With the exception of Kenley Jansen, this past week every European in the MLB watched that season come to a close. That doesn’t mean their seasons are over though. Bats are still swinging across Europe and some players are using the opportunity to stretch their year just a bit longer.
In a 3-game series over the weekend, #12 WBSC-ranked Italy defended their European Baseball Series title from #8 ranked Netherlands and both dugouts were filled with MLB talent.
Two minor leaguers, Alberto Mineo and Paul Brands, faced off for their respective national teams back home. Mineo is a catcher for the Italians who spent most of the summer in South Bend with the Cubs. In the series, he was back in the crouch catching all three games. He hit .400 with a .500 slugging percentage and finished the weekend with a .960 fielding percentage.
His is not the only name on their roster you’ll recognize if you follow our In The MLB series. Pitcher Nicolo Clemente, formerly with the Red Sox, Andrea Pizziconi from KC and Alessandro Maestri, who used to be a Cub, were all on the bench beside him.
Maestri spent this past summer in Mexico with the Rojos de Aguila but he’s also Italy’s top hurler. After three innings of scoreless pitching he gave up a solo homer in the 4th. That would be one of just two hits The Netherlands had off him in 5 innings during Italy’s opening win.
Pizziconi and Clemente teamed up to win the second game. They end-capped the day with perfect performances. Andrea took the first 4.0 innings giving up no runs off 6 hits while striking out 6 but it was Clemente who picked up the W in the final 2.0 innings, giving up nothing and striking out two.
Over on Team Netherlands there was minor leaguer Paul Brands. He spent this summer in the Pirates rookie system before rejoining the national team for the Series. Stijn Van der Meer was his teammate. Van der Meer began the summer with the Astros before returning to his home club in Rotterdam where he played with former Cub Dwayne Kemp. Together the two not only won the championship title in the Holland Series and the European Champions Cup with Neptunus, they began and ended their seasons side-by-side on the national team bench starting with the World Baseball Classic and finishing at the European Baseball Series.
The Netherlands took the final game but that would be the only W they’d collect in the series. Van der Meer and Kemp took the field in all three games while Brands caught the second game. Both Van der Meer and Kemp batted .231 in the series with a .944 and .750 fielding percentage respectively. Brands hit .250 and was perfect behind the plate.
This was the 3rd edition of the European Baseball Series. The series began in 2006 with Italy and The Netherlands facing off in a 3-game series. It ran in 2006, 2009 and 2017. Heading into this year’s series the teams were tied up with one victory apiece.