Spotlight on the U-18 EuroBaseball Athletes: Group A Players to Watch
05/07/2024 3 Minute Read

Spotlight on the U-18 EuroBaseball Athletes: Group A Players to Watch

The future of European baseball will be on display from July 8-14 as 12 nations from across the continent converge on Regensburg, Germany for the U-18 Baseball European Championship 2024.

Many observers might be wondering who are the top prospects to look out for so WBSC Europe asked the Federations for their input in choosing the Players to Watch.

Here are the six players from the U-18 EuroBaseball Group A teams.

AUSTRIA Jan Raunigger - SS/P

Raunigger gave up gymnastics at age 13 to focus on baseball and many in the Austrian baseball world were confident he could become one of the country’s better prospects. He has already proven his potential as a young power hitter in his first full season as the starting shortstop for his first league team, Traiskirchen Grasshoppers.

Raunigger is also one of Austria’s top young arms on the mound, which has already earned him nominations to the U-23 national team and considerations for the senior national team.

CROATIA Bartol Bosanac - IF/OF 

Bosanac is the son of a baseball player and started the game as a 6-year-old. His first big competition was the Euro-Africa region of the Little League competition in 2017 and played there in 2018 and 2019 as well. 

Bosanac, who can play and handle any position on the field, played for Croatia’s U18 team in 2022 and 2023 in European Championship qualifiers. This year he already played for his club BK Olimpija Karlovac in the Baseball European Cup in Valencia where they played in the Final. Bosanac also participated in the MLB Edge camp in Trnava this year.

GERMANY Paul Hoff - P

Hoff is a bit of an oddity in Germany as baseball is actually very popular in his small village of Dohren with just over 1,000 residents. He eventually landed at the German Baseball Academy (DBA) and earned a spot with the U-12 German team.

Hoff dominated on the mound at the U-15 Baseball European Championship 2021 with a 1-1 mark in two starts, allowing 1 earned run over 9 innings with 17 strikeouts and 4 walks. Hoff had a complete game shutout of Slovakia with 12 strikeouts in 5 innings.

In 2023, Hoff was playing for Germany at the DRD International Baseball Academies Tournament in Puerto Rico. He was the starting pitcher in the championship game against Puerto Rico and delivered 4 innings, 5 strikeouts and just 1 earned run. In January 2024, Hoff signed a professional contract with the Milwaukee Brewers and started pitching in the Dominican Summer League in June.

ISRAEL Tomer Naor - LHP/1B/OF

Naor will be appearing in the U-18 Baseball European Championship for the second time after getting in two games in 2022 - one as a pitcher and the other as a left fielder.

Noar led the way for the Central Academy in the Israeli Premier League with a .522/.636/.957 slash line.

He is committed to play baseball as a two-way player at Nicholls State (D1) in Louisiana in the fall.

ITALY Edoardo Cornelli - SS/2B

Cornelli is one of Italy’s most interesting prospects, who is making his second appearance in this competition. Cornelli, whose father Marco is one of the legends of the Italian Old Rags Lodi baseball club, helped Italy win the U-12 European Championship in 2018.

Edoardo debuted in the Italian Serie A in 2022 with Ciemme Oltretorrente Parma.

A year earlier, Cornelli was one of Italy’s leaders at the WBSC U-18 World Cup 2022 with a .409/.480/.455 slash line in Sarasota and Bradenton.

In 2023, he participated in the European Development Tournament, organized by Major League Baseball, which took place before the London Series.

Cornelli moved to Germany in 2024 to attend the Regensburg Baseball Academy and has already debuted in the Bundesliga with Legionäre Regensburg. In June, Cornelli announced he will attend the University of Maryland.

SPAIN Anderson Peña - SS/2B

Peña has become a regular at the U-18 Baseball European Championship with this being his third appearance in the tournament for Spain following 2021 and 2022 - the latter at which he hit .450. Peña also played for Spain at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Championship 2023.

Peña will know the surroundings in Regensburg as he has been playing in the southeastern German city for four years, attending the Regensburg Baseball Academy.

Peña can play both middle infield positions with quality defense and a good bat. He will be one of Spain’s captains. 

The U-18 Baseball European Championship 2024 is taking place from July 8 to July 14 in Regensburg, Germany. A total of 12 teams will compete in the event, divided into two groups.  Group A consists of Spain, Italy, Germany, Israel, Austria, and Croatia. Group B includes the Netherlands, Czechia, France, Great Britain, Belgium, and Sweden. 

David Hein x WBSC Europe
Cover photo by Petra Voet