South Carolina sophomore pitcher Tyler Johnson has made the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, earning a spot on the 24-man roster after receiving an invitation to training camp.
There were 31 players invited to training camp before seven were cut.
“It’s a real honor to make the squad and be able to travel across the world with these guys,” Johnson told The State. “It’s a really special thing to be included with Team USA. You build relationships that hopefully you’ll remember for a while.”
Johnson and Team USA will take part in three international friendship series this summer with trips to Taiwan, Japan and Cuba for five-game series.
Team USA will face Chinese Taipei on July 5-9, Japan on July 12-17 and Cuba on July 23-27. This will be Johnson’s first trip to Asia.
“The furthest I’ve been is Honduras for a church mission trip back in high school. I’m really excited to travel across the world,” he said. “Asia has always been a place I’ve wanted to go and see what it’s like, visit a different culture. I’m really excited for that.”
The Collegiate National Team is currently playing in California and is 2-0-1 with a win and tie against the Santa Barbara Forresters and a win over the Urban Youth Academy Barons.
Johnson has pitched 1 2/3 innings for Team USA thus far and allowed one run, but hasn’t allowed a hit. Team USA has played games in Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium.
“The stadiums are unreal, very nice,” he said. “These ball clubs are really nice to let us come in here and play on their turf. It’s a really special thing to play in these amazing ballparks.”
Johnson is the 11th South Carolina player to play for the Collegiate National Team, joining Grayson Greiner, Jackie Bradley Jr., Justin Smoak, Matt Campbell, Landon Powell, Adam Everett, Jason Haynie, Jared Baker, Brian Williams and Dave Hollins.
This past season the righty went 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 29 appearances. He struck out 59 batters in 52 innings and opponents hit .187 against him.
Johnson led the SEC in saves in conference games with eight and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2016 Columbia Regional.