The 2017 Prague Baseball Week Tournament was hosted at Krc Eagles Baseball Complex in Prague Czech Republic from June 27 to July 1. For the fifth consecutive year, the International Stars (IS) were invited to participate. This year, due to the overwhelming popularity of the International Stars program across the European continent, and the desire to be more inclusive for younger, up-and-coming European born talent, the IS organization entered an additional team into the tournament, the International Future Stars. International Stars comprise mostly non-EU residents, otherwise known as “Imports” – playing for various teams across the European baseball landscape and mostly hailing from countries such as the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, as well as The Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Poland. This team, sponsored by 3n2 Sports and called the 3n2 International Stars were looking to defend their title as 2016 Prague Baseball Week champions and trying for a fourth championship in a five-year span.
The new addition to the International Stars program was loaded with some of the top Under-23 European talent in the continent, the International Future Stars. While the 3n2 International Stars comprised seasoned professionals (many of whom were participating in Prague Baseball Week for a second or third time), the Future Stars were very new to the tournament, with only a couple players having had this experience, and as a younger group, no one knew what to expect.
The 2017 Prague Baseball Week was notable for bringing new management and coaching staff to both International Stars teams for the first time. While Founder/General Manager/Coach Boomer Prinstein remained in charge of the 3n2 International Stars, and assisted the new Future Stars team, the 3n2 International Stars were to be led on the field by new Head Coach Kevin Roovers, from The Netherlands, where he held the same position for Oosterhout Twins in the Dutch Head Class. Kevin had an illustrious playing career as a pitcher in The Netherlands and as an import in Western Australia (where he was MVP of the league in 2008-2009) and was also recognized in The Netherlands as the 2015 Up and Coming Coach of the Year for leading the Twins from the Dutch First Division to the Head Class after winning the promotion series that year.
Also assisting Kevin and Boomer were long-time International Stars coaches – Ty Eriksen (U.S.), Petr Novotny (Czech Republic), Przemyslaw Paluch (Poland), and International Baseball Community founder David Burns (Canada).
The International Future Stars management and staff were completely new to Prague Baseball Week but were all a very welcome addition to the International Stars organization. The team was put together over many months through a diligent effort by General Manager Rene Saggiadi (Italy) a longtime MLB Scout working in Europe, currently for the Boston Red Sox. The Future Stars were led on the field by Head Coach Alper Bozkurt (Germany) renown youth coach and director of the MLB Academy in Paderborn Germany as well as a scout for the Cincinnati Reds in Europe. Alper was assisted by Ulli Wermuth, a successful German National Team coach and currently coaching Mainz Athletics in the German Bundesliga. Rounding out the new additions to the team was Margaret Cassetto (U.S.), Assistant Director of Baseball Operations for International Stars and played a huge role in everything from marketing/social media, to logistics and all the behind the scenes work that makes International Stars operate.
In the first day of PBW 2017 the defending champs 3n2 International Stars clobbered the Czech U23 National Team by a score of 9-0. The Stars were paced offensively by Rafael Torres and David Sandoval who both hit homers. The pitching staff combined for a shutout with Aussies Jeremy Atkinson, Tayler Chappell, and Chris Horne all leading the way. Horne picked up the win by pitching 3 innings and striking out 4. Americans Andrew Schenk and Forrest Weaver also contributed scoreless innings.
The Future Stars also had a successful opening to PBW 2017 with a 6-2 win vs. the Germany Under-23 National team. Pacing the offense was Italian Riccardo Bertossi (Italy) who slugged 2 doubles and Swede Joel Johnson who had 2 hits including a double and RBI. 2013 Prague Baseball Week and College Showcase Alum Jorin van Amstel (Netherlands)
who was back in Europe for the summer on break from his college season in the U.S. belted a homer in the win, picking up where he left off four years ago with a fantastic rookie campaign at the 2013 PBW tournament.
American Kevin Vance (who pitches in Germany) pitched in his only game of the tourney, picking up the win with 4 innings of no run ball and striking out 5. Former Boston Red Sox Minor Leaguer Nicolo Clemente (Italy) pitched 2 scoreless frames and Romanian pitcher Eduard Pirvu chipped in 3 scoreless frames as well.
See the Day 1 Recap/video highlights here:
Day two proved to be challenging for both squads (the great city of Prague has long been known to make Day two more challenging). The 3n2 International Stars survived a scare from the German Under-23 National team winning by a score of 13-10. It was a day for offense with returning International Stars Alex Carter (2 for 3), Max MacNabb (2 for 4), Melvin Perdue (2 for 4), Josh Wyant (3 for 4), and Andrew Medeiros (3 for 4 with a HR, 2B and 3 RBI) all leading the way.
Newcomer Nick Ruppert also went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI. On the pitching side it was a day for lefties. Returning Star and lefty reliever extraordinaire Devon Barker picked up the win in relief by tossing 2 shutout frames. Lefties MacNabb and Adan Cabrales each contributed an inning of no runs as well.
