The World Baseball Classic starts tonight, with pool play opening up in Taiwan. These games will be fun to watch, as we get some highly competitive baseball instead of the usual spring training doldrums.
Spurred into action by Rainiers PR man Paul Braverman, I compiled a list of former Tacoma Rainiers players who are on World Baseball Classic rosters. These players appeared on the initial WBC rosters which were released nearly a month ago, and there may have been some changes since then. It was a fun little project – particularly when I saw some former Rainiers from long ago listed as WBC coaches.
The teams are listed in the order they were on the MLB website, which I think was organized by pool. Here are our ex-Rainiers:
Chinese Taipei: bullpen coach Chien-Ming Wang
Netherlands: OF Wladimir Balentien, coach Eugene Kingsale
Cuba: Roenis Elias
Italy: Matt Festa, Sam Gaviglio, Vinny Nittoli
Panama: coach Julio Mosquera
Australia: Blake Townsend
Czech Republic: none
USA: Kendall Graveman, hitting coach Ken Griffey Jr
Mexico: Oliver Perez, Taijuan Walker, pitching coach Horacio Ramirez
Columbia: Nabil Crismatt, Tito Polo
Canada: Matt Brash, Abraham Toro, Tyler O’Neill
Great Britain: none (current Rainiers hitting coach Brad Marcelino is on the coaching staff)
Puerto Rico: Emilio Pagan, Hector Santiago, coach Alex Cintron
Dominican Republic: Jean Segura, Ketel Marte, coach Ramon Santiago
Israel: Zack Weiss, Ty Kelly
Nicaragua: Erasmo Ramirez, JC Ramirez, Alex Blandino
OK, who guessed that it would be Italy and Nicaragua that have the most former Rainiers who are playing, with three each? I was stunned to see that there are no former Rainiers on the Venezuela roster, even double-checked but still came up empty.
Special blog shout-out to 38-year-old Wladimir Balentien, who is on the active roster for the Netherlands. He played for the Rainiers in 2007 and 2008 – fifteen years ago!
Things will start picking up around here soon. I’ve got a spring training trip booked two weeks from now, and there will be daily posts when I get there as we gear up for opening day. Rainiers season starts early this year, with the season opener at Oklahoma City on March 31, and the home opener at Cheney Stadium just a couple days later on April 4.
- On his way to the World Baseball Classic, Julio Rodriguez remembered a great moment in the Dominican Republic’s WBC history.
- Because of a five-year age gap, this spring training marks the first time the brothers Kolten and Kean Wong have ever played together.
- Ryan Divish took his first stab at predicting the Mariners opening day roster. One could, if one choses to do so, try to read between the lines and figure out who will be in Tacoma.
- Spring training is all about hope, and the Mariners are hoping an improved Jarred Kelenic can make a difference.
- Keeping Julio Rodriguez healthy is of paramount importance for the Mariners.
- Reliever Matt Festa looks good in the Cactus League, and is now on his way to Taiwan where he will be pitching for Team Italy in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic.
- The Mariners released lefty Nick Margevicious, who struggled with Tacoma last year.
- Larry Stone caught up with Evan White, who is healthy and optimistic in spring training.
- Stone is a fan of the pitch clock and improved pace of play, and many Mariners players are as well.
- Scott Servais is now one of the longest-tenured major league managers.
- Potential Rainiers starter Emerson Hancock is positioned to have a strong season.
- Fangraphs has a story on the background of Mariners top prospect Harry Ford.