Young baseball players were on pins and needles yesterday as the USA Baseball U15 team selected its 20 players for the final roster that will travel to Japan for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Cup.
Landon Sims might have been more anxious than others – he competed for a spot on the same team last year, but missed the cut after a bad showcase during the 40-player team trials.
This week in Cary, North Carolina he tried again. The team trials are a five-game series, where the 40 players invited to compete for a roster spot go against one another in live games.
Sims saved his best performance for last, entering to pitch three innings in the final game after a good, but not great performance two days before.
He gave up zero hits and struck out four of the 10 batters he faced in his last appearance.
That was enough to get the rising sophomore through—after a year of hard work and determination, he made it on a U.S. national team.
“It felt incredible,” Sims said. “After getting cut last year I really worked hard to get back. It’s a great feeling.”
Sims will also have some weight on his shoulders when the team takes off for competition in Iwaki, Japan between July 29 and Aug. 7—he’s the only player from the state of Georgia, surprisingly, to make the final U15 roster. Last season Lassiter’s Jared Hart was the only Georgian to make the final cut, while Steven Williams from Albany was the lone player from the Peach state the year before.
“Being the only player from Georgia, it feels pretty cool,” Sims said.
Sims said he just didn’t quite have the right stuff during last year’s trials, while he was closer to peaking this time around. Still, he hopes he can improve even more when he goes up against some of the best talent around the world. He boasts above-average velocity and an impressive curveball. He can top out in the low 90s, while also slowing down his curve to 74 mph.
The team has group play games scheduled against Chinese Taipei, Venezuela, Panama, New Zealand and Mexico.
Sims is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound prospect. He said he grew an inch and gained 15 pounds since last season’s trials, and doesn’t know if he’s done growing just yet. Last season he started as a freshman on the South Forsyth varsity baseball team, recording 39 strikeouts in eight starts. He finished 5-3 with a 4.96 ERA as South’s second starting option. He has also played for Team Elite in the club season, based out of Columbus.