Eight Golden Years USA Baseball 18U National Team's Unprecedented Run of Excellence

Very rarely in the history of America’s pastime do fans get to see a truly remarkable run of excellence. The average baseball fan was introduced to the first notion of a dynasty from 1949-1953, when the New York Yankees, led by manager Casey Stengel, won five World Series in a row, a feat that has yet to be repeated in the history of Major League Baseball. Fast forward to 2019, and you will find another run of consecutive championships happening this time on the international stage. The USA Baseball 18U National Team has won eight straight gold medals since 2011, including four consecutive world championships.

The 18U National Team can attribute its success to many things over the past eight years: having some of the best coaches and athletes in the world, a sense of pride in their country and what they are playing for, and, in some cases, a fear of failure. The common factor that everyone involved with USA Baseball knows, it is that excellence is something that is strived for every day.

“I would prefer to posture it, and the numbers say, that our strive for excellence is being realized,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler “We don’t take that for granted. We don’t assume excellence; it is something that we strive for. And, numbers say recently that we have had a number of successes while striving for that excellence.”


This gold medal run began with debatably one of the best team to be assembled in the amateur ranks of baseball. The 2011 squad introduced the common baseball fan to names like Albert Almora, Alex Bregman and Joey Gallo. For a team that had eight players that would eventually contribute to major league clubs in 2018, the team was as dominant as you could expect.

National Team Training set the tone for the 2011 team, as they went 5-0-1 leading up to the COPABE Pan Am “AAA” Championships in Cartagena, Colombia. Once the team landed in Colombia, it was all business as the stars and stripes rolled through the opening and super rounds, outscoring opponents 76-6 in the first eight games of the tournament to set up a gold medal matchup against its neighbors to the north, Canada. Team USA secured the gold medal with a 12-2 dominant win over Canada. The gold qualified the Team USA for the IBAF “AAA” World Cup in Seoul, South Korea, in 2012.

First Round Draft Picks

  • Albert Almora (No. 6, Chicago Cubs, 2012)
  • David Dahl (No. 10, Colorado Rockies, 2012)
  • Addison Russell (No. 11, Oakland Athletics, 2012)
  • Gavin Cecchini (No. 12, New York Mets, 2012)
  • Nick Travieso (No. 14, Cincinnati Reds, 2012)
  • Lance McCullers (No. 41, Houston Astros, 2012)
  • Jesse Winker (No. 49, Cincinnati Reds, 2012)
  • Walker Weickel (No. 55, San Diego Padres, 2012)
  • Alex Bregman (No. 2, Houston Astros, 2015)
  • Carson Fulmer (No. 8, Chicago White Sox, 2015)


Looking to win its first world championship since 1999, Team USA opened the tournament with a dominating 17-0 win over the Netherlands, before falling to host country, Korea, 8-2, in its second game. However, the stars and stripes bounced back to win the next three games. After a 1-0 heartbreaking loss against Canada, Team USA rebounded to earn wins over Chinese Taipei (5-1) and Japan (10-5) to force a rematch against Canada in the gold medal game. With a familiar prize on the line in a Team USA-Canada bout, the stars and stripes earned a 6-2 win to capture its first World Cup championship in 12 years.

First Round Draft Picks

  • Reese McGuire (No. 14, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2013)
  • Christian Arroyo (No. 25, San Francisco Giants, 2013)
  • Ian Clarkin (No. 33, New York Yankees, 2013)


The following year, Team USA returned to the IBAF “AAA” World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan, destined to repeat as world champions. After a heartbreaking loss to Australia in the second game of the tournament, the squad was more motivated than ever. They used that motivation to shut out its next five opponents to set up a meeting in the gold medal game against Japan. The red, white and blue won a hard-fought 3-2 game to capture its second consecutive world championships.

First Round Draft Picks

  • Cole Tucker (No. 24, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2014)
  • Luis Ortiz (No. 30, Texas Rangers, 2014)
  • Justus Sheffield (No. 31, Cleveland Indians, 2014)
  • Jack Flaherty (No. 34, St. Louis Cardinals, 2014)
  • Brady Aiken (No. 17, Cleveland Indians, 2015)
  • Adam Haseley (No. 8, Philadelphia Phillies, 2017)


Team USA set its sights on the COPABE Pan Am “AAA” Championships in 2014 with a goal of qualifying for the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup the following year. The star-studded 2014 squad wasted no time showing its dominance in the tournament, outscoring its opponents 110-5, while going a perfect 8-0 with a win over Mexico in the gold medal game.

