Austria's Moritz Hackl - photo by Joe Yun

The 5th annual 2012 MLB Academies Tournament will be played in Regensburg, Germany from March 31 to April 6 – the third consecutive year the event will be held at Armin Wolf Arena. The teams on hand will be Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Italy, Czech Republic and Austria.
heinnews talked to the coaches in charge of the teams to get a run-down on what international baseball fans can expect from the tournament – and the future.
Austria coach Martin Langlois’s description of his team:

Who do you see as some of your top players and maybe you can tell me a bit about those players and how high can they go in professional baseball?
Felix Zimmerle, Moritz Hackl, Samuel Hackl and Stefan Ludescher. Athletically, Moritz Hackl is at the top of this class. He can do a lot of things on the field to give his team a chance to compete. His best position would be catcher, in which he can complete with the best in his age group in Europe. But he rarely sees time there due to having to fill in at other positions to help his team. Moritz’s younger brother, Samuel, is projected to be a top catcher with power potential. Felix Zimmerle is a very versatile, hard-working player who can play the left side of the infield and pitch. Stefan is already an internationally-experienced pitcher in our senior national team program. Felix attended an American high school last year and was the school’s starting shortstop. And we hope to get him into college baseball in the next years. Moritz will explore possibilities in Australia and the U.S. in the next years. And if we are to project, Sammy may have the highest ceiling out of the four.

What players from your system would normally be here but are not and for what reason?
Unfortunately, our academy will be missing four of its top players, two due to injury (Claus Seiser and Marcel Czeska) and two due to final exams in the Austrian school system (Richard Alzinger and Michael Schneider). Claus was the academy’s starting shortstop and Michael and Richard are top three pitchers who will be greatly missed.

Looking at this class(es) of players, where does it rank in past classes?
We have a very solid group of players, but with many of our top players missing, younger players will be given an opportunity to compete. We would have liked to have eased them into things, but we are confident that this will help their future development.

Is this a particularly good or bad year for the system?
As stated above, it is a strong year, but we will be lacking in depth due to many of our top players who will be missing.

What do you think about this MLB Academy tournament and others like it? What are the biggest benefits for the players?
This is a great opportunity for European players to develop and compete with the top players in their age group in Europe. The academy system is one of the most important tools in developing young athletes in Europe. And through the support of MLB, players are getting an opportunity to not only compete at high and structured levels, but players are having chances at moving to the next level in the athletic careers into high schools, colleges and even pro baseball.

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Roster as of 21 March 2012

NR Player Ht. Wgt.
95 Alteneder Armin C/3B 24. Okt 93 186 96
17 Alteneder Jan 2B/P 10. Dez 95 172 58
92 Alzinger Richard P/OF 11. Mrz 94 173 98
83 Buchelt Alexander C/3B 24. Jul 94 180 78
96 Ceska Marcel P/1B 18. Jan 95 183 86
29 Hackl Moritz SS/C/P 22. Feb 92 177 77
39 Hackl Samuel C/OF 07. Apr 96 175 70
72 Hirnschal Fabian IF/P 23. Jun 93 179 74
71 Ludescher Stefan P/OF 20. Aug 93 177 75
18 Schrempf Patrick OF 25. Jul 95 174 65
93 Sebald Florian P 08. Jun 94 190 96
73 Seiser Claus SS 09. Nov 93 178 76
30 Teufel Matthias OF 08. Aug 95 182 71
12 Valido Morr- Alessandro OF 03. Okt 96 174 68
20 Walenta Daniel IF 31. Aug 94 175 65
70 Zimmerle Felix 3B/P 27. Aug 94 184 84
Langlois Martin
Heisler Manfred
Korber David