Oct. 5, 2007
DURHAM, N.C. - Former LMU baseball standout Jeff Stevens (2003-05) has been named to the professional national team, USA Baseball announced this week. Considered the precursor to the 2008 Olympic roster, Team USA will first compete in the Arizona Fall League before representing the United States in the 2007 World Cup in Taiwan.
Stevens, a right-handed pitcher who led the Lions to back-to-back West Coast Conference Championship Series appearances in 2004 and 2005, is currently a minor-leaguer with the Cleveland Indians' Double-A Akron.
Team USA will play in the Arizona Fall League beginning October 25, prior to competition at the World Cup, which begins November 6.
The World Cup will feature most of the competition the Red, White, and Blue will face in Beijing in 2008. The 16 teams are broken into two sides, with Group A including the U.S. and host Taiwan, along with Italy, Japan, Mexico, Panama, South Africa, and Spain. Group B is expected to be stronger with Australia, Canada, Cuba, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands, Thailand, and Venezuela.
Cuba is the nine-time defending World Cup champion. Team USA finished ninth at the 2005 World Cup in the Netherlands, but is expected to improve on that outing this year in Taiwan.
While wearing a Lion uniform, Stevens was a two-time All-WCC selection after leading the Lions in innings pitched his sophomore and junior seasons. As a sophomore, he went 6-0 with a 3.73 ERA for the Lions. He was a sixth round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2005, and was later dealt to the Indians organization where he remains today.
Stevens joins a list of Lions who have ties to USA Baseball national teams. In addition to those who have represented the U.S. on junior national teams, including current senior RHP Andy Beal, the Lions have been represented on the collegiate national team by Stephen Kahn (2003-05), Joe Ciccarella (1989-91), and Chris Gomez (1990-91). Current LMU Head Coach Frank Cruz served as head coach for the 2004 gold-medal winning Team USA that featured Kahn. For his efforts with the national team, Cruz was named International Coach of the Year, the first Team USA coach to earn the honor in an Olympic year. Prior to serving as skipper for the Red, White, and Blue, Cruz was an assistant on the 2000 national team that also struck gold. He is one of just three coaches in USA Baseball history to be a part of multiple gold medal-winning squads.
Stevens was originally scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League with the Surprise Rafters, alongside former LMU teammate Chris Pettit (2003-06). Kahn and Josh Muecke (2001-03) were also named to AFL rosters, with Muecke slated to play for the Mesa Solar Sox and Kahn on the Peoria Javelinas roster. Now, Stevens will face his Lion teammates from the other dugout as a member of Team USA.