The 2014 American Family Insurance ALL-USA high school baseball team was chosen by USA TODAY Sports’ Jim Halley in consultation with various high school coaches and recruiting analysts.
2014 AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE ALL-USA BASEBALL TEAM
Coach of the Year:JAMIE CORR, Lambert, Suwanee, Ga.
Why him: Coached team to 36-2 record, the No. 1 spot in the Super 25 baseball rankings and a state AAAAA title in the school’s sixth year. Corr has been the school’s only coach since it opened in 2010. Including coaching stops at Riverview (Sarasota, Fla.) and South Forsyth (Cumming), his record as a high school coach is 223-112. Along with his wife, Dana, he is the co-head coach of Lambert’s softball team.
Coaching entry: I played baseball in high school (East Bay in Gibsonton, Fla.), at Edison Community College (Fort Myers, Fla.) and King College, now King University, in Bristol, Tenn. I was very fortunate to have great coaches who led me to want to be a coach.
Starting from scratch: You get to come in and lay the groundwork for everything you want the program to be, from the booster club, to the level of scheduling and facilities. We opened up the first year at Lambert with no senior starters and a varsity schedule and finished 17-9 and made the playoffs.
Favorite teacher: Dr. Karen Rohr at King. She taught behaviorial science. She really took an interest in me and pushed me to graduate with the highest GPA I could and not settle for B’s when I could get A’s.
This season: We pushed the kids through a very tough non-region schedule and faced some top-notch pitching. I knew we would be pretty good when we went to the USA Baseball Classic in Memphis and defeated three defending state champions in a row.
Coming home: Our entire life is Lambert baseball and softball. That’s all we talk about.
Best thing: Seeing our young team grow up as the season progressed. It was just the satisfaction that coaching can bring, when you work so hard at something and see the results of your labors.
Walk-up song: I’m 40, so it was a while since I played. It was Thunderstruck (by AC/DC).
Player of the Year: P BRADY AIKEN, Cathedral Catholic, San Diego
Height, weight: 6-4, 210Bats/Throws: L/L
College/draft: Signed with UCLA; Selected No. 1 by Houston Astros
Why him: Was 7-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 111 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 59.2 innings.
Favorite teacher: Coach Dawn Lee. I took a lifeguarding class from her and she was probably my favorite teacher. She was the girls soccer coach, is really into sports and has helped me out with a lot of stuff.
Working on: My strength and my core and lower-body strength. As a pitcher, you have to make sure you have core and leg strength to help you with your power and take a little pressure off the arm.
Biggest accomplishment: When we won the CIF (San Diego) Section championship my sophomore year. I pitched in the (semifinal) game and we won 2-1 (against University City).
Put the bat in my hand: My dad. I grew up loving baseball, watching it on TV and going to see the Padres play.
Biggest disappointment: Not going out on a high note in the playoffs.
Favorite players: Clayton Kershaw and David Price because of the way they pitch. They’re big lefties and they go after batters. That’s what I want to do.
Brush with greatness: I’ve seen Rob Machado (seven-time world champion surfer) around a couple of times. That’s pretty cool. I also go to golf with Trevor Hoffman.
Walk-up song: We didn’t have walk-up songs and I don’t play music before games, but during summer ball, I chose Radioactive by the Imagine Dragons.
Hanging 10: Hopefully, they’ll still let me surf. I love it and I have the excuse that it is good for your strength.
P, TYLER KOLEK, Shepherd, Texas
Height, weight: 6-5, 255
College/draft: Signed with Texas Christian/Drafted No. 2 by Miami Marlins (signed)
Why him: Was 5-2 with an ERA of 0.35 and 126 strikeouts in 60.1 innings while allowing only eight walks.
Kolek was not available for an interview.
C, CHASE VALLOT, St. Thomas More, Lafayette, La.
Height, weight: 6-0, 210
College/draft: Signed with Mississippi State/No. 40 by Kansas City Royals (signed)
Why him: Led team to state 4A title, hitting .545 with 13 homers, 45 runs and 62 RBI.
Put the bat in my hand: My mom and my dad. I was eight when I was playing T-ball. They kind of forced me to play. After that first year, I really liked it.
I improved by: Having natural gifts and sticking with it. A lot of times, my dad and I will hit until 10 p.m. I live only five minutes from the high school.
Biggest accomplishment: Winning state and hitting a three-run walk-off home run in our last district game (an 8-5 defeat of crosstown rival Teurlings Catholic on April 26).
