In March 2013, the 16 best squads in the world will face off in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Before that happens though, the final set of participating teams must be determined. That, of course, goes through the qualifying rounds which began on Wednesday, September 19.
Twelve teams will battle it out for four spots in the Classic. Here are the rosters most adept at claiming one of those spots.
By all accounts, Canada finds itself among the favorites to make it through. The team has combined age with experience and will rely on Philadelphia Phillies' prospect Tyson Gillies.
Kellin Deglin will likely start at catcher and will attempt to use his MLB minor league experience in leading his team. Canada's road won't be easy, but the talent is there.
If Canada can make it to the WBC, they will have the opportunity to add MLB superstar Joey Votto as well as Justin Morneau to the lineup.
Despite playing with players with a variety of origins, Israel finds itself with a squad containing considerable talent. Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler will lead the team in MLB experience as well as with their bats.
There isn't much to notice on the pitching side of the ball, but Israel has enough skill at bat to hope for a qualifying run.
Which team is likeliest to qualify?
The thing that makes Spain special and dangerous in this competition is the fact that they have noticeable talent at a variety of positions.
Engel Beltre may be the best prospect at the tournament and hopes to step it up for his country.
Finally, with Chris Manno and Richard Castillo on their pitching roster, Spain finds itself among the best pitching teams in the tournament. That sure seems like a recipe for success.
Unfortunately for Spain though, the format of the qualifying prevents two teams in the same group from advancing. This teams their battle with Israel will directly determine future.
For the Germans, it will be about chemistry within the squad. The team is seriously lacking in pitching, and has no real MLB talent on their roster. Coach Frady will have to rely on Max Kepler to use his power to lead the lineup.
Germany did take the bronze at the 2010 European Baseball Championships, so the team has demonstrated their capacity to succeed, but this is a whole new ballgame.