The 2017 World Baseball Classic runs from March 6-22 and will be the fourth instalment of the international competition that features 16 countries. We finish our pre-tournament preview with Pool D.
POOL A I POOL B I POOL C
Stadium: Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco
Location: Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico
|March 9||Mexico||Italy||9:00 p.m.|
|March 10||Venezuela||Puerto Rico||9:00 p.m.|
|March 11||Venezuela||Italy||3:00 p.m.|
|March 11||Puerto Rico||Mexico||9:30 p.m.|
|March 12||Italy||Puerto Rico||3:30 p.m.|
|March 12||Mexico||Venezuela||10:00 p.m.|
WBSC Ranking: 6th
WBC Appearance: 4th
WBC Record: 6-9
Best Finish: 6th (2006)
2013 Finish: 11th (Eliminated in 1st Round)
Mexico will have an immediate advantage playing in front of a home crowd in Estadio Charros de Jalisco when it gets going on March 9 against Italy. Its 2013 performance was a disappointment following an early exit after losing to both Italy and Canada – but surprisingly beating the United States. Pitching will be the team’s biggest strength, and it will be led on the offensive side by veteran Adrian Gonzalez.
Player to Watch: Roberto Osuna
Mexico will be relying on none other than Osuna, the Toronto Blue Jays’ young and immensely talented closer. Not only is he coming off a season that saw him convert 36 saves (2.68 ERA), Osuna took home Mexico’s 2016 National Sports Award in the process. The 22-year-old will be leaned on heavily in the early parts of the tournament as Mexico’s go-to reliever.
Notable absences: Khris Davis, Jaime Garcia
Manager: Edgar Gonzalez
Catchers: Xorge Carrillo, Sebastian Valle
Infielders: Adrian Gonzalez, Japhet Amador, Daniel Castro, Luis Cruz, Brandon Laird, Esteban Quiroz, Jose Manuel Rodriguez
Outfielders: Jose Aguilar, Efren Navarro, Chris Roberson, Alex Verdugo
Pitchers: Jorge De La Rosa, Yovani Gallardo, Miguel Gonzalez, Luis Mendoza, Giovanni Gallegos, Vidal Nuno, Roberto Osuna, Oliver Perez, Sergio Romo, Fernando Salas, Jake Sanchez, Joakim Soria, Carlos Torres
Designated Pitchers Pool: Marco Estrada, Julio Urias, Rafael Martin, Miguel Aguilar, Andres Avila, Mario Meza, Ivan Salas, Carlos Fisher
WBSC Ranking: 11th
WBC Appearance: 4th
WBC Record: 4-7
Best Finish: 7th (2013)
2013 Finish: 7th (Eliminated in 2nd Round)
Italy will enter the WBC attempting to build off its surprising, yet impressive, performance in 2013 where it finished second in its pool with a 2-1 record. Italy still has a number of intriguing players on its roster and, with some magic left over from three years ago, could be a mini sleeper this time around in a deeper Pool D that features the talents of Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
Player to Watch: Brandon Nimmo
Nimmo’s name is a familiar one for New York Mets supporters, as the 23-year-old has been one of the club’s best prospects for the past few years. He had a terrific 2016 season playing in Triple-A, combining for .352/.423/.541 which led to his first taste in the majors, appearing in 32 games with the Mets. Nimmo gets on base a ton thanks to above average plate discipline (career .389 OBP) and could be one of Italy’s most important position players.
