Monday, September 17, 2012

Team Canada pledges “Heute Deutschland, morgen die Welt”

And on that awkward note let’s take a look as the second 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifer, being held in Regensburg, Germany.

Regensburg Qualifier – Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain

Without even looking at the rosters you can pretty well assume Canada is the heavy favorite to win this. The canucks are the only nation in the group to have played in the Classic, participating in both 2006 and 2009. While the September schedule means Canada won’t have any of the stars they played with in ’09 (such as Joey Votto, Justin Morneau, or Russell Martin) they still have the most talented roster in the qualifier, with over half of their roster having spent 2012 in Double-A or Triple-A ball. Standouts include RHP Shawn Hill (44 career major league starts), RHP Trystan Magnuon (1.95 ERA, 24/7 K/BB in 25 apperances in Double-A in 2012), catcher Kellin Deglan (2010 first round pick), first baseman Jordan Lennerton (.269/.368/.469 in Double-A in 2012, top defensive 1B in the Eastern League according to Baseball America), and outfielder Tyson Gillies (.304/.369/.453 in Double-A, former top rated prospect).

Host country Germany will likely be Canada’s biggest threat in the tournament. In addition to having home-nation-advantage the Germans have a fair number of major league affiliated players, including major league vet LHP Will Ohman, LHP Alex Burgos (8-10, 4.90 ERA in Advanced Single-A), outfielers Max Kepler (.297/.387/.539 in Rookie Ball) and Aaron Altherr (.721 OPS, 25 SB in Single-A).

The German roster will also rely heavily on native-born players but the nation has been among Europe’s best in international competition, finishing fourth place or better in each of the last four European Championships. However, they still remain unproven against the rest of the world going winless in the 2011 Baseball World Cup (a tournament that Canada won the bronze in).

Great Britain and the Czech Republic haven’t had much of a presense in international baseball in recent years. Brit’s will hope to change that by putting together a surprisingly solid pitching staff, headlined by top Dodger prospect LHP Chris Reed (3.09 ERA in Advanced Single-A, 4.84 in Double-A), Omaha legend LHP Michael Roth (4.91 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in Rookie ball), and LHP Hamilton Bennett (7-2, 2.55 ERA, 54/17 K/BB in 41 apperances in Advanced Single-A).

Slugging infielder Mike Cervenak (.340/.408/.504 in Triple-A) will be the Czech’s biggest offensive threat, but beyond that their roster is almost entirely comprised of players that spent 2012 in the Czech Republic. It may be enough to top the Brits, as the Czech Republic has finished ahead of them in each of the last two Euro Championships, but doubtful they’ll be able to overcome Germany, let alone Canada.

Disclaimer: I realize this is my second straight post that included a headline that could be construed as anti-Semitic…. and both were written in the middle of Rosh Hashanah for good measure. In my defense: 1. I have a Jewish girlfriend, so it’s cool; 2. I plan on offending every other ethnic group in due time.