World Baseball Classic 2017: What To Watch Out For?By Chris Brandt
The World Baseball Classic 2017 is already on with Israel finishing with a historic victory over South Korea. On Friday and Saturday, the United States will be up against Colombia and the Dominican Republic respectively. With an interesting opening game, what else should we expect as the competition progresses?
Dominican Republic vs. U.S.A
Team USA belongs to Pool C along with Canada, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. Colombia, like Israel, is a first-time competitor in the WBC while the Dominican Republic holds the championship title during the last competition which occurred in 2013. Thus, it is interesting to find out what Team USA will be up against during the showdown on Saturday.
The Dominican team will bring back eight of its players from their formidable 2013 team: Santiago Casilla, Carlos Santana, Samuel Deduno, Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano, Fernando Rodney, Edinson Volquez, and Nelson Cruz.
Rodney holds the Classic record of eight saves while his 15 strikeouts are considered as one of the most for someone who has pitched exclusively in relief. Deduno, on the other hand, holds the third-most in a single Classic tournament with his five strikeouts during the 2013 WBC.
Team USA is as star-studded as the Dominican team. It also has the best players in the league representing the country. However, most of them are Classic first-timers - MVPs Buster Posey and Andrew McClutchen, RBI leader Nolan Arenado, MVP runner Daniel Murphy, and two-time NL MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt.
More Players To Watch Out For
The most dominant name for this Classic is a non-Major League player, 25-year old Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, an outfielder for the Japanese team who plays for Yokohama. He has a hit .322 with 44 home runs.
Another fellow wunderkind, Shohei Otani, who has a record 174 strikeouts in 140 innings, won't be able to make it because if an ankle injury.
Other players to watch out for include catcher Jose Alfaro (Colombia), who has always been in the Top 100 lists and a very strong arm; 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoelkis Cespeda, who also happens to be Yoenis' half-brother; and Brandon Nimmo (Italy), who plays for the Mets in MLB and with a hit .352.