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Max Rosenfeld

World Baseball Classic Preview: Pools A and D

The 2017 edition of the World Baseball Classic is quickly approaching. All sixteen teams have already begun preparation, with Major League players slated to play in the WBC ramping up their workloads in camp in order to get ready. Last week, we took a look at Pools B and C which featured powerhouses such as the United States, Dominican Republic, and Japan. This week, we’ll examine Pools A and D, which include interesting rosters such as Korea, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

Pool A: Seoul, Gocheok Sky Dome

Korea

Schedule:

vs. Israel on Monday, March 6th

vs. Korea on Tuesday, March 7th

vs. Chinese Taipei on Thursday, March 9th

Key Players:

Seung Hwan Oh, Dae-Ho Lee, Ah-seop Son

Outlook:

Though Korea usually has several Major League players on their WBC rosters, this year’s team only has one in Oh, a right handed reliever for the Cardinals. Lee spent time with the Mariners during the 2016 season, but has since struggled to garner interest from big league clubs. Korea is likely the second best team in Pool A and aims to advance to the knockout rounds with a solid core of pitching talent.

Chinese Taipei

Schedule:

vs. Israel on Tuesday, March 7th

vs. Netherlands on Wednesday, March 8th

vs. Korea on Thursday, March 9th

Key Players:

Wei-Chung Wang, Chien-Mien Wang, Ping-Hsueh Chen

Outlook:

Chinese Taipei will rely heavily on its pitching staff in order to make it through the round robin phase of the tournament. The team is carrying 21 pitchers into the WBC and will need their arms to step up if they are to succeed. Wang provides a familiar face to most MLB fans because of the time he spent with the New York Yankees.

Netherlands

Schedule:

vs. Korea on Tuesday, March 7th

vs. Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, March 8th

vs. Israel on Thursday, March 9th

Key Players:

Xander Bogaerts, Didi Gregorius, Kenley Jansen

Outlook:

The Netherlands is clearly the class of Pool A with a roster stacked with talented Major League talent. Bogaerts, Gregorius, Jonathan Schoop, Andrelton Simmons, and Jurickson Profar give the Netherlands a bevy of infield talent. This infield talent should be enough to propel the team to the knockout rounds. Jansen is arguably the best reliever in the tournament and will lock down the 9th inning for the Dutch national team.

Israel

vs. Korea on Monday, March 6th

vs. Chinese Taipei on Tuesday, March 7th

vs. Netherlands on Thursday, March 9th

Key Players:

Sam Fuld, Craig Breslow, Scott Feldman

Outlook:

Team Israel is bringing a Mensch on the Bench (no, really) with them to leave in the dugout during games. Though this may bring good luck, Israel does not need it to advance into the knockout rounds. Israel is carrying a squad full of former Major League players such as Fuld, Breslow, Jason Marquis, and Ike Davis. In a weak Pool, it’s entirely possible to see Israel winning 2 of their 3 round robin games.

Pool D: Jalisco, Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco

Mexico

Schedule:

vs. Italy on Thursday, March 9th

vs. Puerto Rico on Saturday, March 11th

vs. Venezuela on Sunday, March 12th

Key Players:

Adrian Gonzalez, Julio Urias, Khris Davis

Outlook:

Mexico’s roster has star power. The team carries a pair of Dodgers, Gonzalez and Urias, who will give the team a strong presence both at the plate and on the mound. Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia, and Roberto Osuna add to the team’s pitching depth, making the Mexicans a real threat to advance to the tournament’s semi-finals.

Puerto Rico

Schedule:

vs. Venezuela on Friday, March 10th

vs. Mexico on Saturday, March 11th

v. Italy on Sunday, March 12th

Key Players:

Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran

Outlook:

Puerto Rico has a legitimate chance to win the entire tournament. Their offense is lethal- the infield is led by Lindor, Correa, and Javy Baez while the outfield will be held down by Beltran, Enrique Hernandez, Angel Pagan, and Eddie Rosario. If Puerto Rico can out-slug their way past teams, they are entirely capable of defeating the United States and Dominican Republic.

Venezuela

Schedule:

vs. Puerto Rico on Friday, March 10th

vs. Italy on Saturday, March 11th

vs. Mexico on Sunday, March 12th

Key Players:

Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Rougned Odor

Outlook:

Like Puerto Rico, Venezuela should beat down on Mexico and Italy on their way to the knockout rounds. Altuve, Cabrera, Odor, and Victor Martinez will lead an offensive charge capable of producing offensive fireworks.

Italy

Schedule:

vs. Mexico on Thursday, March 9th

vs. Venezuela on Saturday, March 11th

vs. Puerto Rico on Sunday, March 12th

Key Players:

Francisco Cervelli, Michael Conforto, Chris Colabello

Outlook:

The Italian team was a welcomed surprise in the 2013 WBC, but is unlikely to compete with Puerto Rico and Venezuela in this year’s tournament. There are several Major League players on the roster, but they are not on the same tier as the talent on the other clubs.

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Max is a student at Saint Joseph's University where he is a Communication Studies major. He is a contributing writer for Baseknock MLB and the host of the Payoff Pitch Podcast, which airs every Tuesday morning.

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