Five Tool Youth has come up with some of the most advanced technology to try to ensure teams are playing at the appropriate level. Along with technology and rules comes complexity and with complexity comes confusion, so here is a detailed series of the rules and examples to help everybody understand. We understand that some players may have been trying this level and found themselves outclassed, but, by the parent and manager/coach trying the child at this level, they are saying that this player should be no less than one grade behind. All players are allowed to play down one grade from what their LY grade is, but there can be no more than 4 players playing down on any one team. For the purposes of this page, the Metro Class is excluded until post season play, which is play that occurs outside of your local league (These would be Zone, State, or National Events). We encourage leagues to make decisions at the local level to make the league work for their situation. If a local Metro league needs to combine ages or allow Division I or out of class players Nations Baseball will support the decision of the local league, but regular class play rules are in effect for any Zone, Regional, State, or National events at the Metro Class.
Roster Frequently Asked Questions
Five Tool Youth’s principal driving factor is the use of what we call a grade. A grade is similar to what you find in school and the objective of the average ball player is to advance one grade a year. A grade is determined by adding the team’s age plus class, where Metro is 1, Divsion III is 2, Division II is 3, Division I is 4. So, if a player plays in 11U Division II, that player would be playing at a grade 14 (11 + 3). Please keep in mind that grade takes into account that a team consists of players and that cumulatively they reach an outcome as a group, so the individual is graded on the group performance. We make an assumption that when a manager/coach and a parent agree for a player to play on a team in a game, of which we only can assume if they are on the roster, that the child would at a minimum not hurt the teams performance.
|4U – Metro Division|
|4U – Division III|
|5U – Metro Division|
|5U – Division III|
|6U – Metro Division|
|6U – Division III|
|7U – Metro Division|
|7U – Division III|
|8U – Metro Division|
|7U – Division II|
|8U – Division III|
|9U – Metro Division|
|8U – Division II|
|9U – Division III|
|10U – Metro Division|
|9U – Division II|
|10U – Division III|
|11U – Metro Division|
|10U – Division II|
|11U – Division III|
|12U – Metro Division|
|10U – Division I|
|11U – Division II|
|12U – Division III|
|13U – Metro Division|
|11U – Division I|
|12U – Division II|
|13U – Division III|
|14U – Metro Division|
|12U – Division I|
|13U – Division II|
|14U – Division III|
|15U – Metro Division|
|13U – Division I|
|14U – Division II|
|15U – Division III|
|16U – Metro Division|
|14U – Division I|
|15U – Division II|
|16U – Division III|
|17U – Metro Division|
|15U – Division I|
|16U – Division II|
|17U – Division III|
|18U – Metro Division|
|16U – Division I|
|17U – Division II|
|18U – Division III|
|19U – Metro Division|
|17U – Division I|
|18U – Division II|
|19U – Division III|
|18U – Division I|
|19U – Division II|
|19U – Division I|
When a player is added to the Nations Baseball system, our staff is looking through various locations to determine what team a player played on last year and how successful that team was in their performance. All teams would fall into one of 3 categories:
- Up 2 Grades – Teams who had an exceptionally great season have proven that a group of players have built on their skills and are ready to face a more talented group of players to continue their growth. For these few teams, we ask them to not just move up an age, but a class as well. This promotes an opportunity for this group to continue to grow and develop as well other groups of players to have an opportunity to have a great season.
- Up 1 Grade – This is the majority of teams. These players continue to compete against each other and continue to build on their skills. Hopefully as the year moves along, they will have the opportunity to grow and be pushed up to the next level for the next year.
- Up 0 Grades – This group of players spent the year and either were never able to qualify in an event or if they did qualify, it was only by default and they had a very difficult season. This group of players will have an opportunity while moving up an age, but may move down a class, so they stay at the same grade.
- If you see a player with a LY of 0, it is hyperlinked, this is because we couldn’t find any information in our research on this player, so please feel free to tell us where this player played last year and any links that may help us assess a grade on this player.
How about a few examples to see how this works. Please keep in mind that many factors come into play, no single factor is determining where a team will play, but these examples should help a team understand how they got on what list.
- In younger teams, the continued play at the Division III level puts these players at a distinct advantage over the group of players just being introduced into Division III baseball. Those players who already have Division III ball experience and training should logically succeed over teams who are just forming and starting to build that skill set. That being said, in ages 9 and down, we take the vast majority of teams who have any success within Division III baseball and push them up to compete with other teams with experience. So, if a team played in 6U or below in a Division III division, we will ask them to start in our highest class through 7U. From 7U to 8U to 9U, we take the vast majority from the top level and keep them there, the teams who had exceptionally rough seasons (and please remember, winning is just one factor of a difficult or successful season), we will let them return to Dvision II the following year. We also look at Division II and move teams who had great success up.
