Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Baseball Team Preview: Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic became the final team to qualify for the Olympics when it won the WBSC Final Qualifier in June. It is the country's first appearance in the Olympics in baseball since 1992.
Here is a rundown of the Dominican Republic's strengths, weaknesses and outlook for the Tokyo Games.
WBSC World Rank: 7
How It Qualified: Won WBSC Final Qualifier in 2021
Previous Olympics Appearances: 1992
Manager: Hector Borg
Borg, 36, is currently the Giants development coordinator for Latin America after spending three seasons as a manager in their minor league system. He played two seasons as an infielder in the Giants system and finished his playing career in the independent South Coast League in 2007. He was selected to replace Fernando Tatis Sr. as the Dominican Republic’s manager in April and led the D.R. to a second-place finish at the Americas Qualifier before winning the WBSC Final Qualifier in June.
The Dominicans are a veteran-laden team with the exception of Rodriguez, the No. 3 prospect on the BA Top 100. Bautista, Cabrera, Bonifacio and Francisco all had multi-year major league careers and combined with Rodriguez to give the D.R. one of the most explosive offenses of any team during qualifying. The pitching staff is led by 43-year-old lefthander Raul Valdes in the rotation and the 37-year-old Diaz in the bullpen.
Valdes was born in Cuba but has adopted the Dominican Republic as his home. After pitching for five teams in five seasons in his MLB career from 2010-14, he has continued pitching in Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic the last seven years … Rodriguez delivered a superstar performance in the Americas Qualifier, but he went 1-for-10 with seven strikeouts in the Final Qualifier. How he bounces back will go a long way toward determining the Dominican Republic’s outlook … The D.R. is a baseball-rich country, but it has never won an Olympic medal. It finished sixth out of eight teams in its only previous appearance in 1992.
The Dominican offense is dangerous from top to bottom and can score with anyone. The Dominicans scored 66 runs in eight games (8.25 runs per game) over their two qualifying tournaments and have shown the ability to overcome deficits quickly.
The Dominican pitching staff is very short on depth, particularly in the starting rotation. Valdes, its top starter, sits in the mid 80s at this point in his career, and there is little depth behind him.
The Dominicans are going to have to hit their way to victory and win some high-scoring games, but they have the bats to do it and are a threat to finish on the medal stand.