It was clear this was different from the second they walked in the door.
From the moment the 21 members of the National Team and 23 members of the World Team set foot in their respective clubhouses at Camelback Ranch – the beautiful spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox – that this wasn’t going to be like any event they’d ever been at before.
After a successful debut event in Sugar Land, Texas, the second annual International Week series put on Program 15 and the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series was highly anticipated.
It did not disappoint.
Not when the players walked into a professional clubhouse full of gear made just for them by P15/NBBFSS partners like New Balance, Wilson, Torch Eyewear, Franklin, Zinger, All-Star and more.
Not when there were P15/NBBFSS staff at every turn to help an already talented group get even better.
Not when the three-game series put some of the absolute best amateur talent on the planet on display.
It did not disappoint.
Not for the players. Not for their families. Not for the sponsors. Not for the partner programs. Not for the staff.
Did. Not. Disappoint.
“This wasn’t a showcase, International Week is about giving back,” said Program 15/New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series CEO Jeremy Booth.
“This event, for me, was a brotherhood opportunity. To truly to get to know the players that will lead this game for the next generation is truly important to all of us that were involved. Some of the cleanest baseball I’ve seen at the amateur level, and highly entertaining to watch. The players that attended considered it their first day in professional baseball. The staff made an impact, and the responses we’ve been seeing from the players made it all worth it.”
After the National Team swept the three-game series last year, the event was a lot more competitive the second time around; behind a dazzling start by Daniel Espino, the World Team took Game 2 for their first-ever victory at the event.
“It’s been great competition, there are great players here from all around the world,” said World Team standout Blake Buckle, who went 4-for-6 and is a returnee from the inaugural event in 2017.
“It’s gotten better since last year with more recognition, a lot more scouts in the stands and the sponsors have really been supporting it. It’s been a great event. Last year, I think it was a bit lopsided for us. The World team got boatran in all three games, basically. But this year, it’s more competitive and seems like more of an equal playing field as it expands.”
But a just-as-stacked National Team roster was simply too much, and they were able to take Game 3 and win the series for the second consecutive year.
“The level of talent for the International Week event was second to none,” said P15/NBBFSS director of player development Sean Travers.
“Even better than the talent level, was the players desire to learn and apply what the instructors and coaches were suggesting. There were major adjustments being made over the three days. What an incredible baseball environment.”
International Week, which was broadcast to a reach of over 40 million viewers on FloSports, drew rave reviews from everyone in attendance – including members of P15/NBBFSS’s expansive advisory board as well as a strong contingent of scouts from numerous big league and college teams – and also garnered national attention in an ESPN.com article written by Keith Law.
“We took a step forward together in this event to accomplish goals for players, the game, and to give back like our sponsors are so renowned for,” Booth said. “You could see the difference on their faces in how they left versus when they arrived. We can’t wait for 2019.”