David Eckstein, Brad Penny, and Steve Stone Round Out 2024 18U National Team Staff

Experienced staff joins Manager Rick Eckstein for WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today announced that David Eckstein, Brad Penny, and Steve Stone will join the 2024 18U National Team coaching staff. Penny will serve as the team’s pitching coach for the third time since 2021, while Eckstein and Stone will assume assistant coach duties.

The trio will join 18U National Team Manager Rick Eckstein as Team USA aims for its seventh consecutive gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier later this summer.

“This coaching staff offers unique experience across all levels of baseball,” said 18U National Team Program Director Brett Curll. “Adding a World Series Most Valuable Player, a fourteen-year big-league veteran, and a successful high school head coach to our staff will certainly help us in our effort to return to the top of the podium later this summer.”

Eckstein will be making his second appearance on an 18U National Team coaching staff in 2024. His first stint with Team USA came in 2015 when he helped lead the U.S. to an 8-1 record and a gold medal at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Osaka, Japan. After the stars and stripes dropped their second game of tournament play, Eckstein–coaching under two-time U.S. manager Glenn Cecchini–helped guide the club to seven consecutive victories to claim gold, including a gold-medal game victory over host Japan.

After walking on at the University of Florida and becoming a First-Team All-SEC selection in 1995 and 1996, Eckstein was drafted in the 19th round of the 1997 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. He made his big-league debut four years later with the Anaheim Angels in 2001, batting .285 with four homers and 41 RBIs en route to finishing fourth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. He spent four seasons in Anaheim as the team’s everyday shortstop and won his first World Series in 2002, batting .294 in 16 postseason games. Eckstein then signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005 and had an All-Star season that year, hitting .294 with eight home runs and 61 RBIs. The following season was his most notable as he earned his second consecutive All-Star selection and was named World Series Most Valuable Player after batting .364 in the Fall Classic, including a 4-for-5 performance in a pivotal Game 4. Eckstein played one more season in St. Louis before spending the 2008 season split between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He wrapped up his career with two seasons with the San Diego Padres, batting .263 over the two campaigns while playing second base. Eckstein finished his decade-long career with 1,311 games played and a .280 batting average.

Penny rejoins the coaching staff as pitching coach for the third time in four years. His debut was in 2021 when he led the pitching staff to a 1.53 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 59 innings in a seven-game friendship series against Canada. In 2022, Penny guided the pitching staff to a gold medal at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier, where the U.S. posted an 8-0 record and a 2.56 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 52 innings. He has coached at USA Baseball’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) and Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League as both a pitching coordinator and roving instructor on multiple occasions while also serving on staff at the MLB Draft Combine each year since its inception in 2021. In addition to his USA Baseball coaching experience, Penny donned the stars and stripes as a player when he suited up for the organization’s first Professional National Team in 1999. The squad earned a silver medal at the 1999 Pan American Games, qualifying Team USA for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, where the U.S. won gold with a 4-0 defeat of Cuba.

Penny was selected in the fifth round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and had a 14-year MLB playing career that included two All-Star selections and a World Series championship. After making his major league debut with the Florida Marlins in 2000, Penny helped lead the team to the organization’s second World Series championship in 2003 with a 4.13 ERA in 32 starts during the season. He made his first All-Star Game appearance in 2006 and finished that season with a 4.33 ERA, a career-high 148 strikeouts, and a league-leading 16 wins for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander made his second All-Star Game appearance amidst a 2007 season in which he had an MLB-best .800 (16-4) win percentage and finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting. He finished his career with stints playing for the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Detroit Tigers before returning to the Marlins in 2014 for his final season. The Blackwell, Oklahoma, native concluded his career with 121 wins, 1,273 strikeouts, and a 4.29 ERA in 1,925.0 innings pitched in the big leagues.

Stone will serve as an assistant coach in 2024, marking his USA Baseball national team coaching debut. The longtime head coach at Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas, Stone most recently coached at the NTDP in 2023. Stone spent 24 seasons at the helm at Hebron, founding the program upon the school’s inception in 1999. He won over 500 games as the school’s head coach and led the Hawks to a district title in his final season in 2023. Prior to taking the reins at Hebron, Stone coached at Wichita Falls Rider (Wichita, Texas) and Euless Trinity (Euless, Texas) High Schools. In addition to his experience at the NTDP, Stone also coached at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars from 2016-2018 and has been on staff at the MLB Draft Combine each year since 2021. He also assisted at the Women’s National Team Training in 2019, hosting the team at Hebron and helping the coaching staff during practices as the U.S. prepared for the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. Stone is a former standout catcher at Texas Christian University, where he was named team MVP in 1988.

Since its inception in 1987, the 18U National Team program has won 10 world championships and 16 overall gold medals. The U.S. rode an unbeaten record to a gold medal in its most recent appearance at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in 2022, taking down Panama in the title game. The 18U National Team has won six consecutive gold medals at the Qualifier since 2009, compiling a 49-1 overall record in that span.

The 2024 18U National Team schedule will be announced at a later date.