Under-the-Radar Players Who Will Shine at the World Baseball Classic
While it is evident that the World Baseball Classic is filled with superstars, there are also some lesser-known players that get the chance to shine during baseball's big tournament.
Players from around the world can make a name for themselves on an international stage. For players that are in the minor leagues, this tournament could lead their respective teams to speed up their timetable.
Even though it is fun to watch the superstars put on a show, make sure you keep an eye out for the under-the-radar players at the World Baseball Classic.
At just 16 years old, Luiz Gohara will be one of the youngest participants in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The young lefty will be representing Brazil in the tournament.
Last summer, the Seattle Mariners singed Gohara as an international free agent. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, some teams believed he was the top pitcher available in the international class. It should be interesting to see what he can do against major-league talent.
With the 32nd pick in the 2012 MLB draft, the Minnesota Twins selected J.O. Berrios. He had a short stint in the minors last year and he looked very impressive.
Berrios pitched to a 1.17 ERA with 49 strikeouts over 30.2 innings. While Berrios has a long way to go until he reaches the majors, he could shine in his appearances in the World Baseball Classic.
Paco Rodriguez has already impressed Los Angeles Dodgers fans by reaching the major leagues in the same year in which he was drafted.
The reliever can show the team that he is deserving of a spot in the team's Opening Day bullpen with a good performance in the World Baseball Classic. Rodriguez will be pitching for Team Spain and will have some tough competition in Pool C.
Although he is just 24 years old, Fernando Martinez has already gone from being a potential superstar to an overrated player to a bust. However, Martinez could very well have a long career ahead of him.
As a member of the Houston Astros' Triple-A team, Martinez demonstrated the promise that he once displayed and showed some power in his time in the majors in 2012, with six homers in 118 at-bats.
A good performance for Team Spain in the WBC could be a huge confidence-booster for Martinez heading into the season.
During the past two seasons, the Seattle Mariners have given Alex Liddi a cup of coffee in the big leagues, but he has not proved that he deserves to take on a bigger role.
Liddi does have some impressive minor-league numbers, such as his 30-home run, 104-RBI season at Triple-A in 2011 as a 22-year-old. Team Italy is hoping that he puts that power on display in the World Baseball Classic.
While Masahiro Tanaka may be considered an under-the-radar player for baseball fans in the United States, he is by no means one for fans that follow Nippon Professional Baseball.
Tanaka won the Eiji Sawamura Award in 2011, which is the equivalent of the Cy Young Award. During the past two seasons, Tanaka has been virtually unhittable and has a 1.53 ERA.
According to Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News, the Texas Rangers already have their eye on Tanaka.
There is at least one player that is planning on using the World Baseball Classic to gauge his interest in coming to MLB. According to Yakyubaka.com, Kenta Maeda is looking to use the WBC to see how it would be to pitch in the U.S.
Maeda is a former Sawamura Award winner and has put up some very strong numbers in each of the past three seasons, including a 1.53 ERA in 2012.