The Mariners are expected to sign the youngest member of Germany's World Cup roster to a professional contract.
Daniel Thieben, an 18-year-old righthander, will sign when Mariners international scouting director Bob Engle comes to Germany on Nov. 2, according to a press release on the website of his German team, Buchbinder Legionaere Regensburg.
Thieben is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound righty who should have some projection left on a fastball that usually sits in the mid-to-upper 80s. His best pitch is his curveball, and he's shown a changeup, though it has a long way to go.
Thieben is expected to be one of Germany's starting pitchers in the upcoming World Cup after posting a 2.01 ERA in 22 innings for Regensburg in six appearances. He played for Germany's junior national team over the summer, giving up seven runs in 10 innings of the European championships and taking a loss against Italy.
Cuba will look to a roster filled with veterans of international play to try to win the World Cup for the first time since 2005.
As expected, Cuba will send an offensive-minded lineup to the World Cup in Panama and to the Pan Am Games that follow in Mexico, led by a powerful lineup featuring third baseman Yulieski Gourriel, outfielders Alexei Bell and Alfredo Despaigne, and second baseman Hector Olivera. Bell, Despaigne and Gourriel each have set or approached Serie Nacional's single-season home run record in recent years, while Olivera brings a game comparable to that of a young Placido Polanco to the Cuban lineup. The switch-hitting Cepeda, 31, has been a stalwart in Cuba's national team lineups for nearly a decade. [...] Continue Reading »
The Dominican Republic and Venezuela have announced their World Cup rosters.
The Dominican team features ex-big leaguers all over the field, including 2003 American League rookie of the year Angel Berroa (Diamondbacks); two-time all-star Tony Batista, 37; 38-year-old Mexican League veteran Willis Otanez, who last played in the majors in 1999; and speedster Bernie Castro. Another speedster, Mexican Leaguer Freddy Guzman, and Alexis Gomez (formerly of the Royals and Tigers), will be in the Dominican outfield.
The pitching staff included Bartolo Colon last year, when the Dominican beat the U.S. and Cuba in consecutive days to win the Pan Am qualifying tournament, but has less star power this time around. Among the ex-big leaguers are Runelvys Hernandez, who most recently pitched in Korea and Mexico; Bartolome Fortunato, who was involved in the Mets' trade of Scott Kazmir in 2004; and fellow righthander Francisco Cruceta. [...] Continue Reading »
The Netherlands and Germany announced their World Cup rosters over the weekend, and if everyone shows up, these should be the most talented Eurorpean lineups scouts would see in international competition in years.
That's especially true of the Dutch roster, which includes two of the most exciting prospects in the entire event in its infield. Jonathan Schoop (Orioles) and Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) will play on the left side of the Netherlands' infield, two of the nine affiliated minor leaguers on the Dutch club.
Bogaerts and Schoop may not play shortstop for the Netherlands, not with DiDi Gregorius (Reds) on board, and the pitching staff has plenty of international experience in J.C. Sulbaran (Reds) and fellow righthanders Tim Stuifbergen (Twins) and big league veteran Shairon Martis (Nationals). Other affiliated Dutch players include outfielder Kalian Sams (Twins), catcher Shawn Zarraga (Brewers) and infielder Sharlon Schoop (Giants). Indy leaguer Curt Smith (Lincoln Salt Dogs) is also on board; he reached Double-A with the Cardinals in 2010. [...] Continue Reading »
Once again, America’s top minor leaguers succeeded where its big leaguers have failed.
Team USA won its 14th consecutive game in Europe and second over Cuba in three games to win the 2009 World Cup gold medal, beating Cuba 10-5 Sunday in Nettuno, Italy. The victory gives the U.S. its second consecutive Cup championship, defending the title won in 2007. It’s also just the fourth World Cup ever won by the United States in baseball. [Box Score] [...] Continue Reading »
I’ve written here a few times about just how confusing the World Cup format is, about how it needed its own page on a website to explain itself. But now the World Cup has out-done itself.
Thursday, the Cup’s press office reported that despite Cuba’s loss to Team USA, the Cubans had nonetheless clinched a spot in Sunday’s final when the Netherlands lost to Canada. That would have set up a U.S.-Cuba rematch on Sunday. However, last night the International Baseball Federation sent out another press release confirming that this was not the case. Cuba still has to beat Canada today to clinch a spot in Sunday’s final. It also can do so with a loss by the Netherlands, which plays Team USA, or Puerto Rico, which plays Australia.
We’ll know this afternoon what team Team USA plays in Sunday’s championship game.
Technically, Thursday’s game in the World Cup didn’t mean anything for Team USA. But every game between the U.S. and Cuba has meaning.
For the U.S., Thursday’s 5-3 victory means the Americans have a 12-game World Cup winning streak. Already having clinched a spot in Sunday’s championship game, Team USA also got a leg up on its probable opponent in that game by beating the Cubans, long an international power.
"We’ve had great chemistry, as our guys have persevered through a lot of irregular travel and the schedule," U.S. manager Eddie Rodriguez said in a postgame telephone interview from Nettuno, Italy. "But we’ve got a close-knit group, which is unusual for the length of time we’ve been together. We know what’s at stake. We know what our mission is."
