World Baseball Classic Update 8/21/2022: Venezuela, Argentina, Pakistan, and more

A roundup of some additional WBC news from the past week or so that I missed in yesterday’s post:

  • Add Astros pitcher Luis Garcia to the list of Venezuelans who have committed to the tournament. You can add Rockies pitcher German Marquez to that list as well.
  • Rolando Arnedo, the manager of the Diamondbacks’ Arizona Complex League team, will skipper Argentina in the qualifiers. In fact, Argentina has revealed a lot more about its qualifier team in an article released on Aug. 18. Among other information: Astros Arizona Complex League manager Marcelo Alfonsin will be the pitching coach, Gabriel Sanso will be the bench/hitting coach, Eduardo Capdevilla will be outfield/third base coach, Nicolas Solari will be infield/first base coach, and Federico Bisbal will be on quality control and analytics. Player-wise, Argentina is hoping for participation from players of Argentine descent like Miami’s Daniel Castano, the Baltimore organization’s Yennier Cano, and CPBL player An Ko Lin. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to get Castano given scheduling and the concussion and Cano’s participation would likely depend on whether he’s on the big league club by that time as well, though.
  • Pakistan has introduced three of the coaches involved in the qualifying team: Brian Furches, pitching coach Randall Arms, and Naser Peter.
  • Australia and Japan will play a series in November as preparation for the WBC.
  • Broadcasting announcement: Tyler Maun and former Australian big-leaguer Ryan Rowland-Smith will be on the call for the WBC qualifiers.

World Baseball Classic Update 8/20/2022: DeRosa to manage, Ohtani can play, more commits, and more

In the week since our last update, more World Baseball Classic News has come out. Here’s some of it (I may get some stragglers tomorrow):

Team USA gets a manager

It’s been announced that Mark DeRosa will be the skipper for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. It’s a bit of a surprise pick, as I and others assumed it’d be a retired manager like Mike Scioscia. However, instead USA Baseball is going young. While DeRosa has never managed professionally, he’s been thrown about in the past as a potential future candidate and is well-liked around the game. Plus, his day job as an analyst and host at MLB Network means he’s well-acquainted with most of the MLB players in the tournament. DeRosa played for Team USA in the 2009 WBC and had a long career in the majors as a super-utility man.

Ohtani can play

Shohei Ohtani didn’t play in the last WBC due to injury, but if he wants to he can in this one. The Angels have granted him permission to take part. Technically, he could have played anyway as WBC rules only allow teams to deny permission under certain circumstances like if they were on the injured list, but players- especially pitchers- generally will take team requests to heart and so if the Angels didn’t want him to play it’s likely he wouldn’t.

This needless to say is a huge get for both Samurai Japan and the tournament in general. The Japanese uniforms for Ohtani will sell extremely well, and the tournament instantly gets another marketable star to slap on some billboards and commercials.

Altuve in for Venezuela, Lopez to manage

Jose Altuve has confirmed he’s planning to play for Venezuela in 2023. Altuve previously played in the WBC in 2017. Managing Altuve will be someone familiar to him: Houston first-base coach Omar Lopez.

Alonso becomes latest position player to confirm for Team USA

The Polar Bear himself, Pete Alonso, has confirmed he’s in for Team USA. One of the best sluggers in the lead, the Mets first-baseman joins Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Story, and Paul Goldschmidt as played who have signed up for Team USA. Notably, there still have yet to be any pitchers to announce their interest, but at least as far as position players the USA is looking good so far for defending its WBC title.

More WBC News and Reports:

Look for more WBC updates in the coming days!

World Baseball Classic Update for 8/13/2022: Team USA loads up, and other updates

Some big names have committed to Team USA in the past few days: Bryce Harper says he’s in, as does catcher J.T. Realmuto. Over at first base, Paul Goldschmidt has also committed to the team.

Meanwhile, an article on Minnesota Twins players planning to take part in the tournament revealed that Carlos Correa and Jose Miranda are planning to play for Puerto Rico, while Gio Urshela and Sandy Leon (who is actually Venezuelan but has family ties to Colombia) will suit up for Colombia.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is not expected to be eligible to play in the WBC due to his PED suspension.

