Prague Baseball Week (PBW) is one of the most esteemed international baseball tournaments in the world. Held annually at the end of June, it takes place at Eagles Field (Krc) in Prague, Czech Republic. The first PBW was held in 1980 and it has grown from friendly exhibition games to a very competitive world-class tournament.
The “International Stars” concept originated in the Summer of 2013 when Justin Prinstein, Player-Manager of Hrosi Brno in the Czech Extra-League, was asked by the organizers of the Prague Baseball Week to field a team international “imports” playing in the Czech league so that the home-team (Czech National Team) would have to face tougher competition in the tournament. Since each team in the Czech league only has limited international imports, Prinstein sent word out through the European baseball circles that he was looking to field a competitive team for the tournament. More than 50 players from across Europe expressed interest and a team was selected. After beginning the 2013 PBW as the “EU International Stars” the coaches decided to shorten the team name to be more representative of the truly international nature that characterizes the team.
Players, mostly playing professionally in various leagues across Europe, pay their own way to come to Prague to participate in this prestigious tournament and play for one of the best teams that will step onto a European field over that summer.
Since it’s inception, the International Stars have been comprised of players hailing from 13 different countries (USA, Canada, Curacao, Venezuela, Australia, Japan, Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Netherlands). The Stars have a Prague Baseball Week record of 12-4, which includes two 1st place finishes (2013, 2014) and a 2nd place finish (2015). In any given year, The International Stars program has legitimized itself as Europe’s All-Star team.
The International Stars won the 2016 Prague Baseball Week by beating the Czech National Team (ranked #16 in the World Rankings) 5-0. This championship gives the International Stars organization it’s 3rd Prague Baseball Week title in the past 4 years.
31 players and 5 coaches from 9 different countries (U.S.A., Canada, Curacao, Czech Republic, Australia, Japan, Hungary, Poland, Sweden) who play in 8 different European Leagues during the regular season (Austria, Czech, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden) – came together for the first time as a group to participate in the 35th Annual Prague Baseball Week.
Check out all the stats, game recaps, video, and photos from the tournament website here:
MVP of the Tournament was American RHP/DH Jason Jarvis who plays for Draci Brno (Czech Republic).
Pitcher of the Tournament was American RHP Wes Roemer who plays for Heidenheim Heideköpfe (Germany).
The 2015 Edition of the International Stars set out to make it a 3-peat at the Prague Baseball Week.
A 32-man roster from 10 different countries, from all different leagues across Europe, and most of them having never played together – made things challenging for first time Head Coach Ty Eriksen (Haar Disciples – Germany) with Assistants Petr Novotny (Hrosi Brno – Czech) and David Burns (Attnang-Pucheim Athletics – Austria). The Czech National Team was stronger than ever and looking to avenge back-to-back losses in the championship at the hands of the Stars.
In Game 1 vs. Great Britain the Stars cruised to a 14-0 victory behind stand-out hitting performances by returning Stars – Jack Shannon and Lucas Hagberg, previously teammates in 2014 with Czech league team Olomouc, they were now teammates in the Swiss league with the Therwil Flyers.
Hagberg went 2-3 with a HR and 3 runs scored while Shannon went 2-2 with 2 BB, a 3B, and 4 RBI. Newcomer Melvin Perdue (USA) playing in Austria for the Attnang-Pucheim Athletics went 4-4 with 2 SB. Now a normal routine with the Stars in the first few games of the tournament, 5 different pitchers combined for the shutout, allowing just 2 hits.
Game 2 saw the Stars cruise to a 12-1 win vs. the Czech U-18 National Team (who had knocked them off in the first game of the 2013 tournament). 4 different pitchers combined to give up just 1 earned run vs. the Czech juniors with newcomer Brent Buffa (USA), the first player from the Italian league to play for the Stars getting the win. Returning Stars Alex Lee (USA) now playing for Ostrava Arrows in the Czech league and Kevin Faries (Curacao) with the Cologne Cardinals in Germany paced the Stars at the plate. Lee went 4-4 with 3 runs and a SB, Faries went 2-3 with 4 RBI. Polish national team catcher, Przemyslaw Paluch, who caught the 2014 championship game, went 3-4 at the plate with 3 RBI and 2 runs.
