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 March 7, 2016

It’s been a fairly quiet week in WBC news, as we await the official release of the rosters for the next round of qualifiers. Still, there has been some news:

 

Jon Morosi on the Czech Republic’s WBC team and how the country’s hockey heritage has led to a lot of left-handed hitters.

The Japanese National Team swept Taiwan in a 3-game early warm-up for next year’s WBC.

Nicaragua leads Panama 2-1 in a warm-up series.

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.

Alex Cora will be the General Manager of Team Puerto Rico for the 2017 WBC.

ESPN Deportes will be showing the Mexicali qualifying round this month for any Spanish-speaking fans in the USA.

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.

…And that’s it for now. More soon, hopefully.

 

World Baseball Classic News for March 1, 2016

Here’s the latest WBC news as of March 1, 2016:

 

Team Germany will play exhibition games against three different Mexican League teams, as well as a team from the Brewers organization.

“Samurai Japan” has teamed up with the Anime series Mr. Osomatsu to help raise awareness for the team, both in the WBC and in other tournaments (where they generally don’t draw as well).

George Springer, who’s mother is from Puerto Rico, has apparently been recruited by Carlos Correa to play for Team Puerto Rico in the main tournament next year.

News on who will and will not be in the WBC qualifiers:

First off, the Mexican League will be allowing their players to play for Team Mexico.

Jake Sanchez of the Athletics organization will play for Mexico

Jose Quinanta of the White Sox is in for Colombia.

Sadly for Colombia, Julio Teheran will not be pitching for them.

The official rosters apparently come out tomorrow, so that’s something to keep an eye out for.

 

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 Update for February 9, 2016

As we barrel towards the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, here’s the latest news:

 

The Run-Up to the Sydney Qualifiers:

First off, the most important news for all of us is how we’ll be able to watch it. And good news! In the USA and Canada, all games will be on the World Baseball Classic website! Go to the link to see how else you can watch it, as select games will be on TV on MLB Network and all games will be on ESPN in the Pacific Rim area, although some games will be tape-delayed.

There have been some changes to rosters since they were first announced. Perhaps the most notable addition has been that infielder Gift Ngoepe has been added to South Africa. Probably the best African baseball player in history, Gift is now on the Pirates’ 40-man roster, which probably delayed it being official.

Various teams have been playing informal warm-up games in the run-up to the qualifiers. You can see pictures and info on some of New Zealand’s play on their Facebook page, for example.

The New Zealanders will be wearing #37 on their uniforms in memory of Lincoln Holdzkom, who died in a car accident last year.

In other WBC news:

Tickets are now on sale for the Panama City portion of the Qualifiers.

Attention Britons and people with fairly close British ancestry: the United Kingdom’s baseball team is holding open tryouts on Sunday, March 6th!

Athletics catching prospect Bruce Maxwell, who was born in Germany, will be part of the German team in their qualifying tournament.

There are a few other stories I’ve missed, but I’m hard at work on the WBC Qualifier preview for Sydney, so those other stories will have to wait until next time!

 

 

(Blogathon ’16) WBC News for January 29, 2016

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.

Bruce Chen, who retired last season, is apparently willing to pitch for Panama.

Other WBC News:

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.