The Regensburg Qualifier World Baseball Classic Preview

Due to a variety of factors (a new job, Red Wings games, housework, etc.), I’ve constantly had to delay my World Baseball Classic updates, even when I previewed it.

But with the first game of the Regensburg region of the WBC Qualifiers set to start at 7:00 AM eastern on Friday, I say NO MORE! Well… sort of. I’m not doing a full update. But I AM doing a mini-preview.

Alas, due to the time constraints, I cannot do my usual full preview for the Regensburg qualifier. I can, however, do a miniature one. The Regensburg pool is roughly the “European” qualifier, and will take place in Armin-Wolf-Arena in Regensburg, Germany (southeast of Nuremburg, northeast of Munich). The only country not from Europe in the pool is South Africa, which is the lone African contestant. The top two will advance to the WBC proper.

Let’s go:

  • The homestanding Germans will be without Max Kepler (because he’s busy with the Twins) or Tigers minor-leaguer Markus Solbach (injury), but still will have one of the better teams in the tournament. Former MLB players Aaron Altherr (who’s was born in Germany to a German father and an American mother), Nick Wittgren (of German descent), Bruce Maxwell (born in Germany to American parents), and Brian Flynn (can’t find how he qualifies so I presume he has a Germany parent or grandparent) are perhaps the most notable players to American eyes. In addition, active minor leaguers Niklas Rimmel (1.98 ERA in the Florida State League this season) and Lucas Dunn are also playing. The rest are a hodgepodge of players from various leagues around the globe, including the baseball Bundesliga of Germany. Among the other notables are catcher Simon Guhring (a now-39-year-old who was once one of the first native German players signed to a minor league contract), pitcher Sven Schuller (who reached as high as AAA in the Dodgers stadium but now pitches in his native Germany) and outfielder Daniel Aldrich (a Wurzburg-born player who has been playing in the Indies since 2014 and holds the career HR record in the infamous Pecos League). The Germans are managed by the Belgian-born Steve Janssen.
  • The Czechs will also have a fairly strong team and were granted, like Germany, a bye in the first round. Although the Czechs have a team primarily made up of players who’ve never played outside of Europe, they do have some names that you might recognize if you are a baseballholic. Catcher Martin Cervenka probably has a good claim as the greatest Czech player in history, reaching AAA for parts of two seasons with the Orioles and Mets organizations, while infielder Vojtech Mensik reached the College World Series with NC State before playing a bit professionally this season in the Angels organization (he’s since been released). Others with experience in North America include pitcher Jan Novak (parts of two seasons in rookie ball in the Orioles organization), pitcher Marek Minarik (four seasons in the low minors), catcher/first baseman Daniel Vavrusa (a brief stint in the Yankees system), infielder Jakub Hajtmar (one season in the Twins system), and outfielder Marek Chlup (who has played collegiately and with summer league teams). They are managed by Pavel Chadim, who has managed several levels of baseball in the Czech Republic including a team that made the Little League World Series.
  • Spain is somewhat infamous for their use of “ringers”, taking advantage of Cuban defectors who’ve taken residence in Spain and players of Spanish descent and only rarely using actual born-and-raised players from Spain. And, not surprisingly, that’s true this time around as well. Their most notable player is pitcher Rhiner Cruz, who has 74 career appearances in MLB. Another player you might recognize is outfielder Engel Beltre, who has been on some of Spain’s previous teams and who played 22 games with the Rangers in 2013. The third player with MLB experience include is Vicente Campos (one game with Arizona in 2016). The rest are a motley group of minor leaguers, former minor leaguers, Mexican Leaguers, players active in Europe, and even one or two actual Spaniards! By far the most notable of this group is Noelvi Marte, a well-regarded shortstop prospect (generally rated as a top 20 prospect by most evaluators) who was part of the Reds’ return in the Luis Castillo trade.
  • Great Britain has four players with major league experience. Vance Worley is the most notable (he is, I believe, eligible through his mother, who was born in the then-British Hong Kong). Michael Roth (his mother in English), Chris Reed (born in London), and Akeel Morris (through his parents). The most notable current minor leaguers are catcher Harry Ford and Bahamas-born pitcher Tahnaj Thomas. The remainder are an eclectic mix of current and former minor leaguers, people overseas, and independent leaguers.
  • France notably is managed by Bruce Bochy. As far as players? Like many of the teams in the pool, they’ll have some passport players, including Venezuelan-born Mexican League pitcher Yoimer Camacho. There are some legitimately-French players as well, however, including Martinique-born outfielder Jose Paula (who played two years in the Oakland organization), East Tennessee State outfielder Leo Jiminian and current NAIA hitter Paolo Brossier. The roster is further filled out with players from the European leagues. While they can’t be considered a favorite by any means, I wouldn’t be surprised if they prove more competitive than expected.
  • South Africa has seen better years and better rosters, but they are not without talent. Justin Erasmus has pitched for years in Australia, for example, while Kieran Lovegrove pitched part of nine seasons in the minors. It appears that Gift Ngoepe has retired from the South African team, although his brother Victor Ngoepe is on the roster.