I haven’t yet done a good search of the international media over the past few days, so come back tomorrow or Monday for another update.

World Baseball Classic Update for 8/5/2022: Machado and Guerrero, Colombia’s manager, and more

Still catching up on some of the WBC news from the past few days….

Quick World Baseball Classic Update 7/26/22: Story is in

I’ve been busy the last few days, so this isn’t as thorough as it should be. I haven’t been able to scour the non-English sites for World Baseball Classic news, for example. I’m hoping to have a more full update in the coming days.

Anyway, the main news is that Team USA has its second confirmed player: Trevor Story. The Red Sox infielder was confirmed yesterday. He hasn’t been hitting as well this season, but his overall pedigree and ability to play second or short will make a good asset for the team. He joins Mike Trout as players confirmed for Team USA.

Speaking of Red Sox and the tournament, manager Alex Cora says he expects that Rafael Devers (Dominican), Xander Bogaerts (Kingdom of the Netherlands), and Christian Vazquez (Puerto Rico) will also take part. Cora himself admitted he’d love to manage but can’t due to rules against current managers taking part.

Come back in the coming days for updated WBC projections and perhaps more WBC news.

World Baseball Classic Update 7/22/22: Dominican and Korea get managers

The big news since our last update is that Rodney Linares will manage the Dominican Republic team in the WBC. Currently the third base coach for the Tampa Bay Rays, Linares had a brief minor league career and has been coaching ever since. He managed for several years in the Astros system before joining the Rays.

Speaking of the Dominican Republic, don’t expect to see Albert Pujols suiting up to play for them next year. With him retiring after this year and the Dominican talent pool so deep, he says he wouldn’t want to take the spot of a more worthy player. Instead, he’s planning on getting some traveling and spending time off with his kids. It’s similar to what I noted Miguel Cabrera said a few days ago, although Cabrera didn’t completely close the door to some sort of involvement.

Meanwhile, over in Asia, it’s been announced that Lee Kang-Chul will manage the South Korean squad in the WBC next year. A longtime pitcher in the KBO, he was the league’s strikeout champ back in 1992 and who remains one of the leaders in the league’s history in strikeouts and win. Lee has been the skipper of the KT Wiz since 2019, including a Korean Series title last season.

Finally: As has been noted before here and elsewhere, an effort is being made by Cuban players in North America to be part of the WBC. Major League Baseball again has noted that it isn’t up to the league, though, since rules for international competition put such decisions with national federations.

World Baseball Classic Update 7/18/2022: Trout’s in, Cruz is a GM, and more…

The biggest World Baseball Classic news of the day is undoubtedly that Mike Trout has confirmed that he is going to be playing for Team USA in next year’s WBC. He announced it during media day at the All-Star Game (where he is in attendance, even if he isn’t playing due to a back spasm), and Team USA GM Tony Reagins (who is the man who drafted Trout for the Angels) confirmed that Trout will be the team’s Captain and also that he was the first player he called once he got the GM job. Trout hasn’t played in any previous World Baseball Classics for various reasons, so him taking part this time is a big get for Team USA and the event in general.

He’s not the only star in Los Angeles in the WBC news, however, as Freddie Freeman says he’s 100% in for Team Canada. For those that don’t know, Freeman’s parents are from Canada and he has played for Canada in the past in tribute to his mother, who died of cancer when he was just ten years old.

The Dominican Republic now has a General Manager: Nelson Cruz. Yes, that Nelson Cruz, the currently-active DH for the Washington Nationals. The league and the MLBPA had to give permission for him to take the job.

In qualifier news, Bruce Bochy has been named the skipper for Team France. Born in France while his father was stationed there, the three-time World Series-winning manager was going to manage France in the WBC qualifiers in 2020 until coronavirus put a stop to the tournament.

Ian Kinsler, the manager of Team Israel, has confirmed that Joc Pederson will play for the Israeli team next spring.