Team USA is beating Cuba 3-0 in the bottom of the third of a third-round World Cup matchup. But the prospect news may already have been made, as U.S. starter Trevor Reckling—most likely the Angels’ top pitching prospect after reaching Double-A at age 20—left the mound while warming up for the second round.
While it’s unclear how serious Reckling’s injury is, he didn’t throw another warmup pitch and was removed from the game. Righthander Lucas Harrell (White Sox) replaced him as Team USA’s pitcher. Ike Davis (Mets) hit an RBI double in the first inning, and Terry Tiffee (Phillies) hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the third to chase Cuban starter Maikel Folch.
Today’s game is likely to be a preview of Sunday’s gold-medal game, unless Cuba loses this game and tomorrow against Canada and both the Netherlands and Puerto Rico win out.
Cuba continued its winning ways Wednesday, and took a one-game lead on the Netherlands in its third-round pool. One of them will face the United States on Sunday in the gold-medal game of the 2009 World Cup tournament.
Cuba, which plays Team USA today at 2 p.m. ET (on MLB Network), beat Taiwan 8-0, getting two more home runs by outfielder Alfredo Despaigne. The 23-year-old lefthanded hitter tied Team USA’s Justin Smoak (Rangers) with nine homers in the Cup, and tied the Cuban World Cup record set in 1990 by one of Cuba’s all-time greats, Orestes Kindelan. Frederich Cepeda also homered for Cuba, a two-run shot in the first, while Miguel Gonzalez pitched seven shutout innings as Cuba improved to 11-1 overall, matching the U.S. for the Cup’s best record. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA used a familiar formula—starting pitching and the long ball—to win its 11th straight World Cup game and clinch a spot in Sunday’s gold-medal game. Todd Redmond (Braves) pitched scoreless ball into the ninth inning, and Buck Coats (Blue Jays), Ike Davis (Mets) and Jon Weber (Rays) hit solo homers as the U.S. beat Puerto Rico 3-0.
The victory gives Team USA a 5-0 record in the third round—three wins carrying over from the second round, and two wins in this round. Because every other team in the pool has two losses, the Americans clinched a spot in the title game and will get a chance to defend the gold medal they won in 2007. MLB Network will carry the game, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27, at 9 a.m. Eastern. MLB Network also will carry tomorrow’s game between Cuba and the U.S. at 2 p.m. ET. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA avenged its only loss of the 2009 World Cup by beating Venezuela 6-3 on Tuesday, the Americans’ 10th straight victory.
As usual, the Americans got a home run, with a solo shot in the fourth inning by Pedro Alvarez (Pirates). His fellow Pittsburgh farmhand, righthander Brad Lincoln, got the victory, pitching 6 2/3 innings in his second start against Venezuela during the tournament. The Americans had lost 13-9 to Venezuela in extra innings in the World Cup opener for both teams, back on Sept. 10.
Venezuela rallied to put the tying run on base in the ninth as U.S. reliever Nate Field (Marlins) walked the first two batters of the inning. However, Field got a pair of outs and Geno Espineli (Giants) retired Luis Landaeta on the liner to second baseman Tug Hulett (Royals) to end the game and pick up the save. [...] Continue Reading »
Trevor Plouffe (Twins) homered with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give Team USA its ninth straight victory in World Cup play, a 4-3 win against Australia that allowed the Americans to close the second round with a perfect 7-0 record.
Team USA now advances to the third round as the No. 1 seed from the Italian pool (officially Pool G). So in the third round, the U.S. will start by playing the fourth-place team from Pool F (the Netherlands pool), which happens to be Venezuela—which beat Team USA 13-9 in the World Cup opener for both clubs. [...] Continue Reading »
Justin Smoak (Rangers) smoked two more home runs, giving him eight for the World Cup—a record for USA Baseball teams in World Cup play—to lead the U.S. to a 12-3 victory against the Italians, keeping the Americans undefeated in the second round.
Smoak’s homers were part of a four-homer game for the Americans, who also got home runs from Buck Coats (Blue Jays) and Trevor Plouffe (Twins). Team USA has hit 28 home runs in nine World Cup games and has won eight straight overall since losing its first-round opener in extra innings against Venezuela. Team USA dominated the Italian pool at 6-0, with a game left today against Australia, a makeup game. Both teams already have clinched third-round berths, and the third round teams are set: Australia, Canada, Cuba, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, United States and Venezuela. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA clinched a spot in the third round of the 2009 World Cup the same way it has won seven straight games in the event—with home run power and good starting pitching.
Daniel Descalso (Cardinals) and Buck Coats (Blue Jays) hit solo home runs, and Terry Tiffee (Phillies) had four hits and a pair of RBIs, as the Americans beat Mexico 7-3. Trevor Reckling (Angels) went five solid innings for the victory, and four relievers, chiefly Ehren Wassermann (White Sox) and Nate Field (Marlins), wrapped up with four scoreless innings of relief.
