A Trio of 12U National Team Alums Are Carrying The Same Mindset into a New Test: 13U Champs

Banditos teammates Ty Chambless, Major Ciers, and Dylan Mercado share their thoughts on the jump from Futures to the 13U National Team Championships in Cary, N.C.

For the players who arrived in Cary, N.C., to compete in the 2024 edition of the 13U National Team Championships North Carolina, this week represents a milestone in each of their respective careers. 13U is the first stage of the National Team Championships held at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, which finishes at the 17U level.

Playing at 13U means making the jump from the 10U and 11U Futures Invitational, held at neighboring Thomas Brooks Park. The competition is at another level, the fields are bigger, and the players have officially reached the next level of their young careers.

For some of the players who are taking the field at the National Training Complex for the first time, however, this isn’t the biggest stage they’ve competed on. Several alumni of the 2022 12U National Team that won gold at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan are present, embracing this new environment with their respective teams.

One such team in Cary this week is Banditos, which is off to a 2-0-1 start across Sunday and Monday. One of two teams that features a trio of 12U National Team alums, Banditos is led by catcher Ty Chambless and two-way players Major Ciers and Dylan Mercado.

Asked what it meant to be teammates once again, this time at Champs, Chambless summarized the thoughts of the trio quite well.

“It’s really good getting to play with each other again. We have a special bond that not a lot of people have. We played together in a different country and had to stick together as teammates.”

Ciers talked about the importance of continuing to represent the national team, even nearly two years on from the squad’s gold medal finish in Taiwani. He added that when you’re playing out here at the National Training Complex, you’re still representing the U.S. and USA Baseball.

While Chambless, Ciers, and Mercado have competed in Cary at Futures, they all spoke about how different their debut Champs tournament had been so far. The trio was unanimous on the competition being better, with Chambless going a little further.

“It’s just really good competition. The bats aren’t as hot, it doesn’t allow that many home runs. The bigger field makes a big difference,” he said. Ciers added onto that sentiment, nearly word for word. The larger fields were certainly a new experience, though one that the trio enjoyed.

Without missing a beat, each of the three had the same mentality about what they want to leave the 13U National Team Championships North Carolina with at the end of the week.

“I want to be a champion,” Ciers said almost instantly.

To compete and be champions. While the stage is different from Futures, the mindset at Champs is the same for each player making their debut at the next level here this week.