Diamond Downer on his way to Italy

Glen Downer. Herts Baseball Club.
Glen Downer. Herts Baseball Club.

A HERTS baseballer has been selected to take part in a prestigious two-day European academy.

ESPN has announced that Herts first baseman Glen Downer is one of 10 players selected from around Europe to attend MLB’s European Academy in Italy.

Downer joined the Grovehill Ballpark outfit in 2011 and made an immediate impact, bringing power to the batting lineup and reliability at first base.

MLB’s European Academy is located in the city of Pisa and Downer will depart for Italy on March 2 before returning two days later to resume spring training with Herts.

Among the others who were selected are players from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark and Hungary, as well as two more British-based players.

Meanwhile, players in Herts’ U17, U14 and U11 categories all got their first taste of action this season as the club’s spring training got under way at Berkhamsted Sportspace last Sunday.

While there were a number of new faces on show, some of those taking part in the session are returning to training after impressive spells on the diamond over the last few seasons.

Brodie Caress and Jose Morillo were part of the winning 2010 U14 National Championship team, and were runners-up in 2011.

The Herts All-Stars have made a big impact on the national baseball scene, and many of the players got their first taste of the sport on Grovehill’s diamonds.

And a number of the graduates of the Herts Little League are hoping to continue their rapid progression after impressing in the adult leagues in 2011.

At the top level, Liam Green made his National League debut for the Falcons, and in two games on the pitcher’s mound, did not give up a single earned run.

For the Raptors, Zack Longboy claimed the Best Pitcher Award in his first adult season, and this year he will be helping his dad Arnie to manage the team.

Jose Morillo was also a regular in the Raptors team and made great progress during the year, earning him the coach’s award.

Elsewhere, Green is just one of the young Herts players who has already had a call-up for the Great Britain team – representing the cadets squad in Sweden in 2010.

Late last year Morillo, Caress and Callum Vangundy were successful in trials for the U16 British squad, while Jake Caress, Jonny Compton-Weight and Kyle Lloyd-Jones are in the mix for the U19 programme.

Any youngsters interested in playing for Herts should contact the club, where they can expect a warm welcome. For information, visit wwwhertsbaseball.com