By Bill Foley
Many Butte sports fans already know the name Quinn Sullivan. Those who don’t likely soon will.
Sullivan, who has been a standout competitor in baseball, basketball, football, track, wrestling and bowling, is making a bigtime name for himself on the diamond.
The 14 year old was recently selected to participate in the 14U National Team Development Program, which will run from July 19-24 in Cary, North Carolina.
“I’m really excited and a little nervous,” Sullivan said Friday. “I’m nervous to be out in front of MLB players and MLB and college scouts.”
Sullivan was one of 23 players selected out of about 1,300 players who competed at the 14U National Team Championships West, which were held June 30-July 7 in Arizona. He played as a member of the Montana Elite Baseball team.
“That’s not 1,300 Montana Kids,” said Montana Elite Baseball manager Dennis Bugni. “That’s kids from California and Nevada. These are kids who play a lot of baseball.
“It’s quite an honor that he was selected.”
Sullivan is the first Montana Elite Baseball player to be selected for the program, which is basically a tryout for the 14U National Team.
Montana Elite Baseball, which is not a traveling team, holds a two-day training camp in Missoula in June. Then the team heads to Arizona for the seven-day tournament at Major League spring training facilities.
On July 4, the Montana players attended an Arizona Diamondbacks-San Diego Padres game at Chase Field in Phoenix. The players got to be on the field for batting practice and had the chance to meet the pros.
Travis Krause is the head coach of the team made up of players from all over the state, while Frank Avilla is the assistant. Bugni, who is from Butte, works mostly with pitchers.
Sullivan, who will work some as an outfielder, was selected because of his pitching.
Bugni, whose son Jeffery “Monk” Bugni also plays for Montana Elite, said Sullivan throws from a three quarters arm slot, and that delivery opened some eyes in Arizona.
“He’s unique,” Bugni said. “He was clocked in the 80s and his breaking ball and changeup are really strong. With his breaking ball he doesn’t change his arm slot. It breaks right at the plate.”
Bugni said Sullivan took the selection in stride, not getting overly excited. He says that demeanor helps make Sullivan a better pitcher.
“That’s what sets him apart when he’s on the mound,” Bugni said. “He doesn’t break. He sticks to the game plan.”
Sullivan, who also plays American Legion baseball for the Butte Muckers, said he throws a fastball, curve, changeup and knuckle ball. Those pitchers will likely get better at the program, whether he makes the national team or not.
“He’ll get the cream of the crop of pitching coaches, college coaches, USA Baseball coaches,” Bugni said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Because Sullivan garnered so much attention, more scouts now know the names of the other 19 players from the Treasure State, Bugni said.
“That gets us a lot more looks for the other kids,” Bugni said. “With him bring in four or five scouts, it really created opportunities for other kids.”
Sullivan, who is 5-foot-11, 150 pounds, will be a freshman at Butte High School when school begins in September. He plans to compete in football, wrestling and track for the Bulldogs.
So Butte sports fans will have plenty of opportunity to get to know his name. If they haven’t already.