So, what is my prediction? Personally, I feel like the Germans and Czechs have the best teams, but in the crapshoot that is international baseball I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spanish or even the Brits sneak in. South Africa and France, alas, are probably fighting for fifth place. I guess time will tell if I’m right in my assessments.

World Baseball Classic Update 8/4/2022: Catching up…

Here’s some of the WBC news from the past few days.

There are a few other items that I’m working to confirm as far as finding links. You’ll see those tomorrow!

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!

2016 WBC Qualifier Preview: Panama City (Panama, Spain, France, Colombia)

Like the Mexicali pool, this is a pool that will pit Latin America and Europe. However, in some ways the only European team will be France, as Spain weighs heavily on imported talent. This should be the most competitive WBC qualifier bracket so far, with only France being a team that I can say has no chance.

Go below the jump for more:

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World Baseball Classic Update for March 11, 2016

Finally, the rosters for the Panama and Mexicali qualifiers of the WBC have been unveiled. I’ll go deeper when I do the previews for the tournaments, but a quick rundown:

  • Mexicali:
    • It appears, on paper, that this is going to be Mexico’s pool to lose. They have by far the most experienced and MLB-related of the rosters in the pool, led by All-Star Adrian Gonzalez and Oliver Perez.
    • The Czechs are generally using their own players (such as Cleveland farmhand Martin Cervenka), which is commendable, but they have a few guys who are there due to Czech heritage, such as Mike Cervenak.
    • Nicaragua is probably Mexico’s biggest threat in the Mexicali bracket, with 11 MLB-affiliated players, as well as some players who used to be in affiliated ball.
    • Germany is hurt by not having Max Kepler, but still has six affiliated players, including Donald Lutz, who has MLB experience. They also will have former MLB player Will Ohman on the squad- he was born in Germany.
  • Panama City:
    • The home team Panamanians are led on the field by former All-Star Carlos Ruiz, and possess nine other affiliated players. Many of the other players on the team have also played affiliated ball, with Manny Corpas having reached the Majors.
    • The biggest threat to Panama is Colombia, with 16 affiliated players led by MLB or soon-to-be MLB players in Dilson Herrera and Harold Ramirez. They also have four players in AAA.
    • The Spanish are one teams in the WBC that are most blatant in their use of “Passport” players who are only eligible for their team due to lax citizenship rules. Almost all of their players, as far as I can tell, are expats from the Caribbean. None of their four affiliated players (Rogelio Armenteros of the Astros organization, Luis Guillorme of the Mets organization, Lazaro Leyva of the Orioles and Carlos Sierra of the Astros’ organization) are from Spain, for example.
    • France is probably the team in this pool most likely to go 2-and-out. Only one- Andy Paz- is MLB-affiliated, although some, like Rene Leveret, have been in affiliated baseball in the past.

Finally one last other piece of news:

There is some exhibition action, as Germany split a two-game series with the Tijuana Toros, France beat Seminole State College, and the Czechs lost to a Brewers’ minor league squad.

World Baseball Classic Update for February 26, 2016

Hello, everybody. Here’s some WBC news from the last few weeks, in no particular order:

The Mexican League and the Mexican Baseball Federation continue to squabble, making it unlikely that any Mexican leaguers will partake in the qualifying. However, I’ve also seen some tweets that indicate that this has been solved and that Mexican League players will take part. I’ll let you know when I have it cleared up.

Yovani Gallardo had said that he was going to play for the Mexican team in the qualifiers, but that was before he signed with the Orioles, so that may change. Another iffy Mexican pitcher is Julio Urias, a top prospect for the Dodgers, who has said he will skip the qualifiers if it looks like he has a good chance of making the team.

A preliminary roster for Team Nicaragua (thanks to Max Wildstein) was released. This roster has since changed (you can find how it has in some of the other items) and would be pared down to 28 anyway, but it gives you a good idea of some of the players who will be on the team:

Omar Vizquel will be the manager of Team Venezuela next year. Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez were candidates for the batting coach position, and it appears that Magglio won the job. Other tweets have confirmed that Eduardo Perez will be a bench coach, Roberto Espinoza will be the pitching coach, and Henry Blanco will be a bullpen coach. Also in Venezuelan news: Gregor Blanco wants to play for his country in the 2017 WBC.

The Spanish have announced their coaching staff for the upcoming qualifiers, led by Tigers Latin American director Manny Crespo.

Quebecois closing great Eric Gagne, meanwhile, will helm Team France.

Mike Griffin will manage the Czech team, while Trot Nixon (!) will be hitting coach.

Speaking of the Czechs, it appears that they will have more players with North American experience than last time thanks to players of Czech ancestry, such as John Straka, Brett Tomko, Mike Cervenak, and Alex Sogard. However, apparently Eric Sogard has been denied, unless if he hasn’t. I find it much less likely that he will take part, though. The Czechs will be playing exhibitions in Arizona ahead of the qualifiers.

