Veteran MLB Coach Rick Eckstein To Manage 2024 18U National Team

Five-time Professional National Team coach to make Team USA managerial debut

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named veteran Major League Baseball coach and five-time Professional National Team staff member Rick Eckstein the manager of the 2024 18U National Team. Eckstein will make his Team USA managerial debut at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier later this summer.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Rick serve as our manager in 2024,” said Brett Curll, USA Baseball’s 18U National Team Program Director. “His extensive experience coaching at both the professional and amateur levels will be instrumental to our players and coaching staff. We look forward to competing for a gold medal with Rick at the helm this summer.”

“I am extremely honored to be named manager of USA Baseball’s 18U National Team,” said Eckstein. “Wearing the USA jersey is a privilege that I do not take lightly. Being entrusted with the responsibility to lead these talented young men and compete internationally for a gold medal is one that I will embrace. I would also like to thank everyone associated with USA Baseball for this very special opportunity.”

Eckstein served on the coaching staff for the Professional National Team on five separate occasions from 2005-2008 and helped guide the stars and stripes to three medals under longtime big-league manager Davey Johnson. Eckstein made his U.S. coaching debut in 2005 at the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Baseball World Cup before helping lead the stars and stripes to a 5-0 mark at the CONCEBE Pre-Olympic Qualifier later that year. With Eckstein again on Johnson’s staff in 2006, Team USA posted an 8-1 record at the Olympic Qualifier in Cuba to secure its spot in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Before serving on staff at the Olympics, Eckstein was the third base coach at the 2007 IBAF Baseball World Cup, where the stars and stripes rolled to a 9-1 record and a gold medal with a title-game victory over Cuba. He returned once more to the U.S. dugout at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, assisting in guiding the United States to its second Olympic bronze medal in program history. Following the 2008 season, Eckstein earned USA Baseball’s “Doc” Counsilman Science Award for his coaching efforts through scientific data and technology.

In addition to his national team coaching experience, Eckstein has also been deeply involved with USA Baseball’s development programs and educational initiatives. He was named the 2023 USA Baseball Coach Educator of the Year after spending time as a coach at the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League, 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP), and 18U National Team Training Camp last summer.

Eckstein started his coaching career in 1997 when he served as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Florida following the end of his playing career at the school. In 1999, he joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as a bullpen coach and batting practice pitcher before taking the same role with the Minnesota Twins a year later. Eckstein got his first hitting coach position shortly after this, joining the University of Georgia’s coaching staff during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. In the subsequent years, he bounced around multiple minor league teams in that role, including the Harrisburg Senators, Vermont Expos, New Orleans Zephyrs, Memphis Redbirds, and Columbus Clippers. He got his first major league coaching role at the end of 2008 with the Washington Nationals, where he served as the hitting coach until the end of the 2013 season. Eckstein joined the Los Angeles Angels as a player information coach in 2014 before returning to the college ranks as an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky, a position he held for two years. After that, he was brought on by the Minnesota Twins as a minor league hitting coordinator and worked in that role from 2016-2018. His most recent coaching position was as the hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he held until the end of the 2021 season.

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 remainder of the 18U National Team coaching staff, along with the 2024 schedule, will be announced at a later date.