PC: Pittsburgh Pirates
Spring training has finally come and the World Baseball Classic (WBC) is just around the corner. If you were with us last season then you know that we like to help you keep track of your hometown players in the MLB.
Since season ended, there have been a few transitions of import. Lithuania’s RHP Dovydas Neverauskas was called up to the 40-man roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates leaving him one step away from his debut in the MLB. You can expect to hear more about him as spring training turns into opening day. Germany’s Sven Schüller, also a righty, was advanced late in the season and is expected to remain with his new club, the Ogden Raptors, heading into the 2017 season.
There were also some players who lost their shot at the bigs over the off-season. Misja Harcksen of the Netherlands, also a RHP, was released at the end of the 2016 season by the same Ogden club that picked Schüller up. In January Poland’s only active player in the MLB, Artur Strzalka, was let go by the Yankees.
During the off-season, Curaçao native Kenley Jansen signed a record $80M contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, penning the largest deal for a European in MLB history.
As you know, spring is the season of change. Players practice across classes until a 40-man roster is shaken out at the big league level. From there, the remaining teams fall into place via the trickle down method. While that all shakes out we decided to change up the order of reporting until assignments for 2017 are firm. We’ve listed out the teams, by major league club name, and the players they have contracts with, so you can see where your countrymen are playing, and who else from Europe is on their team.
*Jonathan Schoop, Curaçao – IF major league
Rachid Engelhardt, Curaçao – OF minor league
*Sharlon Schoop, Curaçao – IF minor league (Free Agency)
Boston Red Sox
*Xander Jan Bogaerts, Aruba – IF major league
Nicolo Clemente, Italy – RHP minor league
Ryan Oduber, Aruba – LHP minor league
Kansas City Royals
Marten Gasparini, Italy - SS minor league
Max Kepler, Germany – OF major league
Vadim Balan, Moldova – RHP minor league
Taylor Clemensia, Netherlands – LHP minor league
Matz Schutte, Netherlands – RHP minor league
New York Yankees
*Sir Didi Gregorius, Netherlands – SS major league
*Jurickson Profar, Curaçao – IF major league
Toronto Blue Jays
Sam Buelens, Belgium – OF minor league
Alberto Mineo, Italy – C minor league
Nadir Ljatifi, Germany – SS minor league
*Shawn Zarraga, Aruba – C minor league non-40 man invite to spring training
Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenley Geromino Jansen, Curaçao – RHP major league
Pascal Amon, Germany – OF minor league
Federico Giordani, Italy – OF minor league
Sven Schüller, Germany – RHP minor league
New York Mets
*Nelmerson Angela, Curaçao – LHP minor league
*Francisco Cervelli, Italy – C major league
*Andrelton Simmons, Curaçao – SS major league
Dovydas Neverauskas, Lithuania – RHP added to 40-man roster
Paul Brands, Netherlands – C minor league
Independent League Players
*Alex Liddi, Italy - Utility
*Curt Smith, Netherlands – OF
Shlomo Lipetz, Israel - RHP
You will see a * next to some of the players’ names. That indicates the player was listed on their national team roster for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Israel, Italy and The Netherlands are all participating in the event.
An interesting twist for the WBC is that none of Italy’s five active minor league players was selected by team Italy to represent them at the tournament. This is a bit of a surprise seeing the other teams are littered with major and minor league players for the MLB-sponsored event. Instead, team Italy went with major league veteran Alex Liddi. Current Pirate, Francisco Cervelli, was born in Venezuela to an Italian father. He has elected his Italian roots for this Classic pitting him against his home country of Venezuela in Pool D.
Spring training and the Classic will do more than overlap in time. This week team Netherlands showed up in Arizona to begin training at the home of the San Francisco Giants, a team that shares their uniform style. There are also exhibition games scheduled against major league clubs for designated pool teams during their off-days of competition throughout the month-long Classic.