Biggest disappointment: Losing in the state finals last year. We faced Jared Poche (now at LSU), who shut us down.
Walk-up song: Already Home by Jay-Z
Working on: A bit of everything. Mainly, I’m trying to hit every day and keep my body in playing shape. It’s hard to do with the good food here.
Favorite teacher: David Comeaux. He’s not at St. Thomas More anymore, but he was one of our football coaches. He taught American history. He would have stories galore about certain time periods and he also was a big baseball fan.
Memorable homer: In the semifinals this year, I hit a homer to put us up 3-0. The first pitch was low and outside, the second a breaking ball and the third was a belt-high fastball that I hit.
Brush with greatness: I was at an Under-Armour All-America Game in Chicago and got to meet Barry Larkin, Harold Reynolds and Bryce Harper.
Favorite players: Former catcher Brad Ausmus and Yadier Molina.
On the defensive: During the district game, one of our pitchers threw a wild pitch that went over the backstop. It hit the brick wall behind the backstop and came right back to me. The dude took off from first and I hosed him by 15 feet.
INF, GAVIN LAVALLEY, Carl Albert, Midwest City, Okla.
Height, weight: 6-3, 220
College/draft: Signed with Oklahoma/Not drafted
Why him: Helped team win third consecutive 5A state title, hitting .477 with 19 homers and 75 RBI.
Fighting trim: After my sophomore year of high school, I quit football and decided I would do baseball full-time. I dropped from 270 pounds my freshman year to 215 by working out hard with a personal trainer and changing my diet.
Walk-up song: We weren’t allowed to have one. If I did, it would be either the Fall Out Boy’s My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark or Metallica’s One
First or third base: I’d rather play third but I feel comfortable at either.
Three-peat: We had a lot of good players. Our coaches were really supportive and we kind of got that mentality that nobody was better than us. That’s how we did it for three years.
Favorite players: I like watching Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols.
Working on: Everything, but I always can work on hitting to the opposite field better and knowing the strike zone better.
Biggest accomplishment: Winning the four state championships (the other was in football).
Favorite teacher: Coach Luke Mosher, for geography and history. He was my center coach in football. We were pretty close. He’s laid-back most of the time and everyone loves him.
Brush with greatness: I got to meet Clay Kershaw and Ferguson Jenkins at the Ferguson Jenkins Award presentation (in Oklahoma City).
Put the bat in my hands: My dad. He hung a Whiffle ball from a rope when I was 2 and I would hit at hit. He and my mom took me to travel ball games.
INF, MICHAEL CHAVIS, Sprayberry, Marietta, Ga.
Height, weight: 5-11, 180
College/draft: Signed with Clemson/No. 26 overall by Boston Red Sox (signed).
Why him: He hit .573 with 13 homers, 39 RBI and 30 runs scored and had four homers in his team’s final two games of the season.
Put the bat in my hands: My dad (Billy Chavis), who was my hitting coach up until a few years ago. When I was still in my crib, he would toss a big yellow baseball to me and one day I caught it. The light for college turned on around my sophomore year. The light realizing that I could get drafted in the first round didn’t hit me until this year.
Turning point: Winning the home run derby at the Perfect Game All-American Classic last summer. After that, the big-time scouts began coming around.
Working on: There’s no one thing that I’m perfect at. I want to keep getting better in every aspect. I’ve always played a bunch of positions. When I take the next step, I want to play one position and master that position.
Favorite teacher: Mrs. (Jennifer) Dorrough. She teaches world history. She’s very upbeat. She and I are similar in personality. As a teacher, she would talk to you almost like a friend level.
Walk-up song: Chillin’ It by Cole Swindell
Biggest disappointment: Probably not getting invited to tryouts for Team USA. A teammate of mine, Kevin Davis on the East Cobb Braves, had made the team in 2012. I set that out as my goal and when I didn’t even get invited, it definitely was motivation this season.
First game: I went to my first Braves game when I was one. When I was five or six, I was on the jumbotron at the Braves game.
Most memorable home run: The walk-off grand slam that I hit (April 19) against Riverwood (Sandy Springs). It was crazy. I got to home plate and everyone was attacking me.
INF, NICK GORDON, Olympia, Orlando
Height, weight: 6-2, 170
College/draft: Signed with Florida State/Drafted No. 5 by Minnesota Twins (signed)
Why him: Hit .494 with a .576 on-base percentage with five homers, two triples and 10 doubles in 27 games. He’s the son of former Major League pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon and the brother of Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon.