Rafael Devers has reportedly said that he’s in for Team Dominican if they give him a call.

A Twitter account dedicated to Puerto Rican baseball is reporting that former Red Neftali Soto is ready to play for Team PR in next year’s tournament. Soto has spent the last few years tearing it up in Japan, including winning HR titles in the Central League in 2018 and 2019.

Finally, Liam Hendriks has told MLB.com White Sox writer Scott Merkin that he’s interested in representing his native Australia next spring.

That’s it for today. However, it’s possible more news will break during the All-Star Media Day, so don’t be surprised if you see another WBC update on Tuesday!

World Baseball Classic Update 7/15/22: USA GM and other news

Tony Reagins has been named the General Manager for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Reagins is perhaps best known for his stint with the the Angels from late 2007 until Sept. 2011, where he oversaw a team that made two playoff appearances. In 2009, he was among those who made the decision to take a chance on a somewhat-iffy prospect from the northeast named Mike Trout. He also was the GM for Team USA in the last Olympics, which may suggest we’ll see a similar coaching staff to that (for example, Mike Scioscia).

As I mentioned in a translated-from-Korean article a few days ago, Team Korea is open to potentially having Americans of Korean descent on the team. Meanwhile, KBO pitcher Chang Mo Koo, who has a 0.99 ERA this season, wants to take part and wants a start against Japan.

In the Dominican Republic, meanwhile, Tony Pena isn’t impressed with the slow pace that the Dominican federation has taken to the tournament thus far. Although they have yet to announce a manager, the head of the federation has said Moises Alou is a possibility.

In Puerto Rico, Carlos Beltran is voicing his interest in managing the WBC.

Enrique Reyes, a longtime skipper in the Mexican League who has managed several Mexican teams at the international level as well, is being called the “natural candidate” for the WBC job. Other possibilities are Benji Gil (who managed the Olympic team) and Juan Castro (who managed the team in the 2019 Premier12 tournament).

Argentina’s addition to WBC qualification has gotten some minor press attention there.

Tickets are now on sale for the qualification pool in Germany.

2023 WBC Team Dominican Republic: The “ideal” roster

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:

Continue reading

2020/2021 Tokyo Olympics Baseball Preview: Dominican Republic

Flag of the Dominican Republic

One of the traditional baseball powers, the Dominican Republic is managed by Hector Borg, a former minor leaguer who now runs Latin American development for the San Francisco Giants. The Dominican has never won a medal in the Olympic Games, and in fact has only qualified once before (not counting an appearance at the 1984 games, when baseball was a demonstration sport). Will this be a games of firsts? Their roster can be found here.

About the Country: Taking up the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola (the rest of the island is Haiti), the Dominican Republic was visited by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyages, and its capitol of Santo Domingo is the oldest permanent western settlement in the Americas. Having gained independence in the 19th century and moved towards democracy during the 20th, it became fully democratic during the second half of the century. Although problems with corruption and poverty continue to at times plague the nation, it has also been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Fun fact: Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain, is located in the Dominican Republic.

Baseball History: The Dominican Republic’s great passion was introduced to it by Cubans in the 1890s fleeing the civil war there. The rest is history, as the Dominican slowly but surely grew into the hotbed it is today. Baseball may be a pastime elsewhere, but in areas of the Dominican it is a way of life, with entire towns staking their futures on their top players. The Dominican Republic won the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Olympic History: As mentioned earlier, the Dominicans have been in two Olympic baseball tournaments before, although only once where baseball was an official medal sport. A team that featured Ramon Martinez (not to be confused with his little brother, Pedro) went winless at the 1984 games in Los Angeles, while the Dominicans came in sixth in Barcelona in 1992.

Outside of baseball, the Dominicans have won seven medals in their history, including three golds. Two of those golds came thanks to Félix Sánchez, an American of Dominican descent who twice won the 400 meter hurdles. The other gold came from Félix Manuel Díaz, who won the boxing gold in the light welterweight class in 2008.

