Summer Olympics
Jordan Shusterman breaks down the mosaic that is Team USA baseball
Summer Olympics

Jordan Shusterman breaks down the mosaic that is Team USA baseball

Published Jul. 29, 2021 4:00 p.m. ET

By Jordan Shusterman
FOX Sports MLB Writer

OK, so you know baseball is back in the Olympics for the first time since 2008. But you also know that the Major League Baseball season is still very much in progress. 

So as baseball gets underway in Tokyo, you might be wondering: Who's representing the red white and blue on the Olympic stage in the sport known as America’s Pastime? 

With the NBA Finals in the rearview mirror, the U.S. men’s basketball team is able to feature some of the league's biggest stars on its roster. That is very much not the case for baseball, as players on 40-man MLB rosters are ineligible to compete in the Olympic baseball tournament in Tokyo. 


As a result, Team USA is composed of a fascinating mix of former big leaguers, exciting young prospects not yet on 40-man rosters, and some veteran journeymen competing in leagues across the globe. 

To help familiarize you with those trying to bring home the gold medal for the first time since 2000, I’ve broken down the roster into six distinct categories. 

1. Former Big Leaguers You’ve Heard Of: You know the names, but you probably haven't thought about them in a while

RHP Edwin Jackson (Free Agent): Last seen at the major-league level in 2019, Jackson has played for a record 14 different MLB franchises. Now he suits up for Team USA. Just another jersey for the 37-year-old to add to his historic collection. 

RHP David Robertson (Free Agent): Robertson was one of the most reliable relievers in MLB for nearly a decade, but injuries cut his Phillies tenure short. Now he’s healthy and will likely be the closer for Team USA in Tokyo.  

LHP Scott Kazmir (Giants): A three-time All-Star whose career has been plagued by injuries, Kazmir appeared in three games for the Giants earlier this season, completing an incredible comeback five years in the making. 

LHP Anthony Gose (Indians): Yes, that does say "LHP," as Gose transitioned to the mound from the outfield in 2017 and has been trying to return to the big leagues as a hard-throwing southpaw reliever. He throws VERY hard. 

OF Tyler Austin (Yokohama BayStars): The former New York Yankee has been playing in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league for the past two seasons, and has a 1.017 OPS for Yokohama through 68 games in 2021.  

INF Todd Frazier (Free Agent): We know from his time with the Yankees and Mets that Frazier will almost certainly be the heart, soul and voice of this Team USA squad in the clubhouse and dugout. 

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2. Prospects You Should Know About: Get a sneak peak at these guys against some top competition before they become big-league stars

RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (Blue Jays): The youngest player on the U.S. roster, Richardson won’t turn 21 until September but is already one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. He was among the prospects Toronto received from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman trade in 2019. 

RHP Joe Ryan (Twins): Speaking of trades, Ryan was just dealt from Tampa Bay to Minnesota for Nelson Cruz. Ryan has one of the best fastballs in the minors. 

RHP Shane Baz (Rays): The Rays could afford to move a guy like Ryan when they have arms like Baz on the cusp of the majors. He’ll touch triple digits with some wicked secondary stuff. 

INF Triston Casas (Red Sox): One of the top 1B prospects in baseball, Casas might have some of the biggest raw power in the entire tournament. 

INF Nick Allen (A’s): Since he was in high school, Allen has been known for his defensive wizardry at shortstop. But his bat has really come along; he's posted an .845 OPS for Double-A Midland so far in 2021. 

3. Cup of Coffee Guys: Some players who have sniffed the big leagues but didn’t stick around long 

INF/OF Patrick Kivlehan (Padres): A former football and baseball player at Rutgers, the 31-year-old Kivlehan is still a tremendous athlete capable of playing all over the diamond.

C Tim Federowicz (Dodgers): The epitome of a backup catcher. Timothy Joseph Federowicz.

OF Bubba Starling (Royals): It’s been 10 years since the Royals selected Starling fifth overall in the historically loaded 2011 MLB Draft. He may not have turned into the star they had hoped, but it’s still cool to see him get this opportunity in Tokyo. Always rooting for Bubba. 

4. Dudes You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Before: Current minor leaguers who aren’t near the top of any prospect lists so there’s a decent chance you’re learning about them for the first time now — and that’s OK

C Mark Kolozsvary (Reds): He was the starting catcher on the University of Florida team that won the national championship in 2017 before the Reds selected him in the seventh round that same year. He hit some big homers during qualifying: 

INF Jack Lopez (Red Sox): A 16th-round pick by Kansas City back in 2011, Lopez has 867 MiLB games to his name, including at least 100 at 2B, 3B, and SS. He’s your super-duper utilityman. 

RHP Ryder Ryan (Rangers): Ryan has already been traded twice in his young career, first from Cleveland to New York for Jay Bruce in 2017, and then from New York to Texas for Frazier in 2020. He’s been in Triple-A in 2021.

INF/OF Jamie Westbrook (Brewers): Like Lopez, Westbrook is another versatile defender with more than 800 career MiLB games, primarily at 2B and LF. 

5. Foreign League Grinders: Guys with experience in affiliated ball but are now finding more success in leagues outside the U.S. either during the summer or winter

RHP Anthony Carter (Saraperos de Saltillo): He hasn’t been in affiliated ball since 2016 and never reached the big leagues, but Carter has been a dominant reliever in Independent ball, the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League (LIDOM) and the Mexican League over the past half decade. 

RHP Brandon Dickson (Cardinals): Dickson returned to affiliated ball this year after eight stellar seasons in NPB with the Orix Buffaloes. Safe to say he’ll know Tokyo as well as anyone on this roster. 

RHP Nick Martinez (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks): The 30-year-old right-hander had a solid run with the Rangers from 2014-2017 but has been chillin’ in NPB ever since. 

OF Eric Filia (Mariners): Now in his fifth season with the Mariners org, he’s only played domestically during the summer. But Filia has made a name for himself in Mexico with Estrellas over the past two winters and would surely be invited back if he wants to keep spending his winters in San Pedro de Macoris. 

RHP Scott McGough (Tokyo Yakult Swallows): Six appearances for the 2015 Marlins is the extent of McGough’s (pronounced mick-GUFF) MLB career. He’s been a stellar reliever since 2019 for the Swallows of NPB. 

6. Former Olympian You Need To Know About: The Guy Who's One Of The Best Stories In The Entire Olympics

INF Eddy Alvarez (Marlins): You might know the story by now, but the tale of short-track speed skater turned shortstop turned FLAG BEARER will never get old. If you only need one reason to root for Team USA, it’s for Alvarez to get another medal. 

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball analyst for FOX Sports. He lives in D.C. but is a huge Seattle Mariners fan and loves watching the KBO, which means he doesn't get a lot of sleep. You can follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.


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