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).
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).
Yesterday in my World Baseball Classic update, I mentioned that there had been some WBC news over the past few weeks that I had neglected to share. Consider this a catch-up post on those things.
It has been announced that Ian Kinsler will manage Team Israel at the 2023 WBC. Kinsler, of course, was one of the best second-basemen of the late 2000s and the 2010s, making four All-Star Games and winning two Gold Gloves. He played for Team Israel at the Tokyo Olympics.
Speaking of Tokyo, it was announced there back in June that the new Samurai Japan manager will be Hideki Kuriyama. Kuriyama managed the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2012-2021, including a Japan Series title in 2016.
There have been somearticles written about a possible Team Canada over the last few months. Among those who definitely sound interested in playing: AbrahamToro, Josh Naylor, and Cal Quantrill. Joey Votto is still unsure and hasn’t thought that far in advance, while pitchers like Nick Pivetta and Jameson Taillon admit that that while they aren’t ruling it out they aren’t sure yet either given how far it is in the future. Sadly for Canada, two players definitely won’t be playing for them: Jordan Romano is planning on playing for Italy, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will suit up for the place he grew up (the Dominican), not the place he was born.
I’ll have more WBC news as it becomes available and as I find it.
Appearing in an Olympic baseball tournament for the first time, Mexico is a serious medal contender. They are managed by former Major League infielder Benji Gil, who now manages in the Mexican League. The roster can be found en españolhere.
About the Country: Gaining recognized independence in 1821 (11 years after it was declared), Mexico is built where the Olmecs, Mayans and Aztecs once lived. Mexico is home to a rapidly-modernizing economy, the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere (Mexico City, beating out New York), and a diverse ecology. However, it has also had to deal with inequality and crime, particularly related to the drug trade.
Baseball History: Although it is not nearly as popular in Mexico as futbol, baseball still holds a long and storied history there. Nobody is quite sure how it was first introduced, although it is likely the Americans were involved in some way. Notable events in Mexico’s baseball history include the formation of the Mexican League in 1925, the back-to-back victories of a Monterrey team in the 1957 and 1958 Little League World Series, and Fernando Valenzuela‘s debut with the Dodgers in the early 1980s.
Olympic History: Mexico has never participated in the Olympics in baseball.
Outside of baseball, Mexico debuted at the Olympics in 1900, but didn’t return until 1924. They’ve taken part in every summer games since, including hosting the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. They have also had sporadic participation in the winter games. Mexico has seen its most success in track, boxing, taekwondo, and diving. The top medalists in Mexican history are diver Joaquín Capilla, equestrian Humberto Mariles, and taekwondo practitioner María Espinoza.
Road to Tokyo: Mexico qualified for the Olympics through the 2019 Premier12 tournament by finishing as the best-finishing team from the Americas thanks to a bronze medal upset against Team USA.
Notable Names: The Mexican National Team possesses several former MLB players from Mexico or of Mexican descent. The most notable, no doubt, is Adrian Gonzalez. Born in San Diego but raised in Tijuana, the five-time all-star is now 39 and a member of the Mexican League team in Guadalajara.
Notable MLB experienced pitchers include but are not limited to Oliver Perez (now playing in Mexico), Manny Banuelos (who most recently was in Taiwan’s CPBL but who has returned to the Mexican League ahead of the Olympics), Hector Velazquez (now in the Astros system), Sammy Solis (now in Mexico) and Fernando Salas (who has a 0.00 ERA in 19.1 IP in Mexico this season).
Ones to Watch: As expected, most of those without MLB experience on Team Mexico are active in the minors or the Mexican League (this is also the case for those with MLB experience, of course).
