DURHAM, N.C. -- USA Baseball announced on Friday the coaching staff for the 15U National Team that will compete in the 2019 COPABE U-15 Pan-American Championships in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Former 15U National Team assistant coach and 14U National Team Development Program (NTDP) field coordinator Troy Cameron will serve as manager in 2019 and will be joined by assistant coaches Manny Crespo, Jared Halpert and Karsten Whitson.
Cameron will serve as a national team manager for the first time in 2019, but he is no stranger to working with USA Baseball. Most recently, he served as the field coordinator for the 2018 14U NTDP and as a coach at the 2018 15U National Team Trials. Cameron was also an assistant coach for the gold medal-winning 2017 15U National Team and has been on the task force at multiple national team identification events, including the USA Baseball National Team Championships and the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS).
Cameron is in his seventh season as the head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), where he led the Raiders to the 2018 Class 8A FHSSA Baseball State Championships title and five consecutive district championships. Cameron was drafted No. 29 overall by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 1997 Major League Baseball Draft and played nine years of professional baseball.
"USA Baseball is pleased to announce Troy Cameron, Manny Crespo, Jared Halpert and Karsten Whitson as our 15U National Team coaching staff for the 2019 COPABE U-15 Pan-American Championships," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "We have had the opportunity to watch these coaches positively impact our national team programs for years and we are confident that under the guidance of Troy and his staff, the 15U National Team will contend for a fifth-consecutive gold medal in the Pan-American Championships and qualify for the 2020 World Baseball Softball Confederation U-15 Baseball World Cup."
Crespo returns to the 15U National Team staff as an assistant coach for the second consecutive year after helping Team USA to its first-ever world championship title at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-15 Baseball World Cup. He has also served on the coaching staff at the 2017 15U National Team Trials and the 2016 14U NTDP, as well as being a member of the task force at the National Team Championships, the NTIS and the Women's National Team Trials. A two-time Team USA alumnus (1997 18U, 1999 Collegiate), Crespo is currently the head coach at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, Florida. He played collegiately at the University of Miami where he was named the Freshman of the Year in 1998, was a two-time All-America selection, and was a member of the 1999 National Championship team. Crespo was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 14th round of the 2000 MLB Draft and spent four years in the minors until 2003.
Halpert will make his national team coaching debut this year as an assistant coach for the 2019 15U National Team. Formerly a coach at the 2018 15U Trials and 14U NTDP, he also served on the USA Baseball task force at the National Team Championships and the NTIS. Halpert is currently in his fourth season at the helm of the Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.) baseball program, where he led the Wolverines to the USA Baseball National High School Invitational championship game in 2019. Prior to his time at as the head coach at Harvard-Westlake, Halpert served as the assistant coach for the Wolverines for four years after working as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Fresno State.
The 2018 USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year, Whitson will also make his national team coaching debut in 2019 as the pitching coach. Currently an assistant coach at Pensacola State College in Florida, he worked with both the 14U NTDP and 15U National Team Trials last year. The 18U National Team alum won a gold medal for Team USA in 2009 and was later drafted in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox. Prior to joining Pensacola State College, he served as the pitching coach of the Bismarck Larks of the Northwoods Summer Collegiate League.
Hunter Gross of Charleston Southern University will serve as the team's Certified Athletic Trainer in 2019. He previously held the same position with the 12U National Team that won a gold medal at the 2017 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan.
The 15U National Team will be selected through a two-phase trial system that will begin in July at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. Phase 1 will feature 72 players identified from the 2018 NTIS, 2018 14U NTDP, the 2019 National Team Championships and the 2019 14U NTDP. Thirty-four of those athletes will then be invited to Phase 2 before 20 players will be named to the final roster on July 31. The 2019 15U National Team will then train in Houston, Texas from September 6-10 before competing in the 2019 COPABE U-15 Pan-American Championships from September 13-22 in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Team USA is the three-time defending gold medalists in the U-15 Pan-American Championships (2013, 2015, 2017) and most recently won its first-ever WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup title in 2018.
For the most up-to-date information on the 15U National Team, be sure to follow @USABaseball15U and @USABaseball on Twitter.