I wrote earlier about lefty reliever Tim Collins being a member of Team USA.
It was rumored that lefty starter Bruce Chen might join Team China. Well, it looks as though the crafty veteran will be anchoring the Chinese staff in the WBC. I am surprised that he is going to be leaving the Royals early in spring training when he is going to be in a tight battle for the final rotation spot. Their pool, Pool A, begins play on March 2nd, but China starts play on the third against host Japan.
Pitchers are only allowed to throw 65 pitches in the first round of pool play, so if Chen can be economical, he could realistically go five or six innings (unless he gets ripped).
Joining Chen in Pool A is Royals minor leaguer Paulo Orlando. The outfielder was a member of the surprise Brazilian team that upset Panama in the WBC Qualifier. He will be with Brazil in their first WBC when they begin play on March 2nd against host Japan. As of right now, Brazil’s lone big leaguer, catcher Yan Gomes, who played in the qualifier, is not on the roster (but they only have one catcher listed on their roster).
The Netherlands shocked the world in 2009 and look to do the same in 2013 in Pool B with some players with a little more name recognition (like Jair Jurrjens, Andruw Jones, Andrelton Simmons, and Jurickson Profar). Pitcher JC Sulbaran, who the Royals received from Cincinnati for Jonathan Broxton, is a member of the Netherlands pitching staff.
I am most looking forward to seeing some of the veteran Netherlands players, like Robbie Cordemans and Yurendell de Caster, along with some of the prospect guys like Jonathan Schoop, Xander Bogaerts, and Spencer Kieboom.
The Netherlands begin pool play on March 2nd against Korea in Taiwan.
Former Royal Justin Huber is yet again a member of the Australian team that is looking to use some of that explosive offensive (over .300 average in 2009) to make it out of the pool.
Huber will be joined with other veterans Luke Hughes, Peter Moylan, and Brad Harman. They also have some young prospects like Stefan Welch, James Beresford, and Clayton Tanner.
I’m excited to see Philadelphia farmhand Tim Kennelly take the mound, as he has been a catcher in the Phillies farm system up until the end of last season.
The Aussies open the pool play on March 2nd against host Chinese Taipei.
I would like to see Australia and the Netherlands make it out of Pool B and play in the second round at the Tokyo Dome beginning on March 8th. They do play each other on the final day of pool play on March 5th.
Moving on to Pool C in Puerto Rico, where there will be plenty of current and former Royals.
Infielder Irving Falu, who may be battling for the second base job or a utility position with the Royals, is a member of a loaded Puerto Rican team. Joining him are former Royals Carlos Beltran and Mike Aviles, who were members of the 2009 squad.
The Molina brothers (Jose and Yadier) will anchor Puerto Rico as they begin pool play on March 8th versus Spain.
The two teams in Pool C that are really loaded are the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Fire baller Kelvin Herrera will be a part of a loaded DR bullpen that includes former Royal Octavio Dotel and American League Comeback Player, closer Fernando Rodney.
New Royal Miguel Tejada will play somewhere in the DR’s crowded infield with the likes of Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez. Former outfielder Melky Cabrera will see his first official game action since his PED suspension with the DR.
It will be interesting to see if Salvador Perez is Venezuela’s starting catcher in the WBC. He is coming off an outstanding winter ball season, where he was named the Venezuelan League’s Rookie of the Year (though he was the DH more often). Perez will share catching duties with veteran Ramon Hernandez and Miguel Montero.
Former lefty reliever Jose Mijares is on the Venezuela pitching staff that has the likes of Felix Hernandez, Anibal Sanchez, and Carlos Zambrano.
The big matchup of Pool C comes on the very first day, March 7th, as the DR faces Venezuela.
The final pool, Pool D, will be played in Arizona and where you will find favored Team USA.
The USA open pool play on March 8th against Mexico and could face Luis Mendoza. Mexico opens on March 7th against Italy, so Mendoza could start that game as Yovani Gallardo may be saved to face the US. I’m not sure if Mendoza pitching in the WBC will hurt his chances of making the Royals Opening Day roster, but since he is out of options, this could be his audition for other teams. He will be joined on the pitching staff with Luis Ayala Alfredo Aceves, and two-time World Series champion Sergio Romo (all of whom have big league playoff experience).
Former Royals minor leaguer Jeff Bianchi will be representing Italy in the WBC. He made his big league debut with Milwaukee this past season. Italy begins their pool play against Mexico on March 7th.
The top two teams in both Pool C and Pool D will meet in Miami for the second round beginning on March 12th.
I am really excited about this year’s WBC, as I had the chance to attend in the inaugural season down in Orlando for the first round. It was a great experience.
For more on the WBC, click HERE.