Donovan Solano, now in the Yankees organization, is still deciding whether he will play for Colombia in the qualifiers or if he will stay in camp. However, he is listed in a list of MLB-affiliated players who are “confirmed” for Colombia:

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Dilson Herrera of the Mets, as said above, will definitely suit up for Team Colombia. Others listed in the above tweet (if it doesn’t show up): William Cuevas, Carlos Mario Diaz, Kevin Escorcia, Tayron Guerrero, Gregory Nappo, Jesus Posso, Mauricio Ramos, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Tito Polo, Harold Ramirez, and Carlos Vidal. Apparently a complete list for Colombia will be out on Saturday.

David Ortiz doesn’t think he’ll play for Team Dominican Republic next spring.

Carlos Ruiz has been authorized to play for Team Panama, which is huge, even if he isn’t as good as he used to be.

Dean Kremer, a pitcher for UNLV who’s parents are from Israel and who lives there during summers when he isn’t playing, hopes to play for Team Israel in the WBC qualifiers.

Elmer Reyes of the Braves organization will play for Nicaragua. Wuillian Vasquez, a Venezuelan-born player who has lived and played in Nicaragua for several years while also playing in Europe, is also eligible.

The German National team will have a exhibition game against the Tijuana Toros on March 9.

Quick run-down of other players who have been confirmed in/out for certain qualifying teams (from various Twitter sources found by @MaxWildstein):

Randall Delgado is out for Panama but Andy Otero is in.

Cheslor Cuthbert is out for Nicaragua, as is Wilton Lopez, who has an injury.

Luis Guillorme is in for Spain.

Now, this was a lot of news. Maybe too much. And I probably missed some. And for that reason, I’m glad to say that starting now, WBC Updates will be FAR more frequent, occurring AT LEAST once a week, but at times happening on a daily or every-other-daily basis.

World Baseball Classic News for 9-17-2015: Qualifier Pools Announced!

Well, I told you that more news was probably coming, and today it was confirmed, as the World Baseball Classic qualifying pools have been announced! They are (all qualifiers in 2016):

 

Qualifier 1 (Sydney, Australia on February 11-14th):

Australia

New Zealand

Philippines

South Africa

Qualifier 2 (Mexicali, Mexico on March 17-20th):

Mexico

Czech Republic

Germany

Nicaragua

Qualifier 3 (Panama City on March 17-20th):

Colombia

France

Panama

Spain

Qualifier 4 (Brooklyn on Sept. 22-25th):

Brazil

Great Britain

Israel

Pakistan

As you can see, they’ve mixed up the locations (only Panama is a return qualifying host), the pools (no pool has more than two teams that were in the same individual pool last time), and also teams (Pakistan has replaced Thailand). Some things to note here:

  • MLB players will be able to participate in Qualifiers 1-3, but not Qualifier 4.
  • It is again a modified double-elimination, meaning it’s double elimination until there are only two, at which point it’s a winner-take-all championship game. I’ve always had a problem with this format and feel a straight-up double-elimination would be better, but I understand how the organizers would like the drama of a winner-take-all game.
  • Qualifier 4, in Brooklyn, is clearly meant to be a pool of teams that don’t have pro-worthy stadiums in their countries. It’s likely Brooklyn was picked due to New York’s diverse nature, with MLB and the other WBC organizers no doubt hoping that the city’s large Jewish population will turn up for Israel games.
  • Looking at this right now, I’d say that Qualifier 2 will probably have the highest level of talent, Qualifier 3 will be the hardest for any one team to get out of, and Qualifier 4 will be the hardest to predict. Qualifier 1, by contrast, looks like it should be a fairly easy draw for Australia.
  • I’m somewhat surprised that the Philippines is in Qualifier 1. I had a feeling they might make it an All-Commonwealth pool and have the Philippines be in New York City. At least, that’s what I thought after reading Jon Paul Morosi’s original post before it was official.

 

So, look in the coming days and no doubt more news will come out and I’ll take a look at some of the teams and other aspects of the qualifying tournament- like Pakistan’s baseball program.

 

World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Jupiter, Florida (Israel, Spain, France and South Africa)

The World Baseball Classic starts soon! Well, the qualifiers do, anyway. For the first time ever, there are four qualification pools to decide who reaches the Round of 16. Two of those pools- in Panama and Taipei- will be in November. But first there are two pools that start in about a week. One of them is in Jupiter, Florida (mainly because the teams in it don’t exactly have baseball fields in their countries) and the other is in Regensburg, Germany. The Jupiter pool starts slightly before the Germany pool, so I’ll be covering that one first, covering the baseball heritage (or, in some cases, lack thereof) of the the countries and looking at their teams and chances.

So, go after the jump for my preview of the 2012 WBC Qualifier in Jupiter, Florida. All rosters are from Baseball America.

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