Three Royals named to Team USA

USA Baseball on Monday named three Royals minor leaguers to the Team USA roster to compete in the 2006 COPABE Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Havana, Cuba from Aug. 25-Sept. 5. Catcher Matt Tupman (Omaha) and outfielders Billy Butler (Wichita) and Chad Allen (Omaha) will join Team USA in Kissimmee, FL, this week.

After tuning up for the qualifying event with a series of practice games vs. international competition at the Houston Astros' spring training facility, Team USA is scheduled to play its first game in the Olympic qualifying event on August 26 vs. Canada. Pool play continues through August 30 against Brazil, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. The championship rounds begin on September 1, culminating with the championship game on September 5. The top two teams will earn automatic bids to the 2008 Olympics, and the third- and fourth-place teams will have the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games at a secondary qualifying tournament in spring 2008.

Butler headlines the Royals' delegation, and the 20-year-old slugger this season is hitting .327/.385/.494 with 15 home runs for the Wichita Wranglers. Butler has previous international experience with the U.S. junior team, and Tuesday night will be his last game with the Wranglers before he heads to Florida to join the team.

Butler was named the MVP of the 2006 Futures Game

Tupman is a newcomer to international competition, and this season between Wichita and Omaha, the 26-year-old catcher is hitting .293/.405/.338 with one home run. Playing time may be hard to come by for Tupman, since the Braves' Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the A's Kurt Suzuki were also named to the roster.

Matt Tupman's plate discipline has been outstanding this year

Allen won a bronze medal with Team USA in the 1996 Olympic Games, and the 31-year-old outfielder is the second-oldest member of this year's squad. He's in the midst of a great season with Omaha, hitting .320/.369/.505 with 14 home runs and 78 RBIs, and he was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team earlier this year.

Chad Allen has split time between OF and DH this season for the O-Royals

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