First Round Picks

  • Kolby Allard (No. 14, Atlanta Braves, 2015)
  • Trenton Clark (No. 15, Milwaukee Brewers, 2015)
  • Ke'Bryan Hayes (No. 32, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2015)
  • Blake Rutherford (No. 18, New York Yankees, 2016)
  • Nick Madrigal (No. 4, Chicago White Sox, 2018)


Osaka, Japan set the stage for the 2015 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, where Team USA would try for its third consecutive World Cup title. After a 11-1 win over the Czech Republic to open the tournament, Team USA suffered its only blemish in the tournament with a 3-0 loss against the host country, Japan. Seven straight wins from the stars and stripes set up a rematch between Team USA and Japan in the gold medal game. Reminiscent of the world cup final two years prior, the two teams were locked in a close battle before Team USA earned the 2-1 win and the gold medal.

First Round Picks

  • Mickey Moniak (No. 1, Philadelphia Phillies, 2016)
  • Ian Anderson (No. 3, Atlanta Braves, 2016)
  • Braxton Garrett (No. 7, Miami Marlins, 2016)
  • Will Benson (No. 14, Cleveland Indians, 2016)
  • Forrest Whitley (No. 17, Houston Astros, 2016)
  • Blake Rutherford (No. 18, New York Yankees, 2016)
  • Hunter Greene (No. 2, Cincinnati Reds, 2017)
  • Nick Pratto (No. 14, Kansas City Royals, 2017)
  • Ryan Rolison (No. 22, Colorado Rockies, 2018)


Team USA kept up its winning ways in 2016, winning its first six games of the COPABE Pan Am “AAA” Championships. After already securing a place in the gold medal game, the stars and stripes suffered its only loss of the tournament in a close 2-1 Super Round game with the host country, Mexico. Team USA then faced off against one of its oldest foes–Cuba–in the gold medal contest, with the red, white and blue winning the game 6-1 and clinching a spot at the WBSC U-18 World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada.

First Round Picks

  • Royce Lewis (No. 1, Minnesota Twins, 2017)
  • Hunter Greene (No. 2, Cincinnati Reds, 2017)
  • Shane Baz (No. 12, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2017)
  • Nick Pratto (No. 14, Kansas City Royals, 2017)
  • Jarred Kelenic (No. 6, New York Mets, 2018)
  • Brice Turang (No. 21, Milwaukee Brewers, 2018)
  • Triston Casas (No. 26, Boston Red Sox, 2018)


Team USA kept its momentum rolling in Thunder Bay, as the team won all nine games of the tournament, including an 8-0 victory over Korea to once bring a gold medal back to the United States. The pitching staff stifled opposing hitters during the tournament, hurling six shutouts, while only allowing five runs. Seven pitchers earned a perfect 0.00 ERA during the incredible run. The win moved Team USA into a tie with Cuba as the only two countries to win four straight world cups in a row. With the 9-0 record, the 2017 squad joined the 1989 18U National Team as the only two teams to go undefeated in world cup play.

First Round Picks

  • Jarred Kelenic (No. 6, New York Mets, 2018)
  • Ryan Weathers (No. 7, San Diego Padres, 2018)
  • Matthew Liberatore (No. 16, Tampa Bay Rays, 2018)
  • Nolan Gorman (No. 19, St. Louis Cardinals, 2018)
  • Brice Turang (No. 21, Milwaukee Brewers, 2018)
  • Anthony Seigler (No. 23, New York Yankees, 2018)
  • Triston Casas (No. 26, Boston Red Sox, 2018)
  • Mason Denaburg (No. 27, Washington Nationals, 2018)
  • JT Ginn (No. 30, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2018)
  • Ethan Hankins (No. 35, Cleveland Indians, 2018)


The golden streak continued in 2018 at the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships in Panama. Team USA once again finished the tournament with a perfect record and added another gold medal to its trophy case, as it topped the host-country Panama 17-2 in the championship game. The stars and stripes scored 131 runs in the tournament, setting a program record for most runs in international play in a single season.

In all, the 18U National Team has amassed a 65-5 record in international play since 2011. In the eight years since its gold in 2011, the squad has outscored its opponents 641-129, a remarkable feat for any team in the sport. The squad has also maintained a 19-game winning streak in international competition dating back to the gold medal game of the 2016 COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships in Cuba.

Team USA will play for its fifth consecutive world cup gold medal in 2019 at the WBSC U-18 World Cup in Gijang City, Korea. The stars and stripes will work to defend their crown against a field that includes Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, South Africa and Spain, who all earned a berth in the event through qualifying tournaments in 2018.

The truly remarkable thing about a run of excellence that has lasted so many years is that one can never fully appreciate how great the teams are year in and year out until it is too late. Instead, you are only left with the great memories and pride of what you have accomplish while wearing the USA Baseball uniform.

“Every team has highlights throughout a tournament and the 18U National Team has been a testament to that,” Seiler continued. “A lot of times when you’re in the moment, it can be difficult to grasp its significance, and other times you are like ‘Holy cow, this is special’. And what a special run it has been.”
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USA Baseball

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