For the Future Stars things did not go their way as they ran into a much more seasoned and older Russian National Team that defeated them 12-9. Joel Johnson (Sweden) and Jorin van Amstel continued their hot hitting by each picking up 2 hits and combining for 5 RBI. Germans Maurice Bendrien and Marco Cardoso both busted out in big ways – Bendrien went 4 for 4 and Cardoso went 3 for 4 both in their first PBW tournament. On the mound only Marco Valentinuzzi (Italy) and Robertas Vilimas (Lithuania) were able to keep the Russian off the scoreboard.
Check out the Day 2 action and highlights here:
Day 3 was rained out so Day 4 saw both teams take the field twice, the day before the championship round was to begin. The first game was an interesting match-up between the two International Stars squads at 10:00 AM. Mutual respect between the two sides and a desire to be the inter-IS champ saw a tight game played with the veteran 3n2 Stars barely squeaking by the Future Stars, 7-5. For the 3n2 Stars Ryosuke Sato shined with 2 doubles in 2 AB’s and Daniel Catalan led the way with a double, 2 walks, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI.
For the Future Stars Jorin van Amstel had 2 more RBI’s on his double and 2016 College Showcase Alum Cesare Astorri (Italy) broke out with a monster homer that drove in 2 runs as well. Former New York Yankee Minor Leaguer Artur Strzalka (Poland) who came all the way from Japan to participate started hot striking out 5 in 3 innings before running out of gas. Another former College Showcase alum, Jimmy “The Big Tuna” Osigna had a scoreless outing in relief but they were out-dueled by the tandem of best buds Tyler Chappell and Devon Barker. Chappell the submarine/side-arm righty from Australia chucked 5 innings, striking out 3 and walking no one to get the win. Barker was fantastic in relief again putting out a threat when needed. Funky Forrest Weaver also had another scoreless outing.
The Future Stars turned around and played immediately following their loss to the 3n2 Stars and they responded in resounding fashion by besting the Czech Under-23 National Team by the lopsided score of 13-3. 2016 College Showcase Alum Angelo Wicklert (Netherlands) was the man of the match by going 3 for 3 with a HR, 2B, 1B and 5 RBI’s only falling a triple short of the cycle. Cesare Astorri hit his second Home Run of the day and finished 2 for 2 with a walk and 3 RBI. Daniel Johnson also led the way going 2 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI. On the mound was Eduard Pirvu who went the distance (5 innings) in the shortened game. Pirvu recorded 5 strikeouts while only giving up 4 hits and allowed no earned runs in the win.
The Day 4 nightcap featured a rematch from the previous 4 PBW Championships with the 3n2 Stars taking on host Czech National Team. The game was another close fought battle with the Stars prevailing by the score of 7-5. 10 different Stars hitters recorded a hit. Andrew Medeiros hit another 2B and drove in a run. Longtime International Star and assistant coach Przemyslaw Paluch went 1-2 with a 2B while playing catcher. And Japanese duo of Ryosuke Sato and Ryoma Watanabe a returning fan-favorite both hit doubles and drove in 5 runs between the two of them. Chris Horne started and pitched 4 innings to record his 2nd win of the tournament only giving up 1 hit and 2 earned runs. American Dylan Brammer came in from shortstop to pitch the final inning and record the save.
Day 3 and 4 Video Highlights:
The final day of the 2017 Prague Baseball Week saw both International Stars teams primed to make a run at medals. The 3n2 International Stars already secured a place in the finals when they took on the Russian National Team at 10:00 AM. The Stars looked to continue their undefeated streak but lost a tight game vs. Russia 9-8. Andrew Medeiros continued to destroy the baseball going 2 for 2 with 2 Home Runs and 4 RBI. Daniel Catalan also stayed hot going 2 for 3 with a Homer and walked twice. Ryosuke Sato also homered for the Stars. Rafael Torres reached base 3 times with 2 hits and a walk. 2016 PBW Pitcher of the Tournament Wes Roemer showed he could also handle himself at the plate, reaching base 3 times as well. Tyler Chappell proved to be extremely valuable again, saving arms for the finals by going 3 more innings and only yielding 1 earned run. And in a surprise mound appearance Ryoma Wantanabe pitched 3 innings and only yielded 1 earned run as well.
The Future Stars took on the Czech National Team in the afternoon with a birth in the championship game on the line between the two squads. Italian pitcher Matthias Zotti kept the Stars in the game after some defensive miscues caused the team to fall behind early.
Zotti tossed 3 1/3 innings in relief and only allowed 1 earned run and striking out 3 while giving the Stars a chance to come back but the motivated Czech side with more depth and experience was just too strong for the upstart Future Stars squad. Cesare Astorri continued his torrid pace homering in his 3rd consecutive game and collecting another hit. Jorin van Amstel also continued his great tournament going 2 for 3 in the loss.
This set-up a rematch between the 3n2 International Stars and the Czech National Team for the 5th consecutive tournament. The Stars held the head-to-head advantage besting the Czech squad in 3 of the previous 4 championship games. This affair proved to be as close as the rest but the difference being Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Max MacNabb.
