USA finalizes Olympic roster

July 24th, 2008

Finally, USA Baseball announced the 24th member of its 2008 Olympic Team, and also the three replacements for players named to the initial roster.

Colorado Rockies second baseman Jayson Nix (Midland, Texas) was named as the 24th player to the roster. Currently in Triple-A Colorado Springs, Nix has spent time with the Major League club this season, hitting .125 with two runs, two RBI and a stolen base.

USA Baseball honored Nix with the 2007 Richard W. “Dick” Case Award for his play on the USA Baseball World Cup Team last November. The award recognizes USA Baseball’s Athlete of the Year and honors the organization’s founding Executive Director/CEO. The Rockies prospect went 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs, a run scored and a walk in a 6-3 win over Cuba in the World Cup gold-medal final in Taipei, Taiwan. In winning the gold, the U.S. snapped a 33-year winless streak at the World Cup, and it ended a run of nine consecutive championships for Cuba.

Also named to the team are Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Cummings, Minnesota Twins pitcher Brian Duensing and San Francisco Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz. The three players were added as replacements for Chicago White Sox pitcher Clayton Richard and San Francisco Giants pitcher Geno Espineli — both of whom were recently called-up by their Major League clubs — and St. Louis Cardinals OF Colby Rasmus who is injured.

Duensing was also a member of the 2007 World Cup Team, going 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA and four strikeouts. He also started the gold-medal final against Cuba, giving up only one earned run with two strikeouts in a no-decision. Duensing is currently pitching for the AAA Rochester Red Wings.

“We are excited to see Nix in the red, white and blue again,” said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. “Although it hurts to see the three players go, we know we are adding quality players — including Duensing — who we have seen first-hand get the job done against the best international competition.”

Cummings is 7-3 with a 2.95 ERA and 63 strikeouts for the AAA Durham Bulls. He came to Durham following a stint in Taiwan, giving righty experience on the international stage as well. Schierholtz is competing in Triple-A for the Fresno Grizzlies, carrying a .310 average with 13 home runs and 62 RBI. The left-handed hitter was a member of Team USA at the Futures Game in New York during Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend.

This four players has experience, include MLB and International.

Schierholtz, hitting .310 with 13 homers and 62 RBI at triple-A Fresno, has the most big-league experience of the four, having hit .304 in 112 at-bats last season. Nix and Duensing, meanwhile, both played for Team USA in last fall’s World Cup, when the U.S. beat Cuba to win its first World Cup in 33 years.

Also back on the team is Texas Rangers prospect Taylor Teagarden. The catcher was among the original selections to the team, but lost his spot over the weekend after being called up to the big leagues. When the Rangers optioned him back to the minors on Monday, he wound up back on the Olympic team.

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