The World Baseball Classic begins late Tuesday night with a match-up of Cuba and the Netherlands. The tournament runs through March 21st, when the winner will be crowned. Japan won the first two WBC tournaments (2006/2009), followed by the Dominican Republic in 2013 and Team USA in 2017. This is the first WBC since USA won.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are sending 12 players, though the rosters can change before the tournament. An injury to Jarlin Garcia knocked him out of the WBC. Plenty of other players have also dropped out recently as well, so this is a tentative list still.
Here’s a list of the Pittsburgh Pirates who are on the rosters:
USA: David Bednar
Canada: Rob Zastryzny
Dominican Republic: Roansy Contreras, Luis Ortiz (late addition)
Puerto Rico: Duane Underwood Jr.
Italy: Alessandro Ercolani, Jeffrey Passantino
Netherlands: Antwone Kelly, Josh Palacios
Chinese Taipei: Tsung-Che Cheng
Great Britain: Tahnaj Thomas, Chavez Young
Colombia: Santiago Florez
As you can see by the list, it includes a lot of pitchers, with most of them being minor league pitchers. David Bednar, Roansy Contreras and Duane Underwood Jr are the only 40-man roster players.
Shortstop Tsung-Che Cheng is the top prospect here for the Pirates, with Tahnaj Thomas, Antwone Kelly, and Alessandro Ercolani all being interesting arms. I’m not sure how much the young pitchers will play, but Cheng should see regular action as the starting shortstop and possible lead-off hitter.
The tournament starts with Pool A, which has the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei and Italy, so there could be a lot of Pirates involved early on. Cuba and Panama are also in that pool. Teams will play each other once each over a five-day period.
Pool B starts 10 PM on Thursday night (Eastern time) with Australia vs Korea. That group also includes Japan, China and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately for Pirates fans, there’s no one to follow in that entire pool.
Pool C includes Team USA, Mexico, Great Britain, Canada and Colombia. The first game from that pool is Colombia vs Mexico on Saturday afternoon. Team USA takes on Great Britain at 9 PM on Saturday. The other three games for the US all start at 10 PM, which makes no sense for TV, so plan to stay up late if you’re going to watch.
Pool D has Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Israel and Nicaragua. Not much there for the Pirates obviously, but those first three I listed are three of the better teams in the tournament.
March 15th-18th will be one game each day for the winners and runners up from each pool playing. The winners of those quarterfinals will play on March 19th and the 20th, followed by the championship game on the 21st. All of the March 17th-21st games will take place at 7 PM. The March 15th-16th games will take place in Japan (the Pool A/B teams), and they will air at 6 AM Eastern time.
The big day to watch if you’re planning on a full day of WBC viewing is the 11th, when eight games are taking place spread throughout the day. The 12th has seven games. Every game will be televised somewhere. Here’s the full daily schedule with channels/times.
We will have recaps throughout the tournament for games involving Pirates players.
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
**Early Observations on the Pirates After a Week of Spring Training Games
Anthony Murphy breaks down what he’s seen from the Pirates and their position battles after a week’s worth of Spring Training games.
**Carmen Mlodzinski Getting Praise For Stuff Early In Spring Training
The 2020 supplemental first rounder has been getting some recognition for his stuff early in camp. Anthony Murphy looks in detail at how his cutter and changeup stand out.
**World Baseball Classic Preview: A Dozen Pirates are Scheduled to Play – READING
We will have daily World Baseball Classic updates for all of the Pirates involved. John Dreker previews who is playing, and for which country.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.