Mexico, Panama WBC Qualifier Rosters

The World Baseball Classic on Friday unveiled rosters for the next set of qualifiers, set for March 17-20 in Mexicali, Mexico, and Panama City, Panama. Australia last month won its qualifier to advance to the 2017 WBC.

Qualifier No. 2:  Mexicali, Mexico
Teams: Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico, Nicaragua
Schedule:
March 17 (All Times EST)
Germany vs. Nicaragua, 3:30 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Mexico, 7:30 p.m.
March 18
Czech Republic vs. TBD, 3:30 p.m.
Mexico vs. TBD, 10:30 p.m.
March 19
TBD vs. TBD, 9 p.m.
March 20
Finalist vs. finalist, 10 p.m.


GERMANY
First Last Pos. MLB Org. Current Club
Max Boldt INF FA
Eric Brenk SS FA
Martin Dewald RHP FA
Lucas Dickman RHP FA
Ludwig Glaser INF FA
Simon Gühring C FA
Daniel Hinz RHP FA
Christopher Howard C FA
Lukas Jahn SS FA
Sascha Koch RHP FA
Kevin Kotowski OF FA
Nadir Ljatifi SS Reds AZL (R)
Donald Lutz OF Reds Pensacola (AA)
Sascha Lutz OF FA
Enorbel Marquez LHP FA
Kent Matthes OF FA
Bruce Maxwell III C Athletics Nashville (AAA)
Will Ohman LHP FA
Sven Schüller RHP Dodgers Ogden (R)
Markus Solbach RHP Diamondbacks Mobile (AA)
Luke Sommer LHP FA
Lukas Steinlein RHP FA
Jan-Niclas Stöcklin RHP FA
Dominique Taylor OF Royals Wilmington (HiA)
Daniel Thieben RHP FA
Kevin Trisl RHP FA
Maurice Wilhelm RHP FA
Christoph Ziegler INF FA

Most of the German players are currently playing in the German Baseball-Bundesliga. Additionally a couple of MLB-affiliated players have made the team. Max Kepler, who is competing for a spot on the opening day roster of the Twins, is not on the roster. Also newly signed Pascal Amon (Dodgers) isn't on the squad.

However, Donald Lutz (Reds), Markus Solbach (Diamondbacks), Sven Schueller (Dodgers) and Nadir Ljatifi (Reds) are on the roster. Lutz re-signed with the Reds in February after a terrific stay in the Australian Baseball League; Solbach was born in Germany and his family relocated to Detroit when he was six when his father--a longtime Ford employee in Germany--was moved to the company’s main plant. Solbach returned to Germany, played baseball there, went to the Australian Baseball League where the Twins found him. They released him after three seasons and he caught on with Windy City of the independent Frontier League. The Diamondbacks--known for their deft indy league scouting-- pounced and he was solid at low Class A before struggling with a promotion; Schuller is a product of the Regensburg academy, which has produced Lutz, among others who signed pro contracts; Ljatifi was a member of the German Junior National team.

Catcher Bruce Maxwell (Athletics) and outfielders Dominique Taylor (Kansas City Royals) and Ken Matthes (Lancaster Barnstormers) will make their German national team debut. Maxwell and Taylor were born in Germany to U.S. military parents. Former big league reliever Will Ohman returns for a second time after debuting at the WBC Qualifier 2012 in Regensburg.

Germany’s new manager is former big league infielder Garth Iorg. He will be supported by fellow ex-big leaguers Willie Upshaw and Dennis Cook, as well as Martin Helmig and Troy Williams from Germany. Cook is well known in European Baseball after coaching the Swedish National Team a couple of years ago.


