Red Sox farmhand Boss Moanaroa and former Blue Jays farmhand Scott Campbell highlight New Zealand's roster for the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament in November.
New Zealand joins host Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines in the event, scheduled for Nov. 15-18 in New Taipei City in Taiwan. Rosters are due Nov. 7 for that event and the concurrent qualifier in Panama City, Panama, which will include the host nation, Brazil, Colombia and Nicaragua.
“We’re incredibly excited about the roster we’re going to have on the field for us in Taiwan,” manager Andy Skeels said of his club, which will go by the nickname Diamondblacks in a play on the MLB team's name and the "All Blacks" moniker employed by New Zealand's famed rugby team. “It’s great to have identified so many New Zealand-eligible players of this caliber, current and former collegiate and professional players, plus talented and up-and-coming New Zealand domestic players who will for the first time reveal what they can do on the world stage.”
Maonaroa, a 21-year-old first baseman, is the roster's top active player. He batted .262/.391/.365 with 77 walks and 20 doubles at low Class A Greenville this season. His brother Moko, an outfielder who hit .257 in 284 pro at-bats with the Red Sox organization, also is on the WBC roster.
The team, which will be led by the New Zealand-born Skeels (manager of the Giants' high Class A San Jose affiliate), has one other active minor leaguer who played in 2012: Blue Jays first baseman Daniel Devonshire, who went 4-for-27 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Campbell, who played college ball at Gonzaga, reached Triple-A in the Blue Jays system and was a 2008 Futures Game participant before injuries sidetracked his career. The New Zealand roster also includes righthanders John and Lincoln Holdzkom, brothers with extensive pro experience. John Holdzkom was just released in July by the Reds organization from high Class A Bakersfield. The Holdzkom brothers' father is from New Zealand.
A major league promotion kept New Zealand from getting its presumed ace, Angels lefthander Nick Maronde. The 2011 draftee out of Florida had spent time in New Zealand when his family lived there, but his fast rise to the big leagues prompted the Angels to keep him from playing in this event. Maronde's brother Patrick, a righthander at Coastal Carolina, also decided not to play.
Skeels' coaching staff will include Jay Bell as bench coach and Darrell Evans as the hitting coach.
In other WBC news:
• YES Network reporter Jack Curry tweeted that big league veteran Johnny Damon, who played for the Indians in 2012, intends to play for Thailand in the November qualifier.
• Venezuela named Luis Sojo its manager, with coaches including ex-big leaguers Andres Galarraga (hitting) and Wilson Alvarez (pitching). Sojo joins a raft of ex-big leaguers who will manage WBC squads, including Barry Larkin, who will manage Brazil.
• Another is Giants big league hitting coach Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens, who will manage the Netherlands in the WBC. Brian Farley, who skippered the Dutch to the 2011 World Cup title, will serve as pitching coach.