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USA Baseball To Host 18U World Cup In 2021

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For the first time in more than 25 years, the top international tournament for high school age players will be played in the United States.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation and USA Baseball announced on Tuesday that the 18U World Cup will be played in Bradenton and Sarasota, Fla. in 2021. It will mark the first time the 18U event has been played in the U.S. since 1995, back when the event was called the World Junior Championships.

Next year’s 18U World Cup is set to be played in Gijang, South Korea from Aug. 30 to Sept. 8, 2019. At that event, the U.S. will be looking to win its fifth straight 18U World Cup and its 10th overall. Cuba holds the record for most 18U titles with 11.

The 18U tournament is always a showcase of some of the best young talent in the world. Last year’s USA 18U World Cup championship team included 2018 first-round picks Jarred KelenicNolan GormanRyan WeathersBrice TurangTriston CasasJ.T. GinnEthan Hankins and Anthony Seigler.

Joe MauerFrancisco LindorAlex RodriguezBuster PoseyPaul Konerko and John Smoltz are among some of the U.S.’s 18U alumni from World Cups/World Junior Championships over the years.

But it’s not just the U.S. that sends teams loaded with young talent. Cuba’s 2013 18U World Cup team included Victor Victor Mesa, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada and J.P. Martinez on one team. Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani are among the Japanese alumni of the event.

All the games at the 2021 18U World Cup will be split between Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium, home of the Orioles’ spring training, and Bradenton’s LENCOM Stadium, home of the Pirates' spring training.

The partnership with Bradenton/Sarasota and the Pirates and Orioles was vital for USA Baseball feeling comfortable to bid for the event. As USA Baseball’s Executive Director Paul Seiler explained, the organization had not bid to host any World Cups or other international events since that 1995 18U event because of the financial commitment that such a bid involves.

“It’s been a long time. Ideally it’s not going to be another 25 years. Some of this impact is financial to be frank. We’re not designed unless we have the right partners to undertake the financial responsibility of hosting an event like this,” Seiler said. “As a nonprofit organization we don’t have the financial flexibility to take on the financial responsibility for an event like this.”

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