2023 World Baseball Classic Pool D Preview

Image credit: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)


Manager: Rodney Linares (Rays)

Previous WBC Results: 5th in 2017, 1st in 2013, 9th in 2009, 4th in 2006.  

Top Players: OF Juan Soto, 3B Rafael Devers, 3B Manny Machado, 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., OF Julio Rodriguez, RHP Sandy Alcantara

Top Prospects: RHP Ronel Blanco (Astros), 

Hitting: One of the most loaded lineups in the tournament, the Dominican Republic boasts an order from top to bottom as powerful as any assembled in the history of the game. A lineup led by Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Rafael Devers, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and AL rookie of the year Julio Rodriguez is guaranteed to put up plenty of runs. Beyond the powerful core, the entire positional group is composed of all-stars and well known MLB stars. 

Pitching: While the D.R.’s pitching staff cannot match the sheer star power of the positional group it’s certainly not devoid of stars. Led by reigning National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, the Dominicans boast some of the best pure stuff of any group in the tournament, with flamethrowers like the Giants’ Camilo Doval, the Astros’ Bryan Abreu, the Padres’ Luis Garcia and the Angels’ Carlos Estevez. Deep bullpens are the name of the game in the WBC and the Dominicans have one of the deepest. 

Bottom Line: Championship or bust.


Manager: Ian Kinsler (Rangers)

Previous WBC Results: 6th in 2017. 

Top Players: OF Joc Pederson, RHP Dean Kremer, OF Alex Dickerson

Top Prospects: 3B Zack Gelof (Athletics), 1B Matt Mervis (Cubs), 1B Spencer Horwitz (Blue Jays)

Hitting: After a strong sixth-place finish in 2017, Ian Kinsler takes over as manager of the Israel squad. The lineup revolves around Giants slugger Joc Pederson, but he is joined by a trio of potentially potent prospects in the Athletics’ Zack Gelof, the Cubs’ Matt Mervis and the Blue Jays’ Spencer Horwitz. While this team lacks the firepower of other clubs in the group, it boasts strong plate discipline throughout the lineup. 

Pitching: The rotation is highlighted by a deep group of experienced major league-caliber relievers, paired with several returning pitchers from the 2017 squad including Dean Kremer, Zack Weiss and Richard Bleier. While Team Israel lacks the bonafide aces other teams boast, it has a group of experienced arms that know how to get outs against good lineups. Due to heavy focus on relief pitching, Israel’s staff may surprise with a variety of different looks. 

Bottom Line: Hoping to escape group play.  


Manager: Marvin Benard 

Previous WBC Results: Making first WBC appearance

Top Players: RHP Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP Erasmo Ramirez, RHP JC Ramirez 

Top Prospects: RHP Rodney Theophile (Nationals), RHP Carlos Rodriguez (Brewers), 3B Milkar Perez (Mariners)

Hitting: Nicaragua’s lineup is led by a pair of former major leaguers in Cheslor Cuthbert and Alex Blandino. A majority of the positional player corps is comprised of a mix of Nicaraguan professionals and younger prospects. Mariners infield prospect Milkar Perez is the most exciting of the young players on the roster. He’s missed time with injury but has displayed an advanced plate approach. 

Pitching: With a staff led by a trio of major league veterans in the Yankees’ Jonathan Loaisiga, former Angels starter JC Ramirez and journeyman Erasmo Ramirez, the pitching is certainly the strength for Nicaragua. An arm to keep an eye on is Brewers prospect Carlos Rodriguez, a 2021 sixth-rounder who struck out 30.1% of batters he faced in 2022. 

Bottom Line: Just happy to be here. 


Manager: Yadier Molina 

Previous WBC Results:  2nd in 2017, 2nd in 2013, 5th in 2009, 5th in 2006. 

Top Players: SS Francisco Lindor, RHP Edwin Diaz, RHP Marcus Stroman

Top Prospects: RHP Dominic Hamel (Mets), RHP Anthony Maldonado (Marlins), RHP Luis Quinones (Blue Jays)

Hitting: The Puerto Rican lineup received a major blow when Twins star Carlos Correa dropped out of the tournament due to the impending birth of his child. Despite the absence of one of the island’s biggest stars, the Puerto Rican lineup is stacked with plenty of star power. Led by Mets superstar Francisco Lindor, Tigers shortstop Javier Baez and the Red Sox’s Enrique Hernandez, Puerto Rico will still roll out one of the more formidable lineups in the tournament. 

Pitching: While Puerto Rico’s greatest strength lies within its position group, the pitching is good enough to hang with any team in the WBC. Led by superstar closer Edwin Diaz, the bullpen is loaded with talent. The starting rotation is highlighted by Blue Jays righthander Jose Berrios and the Cubs’ Marcus Stroman, giving Puerto Rico a formidable one-two punch at the top. 

Bottom Line: Championship contender


Manager: Omar Lopez (Astros)

Previous WBC Results:  8th in 2017, 10th in 2013, 3rd place 2009, 7th 2006. 

Top Players: 2B Jose Altuve, OF Ronald Acuna Jr.,1B Miguel Cabrera, 2B Gleyber Torres, C Salvador Perez

Hitting: Outside of the historic Dominican Republic lineup, no team has more firepower in Group D then Venezuela. Loaded with superstars like the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr., the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Royals catcher Salvador Perez and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, the Venezuelan lineup should strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. 

Pitching: While the lineup is sure to be the lede when discussing Team Venezuela, the rotation and bullpen are chock full of major league veterans. The rotation is led by the formidable trio of the Astros’ Luis Garcia, Twins’ Pablo Lopez and the Rockies’ German Marquez, although Marquez will miss the first round with a hamstring injury. The staff remains deep outside that trio with established starters and hard-throwing relievers.

Bottom Line: Championship contender, but history of underperformance is worrying.

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