After a few nights in Prague under their belts, getting accustomed to the incredibly cheap beer, beautiful sites, and great night life – that can spell trouble for a group of foreign baseball players, the Stars came out sluggish in Game 3 against the German U-18 National Team. It took a strong team effort, with 19 different batters coming to the plate and 9 of those guys recording hits, but the Stars were able to pull out a 9-6 victory. Scotty Mulhearn (Australia) who had been hurt in 2014, now playing for the local Tempo Titans, led the way by going 2-3 with a run, RBI, and 2 SB. Joe Wittig (USA) who was with the team just a month earlier at the Finkstonball Tournament in Austria went 3-3 and Jaroslav Sitar, the youngest member of the team from Slovakia went 1-2 with a BB and 2 big runs scored. RHP Marshall Crawford (USA), playing in front of his hometown Prague Eagles fans threw 4 innings of 1 run ball to lead the pitchers through some feisty German junior hitters. Jordan Moore-Liester (USA) of the Chartres French Cubs in the French league, worked 2 and 2/3 for the win.
Starting 3-0 was something the Stars have had yet to do at the PBW. But that was about to change in going up against the Czech National Team since beating them in the 2014 championship game.
“Lucas Hagberg and Alex Lee had two hits apiece but the Stars were unable to string together enough hits as they fell 3-1 in a pitchers duel. The Czechs sent a message that this three-peat was not going to be an easy one, something we already knew.”
On the final day of PBW 2015 the Stars had one more team to get through before a rematch in the championship with the Czech National Team. Playing against a team called Planet Baseball made up of high school kids from the U.S., the Stars cruised to an easy 11-2 in the morning. Super-Utility lefty pitcher and outfielder Jack Shannon (Therwil Flyers – Switzerland) threw 5 strong innings on the mound before giving away to relief pitchers. Jake Rabinowitz (Tempo Titans – Czech), Michael Stowers (Prague Eagles – Czech), Brandon Marshall (Cologne Cardinals – Germany) and Adam Greenberg (Lucerne Eagles – Switzerland) each had two hits a piece.
In the highly anticipated championship game rematch, the Stars jumped out to an early 4-1 lead behind excellent pitching from Aussie Wil Lee (Bonn Capitals – Germany), who had returned to the Czech grounds after playing for Czech powerhouse Draci Brno in 2014. On a strict pitch count from his home team in Germany, Wil went 6 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts to only 4 hits and 2 earned runs. He left with a 4-3 lead. The Czechs kept pressing with some small ball and shortened the lead before taking it over for good on two controversial calls, one of which was when catcher Przemyslaw Paluch clearly tags out the Czech runner who was called safe.
The International Stars finished the 2015 Prague Baseball Week in 2nd Place, after a close championship game in which the Czech National Team rallied in the 8th inning to take a 6-4 lead.
Wilson Lee (Bonn Capitals) was awarded Best Pitcher, striking out 16 batters in 7.2 innings.
Melvin Purdue (Attnang Athletics) was awarded Best Hitter after hitting 8-12 with 2 2Bs, 4 Rs, and 5 RBIs.
Additional standout contributions to the team:
Jack Shannon (5 IP, 0 R, 6 K; batting 5-10, 5 RBI)
Alex Lee (9-14, 2 2B, 3 SB, 6 R)
Lucas Hagberg (6-12, 3 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR)
Przemislaw Paluch (5-10 2 R, 3 RBI)
Joe Wittig (9 batters faced, 5 K)
Troy Weinart (3-7, 2 2B)
Assistant Coach and founder of the International Baseball Community, David Burns, put together a 15 minute recap of the 2015 Prague Baseball Week from the International Stars vantage point that can be seen here:
The International Stars came to the 2014 Prague Baseball Week reloaded and ready to defend their 2013 Championship. Returning players from 2013 included Jason Daniels, Rob Herrmann, Matt Martin, Brandon Marshall, Julius Spann, and Czech legend Pavel Budsky and were reinforced by 21 new players hailing from 8 different countries (America, Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, Curaco, Russia) and playing in 9 different leagues across Europe (Austria, Czech, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia).
