DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced modifications to its National Team Identification Series (NTIS) on Wednesday. Beginning in 2019, the NTIS will operate under a new infrastructure that features six total regions spanning the United States and the introduction of a 12-and-under age group to the program. Subsequently, the 17-and-under age group has been removed from the NTIS.
The NTIS continues to be the most comprehensive national team identification program offered by USA Baseball. Launched in 2009, the program was created to provide all athletes from across the United States an opportunity to compete for a spot on a USA Baseball national team.
Player identification in the NTIS begins at the local level, where athletes attend camps and tryouts in their designated region. Every region will name 32 athletes from each of the 11U, 12U and 13U age groups, and 36 athletes from each of the 14U, 15U and 16U age groups, to two All-Region teams that will participate in the NTIS Champions Cup at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
The culminating event will feature 12 teams per age group and athletes will participate in workouts and a championship-style tournament while being evaluated by national team coaches and scouts. Following the Champions Cup, USA Baseball will invite a minimum of 72 athletes to national team and National Team Development Program (NTDP) events in the subsequent calendar year.
"As participation in youth baseball continues to rise, it is our duty to adapt and modernize USA Baseball initiatives to fit the ever-changing youth baseball landscape," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director and CEO. "Our National Team Identification Series continues to be our most inclusive athlete identification process and we are confident these modifications will continue to serve USA Baseball, its national teams and athletes with an unrivaled standard of excellence."
Formerly comprised of 16 regions, the NTIS will now utilize a six-region system for the initial player identification process. The six regions consist of the Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and Southwest.
All six NTIS regions will be managed and operated by a USA Baseball-appointed Regional Director. Each Regional Director is responsible for the planning and execution of the player identification process for their assigned region(s), and will ultimately name the All-Region teams that will move on to the NTIS Champions Cup. The USA Baseball regional directors for 2019 are Rich Janor (Midwest), Andy Rojo (South, Southwest), Jeff Schaefer (Northeast, Southeast) and Jason Sekany (Northwest).
"USA Baseball Regional Directors play a vital role in the overall success of the National Team Identification Series and USA Baseball national teams," said Ashley Bratcher, Senior Director of Baseball Operations. "These individuals are responsible for finding the very best athletes from every corner of the country to represent Team USA in international competitions around the world. USA Baseball can attribute a great deal of its recent international successes to the contributions of our regional directors."
The 12-and-under age group will debut in the NTIS program in 2019 and will serve as an identification event for the present year's USA Baseball 12U National Team, in addition to being a once-in-a-lifetime development and scouting exposure opportunity for athletes at this age level. USA Baseball regional directors will select 15 12U internationally-age-eligible athletes from each region to compete in the USA Baseball National Open in California, where the 12U National Team coaching staff will invite a minimum of 15 athletes to participate in national team trials.
"We are excited to introduce the twelve-and-under age group to our National Team Identification Series program this year," continued Bratcher. "The twelve-and-under age group is afforded a truly unique experience as they are the only age group in the entire National Team Identification Series program that are eligible for an immediate national team opportunity in the current calendar year."
Lastly, the 17-and-under age group has been eliminated from the NTIS program going forward. For information on the identification process for the 18U National Team, please visit USABaseball.com.
The 2019 NTIS identification process will begin at various times across all six regions after the new year. Information on regional camps and tryouts, as well as contact information for the regional directors, can be found at USABaseballNTIS.com.
Athletes selected to their All-Region team will participate in the 2019 NTIS Champions Cup at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, from August 7-25. The age group pairing and dates are as follows:
11U and 13U NTIS Champions Cup: August 7-11
12U and 14U NTIS Champions Cup: August 14-18
15U and 16U NTIS Champions Cup: August 21-25
For more information on the USA Baseball NTIS, open region camps and tryouts, and the most up-to-date news and information about the NTIS, follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter.