Archive | February, 2013

Today in Baseball History – February 28

February 28, 1903

A group headed by James Potter and Barney Dreyfuss, then the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, bought the Philadelphia Phillies from John Rodgers for $170,000.

Potter owned the team for two seasons before selling. It would take the league seven more years before it prohibited ownership in more than one franchise.

Died on this day:

1988 Harvey Kuenn

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Taiwan: Manny Ramirez Signs with the EDA Rhinos

Manny Ramirez has agreed to terms with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League for the upcoming season.

Enrique Rojas first reported the signing, and it appears Ramirez will be headed overseas unless he can sign on with a MLB team by March 7.

If not for his two suspensions for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, Ramirez would have been a shoe in for the Hall of Fame. One of the most feared right-handed hitters of his time, he has hit 555 MLB home runs and has a career batting average of .312.

This is the first season of the EDA Rhinos who bought the old Sinon Bulls franchise and are moving the team.

Posted in Asia, News0 Comments

Belgium: Mortsel Stars Announces Easter Tournament

Belgian division 1 club Mortsel Stars will have an international tournament during the Easter weekend of March 30th till April 1st, 2013. Besides their own D1 team, PUC Paris (3rd Elite Division France), the national team of Finland and Olympia Haarlem (3rd 1ste Klasse Netherlands) will participate in this 3-day event. Mortsel has one of the nicest ballparks in Belgium, and is located at the south corner of Antwerp International Airport (Luchthavenlei, Mortsel).

Every day two regular 9-inning games will be played. Besides the games there will be a party on Saturday evening and a home run derby on Sunday. Also several activities for kids will be present. Entrance to the tournament is free.

More information on the website: http://www.mortselstars.be/tournament/ , or
on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/477780768935729/ .

The tournament schedule:

Saturday March 30th, 2013
11h00 Opening Ceremony
11h10 GAME 1: Mortsel Stars (B) – Olympia Haarlem (NL)
14h30 GAME 2: PUC Paris (F) – Team Finland
20h00 10th INNING PARTY

Sunday March 31st, 2013
10h30 GAME 3: Olympia Haarlem (NL) – Team Finland
13h30 HOME RUN DERBY
14h30 GAME 4: Mortsel Stars (B) – PUC Paris (F)

Monday April 1st, 2013
10h30 GAME 5: Team Finland – Mortsel Stars (B)
14h00 GAME 6: PUC Paris (F) – Olympia Haarlem (NL)
17h30 (approx.) Closing Ceremony

Press Release Mortsel Stars

Posted in Europe, News, Tournaments0 Comments

Team China World Baseball Classic Preview

China Seeking Nation’s Biggest Baseball Upset

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)
Third in a series of 2013 World Baseball Classic previews

China will look to capitalise on a surprise performance in the 2009 World Baseball Classic (WBC) and pull another upset in this year’s edition of the quadrennial tournament. The red-and-yellow will face No. 1-ranked Cuba, No. 3 Japan, and No. 20 Brazil in their bid for the world title.

Baseball History in China
While Japan is best known among Asian nations for its baseball prowess, China has the longest history of the sport on the continent. The first club was formed in 1863 in Shanghai by an American medical missionary. By 1895, three universities fielded baseball teams, though it was not for another decade that organised baseball was played.

The sport became quite popular after the proclamation of the Republic of China in 1949, but the game’s development was halted in the early 1960s as Mao Zedong prepared for what would become the Cultural Revolution. Baseball was forbidden along with other Western practices, and the ban was not lifted until 1976 at Mao’s death.

“We lost a generation of baseball players,” Leon Xie, MLB managing director in China,explained to the Asia Times. “It will take at least one generation to recover.”

Despite a policy of “friendship first, competition second” as applied to most Western sports, baseball struggled to regain a foothold against tennis, table tennis, badminton, and basketball. The nation did not join the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) until 1981.

In 2002, the China Baseball League (CBL) was founded with four teams in major cities on China’s East Coast. Two more teams were added in 2005, and the league has established ties with Japan to aid development.

MLB also sponsors the CBL, and began the “Play Ball” programme in 2007, aimed at training coaches and giving Chinese children basic instruction in schools. A year later, the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres played a pair of spring training games in the Olympic stadium. In 2009, the MLB Baseball Development Centre was established in Wuxi to attract the nation’s top talent and offer training. Similar projects exist in Australia, South Africa, and Italy.

“The government is very protective of the schools to keep out any kind of commercialism,” notedXie. “Having Play Ball in the schools shows the strength of our relationship with the government.”

“It’s a little early to be asking for a Yao [Ming, a former NBA superstar] of baseball, but programs like Play Ball are pushing China in the right direction to cultivate new baseball stars. These kids are growing up as the first generation to play this game, but it has to start with the youth,” observed Jeff Brueggemann, a member of MLB’senvoy to China. “I played baseball with my brother and dad growing up. Most Chinese kids don’t even have siblings.”

According to baseball’s governing body in China, the Chinese Baseball Association, there are four million people that play the sport in China. Many of those do so at one of the approximately 60 universities and 1,000 schools that offer teams. While these numbers may be somewhat inaccurate, they have no doubt risen since the Chicago Tribunereported that there were only around 30,000 players in 1991. Still, the figure is miniscule compared to the population of around 1.3 billion and a booming economy.

“It’s a long haul, a long process,” confessed Jim Small, Vice President of MLB Asia. “We’re taking a sport that’s been gone for a long time, and bringing it back.”

“There is no reason to doubt that in the near future some of the world’s best baseball players will be Chinese,” Jim Small, Vice President of MLB Asia,told the China Daily. “It will take some time but it’s definitely going to happen.”

China’s International Play
China has had very little international success in its baseball history. Their best-ever finish in the WBC is 11th, 10th at the Baseball World Cup, 11th at the Intercontinental Cup, and a single third-place finish in 2005 at the Asian Baseball Championship (ABC) in Japan. They are 33-86 in international tournaments since joining IBAF, including a 14-41 mark in events not limited to Asian countries.

The nation has shown improvement in recent years, defeating Korea to win the bronze at the 2005 ABC.In the 2008 Olympics, the hosts lost to Korea in 11 innings and defeated Chinese Taipei, repeating the feat in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The latter victory is its only one in six games at the WBC.

In the 2006 Classic, China was shelled in three straight games in the Tokyo Dome. In an opening pool that was essentially a replay of the 2005 ABC, Japan beat the red-and-yellow 18-2, Korea avenged itself with a 10-1 drubbing, and Taiwan earned a 12-3 victory.China hit only .185/.286/.293 in the tourney with a 9.72 ERA.

The 2009 WBC revealed a Chinese side that had made some progress, losing 4-0 to Japan before shocking Taiwan, 4-1. They were eliminated with a 14-0 loss to Korea, but finished ahead of an embarrassed Chinese Taipei squad. Chinese batters managed only a .190/.207/.250 line, with the pitching staff recording a 6.65 ERA.

China had very mixed results in their most recent tournament in December at the ABC. They finished 2-3, with their wins coming over an underperforming Philippines and a woeful Pakistan side. Though itlost a close game to hosts Chinese Taipei, 3-1, a subpar Korean side upended China 4-0 and an amateur Japanese team blasted the team 10-1.

With the exception of the drubbing by Japan, the pitching staff performed well at the Championship, notching a 3.08 ERA and 1.21 WHIP and striking out 33 in the 38 innings. The lineup, as it has in other competitions, failed to produce. China scored 25 runs in the five contests, but hit .228, reaching base only 28 per cent of the time and slugging .291. They did steal 11 bases, a feat which they may need to replicate for WBC success.

China’s Coaching Staff and Preparations
Unlike most WBC teams, manager John McLaren and his staff bring more star power to the team than do any of the players. McLaren was manager of the Seattle Mariners during 2007 and 2008, and has a 70-89 record in parts of three campaigns.

McLaren will be assisted by Art Howe, who captained three major league clubs to a1129-1137 record over 14 years, but will serving as hitting coach. Bruce Hurst, who accrued a 145-113 record and 3.92 ERA in 15 MLB seasons, returns as pitching coach, a role he held in 2006.Yufeng Zhang, manager of the Shanghai Golden Eagles in the CBL and national team veteran, will serve as a coach and backup infielder.

“I really found my niche,” Hurst remarked, speaking about his time with Team China. “I really like this. I like the people from Major League Baseball International I work with. They are great guys. This is where I found my passion.”

Unfortunately, China will have to do without Kansas City Royals’ starter Bruce Chen. Chen pitched for Panamá in the first two Classics, but has Chinese grandparents. The journeyman hurler has a 71-72 record and a 4.60 ERA in parts of 14 major league seasons.

Chen submitted documentation to play for China, but approval was slow, and the left-handerpulled out of consideration in mid-February, dealing a significant blow to a Chinese side that does not have a player with MLB experience.

The team warmed up for the Classic with a fortnight of MLB-funded training at the Seattle Mariners’ spring training complex in Peoria, Ariz. before the big league club arrived. China conducted a series of exhibition games that have failed to produce much confidence in its chances of avoiding relegation to the qualifying rounds.

The red-and-yellow started by losing two-of-three against clubs from the Korean Baseball Organisation. China then faced the Netherlands three times between Feb. 14-20, losing every game. The team was outscored 32-5 by the No. 7-ranked nation.

The squad returned home on Feb. 21 and flew to Osaka yesterday. China will play two more exhibition games before beginning World Baseball Classic play. It will have a tall task against two of the top three baseball-playing nations in the world.

China has tested Japan 22 times since joining IBAF in 1985, losing every game by an average score of 11-1. The results have been similar against Cuba, as they are 0-7 since first meeting in 1998, averaging an 11-2 defeat. China has split its two contests versus Brazil, defeating them 2-1 in the 2005 World Cup and losing 4-0 in the 2003 rendition.

China’s Starting Nine
China’s roster is almost unchanged from the ABC in December. Though the team’s performance was unimpressive, they do hold an advantage in that the team has been playing together for several months and has experience against several top level countries. Manager McLaren has added three pitchers and several hitters, including the nation’s top talent in Ray Chang.

