World Baseball Classic Team Preview : Puerto Rico

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Tournament history: 13-8. Team Puerto Rico reached the 2013 championship game in AT&T Park, but was limited to three hits in a 3-0 loss to the Dominican Republic. In both 2006 and 2009, Team Puerto Rico — playing as hosts in Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan — went unbeaten in the first round before going 1-2 and being eliminated in the second round.

Manager: Edwin Rodriguez is back for his second WBC after guiding Team Puerto Rico to the 2013 championship game. The former Miami Marlins skipper (2010-11) now manages in the Indians system.

ROSTER

Pitchers: Jose Berrios, Hiram Burgos, Alex Claudio, Joseph Colon, Edwin Diaz, Joe Jimenez, Jorge Lopez, Seth Lugo, Miguel Mejia, Emilio Pagan, Orlando Roman, J.C. Romero, Hector Santiago, Giovanni Soto

Catchers: Yadier Molina, Roberto Perez, Rene Rivera

Infielders: Mike Aviles, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Kiké Hernandez, Francisco Lindor, T.J. Rivera, Kennys Vargas

Outfielders: Carlos Beltran, Reymond Fuentes, Angel Pagan, Eddie Rosario

Projected lineup:

  • SS Francisco Lindor
  • 2B Javier Baez
  • 3B Carlos Correa
  • DH Carlos Beltran
  • 1B Kennys Vargas
  • C Yadier Molina
  • LF Kike Hernandez
  • CF Angel Pagan
  • RF Eddie Rosario

The rundown: Everybody wants to see the trio of young stars — Lindor, Baez and Correa — playing together on the same infield. They will join veterans Beltran, Molina and Pagan — all of whom were part of the 2013 WBC roster. But what’s missing here are frontline starting pitchers, as veteran Hector Santiago is the most proven, reliable arm. Rays prospect Jose De Leon and former big-leaguer Joel Piniero are later-round possibilities from the designated pitcher pool. Edwin Diaz, who struck out 88 in 57.1 IP, and logged 18 saves with the Mariners in 2016, will be the closer. If Team Puerto Rico is going to get deep into this tournament, young arms will have to emerge.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Left-hander Alex Claudio, 25, posted a 2.79 ERA in 51.2 IP out of the Rangers bullpen last season.

Right-hander Seth Lugo, 27, was surprisingly good in 64 IP with the Mets last season following some just-OK minor-league career numbers.

Right-hander Jose Berrios struggled badly (8.02 ERA, 1.87 WHIP) in 14 starts for the 2016 Twins, but at 22, still has plenty of time to develop.

Right-hander Joe Jimenez, 22, compiled 30 saves in three stops in the Tigers organization last season, and will make his MLB debut this season.

Right-hander Hiram Burgos, 29, surfaced for six starts with the 2013 Brewers, and remains in their organization.

Veteran lefty J.C. Romero, 40, last pitched in the majors in 2012.

Prediction: As exciting as the Lindor-Baez-Correa trio should be, this team seems a bit short on quality big-league pitching to pull off a repeat of its deep run in the 2013 tournament.