- Last year Johnny played on the XYZ’s as a 6U tee ball all-star team who played in a couple of tournaments. Even though the team only achieved a 3-10 record, Johnny is graded 10 going into 7U since his experience will still carry him over those who have not played Division III ball before.
- Last year Johnny played on the ABC’s as a 6U tee ball all-star team who played in a couple of tournaments. Since Johnny’s team compiled a record of 0-9 and were run ruled in 7 of the games, Johnny is graded 9 going into 7U since they have proven that they are not yet ready to compete with the more experienced teams.
- Last year Johnny played on the PDQ’s as an 8U Division III equivalent team. As a team they had a very successful season, they didn’t win a tournament, but achieved a record of 22-10 and played some very competitive games and run ruled some teams. Johnny is going to be a grade 12 going into 9U and playing at the highest level as they have proven that they are ready to move up.
- 9U is one of the toughest years of a young ball players lives. They are introduced into kid pitch and this is where you find out if players are afraid of getting hit, they have the mental toughness to pitch, and if they can keep focused and pay attention to the much slower paced game. After the 9U season, Nations Baseball branches into 4 divisions and the breakdown is such that the majority of the players playing at the top level in 9U will move to 10U Division I, grade 14, the bottom of the top and the top of the Division III level or equivalent will move to 10U Division II, grade 13, and the bottom middle and bottom of the Division III or equivalent class will be put into the 10U Division III class, grade 12.
- Last year Johnny played on the XYZ’s as a 9U top level team who played in a couple of tournaments. Even though the team only achieved a 6-10 record, Johnny is graded 14 going into 10U since his team has proven that they are in the top group of athletes at the age in the nation.
- Last year Johnny played on the ABC’s as a 9U top level team who played in a couple of tournaments. Since Johnny’s team compiled a record of 0-9 and were run ruled in 7 of the games, Johnny is graded 13 going into 10U since they have proven that they are not yet ready to compete with the more experienced teams, but should mix in fine with the upper Division III equivalent teams coming into the market.
- Last year Johnny played on the PDQ’s as an 9U Division III equivalent team. As a team they had a very successful season, they didn’t win a tournament, but achieved a record of 22-10 and played some very competitive games and run ruled some teams. Johnny is going to be a grade 13 going into 10 and playing at the Division II level as they have proven that they are ready to move up.
- From ages 10-13 as they move up, generally you will see that the top 10-20% of each class will move up and the bottom 10-20% will move down.
How does this affect my team? Each team is allowed 4 players that are playing down from their LY grade. The basic principal behind this is that each team that is moved up will have a few kids that may not be ready for the transition to the next level, but as a whole they have proven that they need to at minimum try the next level. Those players who are disbursed may not be able to find a team at that level in their area, so to be able to play, they may have to drop back. There is no problem with this, but to prevent a mischievous manager from saying that he lost his stars and needs to stay back, we have simply said that each team is allowed 4 players playing back one level from their LY mandate. Managers, you will find the number of exemptions that you have used in your login window. You may also visually view this on your roster by looking at your team grade and then the LY for each of your players. Here are a few examples.
- A new team is formed and the new team desires to be an 11U team. They hold tryouts and have a variety of players show up, but who does the manager Division III and what becomes of the status of the team?
- 10 grade 14, age 11 players – The team is 11U Division II
- 10 grade 13, age 11 players and 1 grade 13, age 12 player – The team is 12U Dvision III, a team must play in the age of the oldest player
- 10 grade 13, age 11 players and 1 grade 16, age 11 player – The team is 11U Division I, a team may play back 1 grade from the highest graded player
- 5 grade 12, age 10 players and 5 grade 14, age 11 players – The team is 11U Division II, a team must play at a grade if they have 5 or more players of that grade on the team
- 10 grade 18, age 11 players – The team is 11U Division I, players may always return to their age at the highest level.
- My team fell apart, but I have a few players that want to remain together, what do I do. The XYZ’s are on the mandate list for Division II.
- I bring back 5 players, but it’s my weakest 5. Your team is playing Division II, any time you have 5 players of a higher grade, your team is moved up.
- I bring back 2 players, pick up 2 other Division II players, and fill out the team with Division III players. Your team is Division III as you only have 4 players from the higher level.
