2017 World Baseball Classic: Pool C Capsules

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Manager: Ernie Whitt (Phillies) | 2013 WBC Result: Eliminated in first round
Top Players: 1B Justin Morneau, 1B Freddie Freeman, RHP John Axford
Top Prospects: OF Tyler O’Neill (Mariners), 1B Josh Naylor (Padres)

Hitting: The Canadian squad needs consistency from WBC veterans like Morneau, Pete Orr and Rene Tosoni and will be looking for first-time Team Canada member Freeman to provide some thump in the lineup, to go with the pop of 21-year-old O’Neill. Naylor, Dalton Pompey, Eric Wood, Daniel Pinero and George Kottaras are all making their senior national team debuts in the tournament, and will need to adjust quickly.

Pitching: Canada’s biggest strength in its arms is the amount of international experience it boasts. With potential for starts from Andrew Albers, Chris Leroux, Shane Dawson and Nick Pivetta, and the back end anchored by Axford, Jim Henderson, Scott Mathieson, Dustin Molleken and Scott Richmond, WBC competition is old hat to many. Retired big leaguers Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne provide intrigue but it’s hard to know how much they have left.

Bottom Line: Taking on the defending champions and a stacked USA roster, the Canadians have an uphill battle to reach the second round for the first time.

—Alexis Brudnicki


Manager: Luis Urueta (Diamondbacks) | 2013 WBC Result: Did not qualify
Top Players: LHP Jose Quintana, RHP Julio Teheran, 2B Dilson Herrera
Top Prospects: C Jorge Alfaro (Phillies), C Meibrys Viloria (Royals)

Hitting: Colombia makes its first WBC appearance and doesn’t have much in the way of lineup threats. Indians utilityman Giovanny Urshela, with 288 career plate appearances, is the most accomplished position player on Colombia’s roster, while Herrera (169 PAs) and Alfaro (17 PAs) are the only other position players on 40-man rosters. In short, it’s a group of minor leaguers tasked with facing big leaguers.

Pitching: Quintana and Teheran are as impressive a top two as any, but the WBC format means two starters can’t win a pool alone. Former big league journeymen like Ernesto Frieri and Guillermo Moscoso, marginal prospects like Tayron Guerrero, and foreign and independent league pitchers comprise the rest of the staff, putting Colombia at a disadvantage in a pool full of deep, dangerous lineups. Keep an eye on 20-year-old Cubs righthander Erling Moreno and 20-year-old Rangers lefthander Reiver Sanmartin as prospects who could use the WBC as a breakout.

Bottom Line: Just glad to be here.

— Kyle Glaser


Manager: Tony Pena (Yankees) | 2013 WBC Result: Won tournament championship
Top Players: 2B Robinson Cano, 3B Manny Machado, RHP Johnny Cueto
Top Prospects: N/A

Hitting: The Dominicans bring one of the deepest and most talented lineups to the tournament, with a power-packed group that includes Cano, Machado, Jose Bautista, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Carlos Santana and speed in the form of Starling Marte, Jonathan Villar and Gregory Polanco. Cano, Santana, Cruz and Jose Reyes were all part of the 2013 championship team, with Cano taking home Classic MVP honors.

Pitching: Cueto, who missed the ‘13 WBC, and Carlos Martinez provide two flamethrowers atop the rotation, while Dellin Betances, Alex Colome and Jeurys Familia wait at the back end. If the Dominicans have a weakness it is general pitching depth, but they’re still relying on big leaguers in Ivan Nova, Edinson Volquez, Luis Severino, Fernando Rodney and Santiago Casilla to fill out the staff. It’s an erratic bunch, but from a pure arm strength perspective it’s tough to top. Any team trailing late is going to be in trouble with Betances and Co. ready to extinguish any burgeoning rallies.

Bottom Line: Once again the favorite, with a repeat title in their grasp.

— Kyle Glaser


Manager: Jim Leyland (Tigers) | 2013 WBC Result: Sixth place, eliminated in second round.
Top Players: C Buster Posey, 3B Nolan Arenado, LHP Andrew Miller
Top Prospects: N/A

Hitting: The lineup is balanced up and down, with Posey, Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton and Adam Jones there from the right side and Eric Hosmer, Daniel Murphy, Christian Yelich and Matt Carpenter ready to mash from the left. The group has more power than speed, but has plenty of hitters able to hit for both average and power and take a walk when needed. Andrew McCutchen, Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Bregman further contribute to a deep, dangerous group of position players.

Pitching: Marcus Stroman and Chris Archer lead the rotation, giving the U.S. two quality starters but not the aces on par with other countries in the tournament. Michael Fulmer and Danny Duffy further contribute to the group, giving the U.S considerable starting depth even without a true ace. Miller anchors the bullpen, with Jake McGee, Sam Dyson, David Robertson and Mychal Givens rounding out the solid group. Filled with very good players but few elite ones, the staff isn’t quite as dominant as others in the tournament.

Bottom Line: Semifinals possible, but a title would require an upset or two.

— Kyle Glaser

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