Playing on the U.S. National Team was something Brandon Hall aspired to do 20 years ago, when he played high school baseball at Raleigh Millbrook.
Hall fell short of his goal as a player, but the Charlotte 49ers associate head coach now gets to help USA Baseball put the country’s best high school talent on the field as a member of the Tournament of Stars coaching staff.
For a high school baseball player, the Tournament of Stars is an important step in the 18U National Team selection process before the final 20-man roster is determined at a tryout at California State University Fullerton on Aug. 16.
Starting June 21and ending next Sunday, HWall and 25 other coaches and task force members will evaluate the 108 high school players invited to the Tournament of Stars, which is taking place at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary. The team will pick the 40 best players, who will continue being evaluated in trials over the summer.
“For me, it’s extremely prestigious,” said Hall, who has coached Charlotte pitchers since 2003. “I’m very humbled. I’m very honored to be a part of it.”
The 18U National Team will represent the U.S. at the 2015 18U Baseball World Cup on Aug. 28-Sept. 6 in Osaka, Japan.
This is the second straight summer Hall is a part of the National Team selection process. In 2014, he helped evaluate talent as part of the National Team Identification Series, a set of regional events that help determine National Team finalists.
“This is a great opportunity for Brandon to grow personally and professionally,” said Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs. “From the outset, I have encouraged him to pursue this opportunity.
“It also provides positive exposure for our program and shows the respect Charlotte 49ers baseball has on a national level.”
As a member of the 49ers staff, Hall’s pitchers have sometimes been among the nation’s best.
In 2007, Charlotte finished with the country’s best earned run average and had the second-best winning percentage. Pitching ace Adam Mills was an All-American and led the nation in wins and ERA.
The 2011 team had the 10th best ERA nationally. Last season, the 49ers posted an ERA of 3.50 or better for the fourth time under Hall’s direction.
Hall has coached 14 Charlotte pitchers who went on to play professionally and former 49ers Ryan Butler and Brock Hudgens were selected in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.
Hall described his approach to coaching pitchers by listing what he felt his strengths are.
“First and foremost I’d like to think I’m a good communicator,” Hall said, “that I can relate to different personalities and different types of pitchers.
“As you move into the game, I think teaching game management, to stretch stuff. Third, being able to help guys develop their pure stuff, developing swing-and-miss, and increasing velocity or spin rates.”
Hall got the call to serve on the Tournament of Stars staff through contacts he’s made in college coaching over the last decade.
Hall was introduced to 18U National Team Director Shaun Cole, formerly the Arizona Wildcats’ pitching coach, by Jim Krumpos, a strength and conditioning coach at Arizona. Krumpos worked at Charlotte when Hall was hired in 2003.
“(Cole) was trying to bring in some new blood to mingle in with what they already had,” said Hall. “I was one of the lucky few selected. Any time you get a chance to be involved in the national team – they do such a great job – you jump on it.”
Charlotte track and field athletes K’Vonte Scott and Anthony Campbell both earned second team All-American status at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which concluded June 12 at the University of Oregon. Scott, a redshirt junior, finished 11th in the decathlon and Campbell placed 15th in the triple jump.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.