The Panama City Qualifier World Baseball Classic Preview

Much like with Regensburg, I don’t have the time for a full-on preview of the WBC qualifier in Panama City. However, like with Regensburg, I can do a mini-preview.

If the Regensburg pool was roughly the “European” qualifier, this is something of the “South American” one. Four of the involved teams are from South or Central America, with only Pakistan and New Zealand coming from elsewhere. All games will take place at Rod Carew Stadium. Like in Germany, the top two will advance from the double-elimination tournament.

Here we go:

  • The homestanding Panamanian team brings several players with MLB experience. The most notable, perhaps, is Randall Delgado, who pitched parts of eight years in the big leagues and who spent 2022 in the Atlantic League. The player I’m most familiar with is left-handed reliever Alberto Baldonado, who I’ve seen with the Rochester Red Wings and who had a 14-game stint with the Nationals in 2021. Starter Ariel Jurado has 45 career appearances in the big leagues and was active as high as AAA in the Twins organization this season. Righty Enrique Burgos, meanwhile, had 73 MLB appearances with the Diamondbacks in the mid-2010s and has spent the last few years in the Mexican league and winter leagues. Other pitchers with MLB experience include Severino Gonzalez, Humberto Mejia, and the 39-year-old Davis Romero.

    Position-player wise, the most notable name is definitely Ruben Tejada. The infielder has nearly 2,400 MLB plate appearances under his belt. Joining him in the infield will be Jonathan Arauz, who has played in the big leagues as recently this year. Another player with MLB experience is Allen Cordoba, who played in 100 games with the Padres back in 2017 and split this season between AAA and the Mexican league. The most notable prospect on the team is likely outfielder Jose Ramos, rated the eighth-best prospect in the Dodgers system by MLB.com. Panama definitely has the best roster on paper here as far as experience and current players, but that has arguably been true in the last two WBC qualifiers as well, and they didn’t make it. Perhaps third time will be the charm for them to return?
  • New Zealand is one of the fastest growing sources of baseball talent in the world (seriously!) and now hosts an Australian Baseball League team. Their roster includes three players currently under minor league contract: pitcher Elliot Johnstone plus infielders Jason Matthews, and Nikau Pouaka-Grego. There are also six other players who had MiLB time, most of whom are still active in the Australian Baseball League.and one of whom- Ben Thompson- was playing in affiliated ball as recently as earlier this season.
  • Nicaragua is one of the biggest baseball countries not to make an appearance in the main WBC as of yet. In their latest attempt to qualify, they are bringing a mix of former big leaguers, current minor leaguers, and players from winter leagues (most of whom have played in the minors in the past). The former big leaguers are six-year MLB veteran pitcher JC Ramirez (who most recently was in the Twins system) and former Royals corner infielder Cheslor Cuthbert. The most notable current minor leaguer is probably third baseman Milkar Perez, the 19th top prospect in the Mariners organization.
  • Brazil is managed by Steve Finley of all people and like in previous WBCs they will have an eclectic team with players from all around, including from Brazil’s sizable Japanese population. The former big leaguers are pitcher Andre Rienzo, infielder Christian Lopes (one of the comparatively few “passport players” on the Latin America teams), his brother Tim Lopes, and outfielder Paulo Orlando. They also have at least two players with experience in Japan’s NPB: pitcher Oscar Nakaoshi and right-handed hitter Luciano Fernando. Another notable player is Leonardo Reginatto, an infielder who made it as high as AAA who has torn up the Mexican League the last two seasons. They and Nicaragua probably will be fighting for the other qualification spot.
  • Argentina is the newest addition to the WBC- they never appeared in any WBC competition before, not even a qualifier. The team will largely be made up of players from Argentina’s semi-pro league, but they do have some players with affiliated minor league experience in pitcher Diego Echeverria and infielder Jacinto Cipriota, as well as a Division I college player in Boston College’s Lucas Stalman (the lone “passport player”).
  • Finally, there is Pakistan. Probably the youngest team in the tournament, they looked far and wide for players both in-country and among the Pakistani diaspora, and who they’ve gotten is quite the collection. They have college players like West Virginia’s Alex Khan, high schoolers as young as 16 in Amaan Khan, various former collegiates who have never played professionally, representatives from Pakistan’s amateur league, and various. They even hoped to have former NFL quarterback (and former Indiana University baseball player) Gibran Hamdan on their team, but a last-minute COVID issue forced him to drop out. I don’t know if Pakistan will win a game or not, but they certainly will be an interesting team to watch.

So, what are my predictions? Personally, I think it’ll be Panama and Nicaragua, but I wouldn’t put it past Brazil to sneak in past Nicaragua. The other teams are likely fighting for fourth, but in baseball you never know.

The WBC qualifiers start on Friday.

World Baseball Classic Update 8/27/2022: Team USA sets coaching staff and continues to grow, plus other news

Another busy week of WBC News, so here’s a bit of a catch-up:

There will be another WBC post tomorrow.

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 8/5/2022: Machado and Guerrero, Colombia’s manager, and more

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

World Baseball Classic Update 7/27/2022: An Aussie confirmed, Team Pakistan starts to take shape, and more.

