2013 WBC Qualifiers: Groups 3 and 4 Preview

Wednesday November 14th, 2012

Sam Evans: The WBC is coming to Panama and Taiwan! Qualifier 3 and Qualifier 4 both begin on November 15th.  Group 3 will feature Panama, Brazil, Nicaragua and Colombia. Group 4 includes Chinese Taipei, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand. Who will advance out of these two qualifying rounds? Keep reading to find out.

Qualifier Group 3:

Panama, the host country, will try to prove why it is the best baseball country south of the D.R. Panama has a ton of MLB and MiLB veterans including Carlos Lee, Carlos Ruiz, Ramiro Mendoza, Ruben Tejada, and brothers Manny and Alberto Acosta. It’s a shame that Mariano Rivera won’t be healthy in time for the tournament. Giants first-base coach Roberto Kelly will help coach the Panamanians. Panama and Nicaragua are going to be the one and two in this tournament. Panama will have to get some production from their younger players in order to beat the Nicaraguans.

Being fair, Brazil is definitely the weakest team in this division. Brazil is still developing its talent, as evidenced by Yan Gomes becoming the first Brazilian-born player to reach the majors just this season. Gomes will be the leader of the Brazilian ballplayers, who will be coached by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. Larkin is a very popular figure, so hopefully he will bring baseball alive in Brazil. The WBC isn’t so much about winning games for Brazil, but getting more kids to start playing baseball in Brazil, the largest country in South America.

The Colombian team has the potential to be a very dangerous team. Edgar Renteria will lead a group that will include the Solano brothers and a bunch of younger prospects. Unfortunately, Ernesto Frieri, Jose Quintana and Julio Teheran all will be unable to play. According to a Colombian report, these three’s teams didn’t grant them clearance to play in the tournament. It’s a shame that Frieri, Quintana and Teheran won’t get to play, because with them, the Colombian team could have one of the most potent pitching staffs out of all the teams. Even without those three, the Colombian team is still very talented; so don’t expect them to go down without a fight.

The Nicaraguan team should probably be the favorite to win this division. The team will feature Mariners rookie Erasmo Ramirez, Vicente Padilla and Wilton Lopez. And that’s just the pitching staff. Everth Cabrera will head the infield along with Cheslor Cuthbert. Personally, I can’t wait to watch Cabrera, 25, and Cuthbert, 19, work together. Due to their mix of experienced veterans and talented youngsters, Nicaragua will be the team to beat in this competitive division.

Qualifier Group 4:

New Zealand is a long shot to advance in their division. The team will be led by Moko and Boss Moanaroa, as well as Reds’ prospect John Holdzkom. Holdzkom and his electric fastball will definitely provide problems for opposing hitters who might not have seen a fastball with that kind of velocity. Overall, New Zealand has close to zero chance of advancing out of this tournament.

The big news circling around Thailand these last couple days has been that Johnny Damon, he of over 2,700 career hits, has agreed to play for the Thailand team in the WBC. Damon’s mother is from Taiwan, so he’s eligible for action in the tournament. He’ll attempt to lead a Thai team that has no other professional American ballplayers.

The Philippines is a very competitive country when it comes to athletics. Filipinos take a great deal of pride in their athletes, such as Manny Pacquiao and Tedy Bruschi. When it comes to baseball, the Philippines great players all play in the majors or minors. Jason Bartlett and Tim Lincecum both have Filipino parents, but neither looks like they will be playing in the WBC this year. According to a Manila newspaper, the Filipino team is ‘praying’ that Tim Lincecum will come play this season. While its highly unlikely, how much fun would it be to see Lincecum suit up in a Philippines uniform? The Filipino team is probably the worst team in their division, so barring Lincecum; they should have a quick exit from this tournament.

Chinese Taipei is not an actual country, just the name Taiwan uses in sporting events. Out of the eight Taiwanese players that have played in the majors, six are still active today. Unfortunately, Wei-Yin Chen and a few other Taiwanese players won’t be playing in the WBC for one reason or another. Yi-Chaun Lin, a twenty-six year old third baseman, will try to rebound from a rough performance in the 2009 WBC. If Lin can bounce back from 2009, he could be a young leader on a fairly talented Taiwanese team.

Group 4 is much harder to predict than Group 3. The teams are not all that different and not very well-known outside of their own countries. Chinese Taipei and Thailand appear to be the early favorites, with New Zealand possibly being a dark horse candidate. This qualifier should be the most competitive in the whole tournament.

 

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

***Today’s feature was prepared by Sam Evans, Baseball Writer.  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 samevans87

I 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 November 14, 2012, in World Baseball Classic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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