On Wednesday, 16 teams across two age classifications -- the juniors, aged 13 to 15, and the seniors, aged 16 to 18 -- converged at the Academy for the opening ceremonies, which included talks from Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini and MLB vice president of youth programs David James, as well as an outdoor picnic and opportunity to tour the facilities.
"Obviously the P&G Reds' Youth Urban Academy is a jewel," James said. "We've participated in things with the Reds here during All-Star week. But we always had our eye on getting to the point with the RBI World Series being hosted here by the Reds at this facility."
The 16 teams come from all across the U.S. and the Caribbean. The hometown Cincinnati RBI team is also represented in the senior age group, making them the first team since 2008 to represent the host city.
In order to get there, teams had to win their way in through a rigorous regional schedule across the country.
"It's a grind, no question," said Cameron Satterwhite, coach of the Cincinnati team. "Every day, putting time in and practice in and fielding ground balls, catching fly balls, hitting. It's certainly a grind, but I think these guys are taking well to it and they're working well and playing well, so we're looking forward to it."
The tournament begins on Friday after a showcase workout for MLB and college scouts on Thursday. The teams have been divided into two pools and will play each team in their pool once between Friday and Saturday. The results of that will determine the seeding for a single elimination tournament on Sunday. The winners of their bracket from Sunday will play in a championship game on Monday at the Academy.
Traditionally, the championship game is played at the host team's Major League park. Instead of that, this year, Castellini went to the Reds' facilities staff and requested to have the park open on Friday and Saturday so that each team will get a chance to play one game at Great American Ball Park.
"Ever since I was little, obviously growing up here and seeing all the Major League players play on that field, I feel like it's an honor to be on the same field that they play on," said R.J. Barnes, a player on the Cincinnati team.
To Castellini, being able to present an opportunity like this to churn interest in baseball among the youth -- one of the primary missions of the RBI program -- is important in a game that he feels is "being challenged every day."
"There are plenty of other things that kids can do with their time, their resources, their family resources," Castellini said. "Playing the game of baseball is not only great in terms of team dynamic and learning a great game, our national pastime, but developing the next generation of players and fans of our game. It's incredibly important."
Fans are invited to attend the tournament games, a schedule of which can be found on the RBI World Series website. For those who can't attend, the RBI website includes a link that will allow fans to get score updates provided through the GameChanger App.
Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.