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:

Continue reading


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:


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 12-17-2015: Catching Up

It’s time to catch up on some World Baseball Classic news!


Lincoln Holdzkom passes away

First off, though, there is tragic news out of California, where New Zealander-American pitcher Lincoln Holdzkom has passed away after a car accident. Holdzkom, the brother of John Holdzkom of the Pirates organization, was expected to be the team captain for New Zealand in the WBC Qualifiers. Our thoughts are with him and his family and friends.

Mexico’s roster starts to take shape

Jon Morosi has an article on the Mexican National Team that has begun to take shape. Edgar Gonzalez will be the manager for Team Mexico in the WBC Qualifiers and presumably the main tournament as well if they qualify. His younger brother, Adrian Gonzalez, will be on the roster. The team could be pretty deep in pitching, Morosi writes:

Mexico’s preliminary roster will be especially deep in pitching, with Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez, Miguel Gonzalez and Dodgers prospect Julio Urias among the notable arms certain to be included on it. Pitchers Jorge De La Rosa, Joakim Soria and Olivez Perez also are eligible to play for Mexico, as is Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who is Mexican-American.

However, there are some problems that could trip up Mexico. For one thing, while MLB teams are very strongly encouraged to allow players to participate in the qualifiers, they are not required (unlike the main rounds of the WBC, where they are only allowed to officially block player participation if they are coming off an injury or there are too many players being picked from their roster). In addition, there is an ongoing feud between the Mexican League and Mexico’s national baseball federation that will make the participation of Mexican Leaguers iffy.

Edwin Rodriguez will begin recruiting for Team Puerto Rico

In a Spanish-language article on Elnuevodia.com, there is the news that Edwin Rodriguez will soon begin to recruit for Team Puerto Rico. While the article mentions how he will try to make an effort to get players of Puerto Rican descent (like Jake Arrieta) to take part, I personally think it’s more likely they’ll have to rely upon native-born Puerto Ricans like Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and the like. All of them are mentioned in the article. Puerto Rico came in a surprising second in the 2013 WBC.

Other Notes:

So, until next time, this has been a WBC update!

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):


New Zealand


South Africa

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


Czech Republic



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





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


Great Britain



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 Preview: Pool C (San Juan)

Pool C is sure to be an interesting pool, with three big baseball countries that have plenty of history against each other as well as a Spanish team that will be able to call on some ringers that could make things interesting.

Go below the jump for the whole preview.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading