ASU sophomore closer Ryan Burr was named to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team for the second year in a row Wednesday afternoon.
Burr was the fourth player to accept an invitation to play for Team USA this summer, the latest addition to a cast of sophomore right-handed pitchers.
“Being on the team last year, having that on my résumé,” Burr said. “I think this year, after I figured out what I wanted to do and went back to the bullpen, I pitched myself into a spot where I deserved to be in the mix for USA baseball this year.
The team’s 24-man roster will be continually filled as players accept or reject offers, and finalized at the end of June with the conclusion of the College World Series.
Manager Dave Van Horn of Arkansas, and coaches Rob Childress of Texas A&M;, Ray Birmingham of New Mexico and Steve Rodriguez of Pepperdine University will oversee the team throughout the summer season, which lasts approximately one month.
TCU closer Riley Ferrell, Houston starter Jake Lemoine and UCLA starter James Kaprielian, will join Burr as the Collegiate National team kicks off its “Red, White and Blue Tour” at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., on June 21.
“It’s an opportunity for me play with some guys I played with and against (in high school),” Burr said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new guys and being around the top guys in the country, to learn from them to see what makes them successful. I’ve made lifelong friends through USA Baseball.”
Team USA will host the Chinese Taipei and Japanese national teams, and then travel to Haarlem, Netherlands before closing out the season with a four-game series in Havana, Cuba beginning July 23.
Burr was one of three players on the 2013 Collegiate National squad, who began playing in high school for the 16U National Team.
“When you’re playing the Cuban National Team, it’s a bunch of grown men playing the game for as long as I’ve lived,” Burr said. “The competition is superior in some ways, but for the guys playing here, the summer leagues (in the U.S.) are great as well.”
Burr said that the prospect of playing on a international stage is where playing for Team USA differs greatly from the traditional collegiate summer leagues.
“You want to do well for your country, the college that you represent, your friends and your family,” Burr said. “Playing in front of your home crowd with USA on your chest, it’s something you can’t really (express) in words.”
Burr said that the flexibility of the Team USA coaching staff allows for him and teammates to continue to work according to the routine that their respective college staffs have laid out for them, to minimize injury risk while still building up innings and experience to keep arms active over the course of a less intensive summer.
“Everyone does their own thing,” Burr said. “I trick to stick to the routine I’ve built with (coach Tim Esmay) and (pitching coach Knutson). Different coaches have different styles, but for (USA Baseball) they let everyone stick to what they know.”
The ultimate goal though, remains the same, no matter what jersey Burr wears.
“At the end of the day, the coaches put together the lineup and let us play,” Burr said. “We still come together as a team to try to win.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @modrich_22