Early baseball: My dad got me into Little League when I was only four years old. I remember getting to play with him before he went out to pitch, sitting in the clubhouse and meeting all the players. You soak a lot of baseball up that way.
Biggest accomplishment: Being able to make it as far as we did this year. Being a leader for my team when they needed me.
Biggest disappointment: Not being able to win a state championship, especially since this was my senior year, I wanted to win one for the rest of the guys I played with.
Working on: Just getting stronger and bigger and faster, playing my game better. Plus, the little things have always mattered to me.
Why not pitch: My dad steered me away from that. I love to play every day and I can help my team better by playing shortstop.
Favorite teacher: Coach (Mark) Griseck. He was our basketball coach and my physical education teacher. Whenever I needed to talk with someone, he was there and he knew a lot about baseball. He kept me thinking only about my next at-bat, the next minute.
Memorable homer: The one I hit against Apopka in the district championship. I knew as soon as I hit it.
Brush with greatness: When I was little, I was at the All-Star Game with my dad and Muhammad Ali came in and grabbed me and picked me up. I didn’t know who it was but my dad’s eyes watered when he saw that.
Favorite MLB player: Derek Jeter. He’s a professional on and off the field. He’s always in the right spot. He’s always making the people on his team better.Walk-up song:Money Babyby K Camp and one by D Squad, Trending Topic.
My brother: Was a big part of my success. I competed with him growing up and he helped to make my game better. He always let me play with the older kids and I look up to him.
OF, CLAY CASEY, DeSoto Central, Southaven, Miss.
Height, weight: 6-3, 204
College/draft: Signed with Ole Miss/No. 994, Washington Nationals
Why him: Hit .511 with 47 RBI and 14 homers, helping DeSoto Central finish as the state 6A runner-up.
Biggest accomplishment: Probably helping lead this team, being a leader they could look up to.
Biggest disappointment: Falling just short of a state championship.
Working on: In the weight room, I’m working on overall strength, speed and power. Baseball-wise, I’m perfecting my swing and working on seeing the ball better though pitch recognition.
Favorite teacher: Ms. (Lorna) Golden at DeSoto Central for biology. She helped me with everything and helped me feel welcome when I transferred there my junior year.
Brush with greatness: I’ve talked on the phone with Adam Dunn and Sean Casey.
Favorite MLB players: I try to model my swing after Albert Pujols but my favorite player is Mike Trout.
Walk-up song: Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig and Dean.
Major improvement: Overall, my power is where I saw the most improvement. It seemed like every ball I hit hard would go out.
OF/P, ALEX VERDUGO, Sahuaro, Tucson, Ariz.
Height, weight: 6-1, 200
College/draft: Signed with Arizona State/No. 62 by Los Angeles Dodgers (signed)
Why him: Hit .532 with three homers and 32 RBI, helping team finish as the state runner-up. As a pitcher, he was 4-3 with a 2.26 earned run average and 93 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. As a junior, was 10-0 with a 1.29 ERA.
Favorite teacher: Ms. (Eileen) Erickson, for sophomore year English. She treated every student as an individual. She has helped me through the years, even when I didn’t have her class.
Working on: The mental approach of the game is probably the biggest improvement I’ve been making. I can see myself getting to the big league as a hitter or a pitcher.
Most impressive: I’m proud of how our team has come together and how we played as a team. Individually, I would say I was happy with upping my numbers every year.
Most memorable homer: My junior year, we were playing at South Point. I hit one over the 375 mark in right center, where it went over a big screen and hit the top of the softball fence. It was still going up when it hit the fence. Honestly, we don’t know how far it went.
Put the bat in my hand: I would say my brothers and my parents. I would watch my brothers play baseball and I would always be at the park. I would always have a baseball in my hand and a bat. My parents saw that and nurtured that.
Biggest disappointment: Losing at state. We had a good enough team to win the entire thing. Toward the end, we fell apart.
Favorite players: Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Bryce Harper. Everybody loves him because of the way he plays, just to see him do the job every day. I like Pujols, just the way he carries himself. I also like Harper because he goes all-out.
Brush with greatness: I actually sat down and had dinner with Manny Machado, Mike Piazza, a few minor leaguers and Chris Davis.
Walk-up song: We did not have one. It would probably be, We Own It by Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz.
INF-P, JARED MANG, Los Alamos, N.M.
Height, weight: 5-9, 195
College/draft: Junior, committed to New Mexico last fall and ineligible for draft.