Two players (Scotty Mulhearn and Eric Brenk) were sidelined with last second injuries and so once again the Stars had to reinforce the roster with late additions that included Alex Lee and Ruben Manriquez who played HUGE roles during the tournament.
In the very first match-up on national TV, the Czech National Team faced the Stars in a rematch from the 2013 PBW Championship Game. The Czechs, led by Head Coach Mike Griffin and preparing for the 2014 European National Championships to take place later that season, came out fired up and crushed the Stars 11-4.
Just as they had the previous year, the Stars were looking at needing to win-out and a bit of luck in order to qualify for the championship game. All the boys needed was a few good nights out in the Prague night life to get things going and it showed by rebounding against the Russian National Team with a clean 10-0 win. The Stars then played the Czech Juniors (Under-21) in a hard fought 13-9 win.
Needing one more win to get back to the championship game, the Stars breezed by the USSSA team, made up of select high school players from the U.S., on Saturday morning and setting up a rematch of the 2013 championship against the Czech National Team.
With about half of the roster having to leave prior to the Saturday evening Championship Game because many of the players had to be back to their home clubs for Sunday league matches, the Stars were down to 16 players and going up against a full stacked and healthy Czech National Team. The Stars were able to make a last minute addition by adding Russian RHP Nikita Lobanov for reinforcements, but they were still undermanned in the bullpen and without any depth in the field. In a steady drizzle the International Stars were paced by starting RHP Steven Chambers from Australia. Chambers was magnificent, a veteran of the Czech Extra-League he worked with his battery mate, Przemyslaw Paluch from Poland (who was also playing in the Czech Extra-League for Ostrava) to keep the Czechs off-balance with an assortment of pitches and late moving high 80s fastball.
After Chambers went 6 strong innings, giving up 1 earned run and striking out 4, the Stars turned to Dutch LHP Rick van Dijck for a 1 inning Hold, and then to their Team MVP, Jake Rabinowitz, playing in Europe for his first time with the local Tempo Titans from Prague. Rabinowitz (who was also the HR derby representative for the Stars) got the 2 inning save and got out of a jam in the 9th, with the tying run up to the plate and 2 men on, Rabinowitz yielded a deep fly to the warning track that was caught to preserve the exhilarating victory and allowed the Stars to repeat as Prague Baseball Week Champions.
Alex Lee won the Best Batter Award by hitting .462 in 5 games, with a .632 OBP, and 5 RBI’s – including 2 in the Championship game.
Steven Chambers won the Best Pitcher Award mostly for his work in the Finals but he had an overall E.R.A. of 1.29 for the tournament in 7 innings of work – yielding just 4 hits and 2 walks and striking out 6.
Other standout performers included:
Pavel Budsky (Czech) – Draci Brno – Czech Extra-Leauge: .375 AVG, 1 HR, 2B, 4 RBI, .500 OBP in 3 games
Matt Martin (USA) – Paderborn Untouchables – German Bundesliga: .313 AVG, 2 2B, 5 RBI in 5 games
Jake Rabinowitz (USA) – Tempo Titans – Czech Exra-League: .333 AVG, 1 HR, 2B, 4 RBI, 2-2 SB, and championship game Save on the mound in 4 games played
Daniel Schmidt (Austrlia) – Oosterhout Twins – Dutch Overgangsklasse: 0.00 ERA, 5 K, 0 BB, and 1 win in 2 appearances (1 start) and 5.1 IP
Will Musson (USA) – Montpellier Barracudas – French Elite League: 0.00 ERA, 2 K, 0 BB, 0 Hits in 2.1 IP and 3 appearances
Check the 2014 Prague Baseball Week highlights from Czech National TV here:
The first ever International Stars team was assembled for the 2013 Prague Baseball Week, with roster additions and subtractions just moments before games were set to begin, no one, knew what to expect. The coaching staff was comprised of Andy Berglund, Roving Instructor for MLB in Europe and former Head Coach of the Czech National Team, and Justin Prinstein, player-manager for Hrosi Brno in the Czech Extra-League and Head Coach of the Hungarian National Team. The team was compiled of international imports from around Europe as well as a select group of European players headlined by Czech baseball legend Pavel Budsky and James McOwen, who holds the California League (A+) consecutive-games hitting streak record with 45. The roster featured players from six different countries coming from various leagues around Europe (Czech, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, France).