Notable absences: Anthony Rizzo
Manager: Marco Mazzieri
Catchers: Francisco Cervelli, Drew Butera, Marco Sabbatani
Infielders: Chris Colabello, Andrew Maggi, Daniel Descalso, Gavin Cecchini, Alessandro Vaglio, Alex Liddi, Rob Segedin
Outfielders: Sebastiano Poma, Brandon Nimmo, John Andreoli, Mario Chiarini
Pitchers: Carlos Teran, Tiago Da Silva, Patrick Venditte, Mike Demark, Jordan Romano, Nick Fanti, Tommy Layne, Alessandro Maestri, A.J. Morris, Trey Nielsen, Orlando Oberto Jr., Frailyn Florian, Sam Gaviglo
Designated Pitchers Pool: Flippo Crepaldi, Frank De Julio, Jose Escalona, Luca Panerati
WBSC Ranking: 7th
WBC Appearance: 4th
WBC Record: 10-7
Best Finish: 3rd (2009)
2013 Finish: 10th (Eliminated in 1st Round)
Venezuela will need to beat some above average clubs to stand a chance, but the good news is this year it has the talent to do just that. In 2013, its two losses came against Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, but with the former in another group, Venezuela can focus on getting revenge on the latter. With Jose Altuve, Alcides Escobar, Yangervis Solarte, and Felix Hernandez in the mix this time around, the sky is the limit.
Player to Watch: Odubel Herrera
Sticking with the trend of notable 25-and-under players, Herrera fits the bill as one of the more fascinating athletes in Pool D. He was awarded with a five-year, $30.5-million extension by the Philadelphia Phillies after an All-Star 2016 campaign and is on his way in becoming one of the best Rule 5 draft picks in league history. His blend of plate discipline, speed, and defense (16 defensive runs saved the past two years) will give the team a huge boost.
Notable absences: Gerardo Parra, Asdrubal Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez
Manager: Omar Vizquel
Catchers: Salvador Perez, Robinson Chirinos
Infielders: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve, Martin Prado, Alcides Escobar, Yangervis Solarte, Victor Martinez
Outfielders: Hernan Perez, Carlos Gonzalez, Ender Inciarte, Odubel Herrera
Pitchers: Martin Perez, Yusmeiro Petit, Felix Hernandez, Jhoulys Chacin, Deolis Guerra, Jose Alvarez, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Alvarado, Omar Bencomo, Silvino Bracho, Jeanmar Gomez, Wilfredo Ledezma, Bruce Rondon, Robert Suarez, Jose Castillo
Designated Pitchers Pool: Eduardo Rodriguez, Leonel Campos, Gregory Infante, Arcenio Leon, Jhondaniel Medina, Franklin Morales, Edubray Ramos, Hector Rondon
WBSC Ranking: 12th
WBC Appearance: 4th
WBC Record: 13-8
Best Finish: 2nd (2013)
2013 Finish: 2nd (Lost 3-0 to Dominican Republic in championship game)
It goes without saying, but Puerto Rico will begin the WBC with a chip on its shoulder after losing the title to Dominican Republic in 2013. Luckily for this year’s team, it should be confident enough to make a similar run thanks to a roster infused with talent that starts with Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa – two of the best shortstops in baseball.
Player to Watch: Edwin Diaz
Diaz has as much potential as any young pitcher in baseball, and that was on full display in 2016 during his rookie season with the Seattle Mariners. His strikeouts per nine innings ranked second in baseball (15.3), as he combined to fan 88 batters in only 49 games. The aforementioned Osuna for Mexico going up against Diaz could be a fascinating matchup, if two 22-year-old relievers end up going head-to-head.
Notable absences: Martin Maldonado
Manager: Edwin Rodriguez
Catchers: Yadier Molina, Roberto Perez, Rene Rivera
Infielders: Kennys Vargas, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, T.J. Rivera, Mike Aviles
Outfielders: Eddie Rosario, Raymond Fuentes, Enrique Hernandez, Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran
Pitchers: Jose Berrios, Jorge Lopez, Seth Lugo, Hector Santiago, Miguel Mejia, Edwin Diaz, Joe Jimenez, Alex Claudio, J.C. Romero, Giovanni Soto, Hiram Burgos, Joseph Colon, Emilio Pagan, Orlando Roman
Designated Pitchers Pool: Jose De Leon, Andrew Barbosa, Mario Santiago, Andres Santiago, Dereck Rodriguez, Joel Pineiro, Rayan Gonzalez, Jose De La Torre
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)