World Baseball Classic 2013: Top International Players to Watch

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World Baseball Classic 2013: Top International Players to Watch
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The 2013 World Baseball Classic is the perfect stage for some of the top international players to show their skills, and fans should be excited to watch some of the best talent the world has to offer.

Not only is it fun to see great players from other countries, but a lot of these players could be auditioning for Major League Baseball teams that will no doubt be searching for new talent.

At the very least, the WBC gives us an opportunity to watch a foreign star like Jose Abreu from Cuba, who we otherwise would never get an opportunity to see.

Let's take a look at Abreu as well as some of the top international players to watch that aren't currently playing for an American ballclub.

 

Jose Dariel Abreu, First Base, Cuba

Labeled as the Cuban Barry Bonds, Abreu will be one of the best power hitters on display in this year's WBC. You've probably never heard of him because he's never played a single game in the United States and does all his damage in Cuba.

Cuba's star first baseman has both incredible power and great plate discipline to make him one of the best hitters on the planet, by the numbers.

Abreu belted an incredible 33 homers and drove in 93 RBI in an eye-popping amount of at-bats (212) for his Cuban professional team in 2010-2011 (per Baseball-Reference.com). To make him more of a nightmare to opposing pitchers, he posted a .453 batting average that would have left Ted Williams impressed.

The WBC will be the perfect stage for Abreu to display his immense talents as a hitter and remember his name, because he could end up in the majors one day.

 

Tae-Kyun Kim, First Base, South Korea

Tae-Kyun Kim is another solid first baseman who will be on center stage at the WBC.

Not only has Kim shown he can hit the long ball and drive in runs, but the Korean star has also posted some solid averages during his career. In the 2009 WBC, Kim hit .345 with three homers and 11 RBI for a team that led the tournament in RBI and runs scored (per WorldBaseballClassic.com).

In his professional career, Kim's numbers have dipped in recent years, but he has mostly been a lock for at least 20 homers and 70 to 80 RBI with a .300 average throughout (per Baseball-Reference.com). 

Kim will no doubt be a major cog in Korea's offensive machine this year, and his performance will be vital in helping this country back to the championship game for the second-consecutive time.

 

Shinnosuke Abe, Catcher, Japan

Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

The first thing that makes Shinnosuke Abe a player to watch is the fact that he's Japan's catcher, and calling a good game for his pitchers will be important with some of the potent lineups in this year's tournament.

Abe is a solid all-around player, as he can handle the bat as well.

During his 2012 professional season in Japan, Abe hit an astounding .340 with 27 homers and 104 RBI. His career high for homers in a single season was 44 back in 2010 (per Baseball-Reference.com), so clearly this man can hit the long ball and still make consistent contact for base hits.

Abe's responsibilities as a catcher are important enough, but the fact that he's the best hitter and run producer in this lineup makes him vital to Japan's success.

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