All 16 nations who qualified for the 2013 World Baseball Classic announced their provisional rosters for the tournament on Thursday. Eight Rangers players will take part in the Classic, including four major league regulars. Those players are listed and profiled below.
Texas will have two representatives with the Dominican Republic national team, two with Spain, two with the Netherlands, one with the United States, and one with Venezuela.
The tournament kicks off on March 2 with pool play in both Japan and Taiwan. The other two pools, played in Puerto Rico and Phoenix, begin on March 7.
The Netherlands’ national side will play its first-round games in Taiwan, facing Korea, Australia, and Chinese Taipei. Pool C features Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Spain. The United States will participate in Pool D, which also includes Mexico, Italy, and Canada.
After pool play, a second round will take place in Japan (Pools A and B) and Miami (Pools C and D) before the championship round at AT&T Park in San Francisco on March 17-19.
Japan enters the tournament as two-time defending champions, having won both prior editions of the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.
The following Rangers players and prospects will be participating in the 2013 WBC:
Notes: Alexi Ogando is currently listed on the Dominican Republic’s provisional roster but has stated that he will not participate in the WBC, as he prepares to open the season in the Rangers’ starting rotation. Catcher Kellin Deglan appeared with Canada in the WBC Qualifying Round, but he is not on the roster for the WBC Finals.
Elvis Andrus, SS, Venezuela
The 24-year-old Andrus will make his first appearance for the Venezuelan national team this March, as he was just entering his rookie season back in 2009. Andrus should serve as the club’s primary shortstop. To prepare for the tournament, the Maracay native began playing winterball for the Navegantes del Magallanes in early December. Although he batted just .234 during 17 regular-season games, he has picked up the pace and is hitting .341 through 13 postseason contests. Andrus is still playing for his Venezuelan Winter League club; they currently top the round-robin postseason standings.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Dominican Republic
The Rangers’ starting third baseman, Beltre will almost certainly fulfill the same role for his country this coming March. Although he didn’t participate in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Beltre was the side’s leading hitter during the inaugural 2006 tournament. Appearing in six games, the veteran went 6-for-20 with four home runs and nine RBI.
Engel Beltre, OF, Spain
Beltre is a native of the Dominican Republic who attended high school for a period in the Bronx. Yet he’s a member of the Spanish national side. Comprised largely of players from Latin America with family ties to Spain, the team got through the WBC Qualifying Round in September by besting France, Israel, and South Africa. Appearing as the team’s leadoff hitter and centerfielder in all four games, Beltre went 6-for-16 with a triple. He drew four walks, struck out just once, and stole three bases.
Following the qualifiers, the 23-year-old played in 44 games with the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League, where he hit .250/.329/.398 with seven steals. Beltre should be a key piece in the Spanish team, which will be a massive underdog in its group of giants.
Nelson Cruz, OF, Dominican Republic
Cruz, 32, will play in his second World Baseball Classic after appearing as starting right fielder in the 2009 contest. That year, he played in all three games and went 3-for-11 with a round-tripper, two walks, and three strikeouts. Likely to be the club’s starting right fielder once again this spring, Cruz logged 11 Dominican Winter League games in December and hit .286/.375/.405.
Derek Holland, LHP, United States
Perhaps a bit of a surprise pick, Holland is set to make his first appearance for the U.S. national team at any level. He’ll work as one of the team’s starting pitchers, joining the Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey, Atlanta’s Kris Medlen, San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong, and a pitcher to be named later.
It’s important to note that, because the tournament takes place when most pitchers aren’t fully built-up pitch count-wise, a pitcher cannot exceed 70 pitches during a first-round game. That number bumps up to 85 in the second round and 100 in the finals. Additionally, if a pitcher throws more than 50 pitches in an appearance, a minimum of four days must have passed before he is eligible to pitch again.
None of that should be an issue for the U.S., which named 11 relievers to its roster.
Jurickson Profar, INF, Netherlands
Because Profar was once thought to be up for a big league job in spring training, there was initially some question as to whether he would elect to play in this year’s Classic. But now it seems all but certain that the 19-year-old will open the campaign at Triple-A Round Rock, and Profar will suit up for the Netherlands this March.
A native of Curacao, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Profar will be making his first WBC appearance. He joins one of the tournament’s most exciting middle infields, which includes Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts, and Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop.
If you’re a fan of prospects, you won’t want to miss the Netherlands games. Just be prepared to stay up late, wake up early, or set your DVR; their first-round games, played in Taiwan, will begin at 5:30 a.m., 12:30 a.m., and 10:30 p.m. Central, respectively.
Gabriel Suarez, UTIL, Spain
Like Beltre, Suarez does not hail from Spain––he was born in Phoenix––but represented the nation during the WBC Qualifying Round in September and will also do so for the finals in March. A starting left fielder in all four qualifying games, the 28-year-old Suarez went 6-for-12 with two doubles, three walks, and two strikeouts. The versatile veteran has spent the remainder of his offseason in the Australian Baseball League, where he has played at second base and all three outfield spots.
Suarez, who signed a minor league deal with the Rangers in December, is a baseball journeyman in every since of the word. Entering his 10th professional season in 2013, Suarez has played for five affiliated organizations (between short-season A and Double-A), eight independent clubs, and two Mexican League teams.
Nick Urbanus, INF, Netherlands
Despite his youth, the 20-year-old Urbanus is a veteran of the Dutch national team at all levels. In fact, he appeared for the Netherlands earlier this offseason. After the Single-A Hickory Crawdads’ season completed on September 4, Urbanus raced back to his homeland, which hosted the 2012 European Baseball Championship between September 7 and 16. While the Netherlands placed runner-up to Italy in the tournament, Urbanus played well in nine games, going 11-for-28 (.393) with a double and two triples. He drew three walks, whiffed three times, and stole a base.
A versatile player, Urbanus made appearances at second base, shortstop, and third base during September’s European Championship. He split time at the same three positions during the regular season with Spokane. Given the depth of upper-level infield talent on the Dutch roster, Urbanus should play a reserve utility role for the club in this year’s WBC.
Urbanus became the first European-born amateur player signed by the Rangers when he inked with the club in November 2010. He’s the third generation in his family (along with his grandfather and father) to compete with the Dutch Senior National Team.
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