Northland h.s. baseball team packs bags, heads to China to compete in international tournament

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the first time ever, a high school baseball team from the U.S. has been invited to play in China, and that team is from right here in Kansas City.

The Gold Glove Baseball Academy consists of boys from the Northland, all under the age of 18 who play competitive baseball.

The club was founded by former minor leaguer and Kansas City native Ray Chang. Chang now runs a Major League Baseball developmental center in China, and he invited the team to play in an international tournament there.

They left Wednesday morning from KCI, and the total travel time is 17 hours.

With layovers and time changes, they will arrive in China Friday at 2 a.m. and then play their first game later that day.

By competing against Asian players and in front of major league scouts, these boys hope to impress.

"Just kind of see how you stack up against the other competition," Chris Keys said. "We've played a lot of teams from the states and it'll be interesting, like you said, to see international competition is like."

The boys paid for their flights, which cost around $1,600, but MLB is covering the rest of their costs the three weeks they are there.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for the boys to get that experience and get that exposure. Just to get the invitation from MLB with their names on it was a tremendous experience," said Konnor Keys, Gold Glove Academy first baseman. "I feel some pressure. It's just kind of going over there, having fun, playing the game really."