Carig: The $750 million teens: Harper, Machado, and the remarkable 2009 U.S. under-18 national team

From Marc Carig at The Athletic on September 23, 2019:

They were all just boys then, from the sun-splashed diamonds of California and Florida and from every point in between. They wore cowboy boots and Vans, board shorts and skinny jeans. Some were hyped, some were overlooked. Soon, life would send them on their own paths. They’d become heroes and villains, dreamers and realists, inspirations and addicts, famous and anonymous, beneficiaries of charmed lives and survivors of illness, tragedy, and personal demons. But first, they were a $750 million baseball team, even if it was impossible at the time to know it.

Of the 20 players that comprised the 2009 under-18 U.S. national team, 10 would reach the major leagues. It could have been even more, had a few future All-Stars made the cut. The pitching staff featured Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray and Jameson Taillon. The lineup boasted Tony Wolters, Nick Castellanos, and a pair of superstars who would be linked beyond their empanada escapade, [Bryce] Harper and [Manny] Machado.

They were assembled to compete in the Pan Am junior world championships, an event that had been dominated by the world’s preeminent amateur power, Cuba. Their pursuit began a decade ago this week. It was not seen on SportsCenter. Only a relative few from their own country watched them play, and even fewer remember what they did. But their exploits have lived on in their own minds.

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Originally published: October 9, 2019. Last Updated: October 9, 2019.