Joey Meneses, for example, has spent his career bouncing between Mexico, Japan, and affiliated baseball, winning the International League MVP award in 2018. The 29-year-old 1B/OF is currently playing in the Red Sox system. Another outfielder, Jonathan Jones, is a 31-year-old was a member of the all-tournament team in 2019’s Premier12. Now playing in Mexico, Jones also has experience in the affiliated minors, independent ball, and even a brief stint in Australia. A third outfielder, right-hander Jose Cardona, got as high as AAA but has now been in Mexico the last few years. Cardona has been hitting over .300 this season between two teams. In the infield, middle-infielder Isaac Rodriguez is a 30-year-old veteran of the Mexican League who is hitting .389/.455/.520 this season
Among the pitchers without MLB experience, notables include righty Manny Barreda, who joined the Orioles organization this season (primarily in AAA) after several years in Mexico after his initial affiliated career flamed out. Another notable is lefty starter Juan Oramas, who has a 3.17 ERA in 10 starts in Mexico this season. Like Banuelos, Teddy Stankiewicz (who is Mexican on his mother’s side) was active in the CPBL but has moved to the Mexican League ahead of the Olympics. Daniel Duarte is a 24-year-old righty in the Reds system, while Carlos Bustamante(3.20 ERA in 19.2 IP in Mexico this season) will be another right-hander out of the bullpen.
Outlook: The selection for this team have not been without controversy, with some saying that Benji Gil overly-favored players who have played for his Culiacan club. Regardless, Mexico is a dangerous but likely outgunned team in these Olympics, and would likely fall behind Japan, Team USA, the Dominican and perhaps Korea (in no particular order) in a power rankings ahead of the games. However, in a field this small and with a playing format so strange, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they’ll pull out a medal.
You can find all the current Olympic Baseball previews here.
Another round of WBC qualifiers starts on Thursday, with two pools going. One of them, in Mexicali, is a odd mix of two Latin American countries mixed with two European nations. While Mexico is most definitely the favorite, it’s not inconceivable that a shocking upset will take place… just very unlikely. You can see the rosters here.
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:
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.
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.
Alex Rodriguez, who famously has hemmed and hawed between playing for the USA (the land of his birth) and the Dominican (the land where he spent significant parts of his childhood), has said if he takes part in 2017 it’ll be for the Dominican.
As expected, Max Kepler will not be playing for Germany in the qualifiers, as he will be staying in camp. It was thought that it was unlikely anyway given how he has an outside chance at making the opening day roster, but this is further confirmation.
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.
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:
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:
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.
This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.
It’s time for a World Baseball Classic update! With the first qualifiers coming up, more news has started to come out. Let’s take a look at some of the news:
Sydney Qualifying Pool Rosters and Schedules released:
On Wednesday, the rosters and schedules for the Sydney qualifying pool came out. They can be found over here on Baseball America. I’ll have a more thorough preview as we get closer to the event, but it’s definitely a case where Australia should be considered the heavy favorite, full of players with experience in MLB or the Minors. After Australia, it’s a fight for the second spot to face them in a winner-take-all game to get to the main tournament. Clay Rapada is probably the most notable player outside of the Australians, as he will be playing for the Philippines, the country of his father’s birth, before retiring. Former All-Star Jason Bartlett, also of Filipino descent, was also expected to play, but I don’t see him on the roster.
News from other qualifying pools:
As I mentioned last time, the qualifiers, unlike the main tournament, are not events where MLB teams are required to allow 40-man roster players to take part if there’s an overlap with official team acitivites. This will most hurt a team like Mexico, where the Blue Jays are unlikely to allow their three Mexican players from taking part in the March qualifier in Mexicali.
Jon Morosi, one of the best people to follow for WBC news, had information on his Twitter feed on the German team, who will be managed by Garth Iorg (yes, that Garth Iorg). Depending on what difficulties Mexico has, they could be a threat in Mexicali, even with Max Kepler likely skipping as he tries to win a spot on the Twins, they will have Donald Lutz, one of the few Germans with MLB experience.
Ozzie Guillen is totally up for managing Team Venezuela in 2017.
And that’s it… for now.
Keep an eye out for more WBC news on the Baseball Continuum as it occurs.
At 9 AM: International Baseball Culture
This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.