During the course of a year, parents and managers will make decisions that will impact the eligibility of a player. The TY of a player is only impacted by what a player does on Nations Baseball Rosters. TY is this simple, a player may play down 1 grade from their highest non-qualified roster appearance, a player may not play below their highest qualified roster appearance. Exception: A player may always play their own age at the highest level. One thing that goes along with this is what happens if I have a player playing on more than one team. As long as rosters remain unqualified, players may be on as many rosters as they like. They can be on every roster spanning 4 ages in 5 states at the same time, we encourage players to find the home that fits them and try the next grade up at any age they desire, but once teams begin qualifying, things get sticky. A player may play for only one qualified team in an age (Metro Excluded), but may play for one qualified team in each age for that grade. Now for the examples:
- A 10 year old player is added to a Division I roster for 1 weekend and dropped on Monday, the team does not qualify, the player is eligible to play Division II, but not Division III as they may only move down 1 grade from their highest roster appearance.
- A 10 year old player is added to an 11U Division I roster for 1 weekend to help out a sibling. That player may not play below 10U Division I for the remainder of the year.
- A 10 year old player is playing with his age for the most of the time on a 10U Divsion II team, but due to having a summer birthday, plays on the off weekends with an 11U Divsion III team. What can happen?
- The 10U Dvision II team finishes in the top 25% of a Division I Class Qualifier and becomes qualified at the Division I level. The 10U Team is reclassed to Dvision I and the player is now illegal on the 11U Division III Team.
- The 11U Division III team adds an 11U Dvision I player to their roster and is reclassified to 11U Division II, the player is no longer legal on the 10U Division II team, they must drop the player or move to Division I.
- A 10 year old player is playing with his age for the most of the time on a 10U Division III team, but due to having a summer birthday, plays on the off weekends with an 11U Division III team. What can happen?
- The 11U Division III team adds an 11U Division I player to their roster and is reclassified to 11U Division II, the player is no longer legal on the 10U Division II team, they must drop the player or move to Division I.
- The 11U Division III team qualifies by finishing in the top 50% of a qualifying event, this player is now illegal on the 10U Division III team since the player is now qualified at grade 13.
Qualifying events are tournaments or leagues which give berths to zone, state or national events. While playing fall events may be required to be eligible to participate in a fall Zone, State or National event to ensure the appropriate play level of a team, the first date to start qualifying your roster is the Fall State Tournament each year. For the Fall State Tournament thru April 1st, all team managers will have the option to decline an earned berth in a qualifier and no roll down berths will be awarded. NCI tournaments held after the Fall State tournament, reward National berths to teams that qualify. NCI tournaments held before April 1st will award berths, but teams will not be frozen until April 1st. From April 1 through July 31 of each year, berths will be awarded and are mandatory to accept for all Division III and Division I teams finishing in the top 25% of an event, 50% of Division III teams will receive berths. During the mandatory period, if a team enters an event and is already qualified, the berth will be offered on a pass down basis, but a team must win a game to receive a berth. Pass down berths may be declined even from April 1 – July 31. Once a team receives a berth, they are now qualified which means that they are eligible to register for the event they qualified for, but it also means that the players on that team no longer are eligible to play down 1 grade and the team is now allowed to add only 3 players from that date through July 31.
We at nations baseball understand that this is a very difficult process to understand. These rules are to help encourage growth, yet protect class play. The reason a Division I player is not allowed at the Division III level is to allow Division III level players to have a chance. We understand that some manager/coaches will recruit top talent from the next level with the intent of beating a group of less talented or experienced players, but by placing restrictions on who is eligible to participate on a team, we have greatly reduced the exposure and given more players a chance to play more competitive ball and have the opportunity to grow and succeed. The underlying principal that Nations Baseball is founded on is that parents, players, coaches, and managers will work together through natural selection to tell us a great deal about a players ability by where they chose to play. If parents know that by appearing on a Division I roster, their child is now ineligible to participate at the Division III level at that age again, the parent will think long and hard about this decision and are saying that their player is at a minimum an Division III player at that age. Likewise, a coach or manager adding a player to a roster is saying that this player is at least worth a chance which tells us a great deal about a players ability, we don’t believe managers will pick up players that will hurt their team. Many other organizations will allow players and teams to self-classify their teams because “Teams will do what is right,” but experience tells us that there is a percentage of teams that will do whatever it takes to get a win or trophy. We want teams to feel confident that by forming a team based on a group of players that meet a certain criteria and by publishing not just the criteria, but the information required to make a decision, then the system will work.
We know it may be convenient to pick up a little brother or neighbor because it is convenient, but when this happens, we don’t know if you picked them up because of their ability or convenience. We also don’t have the ability to watch hundreds of thousands of children play millions of games each year, so we have to assume the player will be competitive. We have a great number of rules that allow a team to pick up a player for the weekend and there are thousands of players available to you each weekend, you just must make intelligent decisions, you can pick up players a year younger at the same grade and carry them on your roster all year long, you can pick up players a grade up or down in the same age or below as long as you aren’t qualified. With this wealth of available players in your area, please keep in mind that if you make the wrong choice for a pick up player, you may be jeopardizing their eligibility for a year or more.