Team USA out-hit Mexico 13-4, but two errors helped lead to a pair of unearned Mexican runs, and Mexico pulled within 5-3 after six innings. Tiffee helped the Americans put things away with an RBI double in the seventh, and he scored the game’s final run on a sacrifice fly by Pedro Alvarez (Pirates). [...] Continue Reading »
Puerto Rico ended Cuba’s unbeaten run at the World Cup, leaving the Netherlands as the lone unbeaten team in the tournament.
Friday’s highlights, which do not include a game for Team USA, as the Americans were rained out of their scheduled game with Australia:
• Luis Matos, the former Orioles outfielder, broke a 2-2 tie with an eighth-inning leadoff homer, and former big league veteran Tony (a.k.a. Jose) Valentin later cracked a two-run double as Puerto Rico used veteran bats and young pitching to beat Cuba 5-2. Valentin and Raul Casanova had two hits apiece, while three relievers held Cuba to two hits in four scoreless innings as Puerto Rico matched Cuba’s 4-1 second round record. A pair of former college pitchers, Florida International alum Miguel Mejia (Tigers) and Bethune-Cookman alum R.J. Rodriguez (Pirates), followed a scoreless frame from 20-year-old lefty Nelvin Fuentes (Twins) in Puerto Rico’s strong bullpen effort. Cuba’s runs both came on solo homers by Alfredo Despaigne and Ariel Pestano. Rodriguez was especially impressive, working through the middle of Cuba’s lineup in the eighth and working around a leadoff double. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA continued its power trip in the World Cup, and Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) took the baton from Justin Smoak (Rangers) to carry the load this time.
Alvarez hit three of Team USA’s six home runs, as the Americans won their sixth straight game, beating Taiwan 14-3 in Torino, Italy. Team USA put up seven runs in the first inning, with Alvarez blasting a three-run homer as part of the rally.
Alvarez homered again in the second inning, making it 10-0, and the Americans had five homers over the next three innings. Jon Weber (Rays), who’s hitting a team-best .480, had a two-run shot, while Terry Tiffee (Phillies) and Lucas May (Dodgers) hit solo homers in the fourth inning. Later that inning, Alvarez finished the U.S. scoring with his third homer, making it 14-0. [...] Continue Reading »
Cuba shutout rival Venezuela, while the host Dutch pounded Spain to highlight World Cup action Wednesday in Europe.
In the Netherlands:
• The Dutch beat Spain 10-5 to move to 3-0. A seven-run second made it 9-0 for the fightin’ Rod Delmonicos, and the Netherlands held off a Spanish rally to stay unbeaten in the second round.
• Norge Vera and Yadier Pedroso combined on a four-hitter as Cuba beat Venezuela 10-0. The two teams have had some testy games over the last few years, but this one was a yawner on the scoreboard. Alfredo Despaigne hit yet another home run in the fourth inning, his fourth of the event; he’s 10-for-21 overall in six victories. [...] Continue Reading »
With top prospect Justin Smoak (Rangers) leading the way with five, the United States entered Tuesday’s game against Japan with 14 home runs, more than any of the 22 nations involved in the 2009 World Cup.
Behind two more homers—including the sixth of the tournament by Smoak—Team USA held off Japan 4-2 Tuesday to win its sixth straight game at the World Cup, while improving to 3-0 in the second round of the event. [...] Continue Reading »
Cuba remained the last unbeaten team at the 2009 World Cup, while Team USA remained one of the hottest terams, against cruising to an easy victory Monday. The Americans beat Netherlands Antilles 11-1 in seven innings as Justin Smoak (Rangers) hit two more home runs, giving him five for the event in five games.
Smoak’s pair of homers included a three-run shot during a six-run seventh inning, as well as a solo shot in the fifth. Team USA’s first two runs also came on solo shots by Lucas May (Dodgers), in the second, and Jon Weber (Rays), in the fifth. The Americans lead the event with 14 home runs.
Meanwhile, Team USA continued to get sterling starting pitching, as lefthander Kasey Kiker (Rangers) combined with righthander Lucas Harrell (White Sox) on a two-hitter. Kiker walked five in four innings and gave up a run but also allowed only one hit while striking out seven. Harrell, who was credited with the victory, struck out two and allowed only the one hit. [...] Continue Reading »
For the third straight game, Team USA got a dominant performance at the World Cup from its starting pitcher. This time, it came against a team with some recognizable names in the lineup.
Padres farmhand Cory Luebke struck out 10 Canadians and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning as Team USA cruised to an 8-0 victory at Reggio Emilia, Italy, in in the second round of World Cup play. In its previous two games, the Americans got big efforts from Trevor Reckling (Angels), who struck out 11 against China, and Todd Redmond (Braves), who pitched eight two-hit, scoreless frames against Germany on Friday.
But Luebke was the story as he dominated a fairly talented lineup that includes Futures Game MVP Rene Tosoni (Twins), whom he fanned twice, as well as Brett Lawrie (Brewers), Tim Smith (Royals) and Shawn Bowman (Mets), who struck out in each of his three plate appearances. [...] Continue Reading »
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