Why him: Hit .605 with 44 RBI and a slugging percentage of .926. As a pitcher, was 8-2 with a 1.01 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 55.2 innings.
Put the bat in my hand: Probably my dad. He got me in T-ball when I was 4 or 5.
Favorite teacher: My math teacher, Ms. (Judy) Nekimken. She really made a point to take an interest in us as people and not just as students. She understood that we had more going on in our lives than baseball.
Working on: Staying consistent in my hitting and working on hitting off-speed pitches.
Biggest disappointment: We lost in the state quarterfinals in a tight ballgame and we had a legitimate chance to win state.
Greatest strength: My ability to hit to all fields. I’m pretty good at hitting the ball to where it is pitched.
Walk-up song: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
Getting noticed: We don’t get a lot of scouts because we’re in a pretty secluded area.
Memorable homer: When I was in the eighth grade, I was playing varsity when we played one of our district rivals and I hit a homer that put us up 4-3.
C-OF, ALEX JACKSON, Rancho Bernardo, San Diego
Height, weight: 6-2, 215
College/draft: Signed with Oregon; No. 6 overall by Seattle Mariners
Why him: Hit .400 with seven doubles, four triples, 11 homers and 31 RBI in 100 at-bats. Had 47 homers in his high school career and never missed a game in four seasons.
Favorite teacher: All my teachers have been great. They’ve helped me mature as a young man.
Put the bat in my hands: I don’t remember how young I was. I was two or three. I would just grab a bat and they would throw to me. It started with my grandpa. He’s a very big part of my baseball success. He helped me throughout the years and later on, my dad and mom started helping me.
Walk-up song: We didn’t have one in high school. I like anything that gets the blood flowing. I used California Love (by Tupac Shakur) during the Under Armour All-America Game.
Biggest disappointment: Losing in the CIF San Diego section. It’s always tough when you can’t go out on top. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to play with. I know those guys will always be there for me.
Most memorable homer: My freshman year, I hit a walk-off homer against San Pasqual (Escondido). You remember something like that the rest of your life.
Catcher or outfielder: I just want to play baseball. At the end of the day, I want to be on the field.
Jack Flaherty, Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, Calif.
RHP-3B, 6-3, 217
The only returning player from last season’s ALL-USA team, Flaherty was 10-0 with a 0.63 ERA and 23-0 over the past two seasons. Hit .280 with 21 stolen bases and 18 RBI in 82 at-bats. Has agreed to sign with St. Louis Cardinals after being drafted No. 34 overall.
Sean Reid-Foley, Sandalwood, Jacksonville, Fla.
RHP, 6-4, 208
Is 7-3 with a 0.64 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 15 walks through 65.2 innings. Signed with Toronto Blue Jays after being drafted No. 49.
Jakson Reetz, Norris, Firth, Neb.
C-RHP, 6-1, 195
Hit .486 with eight homers and 37 RBI. Has signed with Washington Nationals after being drafted No. 93.
Ti’Quan Forbes, Columbia, Miss.
SS, 6-4, 175
Hit .486 with eight homers and 37 RBI. Has signed with Texas Rangers after being drafted No. 59.
Jacob Gatewood, Clovis, Calif.
SS-3B, 6-5, 190
Hit .395 with five homers and 23 walks. Has signed with Milwaukee Brewers after being drafted No. 41.
Milton Ramos, American Heritage, Plantation, Fla.
SS, 6-2, 165
Florida Atlantic signee hit .424 with 21 RBI and 19 runs in 66 at-bats and is one of the top defensive infielders in the country. Was signed by the New York Mets after being drafted No. 84.
Anthony Brocato, Rutgers Prep, Somerset, N.J.
OF, 5-11, 175
St. John’s signee hit .618 with 35 RBI and 10 homers in 68 at-bats.
Braxton Davidson, T.C. Roberson, Asheville, N.C.
OF-1B, 6-3, 215
Hit .462 with 20 RBI, 34 runs, 14 stolen bases and five homers. Has signed with Atlanta Braves after being drafted No. 32.
Derek Hill, Elk Grove, Calif.
OF, 6-1, 185
Hit .500 with 11 doubles, seven triples, 29 stolen bases and 30 RBI in 94 at-bats. Signed with Detroit Tigers after being drafted No. 23.
Marcus Wilson, Serra, Gardena, Calif.
OF, 6-2, 205
Hit .359 with five homers and 17 RBI in 64 at-bats. Signed with Arizona Diamondbacks after being drafted at No. 69.