The team’s leading hitters are Chang, Wei Wang, WeiqiangMeng,andZhenhong Lu. Chang and Wang are two of only several veterans on a club with an average age of 25. Only 6 players are older than 27, and there are three teenagers on the team.

Chang sat out the Asian Championships, but was a national hero in the last WBC and has a solid career minor league batting line.The journeyman infielder is coming off a .241 season, but has a career .272/.346/.379 line in eight seasons.

Chang was 5-for-11 with two extra base hits in the 2009 WBC. He singlehandedly led China over Chinese Taipei with a 3-for-4 effort that included a home run. Chang was born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants.

Wang is arguably the country’s greatest homegrown talent. The catcher was signed by the Mariners, though he returned to play in China’s domestic circuit without appearing in a game.

The backstop joined the national team in 1999, appearing in more than a dozen events since then. In the 2006 WBC, Wang was 2-for-9, but had a double and the Classic’s first-ever home run (off Koji Uehara), knocking in four of China’s five runs in the event. He was 5-for-15 at the ABC, though he did not walk or hit for extra bases.

Meng led the team in RBIs (6) in Taiwan, stroking a .294/.368/.412 line and swiping a bag. He showed off a clutch hitting approach, rapping four of his five hits with runners in scoring position.Meng, only 23, is the heir apparent to the 34-year old Wang behind the plate, but plays third on days he does not catch to keep his bat in the lineup.

Zhenhong Lu was the team’s leading hitter at the ABC, ripping a .375 average, stealing two bases and hitting a pair of doubles in 16 at bats. The 21-year old has not appeared in either of the previous Classics.

The batting lineup should remain almost identical to the Asian Championships, with Chang added to the middle of the order.

Xiao Cui – CF

XuAn – SS

Lei Li – 2B

Ray Chang – DH

Wei Wang – C

Fujia Chu – 1B

WeiqiangMeng – 3B/C

Zhenhong Lu – LF

Jingfeng Lai – RF

China’s Pitching Staff
The red-and-yellow had a string of good pitching performances in Taiwan. Tao Bu picked up one of the nation’s victories over Pakistan, while Jiangang Lu and Kun Chen were strong in relief.Dawei Zhu will also factor into the bullpen.

Bu, China’s top pitcher, allowed only one run in 10 frames, striking out 12 and walking two. He pitched a shutout versus Pakistan, striking out nine in five innings of the mercy rule game. Bu also turned in a strong showing against Chinese Taipei, allowing just five baserunners and one run in five innings, whiffing three in the no decision.

Bu may be in line for a start, though he has served as a reliever in the first two Classics. The left-hander has a 9.64 ERA and 2.57 WHIP in four games.

Lu was impressive, surrendering a single hit and no walks to the nine batters he faced in relief, striking out three in 2 2/3. He may return to the rotation for the Classic, as he toed the rubber in China’s win over Chinese Taipei in 2009. Lu gave up five baserunners and one run in 5 1/3 innings, striking out a pair.

The right-hander also recorded a win over China’s archrivals in the 2008 Olympics and the 2006 Haarlem Baseball Week. Lu is the only Chinese player with a victory in either tournament and is the only Chinese hurler ever to defeat Taiwan.

Lu is a multiple winner of the Best Pitcher award in the CBL and was the first Chinese player to play in Japan in 1999, a year after joining the national team. Hepitched in the minor leagues for Japan’s Chunichi Dragons, notching a 3.83 ERA over three seasons.

Chen pitched 3 2/3 innings at the ABC, allowing batters to hit only .133 as he accumulated a 0.82 WHIP. He has a 7.71 ERA and 2.14 WHIP in two Classics, though he got the last five outs and the save in China’s 2009 victory over Taiwan. Chen has played for Team China since 1999.

Zhu was born in Shanghai but grew up in Japan. He was drafted by the Seibu Lions, and played for five seasons in Japan, going 4-11 with a 6.65 ERA in 180 innings. The right-hander allowed a run in one inning in the 2009 Classic.

One final name to watch is Haifan Yang. A right-hander pitcher, Yang turned 18 on October 23, making him the youngest player on the roster. Yang pitched for his CBL team, the Beijing Tigers, in the 2011 World Baseball Challenge, recording a 6.96 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings against national teams.

China’s WBC Schedule
China will begin pool play on Mar. 3 in the 38,561-seat Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome against Japan. Game time is 11 a.m. GMT. A day later, they will contest Cuba at 7:30 a.m. GMT. The red-and-yellow will likely enter game three needing a win to avoid relegation, and will face upstarts Brazil, who shocked the baseball world in November with a dramatic sweep through the Panamá City qualifier. The final pool matchup will commence on Mar. 5 at 8 a.m. GMT.

For a more extensive look at the China team, check out the full preview at Extra Innings: Baseball Around the World. Stay tuned for more news, previews, and recaps of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

 

Posted in Asia, Tournaments1 Comment

International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 81-90

Last time we took a look at #91-100 on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List which featured three international players. Today we take the next step down the list with #81-90.

Hak-Ju Lee, ss, TB – #90

Born in South Korea, Lee was signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 2008. He was later traded to Tampa Bay in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs.

Lee spent the 2012 season in Double-A Montgomery where he put up solid numbers, but the slipped a bit as he moved up against tougher competition. This is his third time on the Top 100 List starting at #92 in 2011. He then jumped up a lot after a nice 2011 season to #44 before falling back to #90 this year.

Lee has a lot of speed stealing 37 bases in 2012 in Double-A and hitting 10 triples. His on-base-percentage fell quite a bit this past season as his strikeout numbers jumped to over 100, but look for him to settle in with more at-bats against the higher competition. He is a plus defender at shortstop and has consistently been ranked among the top Rays prospects for the past couple seasons.

James Paxton, lhp, SEA – #87

Paxton hails from Canada but played his college ball at the University of Kentucky. He is a hard throwing lefty who has averaged more than a strikeout per inning over his brief career. Drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009, Paxton didn’t sign and elected to return to school. However, the NCAA deemed him ineligible due to his contract with agent Scott Boras. Instead, he signed with the independent Grand Prairie Airhogs before being drafted again in 2010. This time he was drafted in the 4th round by Seattle and signed.

In his first season of affiliated ball, Paxton struck out 131 batters in 95 innings. He spent all of the 2012 season at Double-A Jackson where he posted a line of 9-4/3.05 in 21 starts. He throws hard and has a good breaking ball, but like many young pitchers can struggle with his control at times. In 2012, he walked 54 batters in 106 innings. Look for him to get a little more seasoning in the minor leagues this upcoming season.

Yordano Ventura, rhp, KC – #85

This is the first appearance on the Top 100 for Ventura who hails from the Dominican Republic. While Ventura may be small in stature, 5’11” and 150 lbs, he has shown a live arm and the ability to get hitters out.

Ventura spent 2012 split mostly between Single-A and Double-A, but he posted good numbers at both. In 109.1 combined innings he struck out 130 batters. After his move up to the higher level he struggled a bit, but he is still only 21. For the past two seasons he has ranked #1 in the Kansas City Royals organization for the best fastball.

He will need more seasoning in the minors, but he could have a big future ahead of him, especially if he harnesses that fastball and learns to throw more strikes.

Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, CHC – #83

Vizcaino is no stranger to the Top 100 List as this is his fourth appearance on it. Out of the Dominican Republic, he was once a top prospect with the Yankees and then Atlanta.

He is still  young at only 22, but he has has injury problems. He had Tommy John surgery in March of 2012 and missed the entire season. He has a great fastball, once clocked at 101 mph, and has had a top rated curve ball in every minor league system he has been apart of.

In 2011, Vizcaino got a taste of the big leagues pitching in 17 games for the Atlanta Braves. While he struggled with his control at times (he walked 9 in 17 innings), he also showed how he can be overpowering striking out a batter per inning.

He will look to come back from injury this season and reclaim the form that made him one of the top prospects. He has a strong arm, is still very young, and with some time already in the big leagues he will look to eventually help the Cubs at the big league level sometime in the near future.

Martin Perez, lhp, TEX – #81

Perez comes out of Venezuela and is a highly thought of pitching prospect for the Texas Rangers. At the age of 21, Perez got a taste of the big leagues making six starts in Texas and getting into six other games in relief.

Perez has been talked about for several years now within the Rangers organization. He is a left-handed pitcher with good off speed stuff having ranked at the top of the Rangers minor league system as having the best curve ball and change up and one point or another. His biggest problem it seems so far has been control. He has continually walked more than three batters per nine innings pretty much everywhere he has gone. He is not going to blow hitters away and rack up strikeouts, so he has to learn better control.

Perez has a shot at the Rangers rotation this year if he can come away with a big spring. The team is hurting for starters as a few of their regulars are on the DL with injuries to start the season. He could just make it in as the number five starter if he pitches well enough.If not, look for him to start the year in Triple-A Round Rock.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #71-80.

Posted in Minors, MLB, N. America0 Comments

IBAF Announces Dates for 18U Baseball World Cup in Taiwan

The IBAF announced the dates of the XXVI IBAF 18U Baseball World Cup to take place from August 30 to September 8, 2013. It was announced recently that the tournament will take place in Taichung, Taiwan.

In the 2012 edition of the tournament, the USA defeated Canada in the gold medal game in Seoul. That tournament featured several future professional players including highly touted pitcher Shoehi Otani from Japan. Many other players from the USA, Canada, and other countries are thought to be high round draft picks this summer during the MLB draft.

National teams are being asked to confirm their participation by March 11. Last year there were 12 teams competing including the USA, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Australia, Netherlands, Panama, Czech Republic, and Venezuela.

This year the tournament looks to be just as competitive.

Final Standings XXV IBAF 18U Baseball World Cup:

1) USA
2) Canada
3) Chinese Taipei
4) Colombia
5) Korea
6) Japan
7) Panama
8) Venezuela
9) Australia
10) Italy
11) Netherlands
12) Czech Republic

 

Posted in News, Tournaments0 Comments

New Podcast on Korean Baseball

There is a new kid on the podcast block. Dan from over at MyKBO.net has ventured into the world of podcasts with his first two over the weekend.

If you are not familiar with Dan or the site, you should definitely check it out. The site is THE site for updates and information on the Korean Baseball Organization in English. There is no other site that rivals it.

And there isn’t a better time to learn about the KBO, its players, and the goings on around the league with the World Baseball Classic coming up in under a week. Team Korea finished 2nd in the 2009 Classic, and they will once again be one of the favorites to make a run at the championship.

So head on over to the site, click on News and see what Dan has been doing with his podcasts. So far there are two. They are short, but they are full of good information. And if you like them, like I do, drop him a note and let him know so he will continue making them.

Posted in News0 Comments

Book Review: Slouching Toward Fargo

Originally posted on BaseballJourneyman.com

On the cover it claims it is “A Two-Year Saga of Sinners and St. Paul Saints at the Bottom of the Bush Leagues with Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie and Me”. The book is Slouching Toward Fargo by Neal Karlen, and I enjoyed every bit of the book except the “Me” part.

The book is about the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League mostly during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. The team, and league, were still in its infancy and full of interesting people on and off the field.

How the book started it seems was that writer Neal Karlen was sent by Rolling Stone to do a piece on Bill Murray who was part owner in the club. He was there to do a hatchet job on Murray and as fate would have it on Darryl Strawberry as well.

Over the course of the first year Karlen has some interesting run ins with Murray, Strawberry, as well as others. These stories are entertaining, but I got a little tired of hearing how Karlen was there to do the hatchet job.

The characters of St. Paul were amazing. You have the great Bill Murray who in my book is one of the funniest men of all time. You have Darryl Strawberry who is there trying to make his way back to the Major Leagues by showing that he is now a good guy. Then you have Mike Veeck the president and co-owner of the Saints who had been blackballed from Major League Baseball for things that happened years ago. Not to mention there is an outfielder with no legs, a pig that delivered baseballs, a blind announcer, the first woman player and a nun who gives massages at games.

It’s a cast of characters that would make any story interesting, and Karlen does a good job of writing about this. But what I didn’t like is how Karlen kept inserting himself in the story. As a reader I want to read about the Saints, not how the writer was burned out and didn’t love baseball anymore.

With that being said, the book is still very good. The people of this town and team make this book. Everywhere you turn there seems to be someone just as interesting as the last. You get a taste of what life is like in the lowest of the low minor leagues where people are working and playing for the love of the game.

Mike Veeck’s “Fun is Good” motto really shows through in the writing and you can imagine the fun that people had at the games. And even though the book was written about a time that is now more than 15 years ago, it’s still a great read.

The ballplayers, former MLB guys and career minor leaguers alike, are interesting, funny, and you even finding yourself rooting for some of them even though all this happened nearly two decades ago. There are just a lot of likable people that you will be looking up on Google and Baseball Reference to see how they performed after the time of the book.

So get past the part of the writer inserting himself a little too much into the story, in my opinion, and give this a read because it’s definitely worth it. It’s been out for some time so you should be able to find a cheap used paperback copy somewhere.

Posted in Interviews/Reviews0 Comments

Final Rosters Announced for 2013 World Baseball Classic

The final rosters for the upcoming 2013 World Baseball Classic were released today.

The rosters feature seven past MLB MVPs, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, and 45 former MLB All-Stars. The teams are full of talent in all of the pools, and the world’s biggest baseball tournament is ready to kick off with some exciting match ups.

In addition to all of the MLB talent, there is a great deal from other leagues as well including two former Pacific League MVPs and the current Central League MVP from Japan. Eleven players from South Korea’s runner-up squad in 2009 are back as well.

Find more info here…

 

Posted in News, Tournaments0 Comments

Can you name the rulings for a batter to reach first base in baseball?

I have come to love the trivia site, and iPhone app, Sporcle. With its many categories, I thought I’d introduce one each week to see how our readers do.

This week we will start off with a baseball quiz. Click the link below to play. You don’t have to register to play. Leave a comment below and let us know how you did.

Can you name the rulings for a batter to reach first base in baseball?

If you want to challenge us, you can find me under the ID of esbynum.

Let the games begin!

Posted in News0 Comments

International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List – Numbers 91-100

Today we start a series taking a look at the international players on the Baseball America 2013 Top 100 Prospects List. Today we will take a look at the bottom 10 of the list from 91-100 and see which players were born and raised internationally.

So here we go with the first few:

Leonys Martin, of, TEX – #97

Martin was born in Cuba and signed by the Texas Rangers in 2011 as a free agent. He has been a top prospect in the minors for a few years now appearing on the 2012 edition of the Top 100 the previous season at #79.

He has spent two seasons in the Rangers farm system and has had a little taste of the Major League level as well. In the minor leagues he has done quite well. In 124 games, at all levels, he has hit .323 with 16 home runs and 29 stolen bases. However, he has struggled in his short time at the MLB level. He has appeared in 32 games garnering 54 at-bats hitting just .204.

The upcoming season could be huge from Martin though. With the absence of Josh Hamilton in the Rangers outfield, Martin looks to get a lot of playing time perhaps in a platoon with Craig Gentry in center field. He will get a lot of playing time this spring as they will look for him to be a contributor at the big league level.

Bruce Rondon, rhp, DET – #95

Bruce Rondon is from Valencia, Venezuela and was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in September 2007.

This is the first time Rondon has cracked the Top 100 List, but he is only 22. Last season he pitched at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A doing quite well at all levels. He is a closer in the minor leagues already picking up 65 saves in five years in the minor leagues. In 2012, he picked up 29 saves in the minor leagues. He is a strikeout pitcher averaging more than one per inning in his career so far, but he has had control problems in the past walking 5.10 per 9 innings over his career.

He has a lot of upside and his future is now. The Tigers didn’t resign closer Jose Valverde and are looking for Rondon to open the season as the Detroit Tigers closer if the passes the audition this spring.

Daniel Corcino, rhp, CIN – #94

Corcino is from Azuna, Dominican Republic and enters the 2013 season at only 22 years of age. He was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a non-drafted free agent in January 2008.

After spending three seasons in Rookie ball or at the Low-A level, Corcino was moved to a starting pitcher and really took off. In 2011, he spent the year at the Low-A level and pitched well for Dayton going 11-7/3.42 in 26 starts. He made the jump to Double-A Pensacola last year and pitched just as well. In 26 starts, Corcino went 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA over 143.1 innings.

Like a lot of young pitchers he has struggled at times with his control. Over his minor league career he has averaged 3.48 walks per 9 innings. He can miss bats at time as well with his career 8.65 strikeouts per 9 innings.

He will once again get to face advanced hitters at either the Double-A or Triple-A level for 2013 to see if he can continue his success and move further toward a spot in the Cincinnati rotation.

Next up we will take a look at the prospects from 81-90.

Posted in Minors, MLB, N. America0 Comments

UNC Takes Over the Top Spot in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 30

Only one team in the Preseason Top 10 dropped out over the first weekend as Stanford dropped 2-of-3 to Rice dropping from #9 to #11. With the wins, Rice jumped from #20 to #10.

Stanford’s top prospect Mark Appel (L, 0-1) took the loss in the opening game pitching five innings while giving up five runs (two earned). He was out pitched by Rice starter Austin Kubitza, a Preseason Second Team All-American, who struck out 12 in the win.

Another change in the Top 10 was the swap at the top as #1 and #2 changed spots with one another.

North Carolina, the new #1, took a pair of games from Seton Hall over the weekend to take over the top spot. They are now 3-0 after a win over Coastal Carolina on Monday. Arkansas, now #2, took 2-of-3 from Western Illinois dropping the third game of the series 7-5. After a double header sweep of New Orleans on Tuesday, the Razorbacks now sit at 4-1.

UNC and Arkansas were the number ones in pretty much every preseason poll as both teams look to have strong seasons on the way to Omaha.

The Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll is the oldest college baseball poll. Its birth took place during the 1957 college baseball season.

(Top 30 Agate Follows)

 

Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s

NCAA Div. I Poll (As of Feb. 18, 2013)

www.baseballnews.com

Rank School (Record) Points Previous
1. North Carolina (2-0) 495 2
2. Arkansas (2-1) 493 1
3. Vanderbilt (2-1) 492 3
4. Louisiana St. (3-0) 489 4
5. Oregon (3-0) 486 6
6. UCLA (2-1) 484 5
7. South Carolina (2-1) 481 7
8. Kentucky (2-0) 478 8
9. Oregon St. (3-0) 475 10
10. Rice (2-1) 472 20
11. Stanford (1-2) 471 9
12. Mississippi St. (4-0) 468 13
13. N.C. State (0-1) 467 11
14. Oklahoma (4-0) 465 14
15. Arizona (3-0) 462 18
16. Mississippi (3-0) 460 25
17. Georgia Tech. (3-0) 457 17
18. Florida St. (3-0) 455 19
19. Cal. St. Fullerton (4-0) 454 23
20. Miami, Fla. (3-0) 451 28
21. U.C. Irvine (3-0) 449 30
22. San Diego St. (3-0) 446
23. Arizona St. (2-1) 444 16
24. Florida (2-1) 442 24
25. Texas (2-1) 440 21
26. Louisville (2-1) 438 22
27. Texas A&M (2-1) 435 26
28. Clemson (2-1) 433 27
29. Virginia (2-0) 432 35
30. Southern Miss. (3-0) 429 36

 

LOUISVILLE SLUGGER’S” NATIONAL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

OF Danny Collins, Troy: Collins had a monster week as he went 8-for-14 over four games with 9 RBI as he collected one homer, two triples, two doubles and 17 total bases. During the second game of the season, he hit for the cycle, Troy’s first since 2009. He also scored nine runs and didn’t strike out.

1B/LHP Clinton Freeman, East Tennessee St.: Freeman went 8-for-10 over three games with three homers, one triple, one double and five RBI. He also scored seven runs. In two relief appearances, he struck out three and earned a save in 1 1/3 innings on the mound.

1B Zack Powers, Florida: Powers went 3-for-6 at the plate with two grand slams and 9 RBI for the Gators. Powers hit both grand slams during a 16-5 win over Duke and also collected all 9 RBI as well. He joined Preston Tucker as the only Florida players in history to accomplish this feat in one game.

RHP Trevor Foss, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: Foss recorded 15 strikeouts while allowing only three hits and no runs in a complete game shutout of Texas-Pan American. He only allowed one walk.

RHP Buck Farmer, Georgia Tech.: Farmer set a career high with 14 strikeouts in eight dominant innings during a 3-0 win over Akron on opening day. He scattered four singles, and just one runner advanced past first base.

RHP Jeremy Null, Western Carolina: Null struck out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings against Washington State. His 13 strikeouts were the most by a Catamount pitcher since Matt Benedict had 13 during the 2011 season.

Poll and Players of the Week courtesy Baseball Collegiate Newspaper

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WBC: Prospect Jurickson Profar Decides Not to Play for the Netherlands

Jurickson Profar, the #1 prospect in Baseball, will not play in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Profar decided not to participate over the weekend as the Wednesday deadline for the teams to announce their final roster was approaching. Instead, he will stay in the Texas Rangers camp to fight for a spot on the Opening Day roster. There is a utility spot open on the team, and it has not been decided by the Rangers front office if Profar should start the year in Triple-A to play everyday, or to take the chance and use him at different positions at the Major League level.

With Elvis Andrus committed to play for Venezuela in the WBC, Profar could see a lot of time over the next six weeks in the Cactus League.

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Jan Esselman New President of Confederation of European Baseball

Esselman wins elections at joint CEB-ESF Congress in Bled, Slovenia

By International Baseball Federation (IBAF)

Jan Esselman (Netherlands), who had served since 2005 as the Chair of the Technical Commission, is the new President of the Confederation of European Baseball (CEB). Esselman won the election(15 to 7, 6 votes were invalid) against Vojco Korosec of Slovenia, the country that hosted the Congress in Bled.

After Massimo Fochi of Italy and Angelo Vicini of San Marino withdrew their candidatures, Peter Kurz (Israel) became the 1st Vice President.

Juergen Elsishans of Germany was elected 2nd Vice President over (14 votes to 12, 2 invalid) Alexander Ratner of Russia.

Petr Ditrich, who had been acting President for the last 11 months, after elected President Miller resigned, becomes the 3rd Vice President with 20 votes over Rod Moore of Denmark (4).

René Laforce (Belgium) was confirmed unopposed as the organization Treasurer. He had presented a 2012 accounting with an advance over 28,000 euros and is hopeful that CEB can breakeven also at the end of 2013.

Xavier Mateu of Spain is the new Secretary General. After Mario De Bono of Malta withdrew, he also won unopposed.

Matts Franson (Sweden), Michael Manning (Ireland), Didier Seminet (France), Monique Schmidt (Switzerland) and Valentinas Bobulis (Lithuania) are the five members at large.

After the winning teams of the 2012 season, CEB also awarded the individuals who had a special year.

The Coach of the Year was Marco Mazzieri, who led Italy to back to back European Championships (2010 and 2012).

The Umpire of the Year was Frantisek Prybil (Czech Republic).

The Scorer of the year was Denis Duin of The Netherlands.

Spain that qualified for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, was named The Federation of the Year.

Bled also hosted the Congress of the European Softball Federation (ESF), that confirmed President André Van Overbeek of the Netherlands, who won the voting (17 to 11) against Giovanni Antonio Sanna of Italy.

Ami Baran (Israel), who was the only candidate after Francesca Fabretto of Italy withdrew her candidature, is the new Secretary General. Eddy Van Straelen (Belgium) was unanimously confirmed as the Treasurer.

Gabriel Waage (Czech Republic) is the new 1st Vice President.

The other five Vice Presidents are Youri Alkalay (Bulgaria), Dejan Jesic (Serbia), John Austin (Ireland), Mette Niessen Jakobsen (Denmark) and Gilbert Tobbak (Belgium).

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Collegiate Baseball League Europe News

Collegiate Baseball League Europe (CBLE) is proud to announce that Bill Froberg, Martijn Meeuwis and Tony Klarberg return for the 2013 championship as the head coaches of the Cavaliers, Admirals and Falcons. Filip van der Meiren who joined Tony Klarberg as the Falcons co-skipper last year has commitments with the Belgium National 18U team and will assist Tony with the draft event on March 23. Jan Naterop who was the pitching coach for the Bombers last year will return for 2013 as well.

Collegiate Baseball League Europe is the only Wood Bat Summer League in Europe, the format is based on Collegiate Summer Leagues like Cape Cod and Northwoods in the US.

As you see CBLE is on track to make 2013 another great event following a very succesful inaugural tournament in 2012.

Last year CBLE had a great level of baseball, a lot of fun, daily attention in the newspaper and scouts of the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins attending some of our games.

Young prospects born after 1/1/1990 and before 12/31/1995 can send their resume to info@cble.org and join the draftlist.

Registration will close on March 16 and the draft will take place on March 24 and will be broadcasted live on our website.

In addition CBLE is pleased to inform you that it signed a letter of intent with the La Rochelle Boucaniers to play at their beautiful field near the Atlantic coast as soon as 2014. Venues in Spain and Germany will be announced soon as it plans to play a 4 week schedule from 2014 and beyond, whereby the league will travel around Europe and play for a week in each of the partnering host cities.

CBLE is starting to get more and more attention from US college players as well and an expanded schedule will make it more attractive for them to visit the “Old World” to spend their summer vacation.

The 2013 schedule starts on July 8 and will be broadcasted live on www.cble.org .

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MetLife Signs on as Global Sponsor of 2013 World Baseball Classic

Press Release World Baseball Classic, Inc.
Title Sponsor of the MetLife All-World Baseball Classic Team, MetLife Blimps to Provide Unique Broadcast FootageMetLife has signed on to be a Global Sponsor and the Official Insurance Company of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. MetLife, and its brand ambassador Snoopy, will be incorporated into multiple aspects of the event including in-stadium exposure and on worldwide media platforms. MetLife, a leading global insurer operating in 46 countries worldwide, is joining Brand USA, Delta Air Lines and Konami as the fourth Global Sponsor of the tournament.

As part of the agreement, MetLife will be the title sponsor of the All-World Baseball Classic Team. The MetLife All-World Baseball Classic Team will be comprised of the best performers at each position during the tournament. Players selected to the previous two teams have included two-time tournament M.V.P. Daisuke Matsuzaka (Pitcher, Japan – 2006 and 2009), Ken Griffey Jr. (Outfielder, USA – 2006), Adrian Beltre (Third baseman, Dominican Republic – 2006) and Hyun-Soo Kim (DH, Korea – 2009).

MetLife’s long experience and expertise in covering premier sporting events from above will allow it to provide dynamic aerial coverage from its blimps – Snoopy One, Snoopy Two and Snoopy J. The MetLife blimps will be flying above all the games played in Phoenix, Arizona; Miami, Florida; Tokyo, Japan and in San Francisco, California. A camera will be in each blimp capturing scenic aerial footage, as well as crucial in-game moments, that will be incorporated into the game broadcasts on MLB Network, ESPN Deportes and the worldwide feed being distributed to more than 200 countries and territories.

To add to the excitement and fan experience at the games, Snoopy, donning a World Baseball Classic jersey, will be making special appearances, interacting with fans and distributing gifts.

“With such a strong presence in the global marketplace, MetLife is well-positioned to illuminate its brand message across the expansive World Baseball Classic platform,” said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations, Major League Baseball. “MetLife will have a variety of touch points, both inside and outside the tournament venues, fully integrating them into the event program this March.”

“It’s an honor to welcome MetLife to the World Baseball Classic’s roster of Global Sponsors,” said Timothy Slavin, member of the World Baseball Classic Board of Directors. “The World Baseball Classic looks forward to working with MetLife, Snoopy and the entire Peanuts gang to help shine a spotlight on the world’s greatest players competing for national pride and global bragging rights. We’re confident MetLife’s global brand awareness will be enhanced and strengthened by its association with the world’s premier international baseball tournament.”

“Many of the countries fielding World Baseball Classic teams are also countries where MetLife is a leading insurer,” said Richard Hong, vice president of brand, advertising & promotion, MetLife. “With MetLife’s strong presence in Japan and Korea where the sport is widely popular, and with market leading positions in countries like Mexico and the U.S., millions of our customers and thousands of our employees are looking forward to watching some of the world’s best play baseball this March.”

The 2013 World Baseball Classic, which is the third edition of the tournament, will feature the world’s best players representing their countries and territories. Thirty-nine games will be played in seven venues in four nations and territories from March 2 through March 19, 2013. Team Japan is the two-time defending champion of the World Baseball Classic, having won in 2006 and 2009. The World Baseball Classic, which is officially sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), will for the first time in 2013 be recognized as the official national team World Championship, with the winner being crowned the 2013 World Baseball Classic Champion and the IBAF World Champion.

For the first time, four Qualifiers were held for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, which expanded the competitive field from 16 to 28 countries. Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei and Spain emerged from the Qualifiers to earn spots in the March 2013 event. Those four Qualifier teams will join the teams of the 12 countries/terrirories – Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela – that received automatic invitations based on their performances in the 2009 tournament.

In the United States, MLB Network will be the exclusive English-language broadcast partner for all 39 games while ESPN Deportes will be the Spanish-language partner. The Semi-Final and Final games will take place from March 17-19 at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, hosted by the San Francisco Giants. Second round games will be held in the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan from March 8-12 and at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida from March 12-16. First round games will be held at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome in Fukuoka, Japan from March 2-6; at Intercontinental Stadium from March 2-5 in Taichung, Taiwan; at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico from March 7-10; and at Chase Field and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Phoenix, Arizona from March 7-10.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation, and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories.  More than 1.5 million fans from all over the world have attended the tournament games, held in March 2006 and 2009. Team Japan is the reigning World Baseball Classic Champion, taking home both the inaugural and 2009 titles. The upcoming World Baseball Classic will be played in March 2013 and will again feature the greatest baseball-playing nations in the world. The tournament will be held every four years thereafter.

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the International Baseball Federation
The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) is the world governing body for baseball, comprising 122 national member federations.  Together with its member federations, the IBAF is dedicated to the promotion, development, and organization of baseball around the world.  The IBAF is the sole entity recognized by the International Olympic Committee for overseeing and sanctioning all national team competition.  The IBAF headquarters are located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

About MetLife
MetLife, Inc. is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10166. 

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College: Preseason Golden Spikes Watch List Released

2012 Golden Spikes Award finalists Appel and Rodon headline list

Press Release USA Baseball

DURHAM, N.C. — USA Baseball announced its preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List on Thursday, marking the organization’s first step toward identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country. Sponsored by Major League Baseball, the Golden Spikes Award will be presented in 2013 for the 36th time.

The Watch List features 50 of the nation’s top amateur players, and it will be a “rolling” list to ensure that athletes can play themselves into consideration for the Golden Spikes Award. The Golden Spikes Award trophy will be awarded live on MLB Network for the third year in a row, with a live presentation scheduled during “The Rundown” on Friday, July 19. Through USA Baseball’s partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), the presentation will also be simulcast with a live stream available from GoldenSpikesAward.com and USABaseball.com.

Headlining the 2013 Watch List are seven athletes who finished among the 30 semifinalists for the 2012 Golden Spikes Award, including Mark Appel (RHP, Senior, Stanford), Kris Bryant (OF/3B/1B, Junior, San Diego), Marco Gonzales (LHP, Junior, Gonzaga), D.J. Peterson (3B/1B, Junior, New Mexico), Nick Petree (RHP, RS Junior, Missouri State), Raph Rhymes (OF, Senior, Louisiana State) and Carlos Rodon (LHP, Sophomore, North Carolina State).

“2013 marks the 36th year USA Baseball has presented the Golden Spikes Award, and with two of last year’s finalists on this year’s preseason Watch List, it should be another exciting year for amateur baseball,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball executive director/CEO. “We look forward to an exciting start to the college baseball season this weekend and to following all of these players in the coming months.”

Louisiana State and Stanford lead all schools with three players named to the Watch List, and 10 other schools from six different conferences are represented with two players. For the fourth consecutive year, the Southeastern Conference tops all conferences with 12 players. The Pac-12 Conference has 10 players on the list, and the Atlantic Coast Conference has the third most with five. Juniors make up the majority of the list with 41 players named, increasing from 30 in 2012. Sophomores and seniors are represented by five and four players, respectively.

Following the release of a second, 60-player Watch List on Thursday, May 2, USA Baseball officials will announce the 30 semifinalists for the 2013 Golden Spikes Award on Tuesday, May 28. The list of 30 will then be sent to a voting body consisting of past USA Baseball National Team coaches and press officers, members of the media that closely follow the amateur game, select professional baseball personnel and current USA Baseball staff, representing a group of more than 200 voters in total.

Fan voting will once again be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2013. Tuesday, May 28, marks the day when amateur baseball fans from across the country will be able to vote for their favorite semifinalist on GoldenSpikesAward.com. As part of this selection process, all voters will be asked to choose three players from the list of 30 names. On Tuesday, June 4, USA Baseball will announce the three finalists, and voting will once again commence that same day.

Beginning with Florida State’s Buster Posey in New York in 2008, USA Baseball partnered with MLBAM to create GoldenSpikesAward.com, and until 2011, streamed its annual presentations online live from MLB All-Star FanFest. Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State won the award in 2009 in St. Louis, and Bryce Harper of Southern Nevada took home the trophy from Anaheim, Calif., in 2010. UCLA’s Trevor Bauer was the 2011 winner and Florida’s Mike Zunino won the 2012 award. Both accepted the trophy as part of live presentations in MLB Network’s Studio 42.

Other past winners of the Golden Spikes Award include Terry Francona (1980), Will Clark (1985), Robin Ventura (1988), Jason Varitek (1994), J.D. Drew (1997), Mark Prior (2001), Jered Weaver (2004), Tim Lincecum (2006) and David Price (2007).

Important 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award dates include:

  • Thursday, Feb. 14: 50-man preseason Watch List released, shaped by USA Baseball officials and advisors
  • Thursday, May 2: 60-man midseason Watch List released, shaped by USA Baseball officials and advisors
  • Tuesday, May 28: 30 semifinalists announced, selected by USA Baseball officials; semifinalist voting begins; voters select three
  • Friday, May 31: Deadline to vote for finalists, 5 p.m. ET
  • Tuesday, June 4: Three finalists announced; finalist voting begins; voters to select one
  • Friday, June 14: Deadline to vote for winner, 5 p.m. ET
  • Friday, July 19: Live Golden Spikes Award presentation airing on MLB Network

The complete 2013 preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List is as follows:

Name, Position, Class, School, Conference
Mark Appel, RHP, Senior, Stanford, Pac-12
Aaron Blair, RHP, Junior, Marshall, C-USA
Kris Bryant, OF/3B/1B, Junior, San Diego, West Coast
Boomer Collins, OF, RS Senior, Dallas Baptist, WAC
Michael Conforto, OF, Sophomore, Oregon State, Pac-12
Austin Cousino, OF, Sophomore, Kentucky, SEC
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Junior, Florida, SEC
Josh Deezse, RHP/DH, Junior, Ohio State, Big 10
Kent Emanuel, LHP, Junior, North Carolina, ACC
Phillip Ervin, OF, Junior, Samford, SoCon
Buck Farmer, RHP, Senior, Georgia Tech, ACC
Johnny Field, OF/INF, Junior, Arizona, Pac-12
Adam Frazier, SS, Junior, Mississippi State, SEC
Scott Frazier, RHP, Junior, Pepperdine, West Coast
Mitchell Garver, C, Senior, New Mexico, Mountain West
Marco Gonzales, LHP/1B, Junior, Gonzaga, West Coast
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Junior, Oklahoma, Big 12
Conrad Gregor, 1B, Junior, Vanderbilt, SEC
Eric Jagielo, 3B/OF, Junior, Notre Dame, Big East
JaCoby Jones, 2B/OF, Junior, Louisiana State, SEC
Aaron Judge, OF, Junior, Fresno State, Mountain West
Jared King, OF, Junior, Kansas State, Big 12
Andrew Knapp, C, Junior, California, Pac-12
Corey Knebel, RHP, Junior, Texas, Big 12
Corey Littrell, LHP, Junior, Kentucky, SEC
Michael Lorenzen, OF/RHP, Junior, Cal State Fullerton, Big West
Sean Manaea, LHP, Junior, Indiana State, Missouri Valley
Colin Moran, 3B, Junior, North Carolina, ACC
Aaron Nola, RHP, Sophomore, Louisiana State, SEC
Michael O’Neill, OF, Junior, Michigan, Big 10
Dillon Overton, LHP, Junior, Oklahoma, Big 12
D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B, Junior, New Mexico, Mountain West
Nick Petree, RHP, RS Junior, Missouri State, Missouri Valley
Adam Plutko, RHP, Junior, UCLA, Pac-12
Brian Ragira, 1B, Junior, Stanford, Pac-12
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Junior, Mississippi State, SEC
Raph Rhymes, OF, Senior, Louisiana State, SEC
George Roberts, RHP/INF, Senior, Kent State, Mid-American
Carlos Rodon, LHP, Sophomore, NC State, ACC
Jimmie Sherfy, RHP , Junior, Oregon, Pac-12
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Junior, Arkansas, SEC
Trea Turner, SS, Sophomore, NC State, ACC
Konner Wade, RHP, Junior, Arizona, Pac-12
Michael Wagner, RHP, Junior, San Diego, WCC
Bobby Wahl, RHP, Junior, Mississippi, SEC
Ben Wetzler, LHP, Junior, Oregon State, Pac-12
Trevor Williams, RHP, Junior, Arizona State, Pac-12
Austin Wilson, OF, Junior, Stanford, Pac-12
Tom Windle, LHP, Junior, Minnesota, Big 10
Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Junior, Vanderbilt, SEC

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High School: Baseball America Preaseason All-American Teams Released

Baseball America recently released its Preseason High School All-American Teams.

The teams are full of recruits headed to some of the best programs in college baseball, if they don’t get drafted and signed by a MLB team this summer.

The first team features future teammates at San Diego in Ian Clarkin and Stephen Gonsalves. The two were teammates on the USA 18U team that won the world championship last September. Clarkin was the winning pitcher in the gold medal game against Canada.

Another Team USA alum from that 18U World Championship team is outfielder Ryan Boldt who led the tournament in September with 12 stolen bases in nine games.

There were three unanimous selections to the first team in first baseman Dominic Smith from Gardena, Calif. He was joined as a unanimous selection by outfielders Clint Frazier (Loganville, Ga., High) and Austin Meadows (Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga.).

FIRST TEAM

Pos. Player, School Yr. AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB Commitment
C Jonathan Denney, Yukon (Okla.) HS Sr. .327 107 12 35 8 1 12 36 1 Arkansas
1B Dominic Smith, Serra HS, Gardena, Calif. Sr. .551 78 36 43 8 4 9 49 7 Southern California
MIF J.P. Crawford, Lakewood (Calif.) HS Sr. .459 98 37 45 8 8 1 31 22 Southern California
MIF Oscar Mercado, Gaither HS, Tampa Sr. .370 81 28 30 4 2 1 29 12 Florida State
3B Travis Demeritte, Winder-Barrow HS, Winder, Ga. Sr. .405 79 29 32 4 2 9 29 3 South Carolina
OF Ryan Boldt, Red Wing (Minn.) HS Sr. .423 78 23 33 7 5 3 28 16 Nebraska
OF Clint Frazier, Loganville (Ga.) HS Sr. .424 118 55 50 7 2 24 58 14 Georgia
OF Austin Meadows, Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga. Sr. .390 105 33 41 10 1 4 28 19 Clemson
UT Trey Ball, New Castle (Ind.) HS Sr. .438 89 45 39 14 5 5 28 21 Texas
Pos. Player, School Yr. W L ERA G SV IP H BB SO Commitment
LHP Ian Clarkin, Madison HS, San Diego Sr. 8 2 0.58 2 68 27 27 106 San Diego
LHP Stephen Gonsalves, Cathedral Catholic, San Diego Sr. 7 2 1.40 12 1 60 37 16 85 San Diego
LHP Rob Kaminsky, St. Joseph Regional HS, Montvale, N.J. Sr. 8 2 0.20 10 0 53 12 15 103 North Carolina
RHP Jordan Sheffield, Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS Sr. 6 1 0.99 12 1 50 21 24 73 Vanderbilt
RHP Kohl Stewart, St. Pius X HS, Houston Sr. 8 0 1.93 11 0 54 29 35 72 Texas A&M
UT Trey Ball, New Castle (Ind.) HS Sr. 7 2 1.40 12 1 60 37 16 85 Texas

SECOND TEAM

Pos. Player, School Yr. AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB Commitment
C Reese McGuire, Kentwood HS, Covington, Wash. Sr. .388 80 26 31 7 2 4 34 8 San Diego
1B Rowdy Tellez, Elk Grove (Calif.) HS Sr. .568 81 31 46 8 3 7 47 11 Southern California
MIF Christian Arroyo, Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla. Sr. .305 82 25 25 8 1 1 15 3 Florida
MIF Nicholas Gordon, Olympia (Fla.) HS Jr. .372 94 27 35 7 1 1 14 10 Florida State (Verbal)
3B Cavan Biggio, St. Thomas HS, Houston Sr. .426 68 14 29 6 2 2 26 3 Notre Dame
OF Justin Williams, Terrebonne HS, Houma, La. Sr. .519 77 27 40 9 2 8 25 12 Louisiana State
OF Cord Sandberg, Manatee HS, Bradenton, Fla. Sr. .358 95 22 34 6 0 1 17 9 Mississippi State
OF Billy McKinney, Plano (Texas) West HS Sr. .446 56 13 25 8 1 3 17 3 Texas Christian
UT A.J. Puk, Washington HS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Sr. No High School Stats Florida
Pos. Player, School Yr. W L ERA G SV IP H BB SO Commitment
RHP Dustin Driver, Wenatchee (Wash.) HS Sr. 9 0 1.20 10 0 12 22 65 UCLA
RHP Brett Morales, King HS, Tampa Sr. 6 1 0.99 12 0 49 31 14 58 Florida
RHP Chris Oakley, St. Augustine Prep. HS, Richland, N.J. Sr. 2 3 5.35 35 0 35 35 36 29 North Carolina
RHP Touki Toussaint, Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy Jr. 5 0 1.01 12 4 28 13 21 42 Undecided
LHP Garrett Williams, Calvary Baptist HS, Shreveport, La. Sr. 4 4 1.59 14 1 53 30 25 87 Oklahoma State
UT A.J. Puk, Washington HS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Sr. No High School Stats Florida

THIRD TEAM

Pos. Player, School Yr. AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB Commitment
C Jeremy Martinez, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif. Sr. .388 85 20 33 6 0 0 18 1 Southern California
1B Pete Alonso, Plant HS, Tampa Sr. .485 68 19 33 11 0 6 24 1 Florida
MIF Jan Hernandez, Beltran Baseball Acad., Florida, P.R. Sr. No High School Stats Undecided
MIF Andy McGuire, Madison HS, Vienna, Va. Sr. .397 63 18 25 6 0 4 18 7 Texas
3B Tucker Neuhaus, Wharton HS, Tampa Sr. .329 85 23 28 6 2 6 17 4 Louisville
OF Josh Hart, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga. Sr. .373 126 44 47 4 1 2 19 30 Georgia Tech
OF Matt McPhearson, Riverdale Baptist, Upper Marlboro, Md. Sr. .354 96 47 34 6 3 0 22 68 Miami
OF Willie Abreu, Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla. Sr. .410 61 24 10 7 6 2 26 22 Miami
UT Chris Rivera, El Dorado HS, Placentia, Calif. Sr. .194 93 19 18 3 1 4 14 8 Central Arizona JC
Pos. Player, School Yr. W L ERA G SV IP H BB SO Commitment
RHP Hunter Harvey, Bandys HS, Catawba, N.C. Sr. 7 0 1.81 10 0 54 36 15 106 Undecided
RHP Clinton Hollon, Woodford County HS, Versailles, Ky. Sr. 5 0 1.10 7 0 40 5 53 Kentucky
RHP Connor Jones, Great Bridge HS, Chesapeake, Va. Sr. 7 2 1.88 14 0 60 50 22 63 Virginia
LHP Chris Kohler, Los Osos HS, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Sr. No High School Stats Oklahoma
RHP Casey Meisner, Cypress (Texas) Woods HS Sr. Stats Unavailable Texas Tech
UT Chris Rivera, El Dorado HS, Placentia, Calif. Sr. 3 0 0.64 7 1 11 9 3 12 Central Arizona JC

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WBC: Bruce Chen Will Not Pitch For China

Bruce Chen has decided to forgo a chance to pitch with China in the upcoming 2013 World Baseball Classic. Chen pitched for Panama in the first two Classics, but this time around he was seeking to pitch for the country of his grandparents’ birth.

Born in Panama, Chen’s grandparents are from China, so he attempted to gather all documentation that he could find regarding their birth in order to secure a spot on the Chinese team. However, his eligibility was still pending official approval.

Instead of waiting, he decided to simply forgo the chance.

Instead, Chen will focus on pitching for the Kansas City Royals where he will compete for a spot in the starting rotation. The Royals rotation got a face lift in the offseason with the additions of James Shields, Wade Davis, and Ervin Santana. Chen will need to focus on returning to his 2010-11 form where he was one of the top KC starters.

This season he will be competing as the fifth starter with returning Royals pitchers Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza.

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Eight Great Latin American Ballplayers

By Ismael Nunez

This month of February is African-American History Month. It’s also Dominican History Month, and in the first week of February every year:  Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela participated in the Caribbean World Series!

Yet the games are not shown on prime-time and at the same time there are several Latin American ballplayers many USA citizens don’t know much about.  Here are the Magnificent Eight!

Cuba

Martin Dihigo stood 6’3 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He was the first Latin American Ballplayer who played in the Negro Leagues elected into the Hall. The only ballplayer elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in four countries (Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, United States).  In Cuba he was called “The Immortal” in other Latin American countries he was called “El Maestro” (The Master). As a pitcher he won over 25o games had a winning percentage over .650. As a hitter he had a batting average of over .300 and won batting  and home-run titles.  Too many, including former Negro League Hall of Famers, consider him the greatest player ever!

Jose Mendez stood only 5’8. In Cuba he was called “El Diamante Negro” (The Black Diamond) yet he had a winning percentage of .747.  When Major League Teams traveled to the island in exhibition games Mendez won most of the time! In one game he defeated Hall of Fame Pitcher Christy Mathewson in 1911.

Cristobal Torriente stood between 5’9 and 5’10 yet weighed 190 pounds. He was called “The Cuban Babe Ruth”, played baseball year-round, and was a star player both in the Negro and Cuban Leagues from 1913 to 1922. His lifetime batting average was .352.

All Three of these Cubans are in Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY

Dominican Republic

Tetelo Vargas has been called “The Father of Dominican Baseball and The Dominican Deer” who was excellent both on defense and offense! Long before there was Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero there was Vargas. Playing in the Negro Leagues, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Mexican Leagues he put together a lifetime batting average of .300.  He also had good speed, and was notable base stealer.

Horacio “Rabbit” Martinez was an outstanding shortstop, and a clutch hitter.

To many he was the greatest shortstop ever to play in the Dominican Republic and one of the top shortstops in the Negro Leagues from the 1930’s and 1940’s. In an article for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) many would say long before Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith there was Martinez making those plays. He had a rifle of an arm and brilliant speed.

In his Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, James A. Riley wrote that Martinez was “a good bunter, fast on the bases, and good on either end of the hit-and-run play! Always a hustler!”

Dominican baseball player Manny Mota had this to say about Martinez “Mr. Horacio Martínez was without a doubt one of the greatest players in the history of the Dominican Republic. Besides being a great player, he was like a father to me. I’ve got a great deal of respect and admiration for him.”

Rob Ruck, author, The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic, and co-writer/producer of the film Republic of Baseball stated this, “I think that both Tetelo Vargas and Horacio Martínez merit consideration for the Hall of Fame. Now that the Hall has opened its “Viva Baseball” exhibit about Latinos in baseball, I hope that they might establish a special committee to consider such candidacies, as they did once before, in 2006!

Puerto Rico

Pancho Coimbre & Perucho Cepeda

Long before Puerto Rican great like Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Alomar arrived in the Hall of Fame, you had these two individuals.  Coimbre and Cepeda both stood 5’11 and both were Afro-Puerto Rican as well as outstanding hitters/fielders. Cepeda’s single season batting average of .464 is the highest in Puerto Rican Baseball History. Coimbre’s lifetime batting average of .337 is the second best in Puerto Rican Baseball History.  Both are in the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mexico

The country has had baseball fever long before Fernandomania in 1981, Bobby Avila winning the A.L. batting title in 1954, or the country winning the 2013 Caribbean World Series. Before all of this there was Hector Espino!

He was called the “Babe Ruth of Mexico”  and his  achievements have been compared favorably with many baseball legends who have received baseball’s highest honor.

He won a staggering 18 batting titles(winter/summer leagues) which is six more than the 12 batting crowns Hall of Famer Ty Cobb captured. He also spent 24 years with the Orange Men from 1960-84. Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (Orioles) and Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox) are tied with 23 years of service in one uniform.

He became the oldest man to win a batting title in 1983 when he was 43 years-old and hit .316. Ted Williams was 40 when he hit .328 in 1958.

He led Mexico to its first Caribbean World Series win in 1976, and in 1988 was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México).

Posted in Latin, News0 Comments

College: North Carolina Tops Baseball America Preseason Top 25

The NCAA Division I college baseball season kicks off this weekend with North Carolina ranked #1 by Baseball America for the first time in the programs history.

UNC has had a lot of success in recent years with five trips to Omaha in the past seven seasons. And this year they return perhaps the deepest pitching staff in the country.

The Southeastern Conference leads all conferences with eight total teams in the Top 25, including five of the Top 10. They are led by #2 Vanderbilt and #3 Arkansas. Last season’s runner-up, South Carolina, starts the year at #7.

The Pacific-12 Conference isn’t too far behind the SEC with a total of five teams. The Atlantic Coast Conference ranks third with four teams.

Defending national champion Arizona enters the season after losing a lot of key players just cracking the Top 25 in at #24.

New Mexico is making its first ever appearance in the preseason polls. The last time it made the Baseball America Top 25 was back in early 2009.

2013 Baseball America Preseason Top 25

Rk. Team 2012
Record
Final
2012 Ranking
1. North Carolina 46-16 17
2. Vanderbilt 35-28 NR
3. Arkansas 46-22 6
4. Louisville 41-22 NR
5. Mississippi State 40-24 22
6. Oregon State 40-20 24
7. South Carolina 49-20 2
8. North Carolina State 43-20 12
9. Stanford 41-18 13
10. Louisiana State 47-18 9
11. Kentucky 45-18 20
12. UCLA 48-16 5
13. Mississippi 37-26 NR
14. Texas Christian 40-22 16
15. Oregon 46-19 11
16. Georgia Tech 38-26 NR
17. Florida 47-20 3
18. Rice 41-19 18
19. Oklahoma 42-25 14
20. Florida State 50-17 4
21. New Mexico 37-24 NR
22. Cal State Fullerton 36-21 21
23. Southern Mississippi 32-24 NR
24. Arizona 48-17 1
25. San Diego 40-17 NR

Posted in College, N. America0 Comments

2013 World Baseball Classic Preview – South Korea

Korea Primed to Continue Classic Title Chase

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)
Second in a series of 2013 World Baseball Classic previews

MARYVILLE, Tenn. –After their second place finish in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Korea will enter the 2013 tournament as one of the favourites. The journey could prove much more challenging than last time, however, as they will travel to Taiwan to face an improved Chinese Taipei. The Blue Bogy, as they are known to the Korean media, will also have to face the defending World Champions, the Netherlands, and tenth-ranked Australia.

Previous World Baseball Classics
In the last Classic, Korea recovered from a 14-2 drubbing by Japan to advance out of the first round after eking out a 1-0 win over the Samurai. They travelled to San Diego for a bracket that once more included Japan, but also had Cuba and Mexico. Despite defeating Japan again, their rivals took the higher seeding after winning a seeding game.

Korea advanced to the finals, where they were paired against Venezuela, fresh off a victory over the United States. Korea dismantled them in a 10-2 win, before once more facing Japan, this time at Dodger Stadium for the Classic title.

The game lived up to its billing. Japan scored first, but a Shin-Soo Choo home run in the fifth made the score 1-1. By the eighth, Japan held a 3-1 lead with six outs to go. Korea had other plans, scoring its second run off starter Hisashi Iwakuma, now a Seattle Mariner. After holding Japan scoreless in the ninth, Korea tied it up against Yu Darvish, but Japan wrecked their title dreams in the top of the tenth as Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-run single to give Japan their second WBC championship in-a-row.

The script was remarkably similar in the first Classic in 2006, as South Korea swept through the opening round with three straight wins, including a 3-2 victory over Japan in group title contest. In the second round, they repeated the feat, this time with a 2-1 decision over Team Nippon, but lost to Japan 6-0 in the semifinals.

All told, the blue-and-white has a 12-4 record in the World Baseball Classic, outscoring its opponents by 21 runs in those 16 games. Only Japan has as many wins, though no one has a better winning percentage. In fact, the two neighbours are the only countries with a double-digit victory total.

Korea has been remarkably consistent in the two tournaments, hitting exactly .243 with 20 extra base hits as a team in each, which places them in the middle of the pack among team batting averages. Where they have stood out, however, has been on the pitching mound.

In 2006, the nation led all participants with a 2.00 ERA, placing second with a 1.00 WHIP. In 63 innings, they allowed only 45 hits and 18 walks while striking out 50. The most recent Classic saw the team post an ERA of exactly three, surrendering 82 hits and 22 walks in 78 frames. Korean pitchers whiffed 60.

Korea’s Recent International Play
Korea’s success in the World Baseball Classic is no surprise given their results in other international tournaments. The blue-and-white competed in almost every Baseball World Cup, finishing with a 94-67 all-time record after the final Cup in 2011. In 14 appearances, they collected one championship (a tall feat with Cuba’s international dominance), five second places finishes (most recently in 2005), and twice earned third place.

The Blue Bogy also appeared in three of the five Olympic Games in which baseball was contested, taking gold in the final Olympics (2008) and bronze in 2000.

Korea has competed in plenty of tournaments hosted by Chinese Taipei. In all competitions, the Blue Bogy is 35-33-1, dating back to the 1962 ABC in Taipei. Korea has had less success in global tournaments that have taken place in Taiwan, though.

As might be expected, Korea and Chinese Taipei have a long history of competition. They first squared off in the first Asian Championship in 1954 and have played almost every year since. In the past decade, Korea holds an 8-5 advantage.

“Taiwan plays powerful baseball,” expressed Il-Sung Ha, a renowned Korea baseball analyst. “They come out after a thorough analysis of Team Korea. They shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

In the same period, Korea has also had a regular showdown with the Netherlands, and has not beaten the Dutch since the 2008 Olympics, on the way to their last major international title. Between 2009-11, the Netherlands beat the blue-and-white every year in a world tournament, and Korea is only 3-6 versus them in the last 10 years. Their most recent matchup in the 2011 World Cup was a 5-1 decision in favour of the Dutch, who went on to become world champions.

The Blue Bogy has had similar results against Australia, winning only three-of-eight since 1999. They last faced each other in the 2011 Cup, with Korea taking a round robin contest 8-0 and the Aussies winning their next game 3-2, which gave Australia fifth place and dropped Korea a spot below them. Korea has never faced Australia or the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

“The Netherlands is said to be strong, but Taiwan has always tried to catch up with Korea,” star pitcher Jae Weong Seo told Korea JoongAng Daily. “Only when we beat Taiwan will we be able to relax in the second round.”

The 2013 Squad
Manager Joong-Il Ryu will rely almost solely on players developed in their professional league, the Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO). The country has only had pro ball since the early 1980s, and it has only been in the last two decades that American teams have begun to sign Korean baseball players.

The most notable are Chan Ho Park, Byung-Hyun Kim and Shin-Soo Choo. Choo is the only active one of the three and was traded this offseason to the Cincinnati Reds after seven standout years with the Cleveland Indians. He is a career .289/.381/.465 hitter with 85 stolen bases in 699 games.

Unfortunately for Korea, Choo and recent Los Angeles Dodgers’ signee Hyun-Jin Ryu will not be on the 2013 roster. Choo asked to be left off the squad as he will be transitioning to a new position (centerfield). He hit two home runs in the 2009 Classic. Ryu appeared in five games in the 2009 tourney, winning a game and finishing with a 2.57 ERA.

The blue-and-white will also be missing Bum Ho Lee, who hit .400 with three home runs and seven RBI in 2009, and is a .297 career hitter in the WBC. Lee will be missing for undisclosed reasons.

The Lineup
Despite them omission of Choo and Lee, the lineup has the potential to be a strength for Korea, unlike in previous tournaments. The pitching side has less depth than in previous years, but the starting nine has above-average hitters at every position and is particularly strong at the infield corners.

Like Japan, the Blue Bogy will be expected to be good contact hitters, but should flash more power, as it has in previous Classics. Korea returns several other top hitters from previous Classics, including Seung-Yeop Lee, Hyun-Soo Kim, and Tae-Kyun Kim.

“[If] Lee Seung-yeop, Kim Tae-kyun and Lee Dae-ho all… lead well at bat, we will be able to have a good result,” remarked Korea’s manager to the JoongAng Daily.

Seung-Yeop Lee missed the 2009 Classic, but put in arguably the best-ever performance in a WBC in 2006. He hit .333 with five four-baggers, eight runs, and 10 RBI in seven games, walking four times. In the 2008 Olympics, he hit a game-winning home run in the semifinals versus Japan and added another four-bagger in the gold medal win over Cuba.

Lee holds multiple Asian records, including being the youngest player to 300 career home runs (26) and most dingers in a season (56). The first-sacker has 504 career homers and a .288 average in Korea and Japan combined. He was the KBO Championship MVP in 2012, and has five MVP awards in the Korean circuit.

The 36-year old will also have added motivation in what will likely be his last Classic as his Korea team, the Samsung Lions, lost to a Taiwanese club in the Asia Series in November. The Series pits the winners of several Asian leagues against each other to determine the Asian club champion. Lee was quite unproductive for the Lions.

“Regardless of the circumstances or my position, I will help the team win. I think that’s what I am supposed to do,” Lee told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “It still pains me that we didn’t make it to the final with our loss to Japan,” Lee said. “To not repeat the painful experience of 2006, I will work harder. This time, we will get them back by winning the event.”

Hyun-Soo Kim was second on the team in 2009 with a .393 average, leading the squad in doubles (3) and on-base percentage (.514). A year before, he ripped a .370 average in the Olympics. In the KBO, the outfielder has a .319 career mark, slugging .481. He has won two Golden Gloves in the outfield.

Tae-Kyun Kim tied Lee for the team (and tournament) lead in 2009 with three four-baggers, hitting .345/.486/.690 in the process. He also led the team in walks (8), RBI (11), and runs (9), while striking out only three times in nine games. The first baseman also appeared in 2006, going 0-for-1, but reached base three times. Kim is a .309 career hitter with 226 home runs in Japan and Korea.

Dae-Ho Lee is a candidate to replace Bum-Ho Lee at third base. Lee played at the WBC in 2009, notching a .278/.440/.389 line, but had even better results in the 2008 Olympics, stroking a .360 average and slugging .760. He had 15 RBI between the two events. In his senior international career, he is a .353 career hitter with six home runs and 33 RBI in 116 at bats.

Lee has also had a storied professional career. In 2006, he won the Korean Baseball Organisation’s Triple Crown with a .336 average, 26 home runs, and 88 RBI. He lost the MVP award that year to Hyun-Jin Ryu, the latest Korean to make the big leagues.

In 2010, he set a world record by hitting homers in nine straight games, once more winning the Triple Crown. He moved to Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Japan’s major leagues, in 2012, leading the league in RBI and winning the Home Run Derby. He has a .306 average and 249 home runs in his pro career.

With six members of the 2009 starting lineup still on the roster, it is possible to project how manager Ryu will fill out this year’s batting order. The top four in the order should remain unchanged from 2009, while Seung-Yeop Lee will once more feature in the heart of the order.

Yongkyu Lee –CF
Keunwoo Jeong – 2B
Hyunsoo Kim – LF
Taekyun Kim – 1B
Seung-Yeop Lee – DH
Dae-Ho Lee – 3B
Jin Young Lee – RF
Jung-Ho Kang – SS
Minho Kang/Kabyong Jin – C

The Pitching Staff
Most of Korea’s best pitchers from previous Classics are not on this year’s team, but the Blue Bogy has a trio of key returning pitchers. They include former major leaguer Jae Weong Seo, Suk-Min Yoon, and Tae-Hyon Chong.

Seo had a five-year stint in MLB between 2003-2007, with several strong seasons. He was only 28-40, but pitched for weak teams during his career. Seo had a 4.60 ERA, but did much better in 2003, his rookie year (3.82), and 2005 (8-2, 2.59).

Seo was Korea’s best starter in 2006, tying Bartolo Colón of the Dominican Republic for second in ERA. He won his first two starts against Chinese Taipei (3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) and Mexico (5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). The righty saved his best for Japan in the semifinals, tossing five scoreless frames, allowing only four baserunners, but Korea went on to lose.

Yoon started two games and relieved in a pair of others in 2009, pitching the tune of a 1.13 ERA. He was particularly effective against a loaded Venezuelan side, allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Yoon struck out four in the win, also notching a victory against China. He earned a pair of holds for his scoreless relief against Japan and Mexico.

Yoon has earned five wins with a 0.41 ERA when hurling for Korea. This includes five shutout innings against Chinese Taipei in his most recent national team start at the 2010 Asian Games. He has pitched in a variety of roles for the KBO and has a 3.12 career ERA in the league.

Chong has appeared in nine international tournaments for Korea. He has a 3-2 record and four saves, working in a variety of roles. Chong has a career 1.76 ERA for the national team with 75 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. He won the strikeout title at the 2002 Intercontinental Cup.

The submarine-style thrower has pitched five frames between the two Classics, allowing two runs and whiffing eight. In domestic competition, Chong’s ERA stands at 1.93, though with only 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Seo has a starting spot all but guaranteed, and will likely take the hill against Chinese Taipei. Yoon should also feature in the rotation, with Jang also potentially in line for a start. Chong may see action a starter and reliever. Anchoring the bullpen will be three pitchers that are new to the squad: Seung-Hwan Oh, Seun-glak Son, and Hee-Soo Park.

Oh has seen action in four tournaments for Korea, compiling a 4.50 ERA with two losses and two saves. In an eight-year KBO career, he has a 1.69 ERA and has led the league in saves five times, setting a league record of 47 saves on two different occasions.

Son has only twice pitched for Korea, both times at the World Cup. He is 1-3 with a save and a 3.13 ERA, striking out 30 in 37 1/3 frames. The right-hander has a 3.78 ERA in Korea, but that number has dropped to 2.22 since he became a closer in 2010.

Park has a 1.97 ERA in the domestic circuit, working mostly as a setup man. His 2012 season was particular impressive, as he led the league in holds (34) on the strength of a 1.32 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 82 frames. Despite a fastball in the mid-80s (135 kmh), he has induced strikeouts at the rate of 9.9 per nine innings in his career. The left-hander had an ERA of 3.00 in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup, whiffing 15 in 12 innings.

JoongAng Daily has reported on Seo’s leadership qualities. “This is my last chance (to play in the WBC), so I want to lead the younger players well and get at least to the semifinals,” Seo told the paper.

As the oldest pitcher on the team and the only athlete to play in the Majors, Seo has been preparing the rest of the staff on their opponents and on the peculiarities of WBC pitch counts, though most international tournaments use a similar system.

“They won’t have any regrets if they just concentrate on each pitch,” concluded Seo.

The Classic also uses the same Rawlings ball as MLB, which Korean pitchers consider ‘slippery’. Seo has advised those other pitchers how to accommodate the different feel, as only three other hurlers have used it in a game situation.

“It is slippery, but it’ll be pitched with the help of a rosin bag (to improve grip) during the games,” Seo told the Daily. “I think it’ll get better if they pitch the ball with sweat on their hands.”

The Team
Some have speculated that the current roster is the weakest that Korea has entered into a World Baseball Classic, but the team has other ideas.

“I know the media and the public are worried about us,” said Dae-Ho Lee at a press conference on Feb. 12. “I was picked for the national team several times so far and it has never been so strong. We had good results [before] only because the players were united to do something great.”

“Team Korea gets stronger when it is deemed weak,” observed star Seung-Yeop Lee. He had similar thoughts for the Korea Times. “I will try my best to show Korean baseball is still strong.”

“Our strength is teamwork,” Lee remarked to the JoongAng Daily. “I will try my best and help the team to a better outcome. I will try to make a ‘Miracle of March’ happen.”

KBO is going above and beyond to ensure all the players’ needs are met. According to Chosun, Korea will be carrying two extra trainers beyond the normal three, and sprung for brand new suits and shoes for the team members to wear while travelling. Players will also be served at least one Korean meal a day “so they don’t feel too homesick.”

“They are the representatives of Korea and have already been tested,” declared Chan Ho Park, who will serve as a broadcaster for this Classic. “I hope they gain valuable experience through this event and use it as a solid foundation to move to a bigger league in the future.”

Manager Ryu went further, predicting a title as the Korean team was unveiled in Seoul on Jan. 23. “I will guarantee that Korea will be full of the sounds of heartbeats and applause of all countrymen in March.”

The road to the championship begins for Korea on Mar. 2 at 11:30 GMT against the Netherlands at the Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung. The Blue Bogy will contest Australia on Mar. 4 at 10:30 GMT before their showdown with Taiwan in the last game of the pool. The two will face off on Mar. 5 at 11:30 GMT.

For a more extensive look at the Korea team, check out the full preview at Extra Innings: Baseball Around the World. Stay tuned for more news, previews, and recaps of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Posted in News0 Comments

New Baseball and Softball Facility in Hoofddorp, Netherlands

The Hoofddorp Pioniers released a video clip on YouTube to give everyone a view of what their new field will look like when it is completed. The complex is scheduled to be open in the spring of 2014.

The complex will include baseball and softball facilities as well as a clubhouse.

One field will seat 600 with room to expand the capacity of one of the fields to 30,000 temporary seats. The field will be used by the Pioniers as well as other regional and national games. The hope is for the complex to not only host future events such as the World Baseball Classic and hopefully in the near future the first MLB games played in Europe.

Posted in Europe, News1 Comment

National High School Invitational Announces 2013 Schedule

The 2nd Annual National High School Invitational is scheduled for March 27 – 30 in Cary, North Carolina. The tournament is held at the USA’s National Training Complex.

The tournament features 16 of the top high school tournaments from around the country, including eight of Baseball America’s Preseason Top 25.

Defending Champion Mater Dei (Calif.) is back to defend its title. They come into the season ranked #8 in the country by Baseball America. They will start their title defense by playing Tullahoma (Tenn.) who starts the season ranked #22.

Baseball America has ranked the top 100 draft-eligible high school prospects, and there will be nine of those players in the NHSI. Included in the nine is the #1 high school prospect Austin Meadows (Grayson, Ga).

Below is the first round schedule of the NHSI:

Game # Date Matchup Time Field Round Notes
6 3/27/13 Lexington (S.C.) vs. Florida Christian (Fla.) 10 a.m. NTC Field 4 Round of 16
2 3/27/13 Venice (Fla.) vs. Christian Brothers (Tenn.) 11 a.m. NTC Field 2 Round of 16
5 3/27/13 Tullahoma (Tenn.) vs. Mater Dei (Calif.) 12:30 p.m. NTC Stadium Round of 16
3 3/27/13 Eustis (Fla.) vs. Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) 1 p.m. NTC Field 3 Round of 16
4 3/27/13 TC Roberson (N.C.) vs. Bingham (Utah) 1:15 p.m. NTC Field 4 Round of 16
8 3/27/13 Milton (Ga.) vs. Hamilton (Ariz.) 3 p.m. NTC Field 2 Round of 16
1 3/27/13 Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) vs. Grayson (Ga.) 3:45 p.m. NTC Stadium Round of 16
7 3/28/13 Jenks (Okla.) vs. The Woodlands (Texas) 9:45 a.m. NTC Field 2 Round of 16 OK/TX slot

Posted in News, Tournaments0 Comments

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