MacNabb went the distance, throwing a complete game shutout, striking out 14 Czech batters and walking none in being named Top Pitcher of the tournament and in helping the Stars win their 4th Prague Baseball Week Championship in 5 years. Offensively, the Stars were led by Terrell Joyce who clobbered a massive Home Run in the final to put the game out of reach. Ryosuke Sato (2H, 1 RBI) also sparked the offense and Andrew Medeiros (2H, 1R in the final) was named MVP of the tournament. Upon conclusion of the tournament three players signed MLB contracts: Max MacNabb (Baltimore Orioles), Marco Cardoso (Boston Red Sox), and Cesare Astorri (Oakland Athletics).
Day 5 Highlights:
3n2 International Stars Roster (1st Place)
Jeremy Atkinson (Australia) – Oosterhout Twins (Netherlands)
Devon Barker (U.S.) – Trebic Nuclears (Czech Republic)
Dylan Brammer (U.S.) – Skokani Olomouc (Czech Republic)
Jackson Brebner-Russ (Australia) – Kotlarka Praha (Czech Republic)
Adan Cabrales (U.S.) – Paris Univisitaire Club (France)
David Carles (U.S.) – Hamburg Stealers (Germany)
Alex Carter (U.S.) – Montpellier Barracudas (France)
Daniel Catalan (U.S.) – Paris Univisitaire Club (France)
Tyler Chappell (Australia) – Trebic Nuclears (Czech Republic)
Michael Gonzalez (U.S.) – Cubs de Chartres (France)
Chris Horne (Australia) – Therwil Flyers (Switzerland)
Steven Johnson (U.S.) – Attnang Athletics (Austria)
Terrell Joyce (U.S.) – Draci Brno (Czech Republic)
Max MacNabb (U.S.) – Skokani Olomouc (Czech Republic)
Andrew Medeiros (U.S.) – Technika Brno (Czech Republic)
Luke Melymick (U.S.) – Schwechat Blue Bats (Austria)
Przemyslaw Paluch (Poland) – Hamburg Stealers (Germany)
Melvin Perdue (U.S.) – Oosterhout Twins (Netherlands)
Wes Roemer (U.S.) – Draci Brno (Czech Republic)
Nick Ruppert (U.S.) – Senart Templiers (France)
David Sandoval (U.S.) – Prague Eagles (Czech Republic)
Ryosuke Sato (Japan) – Silesia Rybnik (Poland)
Andrew Schenk (U.S.) – Stockerau Cubs (Austria)
Rafael Torres (U.S.) – Karlskoga Bats (Sweden)
Rick van Dijck (Netherlands) – Prague Eagles (Czech Republic)
Ryoma Wantanabe (Japan) – Silesia Rybnik (Poland)
Forrest Weaver (U.S.) – Karlskoga Bats (Sweden)
Joe Wittig (U.S.) – Prague Eagles (Czech Republic)
Josh Wyant (U.S.) – Neunkirchen Nighmares (Germany)
Boomer Prinstein (U.S.) – Baltimore Orioles (U.S.)
Kevin Roovers (Netherlands) – Oosterhout Twins (Netherlands)
Petr Novotny (Czech Republic) – Hrosi Brno (Czech Republic)
David Burns (Canada) – Attnang Athletics (Austria)
Ty Eriksen (U.S.)
International Future Stars Roster (3rd place):
Cesare Astorri (Italy)
Maurice Bendrien (Germany)
Riccardo Bertossi (Italy)
Marco Cardoso (Germany)
Matteo Friggeri (Italy)
Joel Johnson (Sweden)
Daniel Johnson (Sweden)
Menno Lenting (Netherlands)
Joey Eeman (Netherlands)
Jorin van Amstel (Netherlands)
Nicolo Clemente (Italy)
Stefano Grassi (Italy)
Jimmy Osinga (Netherlands)
Eduard Pirvu (Romania)
Artur Strzalka (Poland)
Mateusz Szustek (Poland)
Marco Valentinuzzi (Italy)
Jonah Van Bemmelen (Netherlands)
Robertas Vilimas (Lithuania)
Angelo Wicklert (Netherlands)
Matthias Zotti (Italy)
Kevin Vance (U.S.)
Rene Saggiadi (Italy)
Alper Bozkurt (Germany)
Ulli Wermuth (Germany)
Boomer Prinstein (U.S.)
The International Stars would like to thank the Prague Baseball Week organizers (specifically Jan Bagin and Jan Drabek) and Prague Eagles for putting on another fantastic tournament. The Stars would also like to thank Michal Řezáč and the Dugout Cantina for providing great meals, Patricie Sixtova for helping to organize Prague activities and logistics, 3n2 Sports and Josh Pollack for the amazing apparel, Hotel Michael and Hotel Bohemians for the accommodations, Margaret Cassetto for all her support and assistance, Monika for her expert transportation, and to the all the players, coaches, families and fans for making this year another incredible experience. We can’t wait to see you in 2018!