CZECH REPUBLIC
First Last Pos. MLB Org. Current Club
Jan Blazek RHP FA
Boris Bokaj RHP FA
Petr Cech C FA
Mike Cervenak 3B FA
Marek Cervenka RHP FA
Martin Cervenka C Indians Akron (AA)
Premek Chroust UTI FA
Tomas Duffek LHP FA
Adam Hajtmar INF FA
Jakub Hajtmar INF FA
Matej Hejma OF FA
Tomas Junec 1B FA
Jakub Malik OF FA
Marek Minarik RHP FA
Petr Minarik RHP FA
Daniel Mraz RHP FA
Jan Novak LHP FA
Michal Ondracek OF FA
Tomas Polansky RHP FA
Martin Schneider RHP FA
Petr Sila OF FA
Jakub Sladek INF FA
Michal Sobotka RHP FA
Alex Sogard LHP FA
John Straka RHP FA
Jan Tomek RHP FA
Petr Vojak INF FA
Petr Zyma INF FA

As in 2012, the majority of the Czech national team’s players are active in the Czech Republic or are players affiliated with MLB organizations. Mike Cervenak and Alex Sogard return for a second stint with the Czech team after 2012. Additionally they hope John Straka can be on the team, but MLB is still checking his eligibility. If he doesn't make the cut, Lukas Ercoli will take his spot. The players with U.S. ties include: Indians farmhand Martin Cervenka, a catcher; lefthander Thomas Duffek, who pitched at Division II Missouri-St. Louis; former Twins farmhands Jakub Hajtmar and Matej Hejma; 2015 pros righthander Marek Minarik (Pirates, released in November) and lefthander Jan Novak (Orioles); and shortstop Petr Zyma, who played at Creighton for one season at at Southwestern Oklahoma State for another.

Manager Mike Griffin's coaching staff features 2004 World Series winner Trot Nixon as bench coach. The team already traveled to Arizona for a short training camp. They will play five exhibition games against the Milwaukee Brewers, a team from Japan, France, the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants.


MEXICO
First Last Pos. MLB Org. Current Club
Armando Aguilar LHP FA
Andres Avila RHP Athletics Nashville (AAA)
Arturo Barradas LHP FA
Carlos Bustamonte RHP FA
Xorge Carrillo C Mets Las Vegas (AAA)
Sebastian Elizalde OF Reds Dayton (A)
Carlos Fisher RHP Rangers Frisco (AA)
Giovanni Gallegos RHP Yankees Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA)
Jesus Garcia RHP FA
Adrian Gonzalez 1B Dodgers Majors
Leonardo Heras OF Astros Corpus Christi (AA)
Walter Ibarra INF FA
Stephen Landazuri RHP Mariners Jackson (AA)
Alejandro Mejia SS Cardinals Memphis (AAA)
Agustin Murillo 3B FA
Efren Navarro 1B Mariners Tacoma (AAA)
Juan Perez OF Reds Louisville (AAA)
Oliver Perez LHP Nationals Majors
Esteban Quiroz INF FA
Hector Rodriguez LHP Orioles Bowie (AA)
Francisco Issmael Salas INF FA
Jake Sanchez RHP Athletics Midland (AA)
Mark Serrano RHP FA
Javier Solano RHP FA
Humberto Sosa C FA
Jesus Soto LHP Padres DSL Padres (R)
Sebastian Valle C Yankees Trenton (AA)
Jorge Vazquez 1B FA

Host team Mexico will be led by former major league infielder Edgar Gonzalez, who was a member of Team Mexico during the 2009 and 2013 installments of the WBC. In the three previous editions of the event, Mexico has gone 6-8 while advancing to the second round in both 2006 and 2009. The 28-man roster features 16 players in pro ball, including Edgar’s brother and five-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers. Others include solid receiving catcher Xorge Carrillo of the Mets, who rose as high as Triple-A but has played at Double-A the past two seasons; Sebastian Elizalde (Reds), who was among leaders in team-adjusted OPS+ in the Florida State League; Leo Heras, the compact Mexican League star who has struggled in pro ball with the Astros; Sebastian Valle, once the top defensive catcher in the Phillies’ organization but now looking to catch on with the Yankees, and veteran lefthander Oliver Perez, who signed with the Nationals in the offseason; Giovanni Gallegos signed with the Yankees ($100,000) along with Luis Niebla ($75,000) in a package deal from the Mexico City Red Devils in January 2011; The Orioles purchased first baseman/corner outfielder Efren Navarro from the Angels in January. The lefthanded batter has hit .246/.303/.324 in parts of four seasons in the big leagues and is known best for his defense at first base.