With the first day washed out due to rain – the team, which was comprised of 25 players who had never met, got a little caught up in the legendary Czech night life and that may have factored into dropping their first game against the Czech Junior (U-18) National Team by a score of 8-5. The Stars rallied the next two days by knocking off defending champs AIST from the U.S. by a score of 6-4, beating the German National Team 10-7, and shutting out the National Team of Slovakia 10-0 to earn a birth in the Championship game against the home Czech National Team. American Harry Glynne, on loan from the German National Team, started the championship game and went 7 strong innings allowing just 3 runs and giving the Stars a great chance of victory. After a 2-run Homer by American Shortstop Travis Bass to give the Stars a bit of a cushion, Bass then took to the mound to pitch the final two innings and close out the game and secure a 5-3 win for the International Stars, their first Prague Baseball Week Championship.
Bass won MVP of the tournament by batting .400 with 14 Total Bases, 6 RBI, and a HR at the plate and pitching 3 quality innings in relief during the tournament, not allowing a run, and earning the save in the championship game.
Other top performers from 2013:
RHP Jason Daniels (USA) from Kotlarka Prague – Czech Extra-League – 6 IP, 2 ER, 10 K, 1 BB, 2 H and a win.
RHP Chris Metzger (USA) from Rouen Huskies – French First League – 4 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, 1 BB, 1 H – in relief.
RHP Pat Haugen (USA) from Mainz Athletics – German Bundesliga – 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, 3 H and a win.
OF James McOwen (USA) from Heidenheim – German Bundesliga – .412 BA, 15 TB, 5 2B, 1 HR, 4 SB, 5 BB, 4 RBI
OF Matt Martin (USA) from Paderborn Untouchables – German Bundesliga – .333 BA, 10 TB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 runs
INF Jorin van Amstel (Netherlands) from HCAW Bussum – Dutch Head Class – .313 BA, 3-3 SB, Excellent defense
Highlights of the 2013 Prague Baseball Week from Czech National TV:
International Stars All-Time Roster for Prague Baseball Week:
Devon Barker (USA) – 2016
Travis Bass (USA) – 2013
Andy Berglund (USA) – 2013
Dominik Bischof (Austria) – 2013
Kieran Bradford (Australia) – 2014
Jackson Brebner-Russ (Australia) – 2013
Eric Brenk (USA) – 2014, 2015
Pavel Budsky (Czech Republic) – 2013, 2014, 2015
Brent Buffa (USA) – 2015
David Burns (Canada) – 2015, 2016
Alex Carter (USA) – 2016
Steven Chambers (Australia) – 2014
Bryce Cherry (USA) – 2016
Marshall Crawford (USA) – 2015
Jason Daniels (USA) – 2013, 2014
Mike Dose (Germany) – 2014, 2015
Chris Doyle (Australia) – 2015
Taylor Eichhorst (USA) – 2015
Justin Erasmus (Australia) – 2016
Ty Eriksen (USA) – 2015, 2016
Kevin Faries (Curacao) – 2014, 2015, 2016
Jeremie Flores (USA) – 2014
Peter Gehle (USA) – 2016
Harry Glynne (USA) – 2013
Heath Gray (USA) – 2016
