USA Baseball, Canada and Australia released their rosters of professional players for the 2011 World Cup in Panama, scheduled for Oct. 1-15.
The two teams of minor leaguers will be part of the 16-team event. The United States, managed by 2000 Olympic gold medalist Ernie Young, has won the last two World Cups in 2007 (staged in Taiwan) and 2009 (throughout Europe).
Those two teams featured future big leaguers such as Jeff Karstens, Evan Longoria and Colby Rasmus (2007) as well as Pedro Alvarez, Justin Smoak, Ike Davis and Cory Luebke (2009).
This year’s American roster features some elite prospects, led by catcher Travis d’Arnaud (Blue Jays), the 2011 Eastern League MVP, as well as outfielder Brett Jackson (Cubs), who played for the 2010 team that qualified the U.S. for this event and the Pan American Games that follow Oct. 19-25 in Mexico.
A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks) will join Jackson in the outfield with big league veteran Brett Carroll (Red Sox) and Jordan Danks (White Sox), an alumnus of the 2007 College National Team. The infield includes first baseman Matt Clark (Padres), third baseman Tommy Mendonca (Rangers, 2008 CNT), along with veteran Joe Thurston (Marlins) and strong-armed shortstop Jordy Mercer (Pirates).
Lefthander Drew Smyly (Tigers), who went 11-6, 2.07 this season while reaching Double-A, figures to be the staff ace, though veteran righthander Todd Redmond (Braves) was stellar in the 2009 Cup for the U.S., winning all three starts. The pitching staff also features Pete Andrelczyk (Marlins), who went 9-3, 2.26 at Triple-A New Orleans this season, and 36-year-old lefty Randy Williams (Red Sox), who has 97 big league appearances under his belt.
Canada’s roster has more than affiliated players, plus former ex-big leaguers such as veteran righthanders Shawn Hill, Mike Johnson and Scott Richmond. The roster’s top prospects including outfielders Michael Crouse and Marcus Knecht, who were teammates for Toronto’s low Class A Lansing affiliate, plus righthander Nick Bucci (Brewers), who has become a mainstay of Canada’s pitching staff and was a key member of the ’09 staff that won the bronze medal—Canada’s best-ever finish in international play.
Other notable members of Team Canada include former Kentucky teammates Andrew Albers (Twins) and Chris Bisson (Padres); and hard-throwing righthander Kyle Lotzkar (Reds), a 2007 supplemental first-rounder who has made just 43 starts as a pro due to injuries (14 in 2011). Ernie Whitt once again will manage the Canadians, with a coaching staff that includes Larry Walker, Denis Boucher and Stubby Clapp.
Australia’s roster includes fewer affiliated minor leaguers. The group includes ex-big leaguers Justin Huber and Chris Oxspring; first baseman Stefan Welch (Mets), coming off a .271/.361/.438 season with 16 home runs in the high Class A Florida State League; World Baseball Classic veteran James Beresford (Twins) at shortstop; outfielder Tim Kennelly (Phillies) and his brother Matt (Braves), a catcher; and righthander Hayden Beard (Padres).
Group play begins Oct. 1. Group One: United States, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Panama and Greece. Group Two: Australia, Cuba, South Korea, Venezuela, Italy, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Germany. USA Baseball’s schedule is available at its website.
TEAM USA ROSTER
Pitchers: Pete Andrelczyk (Marlins); *Jeff Beliveau (Cubs); Justin Cassel (White Sox); Chuckie Fick (Cardinals); Jeff Marquez (Yankees); Scott Patterson (Mariners); Todd Redmond (Braves); *Joe Savery (Phillies); Matt Shoemaker (Angels); *Drew Smyly (Tigers); *Andy Van Hekken (Astros); *Randy Williams (Red Sox).
Catchers: Travis d’Arnaud (Blue Jays); Tuffy Gosewisch (Phillies)
Infielders: Matt Clark (Padres); Andrew Garcia (White Sox); Tommy Mendonca (Rangers); Jordy Mercer (Pirates); Joe Thurston (Marlins).
Outfielders: Brett Carroll (Red Sox); Jordan Danks (White Sox); Brett Jackson (Cubs); A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks)
TEAM CANADA ROSTER
Pitchers: *Andrew Albers (Twins); Nick Bucci (Brewers); *Mark Hardy (Padres); Jimmy Henderson (Brewers); Shawn Hill; Mike Johnson; *Jay Johnson (Phillies); Chris Kissock (Phillies); Kyle Lotzkar (Reds); Dustin Molleken (Rockies); Scott Richmond (Blue Jays).
Catchers: Cole Armstrong (Angels); Chris Robinson (Cubs)
Infielders: Chris Bisson (Padres), Shawn Bowman (Braves); Emerson Frostad (Astros); Jonathan Malo (Mets); Skyler Stromsmoe (Giants); Jimmy Van Ostrand (Astros).
Outfielders: Michael Crouse (Blue Jays); Brock Kjeldgaard (Brewers); Marcus Knecht (Blue Jays); Jamie Romak (Royals); Tim Smith (Royals).
*denotes throws lefthanded