Alabaster native in charge of 15U USA Baseball
Published 2:48 pm Thursday, September 3, 2015
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
RALEIGH, N.C. – On Aug. 29, the 15U USA Baseball team won its second consecutive COPABE “AA” Pan American gold medal in Aquascalientes, Mexico, after defeating Colombia in the gold medal game by a final score of 9-5. The man responsible, at least in part, for putting the 15U team together is Alabaster native Brooks Webb.
Webb was raised in Alabaster and played baseball at Kingwood, where he was a pitcher and a third basemen, before playing his college ball at Birmingham Southern, where he was a pitcher. When he left college, Webb knew he wanted to stay involved with sports, and took a job with IMG College out of school.
“I just knew I wanted to stay involved with athletics, probably on the administrative side of things,” Webb said during a Sept. 3 phone interview. “It was definitely something where if it was baseball or another sport I just wanted to stay involved in that world.”
After a time with IMG, he got connected with USA Baseball and hasn’t looked back. He is the director of the 15U team, and as the director, Webb leads the way in picking the 20-man roster that will represent the country in international events each year.
The selection process for each summer takes most of the previous year, according to Webb, with selection events for the 2016 team already under way. A 40-man roster is picked from the selection events, and all of those kids are brought to the USA Baseball headquarters in Raleigh, N.C. where Webb, along with scouts and coaches, trim the roster to 20 after five to six days of observation.
“It’s very similar to how other national governing bodies do it, like for basketball and soccer,” Webb said. “It gives us the flexibility to pick the best team for what we need.”
Baseball has traditionally been an American-centric sport. But not so much in recent years, with countries across Asia and Central America in particular giving the US a run for its money in international events.
“Our expectation is a gold medal,” Webb said. “We feel like we should be able to find kids every year who can compete for a gold medal, and usually we do find a team that can compete. I’m tasked with finding the top talent across the country, which is really some of the top talent across the globe. It has become a more global game. Cuba, Venezuela, Japan and Chinese Taipei always have good teams that are tough.”
At the 15U level, there is a World Cup every other year. This year was the off year, which is why the 15U age group took part in the Pan American Championship. Next year, with practically a whole new team, Webb hopes the new crop can make a run at the gold medal that the 2014 team missed out on just barely.
“For me, putting together a team that plays for your country is something I’m extremely proud of,” Webb said. “I take a lot of pride in that. The pieces will be a little different year to year, but the talent is the same.”