FEATURE: 15U/16U NTIS Champions Cup Provides Invaluable Opportunity To Set Players Up For Success

A combined 24 players from the event will be invited to the 2023 National Team Development Program

With the first weekend of the National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup in the books, a lot of talent was displayed at the National Training Complex. The 424 players who traveled to North Carolina to compete in the 15U/16U event came with a goal in mind: to one day compete for the red, white, and blue.

Last week’s event featured all six regions, and within each region were four teams, two from the 15U level and two from the 16U level. Each player was representing their region and of course had their eyes on winning a gold medal, but in a bigger picture their focus was to earn an invitation to the 2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP).

Twenty-four players from the event – 12 from each age group – will earn an invitation to next summer’s NTDP, where they will not only receive elite instruction from members of the professional and collegiate baseball community, but also a chance to potentially be identified for a future USA Baseball National Team.

Behind the scenes in Cary was the Task Force, the team that helps to identify those guys who could one day represent the United States on the international level. There were a combined 16 members, eight for each age group, and together they searched for those elite players. Steve Dintaman and David Webb were two of those Task Force members who were on a mission over the weekend to help identify the future talent of the game, as Webb was the lead for the 15U Task Force while Dintaman was a part of the 16U Task Force.

When watching the competition over the span of four days, several factors go into determining those top players. Not only were the members of the Task Force looking for what players can do on the field, but also what intangibles they bring to the table.

“Our goal is to evaluate the players on all the teams and see what guys could possibly fit to be a part of the 16U/17U National Team Development Program,” said Dintaman, who is an assistant coach at Northern Kentucky University and has been involved with USA Baseball since 2016.

“In doing so, watching how they play on the field and what kind of tools they have is obviously a big part of that, but seeing how they handle themselves off the field is another factor. We’re looking for what kind of teammate they are and are trying to learn as much as possible about these players. We’re looking for guys who are up in the dugout, cheering for their teammates, and having fun.”


One of the main factors that is considered when selecting players that is different from other events is projectability. The NTIS Champions Cup is unique in that the Task Force is looking for a combined 24 players that will have what it takes in almost a year from now.

“Usually when you're watching the National Team Championships in Arizona and North Carolina and making NTDP selections, you're less than a month away from players showing up to a team to compete. At the NTIS Champions Cup, the event is a year away, so you have to project what they going to look like in nine to 10 months from now. When they get stronger, they are going to have more velocity and/or bat speed, and so we have to think of how those players might develop over that period of time,” explained Dintaman.

“In our eyes, these guys don't have to go out and win a gold medal in Cary, they have to get ready a year from now compete at NTDP and hopefully be evaluated by a national team staff to play on a team that will compete for a gold medal.”

Webb is no stranger to working with USA Baseball, as he been involved with the organization every summer in 23 of the last 24 years. Having played a fundamental role with the NTDP in years past, Webb sees his job of leading the 15U Task Force as a vital way to help identify the select players that will earn an invitation to the 2023 16U/17U NTDP.

“With this year’s NTDP, I was able to cross check the 16U players in North Carolina and Arizona to help create the 80-man pool, but never had the chance to get a look at the 24 kids who came from NTIS,” said Webb, who is currently the head coach at Corona del Sol High School in Arizona. “We ran into the issue of having a few too many players at certain positions during this year’s NTDP, so what’s cool about this opportunity is that I’m actually here so I can help to get ahead of the game and build out a solid roster for next year’s NTDP.”


During his 24 years of experience, Webb has witnessed the nation’s top talent come through a lot of USA Baseball’s events. The NTIS Champions Cup and NTDP are two of those events that can provide an invaluable opportunity for players to set themselves up for success.

“The number one thing that you can get out of an event like NTIS is relevancy. It’s a thing,” said Webb. “I mean, when you saw the MLB Draft this year, all the top kids were in a USA Baseball uniform. You get on those lists and heighten the awareness from colleges. College coaches know where to go to look for prospects, and it’s at USA Baseball events.

“But on top of that, for those kids who get that invite to NTDP, they are able to experience being among the elite players in the country in their age group and gauge where they are in the bigger picture.”

For those players who aspire to represent their country on the diamond to take their career to the next level, looking for those opportunities is key to achieving those aspirations.

“Social media is a huge medium for all of us to get information, and USA Baseball provides a lot of that. If you're a young kid you can keep up with when they announce NTIS tryouts and other events that you can get involved in through their platforms,” added Webb.

“The National Team Championships along with the NTIS Champions Cup are huge tournaments, and they give kids a chance to be seen. Try and make sure that when you’re on a club team that those events are in your coach’s plan.

“You just have to be aware, be proactive, find out where events are, and get involved.”