(USA Baseball)

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced modifications to the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS) on Friday, highlighted by the addition of a 15-and-under age group event to begin in 2017. The NTIS is the most comprehensive identification event for its youth national team programs and the 14U and 17U National Team Development Programs (NTDP).

Also starting in 2017, the NTIS events at the 11-and-under, 13-and-under, 14-and-under, 15-and-under and 16-and-under age groups will participate in a championship-style tournament, instead of participating in a series of exhibition games as done in the past. The 17-and-under age group will undergo changes as well, as each region will only select 8-to-10 athletes to participate in its new NTIS format that will feature three exhibition games and two extended workout sessions.

"The National Team Identification Series is our most comprehensive event at USA Baseball as we canvas the country searching for players to represent the red, white and blue on the international stage," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director and CEO of USA Baseball. "We are thrilled to elevate this event by adapting four age groups to a championship-style format. In doing so we will now be able to evaluate players' overall abilities in pressure situations that they would be exposed to in an international tournament.

"Additionally, we are excited to add the 15-and-under age group to this event," continued Seiler. "In order to continue developing the best future athletes for our youth national teams it is important to continue to provide opportunities for athletes to participate and develop within USA Baseball programming."

The new 15-and-under event will mimic those from the 11U, 13U, 14U and 16U age groups. Sixteen regional teams will participate in a single elimination tournament spanning four days at the USA Baseball National Training Complex and adjoining Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina. All teams will be guaranteed a minimum of three games throughout the event. Teams that do not advance in the tournament will participate in a consolation pool.

The 17U NTIS will now feature 8-to-10 select players from each region that will be placed on eight teams to be coached by USA Baseball-appointed coaches. Teams will participate in three exhibition games and two extensive instructional workouts run by USA Baseball task force members that include scouts and future national team coaches. The workouts will feature batting practice sessions and positional workouts.

"The 17-and-under National Team Identification Series will be adopting a more intimate, hands-on approach starting in 2017," said Ashley Bratcher, Senior Director of Baseball Operations at USA Baseball. "We feel it will better serve the athletes at this age level to be exposed to USA Baseball coaches and task force members through extended workouts as well as allowing us to interact with the athletes on a personal level."

The 2017 National Team Identification Series will take place from August 9 - 27 in Cary, North Carolina. The age group dates are as follows:

13U National Team Identification Series: August 9-13
15U and 16U National Team Identification Series: August 17-20
11U, 14U and 17U National Team Identification Series: August 24-27

From the six age groups, USA Baseball will name a minimum of six players to the 2018 Tournament of Stars, a minimum of two players to the 2018 18U National Team Trials, and a minimum of 18 players will be named to the 2018 17U National Team Development Program (17U NTDP).

At least 12 players will be invited to the 2018 15U National Team Trials, as well as a minimum of 12 players to both the 2018 14U National Team Development Program (14U NTDP) and 12U National Team Trials.

Athletes can register for their respective regional identification event by visiting the 2017 National Team Identification Series page on USABaseball.com. For the most up-to-date information on the NTIS, follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter.