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Baseball World Cup Draws Record TV Audience

SWITZERLAND – The 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup finals showdown between the United States and Cuba was broadcast on the MLB Network in the United States, Eurosport2 across Europe, ICRT in Cuba, RAI Sport in Italy and on tape delay on ESPN STAR Asia. Thus, making it the most widely broadcast final in the World Cup’s 71 year history.

• FUTURE STARS ALIGN

Over 120 players from 17 countries under contract with Major League teams participated in the three weeks of the World Cup, the largest professional international tournament in the history of the sport. Also there were 25 players with Major League experience who participated in this year’s World Cup. Both the numbers of prospects and veterans were records for the event.

• RECORD BREAKERS

This year’s World Cup saw several record-setting performers:

– Cuba’s Alfredo Despaigne set the World Cup record with 11 home runs.
– The USA’s Chris Smoak set the USA World Cup record with nine home runs.
– Cuban pitcher Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico in his first start (13 overall in 6 1/3 innings), one short of the World Cup mark.
– Australia pitcher and Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect David Welch set an Australian record with 13 strikeouts in just seven innings Tuesday against Chinese Taipei.
– USA pitcher and California Angels prospect Trevor Reckling, had 11 K’s against China, tying the team mark of pitcher Burt Hooten, who fanned 11 consecutive batters in 1970.
– USA infielder and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Pedro Alvarez set a team mark by hitting three home runs in a win over Chinese Taipei

• MINNESOTA TWINS

Many of the MLB organization-high 14 players under contract to the Minnesota Twins played prominent roles in the World Cup. They included Puerto Rico’s Nelvin Fuentes (1.42 ERA), the USA’s Trevor Plouffe (.287 3 HR 7 RBI), leading Canadian hitter Rene Tosoni (.357 3 HR 16 RBI), the Netherlands top pitcher Tom Stuifbergan (1.80 ERA) , leading Australia hitter Luke Hughes (.286 4 HR 12 RBI), and pitchers Liam Hendriks (2.57 ERA) and Matthew Williams (2-0). The Twins had 23 total players who originally signed with or currently under contract with the Twins, play in the World Cup.

• NEW YORK METS

Besides the Twins prospects in the World Cup, the New York Mets organization was represented by 13 players, eight current and five former players…Canadian infielder Shawn Bowman was selected to the All-World Cup team (.275 3 HR, 15 RBI), while Team USA first baseman Ike Davis, the club’s 2008 first round pick and organization Player of the Year in 2009, hit .308 with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Canada’s Jonathan Malo hit .263, while Aussie infielder Stefan Welch hit .259 with 3 HR 11 RBI. Puerto Rico’s roster had five former Mets players not currently signed to an MLB team, including Jose Santiago, Raul Casanova, Luis Matos, Jose Valentin and Juan Padilla. Valentin led the team with 10 RBI.

• PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Australia’s Tim Kennelly and Joel Naughton, two Phillies Prospects, were key in the Aussie’s best-ever finish. Kennelly hit for average (.273) and power (three home runs, nine RBI), while Naughton (.464, eight RBI) was key as well. USA’s All-World Cup pick Terry Tiffee (.357 4 HR 20 RBI), who spent the season with Lehigh Valley, also had a solid tournament.

• PITTSBURGH PIRATES

A group of Pittsburgh Pirates prospects also made an impact in the World Cup, including USA’s Pedro Alvarez, a New York native who set the record with three home runs in one game (3), and pitcher Brad Lincoln, who went 2-0 in four appearances with a 2.70 ERA. Australia’s Christopher Snelling, who spent the season at AAA Indianapolis, also hit .240 as a key starter in their best-ever finish. There are also six current Pittsburgh Pirates who helped USA win the Gold in 2007.

• D-BACKS SIGN FIRST EUROPEAN PROSPECT

The Arizona Diamondbacks last week signed pitcher Andrea Pizziconi of Italy, their first ever European player signing. Pizziconi is the cousin of Cincinnati Reds prospect Matteo Pizziconi, who went 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA for the Reds Rookie League team this past summer

• MLB INTERNATIONAL OPENS CHINA ACADEMY

Another example of baseball’s growing global footprint was announced last week, as Major League Baseball International announced the opening of a baseball development center in Wuxi , China. The new academy will provide professional baseball training for middle school and high school-aged students within an academic setting. This is the latest and boldest step in the development of baseball in China. An initiative which began in 2001 continued through the Beijing Olympics and will grow into the future.

• RANKINGS UP NEXT

Following the World Cup, the new country-by-country rankings will be announced in the next week.

Source: International Baseball Federation (IBAF)

Photo courtesy of Marco Vasini, IBAF – FIBS

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    • Puerto Rico (31%, 27 Votes)
    • Dominican Republic (13%, 11 Votes)
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    • Mexico (11%, 10 Votes)
    • Other (8%, 7 Votes)
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