Europeans Worldwide Prepare for the WBC

February 9, 2017

 

While MLB.com has picked their favorites for the final: USA v. the Dominican Republic, when the 4th World Baseball Classic opens on March 6, 2017, all European eyes will be on Pool A. 

 

Pool A – March 6-10th Soul, South Korea

 

Chinese Taipei (4th) 

The Netherlands (9th)

Korea (3rd)

Israel (41st) 

 

You might want to set your clocks ahead for the faceoff between The Netherlands and Israel on Thursday, March 9th at 4:00 CET. Before their matchup however, both teams have a full schedule. Israel’s starts in game one of tournament play.  

 

Israel 

 

March 6th: Israel v. Korea 10:30 CET (Monday)

March 7th: Israel v. Chinese Taipei 4:00 CET (Tuesday)

 

For the first time in the team’s history, Israel has made it to the main draw of the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Team Israel’s 1st baseman Cody Decker (Brewers) says, “It’s bigger than any one of us. We’re playing for something more. We got a glimpse of that it Brooklyn. The amount of support we got was overwhelming. The amount of pride inside that stadium in Brooklyn [qualifier] was just outrageous.”

 

Israel opens the tournament against Korea at 10:30 CET on the 7th. To advance they will need to take a spot away from The Netherlands (9th), Korea (3rd) or Chinese Taipei (4th). Ranked 41st in the world, Israel definitely drew the short straw in terms of first round fortune. The road will be a tough one and any advancement will certainly be deemed an upset. But hey, what good would a competition be without an underdog to root for right? 

 

Taking the mound for the team is Silver Slugger Award winner, and All Star pitcher, Jason Marquis. Yankees lefty Richard Bleier, who had a rookie ERA of 1.96 over 23 innings of relief in 2016, and Scott Feldman, righty from the Reds, will be part of the designated pitching pool. 

 

Pitchers (*Active DPP ** DPP)

Dylan Axelrod 

Corey Baker, Cardinals 

Jeremy Bleich

Richard Bleier, Yankees**

Craig Breslow 

Daniel Burawa

Gabe Cramer, Royals

Scott Feldman, Reds**

Jake Fishman, Blue Jays**

Brad Goldberg, White Sox **

Tyler Herron

Jake Kalish, Royals

Alex Katz, White Sox

Kenny Koplove, Phillies**

Dean Kremer, Dodger

Jared Lakind, Pirates**

Shlomo Lipetz*

Jason Marquis, Free Agent (Reds)

Troy Neiman, Rockies

R.C. Orlan, Nationals

Ryan Sherriff, Cardinals**

Zach Thornton**

Joey Wagman, Athletics*

Josh Zeid

 

Catchers

Ryan Lavarnway, Athletics 

Nick Rickles, Nationals

 

Infielders

Scott Burcham, Rockies

Ike Davis, Dodgers

Nate Freiman

Ty Kelly, Mets

Tyler Krieger, Indians

 

Outfielders

Zachary Borenstein, Diamondbacks

Sam Fuld 

Blake Gailen

Mike Meyers, Red Sox

 

Utility

Cody Decker, Brewers

 

Team Israel General Manager Peter Kurz said, “There is an incredibly high level of motivation among all these players to represent Israel at the WBC. Many of these players bring to the table a great depth of talent. We’ve rounded out the roster with a group of younger players who are on their way up. The core of this team performed decisively in the qualifiers against Brazil and Great Britain in Brooklyn in September last year, to secure our place in the tournament.”

 

Zeid, Freiman, Rickles, Lipetz and Decker will all make their third WBC appearances with Team Israel. Taking advantage of the WBC rules that allows for participation of players who are eligible for citizenship in another country, whether they hold said citizenship or not, American-born Jewish players will represent Israel on a world championship roster for the first time in the team’s history.  

 

The Netherlands 

 

March 7th: Korea v. The Netherlands – 10:30 CET (Tuesday)

March 8th: Chinese Taipei v. The Netherlands – 10:30 CET (Wednesday)

 

The Netherlands will participate in their fourth World Baseball Classic next month. Hoping to surpass their tournament best 4th place finish in 2013, they’ve stacked the roster with MLB infielders. In their first game on the 7th it’s The Netherlands facing off against Chinese Taipei. These two teams are definitely not strangers. Throughout 2016, they faced off during Honkbalweek twice with The Netherlands dominating both games. In the 2015 WBSC Premiere12 Chinese Taipei, once again, fell to The Netherlands. At the end of the week, only two teams will advance to the next round of tournament play. Despite their difference in rankings, if The Netherlands has to go through Chinese Taipei to get there, there is little doubt the team’s souped-up roster will have no trouble competing. 