Curtis Mead, a top-100 prospect who plays in the Rays organization, told an MiLB reporter that he plans to play for Australia next year. It should be noted, however, that the Adelaide-born infielder has had an injury since then, so that could change.

In Qualifier news, Team Pakistan is starting to take shape. Infielder Alex Khan of West Virginia University has been confirmed by the Pakistani team’s Twitter feed, and Pakistani-Canadian infielder Ahmad Mahmood (a commit to a community college in California) has had his participation confirmed by both his Twitter bio and a tweet from his old baseball academy. Other players either confirmed or implied for qualifiers by the Pakistani baseball federation’s Twitter page include former DIII player Shahid Shattar, community college outfielder Sami Khan, 16-year-old pitcher Amaan Khan, former Astros draftee Omar Arif, Citadel baseball player Rohan Shah, Tulane pitcher Blake Mahmood, Bethune-Cookman pitcher Amir Asghar, Canadian college pitcher Adam Khan, and Lyad Ansari, the nephew of a internationally-experienced cricket player. While the Pakistani team will likely be massively outgunned in qualifying against teams from places like Panama and Nicaragua that will primarily have professionals, you never know what might happen in baseball. One of my favorite WBC memories, for example, is when a bullpen for Team Brazil that included a 16-year-old amateur was able to close out Colombia.

On the business side of things, a Korean paper looked into why Korea isn’t hosting a round in next year’s tournament. Reasons include the want to have as many Japan-Korea games as possible, fairly low attendance in 2017 in Korea for the WBC (not helped by a surprise early elimination for Team Korea), and the fact that apparently Taiwan lobbied for a round more than Korea did.

World Baseball Classic Update (9-30-16)

It’s time for a WBC Update!

First off, as you probably saw, Israel won it’s qualifying pool and is headed to the main WBC tournament.

Secondly, White Sox instructor Luis Sierra, who was a first-base coach for Colombia in the WBC Qualifiers, will again coach for Colombia in the main tournament next year.

Adam Jones says he will play for Team USA again if asked. Also in Team USA news, they are said to be looking at Brian Dozier of the Twins as a possible member.

The Seattle Times ran an article on Mariners who may be playing in the WBC. Robinson Cano is all-in for the Dominican, of course, and so is Nelson Cruz. Dae-Ho Lee says he’ll play for Korea is he’s asked, and Felix Hernandez wants to play for Venezuela again (he wasn’t able to in 2013 due to contract stuff). Reliever Edwin Diaz wants to play for his native Puerto Rico. As for Americans, Kyle Seager said he’d love to play, although he admits the depth of American baseball means he could end up staying in Spring Training or sitting on the bench.

While not “news”, per se, you should still read Lindsey Adler’s awesome article on Pakistani baseball.

Until next time, this has been Dan Glickman with your WBC update.

 

World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Brooklyn (Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, Pakistan)

The final spot in next year’s main WBC tournament is up for grabs this week in Brooklyn, in an eclectic pool of four countries that lack major baseball facilities and thus sort of have been thrown into Brooklyn in hopes that New York’s diverse population will come out to see the games. While Brazil and the American-heavy Israeli team should be considered the favorites, GB shouldn’t be totally counted out. The biggest mystery (and likely last-place finisher) is Pakistan, a newcomer to the WBC that has rarely participated outside of the regional level. You can see the rosters (which have since changed slightly due to call-ups and injuries) here.

Continue reading

WBC Update for 4-25-16: Rule changes, Team USA, Puerto Rico, and what Asian Countries will get WBC Pools?

It’s been awhile, but it’s time for a World Baseball Classic update!

General News:

A possible change in the WBC rules will be introduced in order to entice more pitchers to play. It would allow teams to add extra players the further they advance, so it could be possible, for example, for Clayton Kershaw or David Price (who both have passed on the tournament in the past because they didn’t want to rush their throwing schedule) to join later in the tournament.

At least two pools will take place in Asia during the 2017 Classic, with one in Japan and one in either Korea or Taiwan.

Connected to that: earlier this year, Twins broadcaster, Hall of Famer, and occasional Netherlands pitching coach Bert Blyleven said that the Dutch were expected to start their WBC campaign in Korea. Apparently that isn’t official yet, but definitely possible. This is mainly because Korea has a domed stadium and Taiwan does not.

While I can’t find the exact tweet/article about it, apparently the locations of the first round of the “main” World Baseball Classic will be revealed on May 10, so presumably all these questions will be put to rest then.

Pakistani coaches have attended a clinic in China in preparation for their qualifying pool.

Players on possibility of WBC play:

Mike Trout says it’s too early to say whether he’ll play in the WBC, although it sounds like he does want to do it, it’ll depend on how he feels.

Staying on Team USA, the dream of a Team USA Madison BumgarnerBuster Posey battery apparently isn’t a pipe-dream. Although neither of them have said definitively, both of them said they were open to it.

Sonny Gray, meanwhile, thinks it’d be “awesome” to be on Team USA.

Francisco Lindor is excited to play for the Puerto Rican national team.

Look later this week as I make another projection for Team USA! And if you see any WBC news I missed, let me know by tweeting me at @DanJGlickman or e-mailing me at Djgwriter@yahoo.com!

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.