The Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t reach their goals for 2016, but before the 2017 season starts, the World Baseball Classic is scheduled.
The international baseball tournament that comes around every four years and starts next March. North America hosts games in Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, and Guadalajara. Japan and South Korea are also hosting games. Even though it starts in the middle of spring training, there is a strong possibility of Arizona Diamondbacks playing in this tournament.
During the 2013 tournament, there were six Diamondbacks on rosters. These included Willie Bloomquist, David Hernandez, and Heath Bell on the US Team, and Miguel Montero, Gerardo Parra, and Martin Prado who played for the Venezuelan Team. All of six players are no longer members of the Diamondbacks, but there could be new faces on qualifying teams.
Locks to Make the Team
Paul Goldschimdt is arguably the best first baseman in the MLB. He hit .297/.411/.489 with only 24 homers and 95 RBI’s. Even though it was down year for Goldy, he was named an All-Star. His competition for the United States team is Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer, and Anthony Rizzo. There is a strong possibility three first basemen will make the team, and that’s because a DH is used in all games. Going forward, Goldschmidt is considered a near lock to be in the starting lineup for the United States at first or DH.
Wellington Castillo seems a sure bet as well at catcher for the Dominican Republic. His main competition could come from Gary Sanchez, the rookie star for the Yankees. Last season, Sanchez had one of the greatest power stretches in rookie history with 20 homers in 51 games. While still young, Sanchez could be engaged in competition. At the same time, the DR could explore other options like Pedro Severino and Carlos Santana. Santana’s catching days seem behind him, and Severino is also very young. Experience should be enough for Castillo to get consideration for the starting spot at catcher.
In 2013, Yasmany Tomas started all six games for the Cuban team. He hit .375/.412/.813 with 2 home runs in the 2013 WBC tourney.
There are plenty of Cuban born outfielders in the majors, but it’s uncertain who makes the roster. Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Leonys Martín, Yasiel Puig, and Jorge Soler are all possibilities in the outfield. Yet, Tomas had one of the strongest years out of these players with 31 homers and 83 RBI’s. In 2013, the Cuban starting lineup was not in the majors. Tomas, who was a free agent in 2013, could be giving strong consideration for the 2017 Cuban squad.
Jean Setegura may be a victim of an incredibly deep talent pool in the Dominican Republic.
For starters, second base could be a given to Robinson Cano. Shortstop could be the best route for Segura, whose status with the 2017 Diamondbacks remains uncertain. Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Eduardo Nunez, Jhonny Peralta, and Jonathon Villar are also considered competition at shortstop. Segura stood out the most in this group in 2016 with 203 hits and a .319 batting average. His youth, speed, defensive flexibility, and great 2016 campaign puts him in a solid position for a starting spot at best or as a valuable asset off the bench.
At the end of the 2015 season, A. J. Pollock was on his way to superstardom. His All-Star appearance provided evidence he could be a top-10 outfielder with stellar defense and while ( .315/.367/.498) offensive skills. A fractured elbow just prior to Opening Day may have ruined his chances to qualify for the United State team. While Pollock could still be a top outfielder in the majors, his absence during the 2016 season and heightened injury risks could keep him off the roster.
In 2015, the race for the NL Cy Young Award was between Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke . Both appear to be given consideration as one of the four or five starting pitchers on the 2017 United States roster. Conditions may have changed, and Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, and Chris Sale all could be given equal consideration. There are several options for the US Team, and a fall back in 2016 won’t help Greinke. Should Greinke wish to participate in the tournament, this development could be surprising
While the Arizona Diamondbacks struggled throughout the 2016 season, the talent is still here, and several players have an opportunity to represent their countries in the up-coming World Baseball Classic.