NICARAGUA
First Last Pos. MLB Org. Current Club
Jairo Beras OF Rangers Hickory (LoA)
Alex Blandino SS Reds Daytona (A)
Dwight Britton OF FA
Darrel Campbell 3B FA
Ofilio Castro SS FA
Leonardo Crawford LHP Dodgers AZL (R)
Berman Espinoza RHP FA
Samuel Estrada RHP FA
Fidencio Flores RHP FA
Juan Ramon Flores OF FA
Kevin Gadea RHP Mariners DSL Mariners 2 (R)
Ronald Garth 2B FA
Carlos Gonzalez RHP Reds Pensacola (AA)
Sandor Guido 1B FA
Osman Gutierrez RHP Blue Jays Buffalo (AAA)
Jonathan Loaisiga RHP Yankees DSL (R)
Diomar Lopez RHP Padres AZL (R)
Gustavo Martinez RHP FA
Janior Montes C FA
Renato Morales OF FA
Melvin Novoa C Rangers AZL (R)
Omar Obregon SS Braves Rome (A)
Jhonny Polanco RHP Red Sox Pawtucket (AAA)
Elmer Reyes SS FA
Jose Saenz RHP FA
Carlos Teller LHP FA
Junior Tellez RHP FA
Wuillians Vasquez UTI FA

Nicaragua, which will be appearing in its second WBC Qualifier after going 0-2 in 2013, is managed by former big league outfielder Marvin Benard. Eleven members of the roster are affiliated with pro teams, including Jairo Beras, who signed with the Rangers for $4.5 million in February 2012, triggering controversey because he changed his birth date to make him eligible to sign. He later was forced to serve a one-year suspension. Still just 21, Beras is coming off a ./291/.332/.440 season at low Class A Hickory. Also on the roster is Alex Blandino, the Reds’ first-rounder in 2014 out of Stanford who is No. 7 on the team’s Top 10. Blandino got a promotion to Double-A after hitting well at Daytona and is likely to begin the year there again; Melvin Novoa, known for his bat speed, had a solid first season in the States, posting a .734 OPS for the Rangers Rookie-level AZL team. The Braves’ Omar Obregon, a 2011 signee, lacks power but does a good job getting on base.


Qualifier No. 3:  Panama City, Panama
Teams: Spain, France, Panama, Colombia
Schedule:
March 17 (All Times EST)
Colombia vs. Spain, 2 p.m.
France vs. Panama, 9 p.m.
March 18
France vs. TBD, 2 p.m.
Panama vs. TBD, 9 p.m.
March 19
TBD vs. TBD, 9 p.m.
March 20
Finalist vs. finalist, 7 p.m.


PANAMA
First Last Pos. MLB Org. Current Club
Alberto Acosta RHP FA
Dario Agrazal RHP Pirates West Virginia (LoA)
Anthony Amaya OF FA
Harold Arauz RHP Phillies Lakewood (HiA)
Alberto Baldonado LHP Mets St. Lucie (HiA)
Euclides Bethancourt RHP FA
Jorge Bishop SS FA
Jose Camarena C FA
Luis Castillo OF FA
Ramon Castillo C/1B FA
Gerald Chin 2B FA
Manny Corpas RHP FA
Angel Cuan LHP FA
Paolo Espino RHP Nationals Syracuse (AAA)
Saul Gonzalez RHP FA
Javier Guerra SS Padres Lake Elsinore (HiA)
Ariel Jurado RHP Rangers Hickory (LoA)
Humberto Mejia RHP Marlins GCL (R)
Jorge Miranda OF FA
Edgard Munoz SS FA
Eliecer Navarro LHP FA
Andy Otero LHP Braves Mississippi (AA)
Carlos Quiroz 1B FA
Davis Romero LHP FA
Carlos Ruiz C Phillies Majors
Edmundo Sosa SS Cardinals Peoria (LoA)
Eduardo Thomas INF FA
Isaias Velasquez OF FA

