Provisional rosters for teams participating in the 2013 World Baseball Classic were released on Thursday. Although they are exactly that, provisional, and therefore likely to change prior to the opening round of pool play on March 2, they do offer a general idea about the quality of each squad.
As expected, the United States, Dominican Republic and Venezuela each boast a roster loaded with All-Stars, award-winners and miscellaneous veteran players. However, there will also be a select, but relatively deep collection of prospects on display in this year’s event.
While I’m sure it will be exciting to watch Ryan Braun, Adam Jones and Giancarlo Stanton patrol the same outfield for Team USA, it doesn’t compare to a potential infield combination of Jurickson Profar, Andrelton Simmons, Xander Bogaerts and Jon Schoop of the Netherlands.
Here’s a look at all the notable prospects participating in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Andre Rienzo, RHP, Chicago White Sox
The organization's No. 6 prospect, Rienzo enjoyed a breakout season and reached Triple-A for first time despite serving a 50-game suspension for PEDs.
Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
The 11th-overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Mariners, the 6’7” right-hander still rarely knows where the ball is going, but he managed to reach the major leagues for the first time late last season.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
The second-best prospect in the Pirates’ system, the 6’6” right-hander will pitch for Team Canada before presumably opening the 2013 season at Double-A Altoona.
Tyson Gillies, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Having completed six season in the Phillies’ system, the 24-year-old isn’t the toolsy player he was a few years ago and has struggled to stay on the field. However, he did post an .822 OPS last year in his first season at Double-A.
Chris Colabello, 1B, Minnesota Twins
After playing the last seven seasons in the independent Can-Am league, the Twins took a flier on Colabello when they signed him as a free agent before the 2012 season. Needless to say, the 29-year-old exceeded expectations, hitting .284/.258/.478 with 57 extra-base hits (19 home runs) and 98 RBI in 134 games for Double-A New Britain.
Paco Rodriguez, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
A second-round draft pick last June, Rodriguez registered a 0.92 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 19.2 innings in the minors before the Dodgers made him a September call-up.
Engel Beltre, OF, Texas Rangers
Year after year, Beltre has showcased an impressive collection of raw tools. However, his baseball skills have been slow to develop, The 23-year-old has yet to play a game beyond Double-A.
Chris Reed, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers’ first-round selection in 2011, Reed, the team’s fifth-best prospect, has been kept on a short leash as a professional after serving as Stanford’s closer. The 6’4” left-hander also pitched for the World team in last year’s XM Futures Game.
Alex Burgos, LHP, Detroit Tigers
Assigned to High-A Lakeland to begin the 2012 season, Burgos struggled in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, registering a 4.90 ERA with 78/88 K/BB in 121.1 innings.
Aaron Altherr, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
A gifted athlete, Altherr’s raw tools and lack of secondary skills have also prevented him from advancing beyond the Class-A level. He did show some signs of improvement last season, though it came as a 21-year-old repeating Low-A.
Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins
After posting a .714 OPS in the Appalachian League in 2011, Kepler, the Twins’ No. 10 prospect, turned in a breakout performance last season by batting .297/.387/.539 with 31 extra-base hits and 33/27 K/BB while repeating the level.
Nate Freiman, 1B, Houston Astros
A massive right-handed hitter, the 6'7" Freiman has amassed 46 home runs and 216 RBI over the last two years while showcasing his ability to crush opposite-hand pitching. He should see some time in the major leagues next season, especially after the Astros snagged him in the Rule 5 draft.
Jack Marder, C, Seattle Mariners
A 16th-round draft pick out of Oregon in 2011, Marder, 22, batted .360/.425/.583 last season in 65 games for High-A High Desert. Due to his quiet athleticism, he also saw time at second base (29 games) and in left field (10 games).
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect, Pederson had an impressive full-season debut in 2012 for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, batting .313/.396/.516 with 48 extra-base hits (18 home runs), 26 stolen bases and 81/51 K/BB in 110 games.
Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals
The eight-best prospect in the Royals’ system, Cuthbert is coming off a down season in which he posted a .618 OPS in 124 games at High-A Wilmington as a 19-year-old.
J.C. Sulbaran, RHP, Kansas City Royals
One of the two pitchers acquired by the Royals at the trade deadline for Jonathan Broxton, Sulbaran has always showcased swing-and-miss stuff (plus fastball and curveball) but lacked command. Although he’s a fly-ball pitcher, the right-hander’s career 9.7 K/9 makes him a candidate for a bullpen role.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
Boston’s top prospect will compete in the WBC after a monster 2012 season in which he batted .307/.373/.523 with 60 extra-base hits (20 home runs) in 127 games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. With Andrelton Simmons locked in as the team’s shortstop, Bogaerts will likely play either third base or a corner outfield position.
Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers
The top prospect in the game, Profar will presumably play second base for the Dutch squad, as he readies himself for big-league spring training and a potential everyday job in 2013.
Jonathan Schoop, INF, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles’ top position prospect and No. 3 overall, Schoop batted .245/.324/.386 with 14 home runs last season as a 20-year-old at Double-A Bowie. While his bat should only continue to improve, his ability to play shortstop, second and third base already makes him an asset.
Spencer Kieboom, C, Washington Nationals
A fifth-round draft pick of the Nationals last June out of Clemson, Kieboom is listed as the Netherlands’ only catcher. Even though he posted a paltry .557 OPS last season in 41 games for short-season Auburn, the 21-year-old’s selection is based more on his defensive merits.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
The ninth-best prospect in the Twins’ system, Berrios was dominant in his professional debut last season, registering a 1.17 ERA with 49/4 K/BB in 30.2 innings across two rookie levels. Of all the prospects schedule to participate, I’m most excited to see the 18-year-old right-hander.
Hiram Burgos, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
The 25-year-old right-hander enjoyed an unexpected breakout season in 2012, registered a 1.95 ERA with 153/49 K/BB in 171 innings across three levels—including a 2.91 ERA over 46.1 innings for Triple-A Nashville.
Eddie Rosario, 2B-OF, Minnesota Twins
Despite learning a new position (second base) throughout the 2012 season, Rosario’s left-handed bat was unaffected, as the organization’s No. 7 prospect batted .296/.345/.490 with 48 extra-base hits in 95 games for Low-A Beloit.
*All referenced farm system rankings can be found here.
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