Here’s a fun fact: one of my most popular posts ever was an early projection of what Team Dominican Republic’s roster would look like for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. So now that I have finished my June update for Team USA, it is time to look at another tournament favorite: the Dominican Republic. It’s a topic that others have already brought up: reporter Hector Gomez tweeted out one possible lineup, while no less than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gave his opinion back in April. Now, it’s my turn.
Much like the Team USA rosters, at this point this is a “pie-in-the-sky” roster. It assumes, probably wrongly, that every player I mention would be willing and able to play. That, needless to say, is highly unlikely. There are always injuries, spring training superstitions, or transaction considerations that cause players to back out. While this has not been as big of a problem in the past for the Dominican as it has been for some other countries, it still happens. So keep that in mind while reading this: it’s highly unlikely that the final roster will look like this.
That said, even with this being a pie-in-the-sky exercise, there are two rules I have in place while making this:
- Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and two of them catchers.
- The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.
Go below the jump for more:
Manager: Luis Rojas
In the Tokyo Olympics, the Dominican was ultimately managed by Hector Borg, a part of the Giants organization. While it’s possible Borg will be back again, I imagine that instead the DR will look for someone with MLB managing experience. Luis Rojas fits that bill, having managed the Mets for two years before getting fired and finding his way to the Yankees coaching staff this season. As a bonus, he’s the son of Felipe Alou, who was the team’s manager in the 2009 WBC.
Catcher continues to be the Dominican Republic’s weakest position. If I’d picked three catchers, the third would have likely been someone like Francisco Pena (who hasn’t played in MLB since 2018 and is currently playing in Taiwan) or somebody in the minor leagues. Still, Gary Sanchez can still bop the ball and Mejia is still a MLB player.
First Baseman (1): Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
You don’t really need a backup when you have Vladimir Guerrero Jr. there. It doesn’t help that Carlos Santana and Miguel Sano have fallen off a cliff, and that Sano is injured besides. Perhaps Albert Pujols may make a post-retirement appearance, but I doubt it. It’s likely one of the two utilitymen would be the backup 1B.
Second Basemen (1): Santiago Espinal
Needless to say at least one of these guys would probably be DH’ing basically every game, although admittedly in a pinch some of these guys can play other positions as well.
You may be wondering where Fernando Tatis Jr. is. Well, he’s currently injured, so I want to see how well he’ll be when he gets back.
The rookie Morel has played both outfield and some infield thus far this season. Cordero can play first or the outfield. If Vlad needs to DH or god-forbid gets an injuries, either of them could fill in.
Alcantara has been one of the best pitchers of any nationality this year. Montas has a poor win-loss record but that’s more because he’s on Oakland and thus hasn’t been getting much support. Valdez provides a much-needed left-handed starter, while Severino rounds out the rotation. The “last one out” is Luis Castillo of the Reds.
This is a RHP-heavy bullpen and I wouldn’t be surprised if even in an “ideal” scenario you see some guys get swapped around to add in another left-hander. While not as deep as Team USA, it still is entirely made up of MLB players.
So, there you have it. My initial “pie-in-the-sky” projection of the “ideal” Dominican Republic roster. I may have an updated version next month. In addition, once official announcements begin getting made I will have more “reality-based” projections. Until then, feel free to read this and the USA rosters over at your leisure.