The host team Panama will be led by former big league slugger Carlos Lee, who hit 358 home runs during his 14-year career and played for Panama during the 2013 Qualifier. Overall, Panama is 2-7 in WBC play, including 0-5 during the main tournament. Panama has 10 players on the roster in affiliated ball, including Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies and the Padres’ No. 1 prospect Javier Guerra, acquired from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel deal. Others are Harold Arauz, acquired by the Phillies in the Ken Giles deal. Signed in 2011 out of Panama for $300,000, Arauz is a 6-foot-2 righthander who is a strike-thrower who throws a ton of cutters that get up to the low-90s. He has a clean delivery with some feel for his secondary stuff; Righthander Dario Agrazal is a control artist who doesn’t miss many bats; Ariel Jurado ranked No. 11 in the South Atlantic League’s Top 20 Prospects. Jurado mixes a plus sinker with a four-seamer that he can run up to 95 mph, and he also has above-average control to both sides of the plate. Edmundo Sosa ranked No. 9 in the Appalachian League. Sosa has made steady progress since signing as a 16-year-old out of Panama in July 2012 and had an outstanding season at Johnson City. He grew into more power and made steady progress and he appears poised for the jump to a full-season league in 2016.


FRANCE
Name Post MLB Org Current Club
Jacques Boucheron OF FA
Felix Brown INF FA
Dan Camou RHP FA
Leonel Cespedes RHP FA
Gregory Cros RHP FA
Bastien Dagneau OF FA
Jonathan Duforest UTI FA
Dylan Gleeson C FA
Frederic Hanvi OF FA
Jorge Hereaud INF FA
Norbert Jongerius OF FA
Pierrick Le Mestre RHP FA
Maxime Lefevre INF FA
Rene Leveret 1B FA
Ernesto Martinez C FA
Ernesto Wilson Martinez LHP FA
Samuel Meurant RHP FA
Jonathan Mottay RHP FA
Owen Ozanich RHP FA
Andy Paz C Athletics Beloit (LoA)
Keino Perez RHP FA
Anthony Piquet RHP FA
Esteban Prioul LHP FA
Douglas Rodriguez UTI FA
Lucas Serafin RHP FA
Yoann Vaugelade RHP FA
Antoine Villard RHP FA
Frederic Walter INF FA

France’s team is managed by former Dodgers all-star closer Eric Gagne and has one player in affiliated ball, Andy Paz of the A’s, a catcher of Cuban descent who signed for a reporter $95,000 as an international free agent in 2011. Others who spent time in pro ball are Dan Camou, Lucas Serafin and Rene Leveret. Camou and Leveret played for France’s WBC Qualifier in 2012.


SPAIN
First Last Pos. MLB Org. Current Club
Oscar Angulo INF FA
Rogelio Armenteros RHP Astros Quad Cities (LoA)
Jorge Balboa RHP FA
Engel Beltre OF FA
Richard Castillo RHP FA
Jose Cruz RHP FA
Rhiner Cruz RHP FA
Iker Franco C FA
Lesther Galvan CF FA
Jesus Golindano 3B FA
Yasser Gomez OF FA
Ivan Granados LHP FA
Luis Guillorme SS Mets Columbia (LoA)
Ricardo Hernandez LHP FA
Lazaro Leyva RHP Orioles Aberdeen (SS)
Daniel Martinez OF FA
Jesus Merchan INF FA
Rolando Merino C FA
Leslie Nacar RHP FA
Antonio Noguera LHP FA
Blake Ochoa C FA
Andres Perez RHP FA
Sergio Perez RHP FA
Richard Salazar LHP FA
Yunesky Sanchez INF FA
Carlos Sierra RHP Astros GCL  (R)
Gabriel Suarez C FA
Jesus Ustariz INF FA