 

Pitchers (*Active DPP ** DPP)

Nelmerson Angela, Mets**

Mike Bolsenbroek*

Robbie Cordemans

Tom de Blok

Kevin Heijstek**

Lars Huijer

Kenley Jansen, Dodgers**

Jair Jurrjens

Kevin Kelly**

Ruderly Manuel**

Diegomar Markwell

Shairon Martis

Ryan Oduber, Red Sox**

Mark Pawelek**

Jim Ploeger

Tom Stuifbergen

Juan Carlos Sulbaran

Rick van den Hurk

Berry van Driel**

Loek van Mil

Orlando Yntema*

 

Catchers

Shawn Zarraga, Reds

Ricardo Dashenko

 

Infielders

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox

Yurendell de Caster

Didi Gregorius, Yankees

Jurickson Profar, Rangers

Jonathan Schoop, Orioles

Sharlon Schoop, Orioles

Andrelton Simmons, Angels

Curt Smith

 

Outfielders

Kalian Sams

Randolph Oduber

Christopher Garia

Wladimir Balentien

 

Utility

Dwayne Kemp

 

Kenley Jansen (Dodgers) is part of the Netherlands’ designated pitcher pool (DDP) so he will not make an appearance before the second round of the event. The DDP is a rule change for this year’s tournament. Here’s how it will work. Teams can use up to 10 designated pitchers (DP) throughout the tournament but can have no more than two on the active roster at any one time. Team Netherlands has selected Mike Bolsenbroek and Orlando Yntema for round one. Yntema posted a 1.20 ERA with Neptunus in 2016, including a 7-inning no-hitter against the Vaessen Pioniers. These two Active DPs can only be replaced at the beginning of each new set of rounds and only by another DP. Once a designated pitcher has been replaced they cannot return to the active roster in another round. A lot of this year’s tournament could be determined by how well managers handle the strategic aspects of this new rule.  

 

The Netherlands roster is also overflowing with current MLB talent. Five infielders will be part of the regular rotation: J. Schoop (IF: Orioles), Gregorius (SS: Yankees), Bogaerts (IF: Red Sox), Profar (IF: Rangers) and Simmons (SS: Angels). More challenging for the competition is that Schoop, Bogaerts and Profar are utility infielders rotating between 2nd, short and 3rd. Rounding out the infield will be minor leaguer Curt Smith on 1st. 

 

While there are four pools in the tournament there are only two with European teams. As pool A completes their first week of play, Europeans can turn their attention to Pool D where Italy will be representing the continent. 

 

Pool D - March 9-13th Jalisco, Mexico 

Italy (11th) 

Mexico (6th) 

Puerto Rico (12th) 

Venezuela (7th) 

March 10th: Mexico v. Italy 3:00 CET (Friday)

March 11th: Venezuela v. Italy 21:00 CET (Saturday)

March 12th: Italy v. Puerto Rico 21:30 CET (Sunday) 

 

Italy

 

Open the pool March 9th against Mexico, Italy brings a veteran battery to this year’s Classic. Pitcher Drew Butera (Royals) and Francisco Cervelli (Pirates). Cervelli, who caught for Italy in ’09’s WBC says, “Why not help Italy in baseball to get better because the WBC is just a great tournament.” They also bring along some strong talent at the plate. Mario Chiarini, who played for Sebastiano Poma in 2016, posted a .396 average on the season. 

 

MLB veteran infielder Alex Liddi, who was crowned home run champion in the Mexican baseball league’s All Star event, and had 291 putouts on defense for the season, should not only be a contributor on the field but a valuable asset on the bench when the team faces Mexico. 

 

In previous tournaments Italy placed 10th in both the 2006 and 2009 Classics before advancing to the second round and finishing 7th in the 2013 event. Returning team manager Marco Mazzieri, who will retire from coaching following the event, says, “The expectation is to be as competitive as possible because the Classic is the biggest tournament in baseball for the Italians involved.” 

 

Pitchers (*Active DPP ** DPP)

Filippo Crepaldi**

Tiago Da Silva

Frank De Jiulio**

Mike DeMark

Jose Escalona**

Nick Fanti, Philliles

Frailyn Florian

Sam Gaviglio, Mariners

Tommy Layne, Yankees

Luis Lugo, Indians

Alessandro Maestri

A.J. Morris

Trey Nielsen, Cardinals

Orlando Junior Oberto*

Luca Panerati**

Jordan Romano, Blue Jays

Carlos Teran*

Pat Venditte, Mariners

 

Catchers

Drew Butera, Royals

Francisco Cervelli, Pirates

Marco Sabbatani

 

Infielders

Gavin Cecchini, Mets

Chris Colabello, Indians

Daniel Descalso

Alex Liddi 

Andrew Maggi, Dodgers

Rob Segedin, Dodgers

Alessandro Vaglio

 

Outfielders

John Andreoli, Cubs

Mario Chiarini

Brandon Nimmo, Mets

Sebastiano Poma

 

The World Baseball Classic runs from March 6-22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. 

 

Full event coverage, including schedules, video, stats and gear, is available on the WBC website.

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