Zach Ahlgrim (Piedra Vista)
Kody Russell (Piedra Vista)
Tyler Archuleta (Piedra Vista)
Dayne Rowley (Durango High)
Ben Wiley (Durango High)
Jeff Deimling (La Cueva High/Alternate)
Tyler Barker (Bloomfield High/Alternate)
Matthew Knickerbocker (Bayfield High)
Austin Ely (Alberta, Canada/Farmington)
Sergio Castillo (Mayfield High)
Scott Ingle (La Cueva High)
Anthony Montoya (Miyamura/Alternate)
Andrew Caliendo (Piedra Vista)
Tyler Mead (Piedra Vista)
Jarrett Graham (Piedra Vista)
Cameron Stevenson (Goddard High)
Dawson Walls (Farmington Rivercats)
FARMINGTON — The Four Corners will once again be well represented this year when the top youth players from across the country converge on the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
Seventeen players from the 4-Corners Baseball organization have been selected as players or alternates to represent the Southwest Region in USA Baseball's National Team Identification Series. The players were picked after participating in a regional selection event with players competing from Arizona, New Mexico, southern Nevada and west Texas.
Now the players will have a chance to showcase their abilities in front of a national audience as they play for an opportunity to be invited to the National Team Trials and the National Team Development Program, which is the first step toward being selected to play for Team USA.
"The coolest part about it is that it is at the USA Baseball National Training Facility in Cary. Regardless of what happens out there, just the opportunity to play at that facility and wear USA on your hat and jersey is an experience that would be really cool to say you did at least once," said Mike McGaha, owner of 4-Corners Baseball and head coach of Piedra Vista High School.
Players representing four age groups will make the trip to North Carolina. Representing players born in 1996 is Piedra Vista's Zach Ahlgrim, Kody Russell and Tyler Archuleta, as well as Durango High School's Dayne Rowley and Ben Wiley. La Cueva High School's Jeff Diemling and Bloomfield High's Tyler Barker were also selected as alternates in the 1996 division.
"I like competing against the other guys and trying to show off my talent," said Ahlgrim, who, along with Archuleta, is a second-time selection for the NTIS. "I am trying to show the scouts what I can do."
Players born in 1997 who were selected are Bayfield High's Matthew Knickerbocker, Mayfield High's Sergio Castillo, La Cueva's Scott Ingle and Austin Ely, a Farmington native who currently resides in Alberta, Canada. Chosen as an alternate was Anthony Montoya of Miyamura High.
The 1999 selections were Piedra Vista's Andrew Caliendo, Tyler Mead and Jarrett Graham, as well as Cameron Stevenson of Goddard High School.
"It is an honor to be able to represent where I come from and to just try to be all that I can be," Graham said. "I am definitely nervous. I am looking forward to being able to pitch down there. It will help me know what to look for in the future and show me what I need to work on to improve and get better."
Dawson Wells of Farmington was the lone selection for players born in 2002.
"I just want to play baseball and get to know everybody," said Wells, who plays for the Rivercats in the summer.
Players in the 17- and 16-and-under age groups will play in North Carolina Aug. 22 to 25, and all players 14 and under will compete Sept. 5 to 8.
McGaha is pleased with the growth in the number of kids making the trip to North Carolina over recent years, and he knows the experience for the younger players will pay big dividends as they grow in the game.
"I remember back the first year we did this and I think maybe we had two kids picked locally," McGaha said. "The volume of kids coming through our programs and using the limited number of exposure events we do are getting noticed. It is a great tool for the kids in the community. If they get picked from the region to actually go on to North Carolina, it is a big chance to compare themselves to the rest of the country. It is great feedback for a kid with aspirations of going on and playing at high levels. The kids are getting on the map, and they are on somebody's list. I don't think you can replace that."John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.