Spain has five players affiliated with big league clubs, most notably shortstop Luis Guillorme, the Mets’ No. 12 prospect and MVP of the South Atlantic League. Others are Rogelio Armenteros (Astros), Richard Castillo (Rockies), Lazaro Leyva (Orioles’ No. 20 prospect) and Carlos Sierra (Astros). Armenteros, who landed in Spain after defecting from Cuba, in 2009 pitched Cuba to a third-place finish in the World Youth Baseball Championship; The Venezuelan Castillo got as high as No. 17 in the Cardinals system after signing in 2007 but was released in 2013 and signed with the Rockies. He was granted free agency last November and has yet to find a new organization; Leyva, signed in 2014 out of Cuba for $750,000, has a fastball that has touched 100 mph and he struck out 8.3 batters per nine innings in 2015; Sierra signed with the Astros in February; because his grandfather has roots in Spain, Sierra, who made 26 relief appearances in two seasons in Serie Nacional, was able to establish residency outside of Cuba in order to leave the island legally. Others on the roster are former Astro, Met and Tiger Rhiner Cruz, now with Rakuten of Nippon Professional Baseball and Engel Beltre, who signed with the Red Sox for $600,000 when the 2006 international signing period opened only to be traded to Texas a year later for Gagne, France’s manager in this tournament.  Yunesky Sanchez a Cuban national, had the game-winning, two-run single in the 10th inning of the qualifier championship game in 2012. Spain beat Israel in the finale to win the ’12 qualifier, played in Jupiter, Fla., and advanced to the 16-team WBC for 2013.


COLOMBIA
First Last Pos. MLB Org. Current Club
Horacio Acosta RHP FA
Kendy Batista RHP FA
Steve Brown OF FA
Randy Consuegra RHP FA
Nabil Crismatt RHP Mets Las Vegas (AAA)
William Cuevas RHP Red Sox Pawtucket (AAA)
Carlos Diaz LHP Giants Richmond (AA)
Kevin Escorcia LHP White Sox DSL (R)
Jhonatan Escudero RHP Cardinals Johnson City (R)
Dilson Herrera INF Mets Majors
Ronald Luna SS FA
Yeizer Marrugo RHP Orioles DSL (R)
Luis Martinez C FA
Charlie Mirabal INF FA
Arismendy Mota RHP FA
Gregory Nappo LHP Marlins New Orleans (AAA)
Dewin Perez LHP Cardinals Peoria (LoA)
Tito Polo CF Pirates West Virginia (LoA)
Jesus Posso C Phillies Williamsport (SS)
Harold Ramirez CF Pirates Majors
Mauricio Ramos SS Royals Northwest Arkansas (AA)
Reynaldo Rodriguez OF Twins Rochester (AAA)
Yesid Salazar RHP FA
Adrian Sanchez 2B Nationals Harrisburg (AA)
Karl Lewis Triana RHP FA
Jesus Valdez OF FA
Carlos Vidal CF Yankees Pulaski (R)
Angel Vilchez RHP FA

Colombia will be managed by Luis Urueta, who served as the team's first base coach during the 2013 Qualifier.  Urueta, the short-season field coordinator for the Diamondbacks, has been a coach or coordinator in the D-backs organization since 2007.  Colombia went 1-2 in its WBC debut during the 2013 Qualifier, with its lone victory coming in an 8-1 defeat of Nicaragua.  The team features 16 players in affiliated ball, including Dilson Herrera, the likely Mets’ second baseman of the future; Nabil Crismatt, a Mets righthander who exhibited tremendous control at Rookie-level Kingsport; Jhonatan Escudero, a thin righthander signed by the Cardinals in 2009 who struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings at Rookie-level Johnson City in 2015. Kevin Escorcia, a lefthander with the White Sox who in 2014 had a 33 percent strikeout rate against a 5.4 percent walk rate before sliding back in 2015; Outfielder Harold Ramirez of the Pirates, No. 95 on the Top 100 Prospects.

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