Adam Greenberg (USA) – 2015
Lucas Hagberg (USA) – 2014, 2015
Pat Haugen (USA) – 2013
Eugen Heilmann (Germany) – 2013
Rob Herrmann (USA) – 2013, 2014
Lukas Holub (Czech Republic) – 2014, 2016
Chikara Igami (Japan) – 2016
Jason Jarvis (USA) – 2016
Jimmy Jensen (USA) – 2015
Björn Johannessen (Sweden) – 2016
Steven Johnson (USA) – 2016
Ryan Juarez (USA) – 2016
Kyle Kennett (USA) – 2014
Szabolcs Kiss (Hungary) – 2016
Kevin Kotowski (Germany) – 2014
Tyler Krobetzky (USA) – 2016
Martin Laube (Czech Republic) – 2013
Alex Lee (USA) – 2014, 2015
Wil Lee (Australia) – 2014, 2015
Tanner Leighton (USA) – 2013
Nikita Lobanov (Russia) – 2014
Corey Lyon (Australia) – 2015
Cameron Lyons (Australia) – 2013
Max MacNabb (USA) – 2016
Colin McGowan (USA) – 2016
James McOwen (USA) – 2013
Ruben Manriquez (Venezuela) – 2014
Brandon Marshall (USA) – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Matt Martin (USA) – 2013, 2014
Andrew Medeiros (USA) – 2016
Chris Metzger (USA) – 2013
Jordan Moore-Liester (USA) – 2015
Marcelino Morales (USA) – 2013
Dominic Morbidelli (USA) – 2016
Scotty Mulhearn (Australia) – 2014, 2015
Will Musson (USA) – 2014
Richard Navratil (Czech Republic) – 2013
Petr Novotny (Czech Republic) – 2014, 2015, 2016
Ryo Ose (Japan) – 2015
Przemyslaw Paluch (Poland) – 2014, 2015, 2016
Melvin Perdue (USA) – 2015
Justin Prinstein (USA) – 2013, 2014, 2016
Jake Rabinowitz (USA) – 2014, 2015
Tamas Radvanyi (Hungary) – 2016
Taylor Ratliff (USA) – 2016
Josiah Ring (USA) – 2013
Wes Roemer (USA) – 2016
Ben Salzmann (Austria) – 2015
Gabriel Sandersius (USA) – 2015
Rob Sedin (USA) – 2014
Daniel Schmidt (Australia) – 2014
Jack Shannon (USA) – 2014, 2015, 2016
David Simone (USA) – 2013
Jaroslav Sitar (Slovakia) – 2015
Julius Spann (Germany-USA) – 2013, 2014
Warren Stehn (USA) – 2016
Mitch Stephan (Germany) – 2015
Michael Stowers (USA) – 2015
Kyle Strauss (USA) – 2016
Kaj Timmermans (Netherlands) – 2013
Elroy Urbina (USA) – 2016
Jorin van Amstel (Netherlands) – 2013
Rick van Dijk (Netherlands) – 2014, 2015, 2016
Dylan Verdonk (Netherlands) – 2013
Frank Vilacha (USA) – 2016
Tom Ward (Australia) – 2013
Ryoma Watanbe (Japan) – 2015, 2016
Troy Weinert (Australia) – 2015
Layton White (USA) – 2014
Joe Wittig (USA) – 2015
Josh Wyant (USA) – 2016
The International Stars would like to thank the Prague Baseball Week organizers, in particular Jan Bagin and Jan Drabek, for all their hard work in making the PBW one of the best international baseball events; Jan Benes for his outstanding photography; the Prague Eagles organization for their gracious hosting; Michal Řezáč and the Dugout Cantina for supplying delicious meals and friendly service; special assistant Patricie Sixtova for her organizational and logistical help for the players in Prague; Hotel Oaza for the annual accomodations; and all the other teams, fans, and the umpires that make the Prague Baseball Week a welcome home for a bunch of rag-tag baseball players from across the globe.