Entering 2010, the name Alex Bregman elicited few superlatives outside of the New Mexico baseball scene. Great kid, hard worker, excellent 16U player in his home state.

One year later, the soon to be 17-year-old is now widely considered one of the top 18U prospects in the country. He is firmly on the radar of college and professional scouts, and his name is now commonly mentioned in the same sentence as big leaguers Ben Sheets, Justin Smoak, Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman.

So when and where did this transformation begin? In many respects, Bregman says, it was one early stop on his summer baseball tour - a USA Baseball Championship Camp.

"I heard about the Championship Camps through the Albuquerque Baseball Academy. and I just thought it would be a good opportunity to get out on the field and learn more about the game," Bregman says. "It was also a chance to get myself ready for the [primary USA Baseball 16U National Team selection vehicle] 16U Championships later that summer."

In addition to learning more about the game, however, Bregman was also witness to what USA Baseball scouts and coaching staff were looking for in regards to selecting players from the 16U National Team Trials.

"The most important thing that I took away from the camp was knowing what they were looking for in a player," says Bregman. "We ran drills that I have done in the past, but every drill that we did was so thorough that it really got me ready for the rest of the summer."

Bregman says the personal interaction with the coaches was critical to his development.

"I had a great relationship with all the coaches and instructors at the camp. They were very helpful and hands-on with everything we did. Meeting [16U National Team manager] Coach Kibler before I went to the 16U Championships was a big advantage for me."

Kibler -- USA Baseball's eventual 2010 Coach of the Year - echoes Bregman's statements and says the camps not only benefit the players who attend them, but also the coaches. "I think the camp is run really well. Not only do players get a lot of good instruction, but it gives me and my staff three more days of evaluating a kid and seeing how he can relate to your coaching. I honestly think seeing a kid in camp for those extra three days can really give them an edge over the rest of the competition."

As for people considering going to the camps this summer, both Bregman and Kibler agreed that players should take advantage of the unique opportunities they offer. "I would definitely recommend going to the camp," says Bregman. "It is a great atmosphere and a great way to prepare to play at a high level. It was really beneficial for me to be out there."

"One thing the camps give me an opportunity to see is the players' presence on and off the field and how they react to mistakes," Kibler says. "Body language can tell you a lot about a player -- even when they are up to bat, just by watching their body language you can tell if they know what they're doing. Sometimes the players stand down by the dugouts and I watch to see how they interact with other players because you want to make sure you are taking the right person internationally for 24 days."

One such player was Bregman. Following the 16U Championships, the second baseman joined Team USA at the 16U trials -- an invitation he received at the 2009 USA Baseball National Team Identification Series -- and from there he was named to the final 16U National Team roster. Only a few days later, Bregman was at the opening ceremonies of the COPABE "AA"/16U Pan American Baseball Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, wearing "USA" across his chest.

Using much of what he had learned from camp, Bregman helped lead the U.S. to a dominating run through the Pan Ams. He went 22-for-39 (.564) over nine games to go along with 17 runs scored, two homers and 17 RBIs. Bregman was also awarded for most runs scored in the tournament and for the highest batting average, while also taking home Most Valuable Player and All-Tournament Team honors. More importantly, though, his team won gold, defeating host nation Mexico, 11-4, in front of a raucous, sell-out crowd. Looking back on this summer, Bregman can't be happier with the way things turned out.

"Last summer was by far the best time of my life, from winning a gold medal for my country to all the great friends I made along the way. I couldn't have asked for a better experience."

And to go along with his gold medal and tournament MVP trophy, two months later Bregman was the first ever youth-level player to receive USA Baseball's Richard W. "Dick" Case Player of the Year Award, putting him in the same category of, yep, you guessed it: Sheets (2000), Zimmerman (2004), Strasburg (2008) and Smoak (2009).

Oh, what a difference a camp can make.

To register for a 2011 USA Baseball Championship Camp, please click here.