PEORIA, Ariz. - Amidst the chaos of families shuffling to-and-from stadiums, coordinators zooming by in their golf carts and umpires switching fields at the 2017 USA Baseball National Team Championships West, there lies a single constant. Glance toward the silver platform behind each home plate and one would see it.
A national team scout.
Donned in tan t-shirts with "STAFF" written in black between the shoulder blades, national team scouts have one mission: find the best of the best.
Now, sure. Most believe scouts define "the best" as a pitcher with an electric fastball and knee-buckling curve, or an infielder with a slick glove and cannon for an arm. However, this isn't always the case.
"Being a good teammate, hustling, being active on the bench and coachability are just as important as having skill," said Vesely. "Those are things that a person can control, and those are all things we look for that have nothing to do with how you play on the field."
The experienced scouts come from all over the country, including Tanner Vesely, a five-time national team coaching alum who played collegiate baseball at the University of Arizona. Joining Vesely are veterans like Tom Succow, a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum and current assistant coach at Yavapai College in Arizona.
According to the scouts, it's the small things that really matter when deciding if an athlete is national team worthy. Running out every ground and fly ball, keeping your head up when striking out or making an error and giving your best effort all game are tendencies scouts look for while at the National Team Championships West.
Of the thousands of athletes to participate in the tournament every year, only a miniscule fraction of that are chosen to move on to the USA Baseball National Team Development Program (NTDP) at the 14U and 17U levels and the USA Baseball 15U National Team Trials.
The NTDP is a one week long program that assists the national team coaching staff in further narrowing their choices for their final roster. Taking place in Chicago, the NTDP offers on-field skill development programs, various off-field educational components including guest speakers and intrasquad games.
"The NTDP is a big event in regard to choosing kids for the national team," Vesely continued. "We want the best kids who can succeed, but also know how to deal with failure."
Moving past those hurdles is no easy task, but the payoff of getting to don a Team USA jersey is worth the hard work and dedication.
"When you're in another country, you're representing the program, you're representing your country, your home," Vesely added. "Everywhere you go, you're watched. Having good sportsmanship and a good attitude is a key part to representing your country."
Taking place from July 22-28 in Chicago, the 17U NTDP will feature intrasquad scrimmages at Northwestern University and Wrigley Field.
The 14U NTDP will take place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, from July 24-29. For the first time in program history, 18 members of the 14U NTDP will be invited to this year's 15U National Team Trials, ensuring an immediate opportunity to play on a national team.
Split into two phases, the 15U National Team Trials span from July 30 - August 4 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. The first phase will feature 72 players identified from the 2016 NTIS, 2016 14U NTDP, the 2017 National Team Championships and the 2017 NTDP. The roster will be trimmed to 34 for the second phase and then 20 upon its completion. The 2017 15U National Team will then travel to Cartagena, Colombia from August 11-20 to compete in the 2017 COPABE Pan Am "AA" Championships.