2013 World Baseball Classic: Preview of the Upcoming Qualifying Tournament Starting in September – Qualifier Group 1
Posted by samevans87
Wednesday August 15th, 2012
Sam Evans: With no baseball in this year’s Olympics, international baseball fans are especially fired up for the third instalment of the World Baseball Classic. The newly-added Qualifying Tournament for the upcoming edition will bring even more games and countries to the WBC. One of the four qualifying tournaments will be held at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The four countries represented will be France, Israel, South Africa, and Spain. Let’s take a look at this Qualifier Group 1 tournament and the rosters starring in it. From there, I will continue to preview the other three qualifier groups in upcoming reports.
First of all, Roger Dean Stadium is normally used as a minor league ballpark hosting two teams; The Palm Beach Cardinals (St.Louis’ FSL affiliate) and the Jupiter Hammerheads (Miami’s FSL affiliate). If everything goes as planned, this WBC qualifier will start on September 19th. The qualifying round in Jupiter will use double-elimination and take five days to complete, according to MLB. The teams will arrive a few days early at Roger Dean Stadium, so if you’re lucky, maybe you could watch an international batting practice or two.
This round was originally scheduled to be played in November, but has been moved to September for unknown reasons. The Israel team was really affected by the decision to play this round in September, because that means they wouldn’t have the chance to potentially have MLB players such as Kevin Youkilis, Ian Kinsler, and Ryan Braun, just to name a few of the potentially available MLB stars to the team.
The four teams represented in this qualifying round will be France, Israel, South Africa, and Spain. Here are some quick roster rundowns of each team:
Israel: Israel, a team managed by former major league Brad Ausmus, has one of the most talented rosters in this division. As I mentioned before, the scheduling change really hurts Israel. However, they still have Ausmus, and former major leaguers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler as well.
South Africa: The South Africa roster features a talented middle infield that is right up there among the best infields in this qualifier. Mariners’ minor leaguer Anthony Phillips and Pirates minor leaguer Gift Ngoepe are both pretty talented middle infielders. Kieran Lovegrove, the Indians third-round pick this year, will have to be a young leader on the pitching staff.
France: The France roster is barren of talent, and might not have even one MLB or MiLB connection on the roster. They are considered a long shot to advance to the next round. Also, France will be missing Bruce Bochy as a coach, as he will be managing the San Francisco Giants. The French do have a superb talent evaluator, Jim Stoeckel (Global Scouting Coordinator for the Reds) as their field manager.
Spain: The Spanish roster is weaker than Israel and South Africa’s. They didn’t play in either the 2009 or 2006 WBC. However, the professional baseball league in Spain makes it a popular destination for European baseball players. Hopefully they can at least keep their games close.
The opening round in Jupiter sounds like it will be amazing. Seeing different countries compete against one another in any sport is awesome, and when they are competing by playing the greatest game ever, it can’t be that bad. If I had to choose an early favorite for this qualifier it would be Israel, but South Africa is a dark horse team to watch. Overall, this opening round in Jupiter is going to be something you don’t want to miss.
For more on the 2013 World Baseball Classic, check out MLB Reports’ official WBC page.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***
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About samevans87I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic
Posted on August 15, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged baseball, France baseball, Israel baseball, jupiter, mlb, qualifying tournament, roger dean stadium, shawn green, South Africa baseball, Spain baseball, wbc, world baseball classic, world baseball classic 2013. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.