Road to Tokyo: The Dominicans were the last team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Their first attempt came at the 2019 Premier12, but that team was eliminated in the first round. Next, they took part in the Americas Qualifying Tournament, where they came in second to Team USA. So, they had to take part in the final qualifying tournament. That tournament had a greatly reduced field after three teams (“Chinese Taipei”, China, and Australia) had to drop out due to COVID-related travel precautions, meaning the DR was competing with Venezuela and the Netherlands for the final spot. The Dominican would end up winning the tournament, defeating Venezuela 8-5 in the final to finally advance to the Olympics.

Notable Names: The most notable name by far is six-time all-star Jose Bautista. He hasn’t played in MLB or affiliated ball since 2018, and at 40 this may be his last ride. He was the starting 1B for the Dominican during early qualifiers (although he missed the final round where they finally qualified) and it is likely that will continue. While the rest of the infield lacks the sort of pedigree that “Joey Bats” has, there are still some who may be familiar to MLB fans, such as corner infielder Juan Francisco (who played parts of six season in the majors) and utilityman Erick Mejia (who had cups of coffee with Kansas City the last two seasons and remains active in their farm system).

Elsewhere, the Dominican’s outfield will have quite a bit of MLB experience thanks to Emilio Bonifacio and Melky Cabrera. Yefri Perez also had a brief stint in Miami in 2016.

On the pitching mound, the player with the most MLB experience is Jumbo Diaz, the 315 lb. reliever who pitched in 173 games between 2014 and 2017. Since then, he’s been playing in the Dominican and Mexico. There is also Jhan Marinez, who pitched in 103 games in relief over parts of five seasons between 2010 and 2018. Other pitchers on the team with MLB experience include LHP Dario Alvarez, righty reliever Jairo Asencio, former Met and Mariner Gerson Bautista, Cuban-defected LHP Raul Valdes, and 31-year-old Angel Sanchez, who pitched eight games for the PIrates in 2017 before going to Asia where he has had some success in Korea and Japan.

Ones to Watch: Like Team USA, the inability to use players on 40-man MLB rosters has forced the Dominican to draw not just from former MLB players like above but also those overseas or in the minors who have never tasted MLB ball.

Probably the biggest name among these players is Julio Rodriguez. A top-five prospect regardless of what list you are reading, the Mariners-system outfielder is hitting .327 between High-A and AA this season and has been named to the Futures Game. The highest-achieving player on the roster without MLB service time, though, is Christopher Crisostomo. The left-handed pitcher has been a member of Japan’s Yomiuri Giants since 2018, having joined their system in 2017 after topping off at low-A in America.

While those are perhaps the two you should most keep an eye on, they are far from the only ones. Beginning our look on the mound, LHP Junior Garcia is in AAA for the Diamondbacks organization, where he has a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings pitched since being promoted. 24-year-old right-hander Denyi Reyes is at AA in the Red Sox organization and has a 2.72 ERA in 36.1 IP. Luis Felipe Castillo has, like Garcia, also reached AAA for the Diamondbacks. The reliever has a 2.25 ERA when combining his time in AA and AAA this season in 20 IP.

Looking at position players, the most notable player without MLB experience besides Rodriguez is possibly Johan Mieses. An outfielder in the Red Sox system, he has an OPS over one this season in time split between AA and AAA, with 14 HRs to help get him there. Shortstop Jeison Guzman, a Royals farmhand, is hitting .278 in high-A this year with nine stolen bases.

One area of concern for the DR is at catcher. Their only two listed catchers are Roldani Baldwin (who has struggled this year at AA in Red Sox organization) and Charlie Valerio (who has spent most of the past five-to-six years primarily in Indy ball).

Outlook: It could be argued that no team, not even Team USA, is hurt as badly by the inability to use 40-man roster players as the Dominican Republic, and it is further hurt by the fact that for various reasons the Dominican has often had lower participation rates in international play to begin with. Still, this is a team with some definite experience and, in some cases, upcoming talent. While I do not think they should be considered likely to make it to the gold medal game, they are a threat to get onto the podium if they can catch a break or two.

You can find all the current Olympic Baseball previews here.