Rounding out the position group are Oakland A’s minor leaguer Nick Allen and Jamie Westbrook, in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Jack Lopez is expected to play a utility role on the team, but has played mostly infield this season in the Boston Red Sox organization.
The U.S. has extensive experience at catcher in former MLB player Tim Federowicz. Currently with the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Federowicz has played in parts of eight big-league seasons and 13 minor-league seasons. Joining him is Cincinnati Reds prospect Mark Kolozsvary, currently at Double-A Chattanooga.
The outfield group contains big-league experience almost all around. Tyler Austin spent time in MLB from 2016 to 2019 with four teams, playing mostly with the New York Yankees. Austin then signed in Japan and currently plays for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. Patrick Kivlehan played in MLB from 2016 to 2018 before re-emerging this season in limited playing time with the San Diego Padres. And Bubba Starling, the one true center fielder on the team, spent parts of 2019 and 2020 with the Kansas City Royals and currently plays at Triple-A Omaha.
Eric Filia was a standout in college at UCLA and has been in the Seattle Mariners system since 2016. He currently plays at Triple-A Tacoma.
Pitching should be a strength of Team USA, as the group boasts two top-100 prospects, two World Series champions and multiple MLB All-Stars. The prospects are No. 68 Simeon Woods Richardson, a starter for the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, and No. 71 Shane Baz, a starter with the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Nobody on Team USA has appeared in more All-Star Games than Scott Kazmir, who has three to his name. Kazmir hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 before signing with the San Francisco Giants this year, making three starts, and now has pitched in over 300 MLB games. An even longer tenured player is Edwin Jackson, who pitched for 14 teams in 17 seasons and across 436 career games. The 2009 All-Star won a World Series ring in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
David Robertson was once the top reliever in baseball, winning a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 and becoming an All-Star in 2011. Robertson even earned Cy Young votes that season, posting a 1.08 ERA in 70 games. Anthony Gose has spent time in MLB as well, but never as a pitcher. Gose is a converted infielder now pitching in the Cleveland Indians organization.
Other pitchers with big-league experience on the team have all been pitching in Japan in the years since. Brandon Dickson returned to the Cardinals organization this season after not pitching in the U.S. since his last appearance for St. Louis in 2012. Nick Martinez has played in Japan since 2017 after four years with the Texas Rangers. Scott McGough pitched in a handful of games for the Miami Marlins in 2015 and has pitched in Japan since 2019.
Rounding out the pitching group are prospects Anthony Carter, a veteran of nearly 300 minor-league appearances now pitching in the Mexican league, Joe Ryan, at the Triple-A affiliate of the Rays and Ryder Ryan, at the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.