June 25, 2009
Tennessee rising junior catcher Blake Forsythe was named one of 22 members of the 2009 USA Baseball National Team announced Wednesday night.
Forsythe is one of two catchers on the 22-man roster, along with Miami's Yasmani Grandal.
"It's a huge honor to be selected to play for this country," said Forsythe, who earned first-team All-SEC honors as a sophomore for the Vols. "It's more than a dream. It has been my goal ever since my brother (former Arkansas third baseman Logan Forsythe) played on the team two years ago, and finally it's coming to realization.
The USA National Team is comprised of the top non-draft-eligible college players in the United States. In 2009, the National Team will play in two international friendship series in North Carolina against the Canadian National Team and the Guatemalan National Team before heading to Japan for the 37th annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series and the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.
"I am excited to get going this summer now," Forsythe said. "We've got the team together, and I'm looking forward to having some competition over the season - Japan, then going to Canada. Playing all these teams, it's going to be fun."
The Tennessee program has a rich and longstanding history with the USA Baseball National Team. Including Forsythe, 16 Vols have taken part in the trials since 1992.
"I'm obviously thrilled for Blake," UT head coach Todd Raleigh said. "He does all the right things on and off the field, so he's definitely deserving of this honor. We're all proud of him.
"But we're also proud for this program. It seems like Tennessee has a player on Team USA almost every year. And to make that roster you have to be among the best of the best. I think it proves that Tennessee has all the resources to produce great players. Blake just adds to an already impressive list of Vols who have had the chance to represent their country."
Tennessee's all-time National Team alumni include Todd Helton (1993, 1994), R.A. Dickey (1994, 1995, 1996), Augie Ojeda (1995, 1996), Chris Burke (2000), Javi Herrera (2001), Luke Hochevar (2004), J.P. Arencibia (2005, 2006), Julio Borbon (2006) and Kentrail Davis (2008). Five of those elite players advanced all the way to the major leagues later in their careers, while three (Herrera, Arencibia and Borbon) are currently working their way up the minor-league ranks.
In two of the last four years, Team USA's top hitter has been a Vol. Arencibia led the team in hits in 2005, while Borbon led the 2006 club in hits. Davis was the National Team's top hitter last summer before his stint with the club was cut short due to an injury.
Forsythe had a breakout season at the plate this year for Tennessee. After only seeing action in 22 games as a freshman in 2008, Forsythe started 53 of 55 games behind the plate for the Vols this season and turned in career numbers. The Memphis, Tenn., native hit .347 with 68 hits, 15 home runs and 46 RBIs. He also led the team with 40 walks and a .486 on-base percentage.