2013 WBC Group C Preview
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Sunday, February 24th, 2013
By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): Follow @RJA206
Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Spain have produced some of the most talented baseball players in the world. All four of these countries will be will represented in Group C of the WBC starting on March 7th in Puerto Rico. From Miguel Cabrera to Robinson Cano, this division is filled with popular MLB superstars. Even though the Dominican Republic and Venezuela appear to be early favorites to advance from this division, don’t count out Puerto Rico or Spain to make a run at qualifying for the next round.
World Baseball Classic–Venezuela Vs Puerto Rico–Alejandro Toca Cuatro:
Venezuela has an extremely talented roster that will be amazing to watch. Despite losing Felix Hernandez, the starting rotation will still feature Anibal Sanchez and Jhoulys Chacin. Nonetheless, losing King Felix is a huge blow to the Venezuelan team. The infield is going to feature Miguel Montero, Salvador Perez, Elvis Andrus, Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval, Asdrubal Cabrera, and others. Even though these guys are all some of the best in the game at their individual positions, except them to all be a little rusty as they try to get back into mid-season form.
The Venezuelan outfield includes Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra, and Martin Prado. Venezuela will likely have Ronald Belisario and Francisco Rodriguez pitching out of the bullpen. Rodriguez, 31, will be trying to prove he still has a lot left in the tank to earn a Major League contract from a team in 2013. The weakness of this team is definitely the starting rotation. Venezuela will need Sanchez, Chacin, and Carlos Zambrano to step up in a big way if they want to tame the opposing hitters this WBC. However, Manager Luis Sojo should be able to find a way to get just enough from his starters to advance to the next round.
The Dominican Republic, a country which had the most foreign-born MLB players on Opening Day in 2012, appears poised to make a run at advancing to the next round. However, similar to the Venezuelan team, the D.R. lacks starting pitchers. Edinson Volquez is the only truly proven starting pitcher. A bullpen featuring Jose Valverde and Jose Veras will try to clean up after the starters. In terms of infielders, the D.R. has Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano, and Hanley Ramirez sharing the middle infield duties. It will be great to see Reyes and Ramirez reunited after their days in Miami
Nelson Cruz, Alejandro de Aza, and Moises Sierra will make up the Dominican outfield. For a country with such a great history of Major League players, this Dominican Republic team isn’t as complete as one might expect. With their lack of starting pitching and outfield depth, the 2013 Dominican Republic WBC team might not be able to make it much farther than this round.
Spain, a newcomer to the WBC, doesn’t have the famous MLB players that some of the other teams in this division do. Nonetheless, the Spain team had to prove that they could play with the best of the best by qualifying for this round. By defeating a heavily favored Israel team, Spain proved that they aren’t going to be an easy team to beat in 2013.
Rhiner Cruz, Engel Beltre, Fernando Martinez, and Paco Rodriguez are the only notable American players on the Spain roster. Beltre and Martinez are two talented and athletic outfielders that will need to get on base in order for Spain to be successful. Chris Manno, a 6’3’’ lefty will be a critical part of Spain’s pitching staff. Manno, a Minor Leaguer who was traded to the Reds in the Jonny Gomes deal, can pitch in long relief or as a closer. Overall, Spain is probably the favorite to finish last in this division but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t surprise people the same way they did in the qualifier.
Other than having hats that look like they just came out of a Nascar pit stop, there are many other interesting aspects of the Puerto Rican team. For example, they have three MLB catchers on the team (The Molina brothers and Martin Maldonado.) and 2009 All-WBC catcher Ivan Rodriguez has retired. Also, it is amazing how much better their outfield is than their infield. An outfield where Alex Rios, Angel Pagan, Andres Torres, Carlos Beltran, and Eddie Rosario will all be fighting for plate appearances is hard to top. Managed by former Marlins Manager Edwin Rodriguez, Puerto Rico could give Venezuela and the D.R. a run for their money.
Overall, this division is pretty awesome. Baseball means a lot to these countries and Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico should be packed for pretty much every game. The two favorites from this division are Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, but Spain and Puerto Rico shouldn’t be forgotten. Group C of the 2013 WBC is sure to have a few memorable, electrifying games.
(*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 Follow @RJA206
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Posted on February 24, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball, World Baseball Classic and tagged anibal sanchez, baseball, carlos beltran, Chris Manno, dominican republic, Dominican Republic MLB, engel beltre, Fernando Martinez, francisco rodriguez, Group C Preview, jose molina, jose valverde, jose veras, Luis Sojo, Major League Baseball, Martin Maldonado, miguel cabrera, mlb, moises sierra, nelson cruz, puerto rico, spain, venezuela, Venezuela MLB, wbc, WBC Group C, WBC Preview, world baseball classic, yadier molina. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.