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Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic 2013: Schedule, Roster and Predictions

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2017

Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic 2013: Schedule, Roster and Predictions

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    After finishing the 2009 tournament in ninth place, the Dominican Republic heads into the 2013 World Baseball Classic looking for redemption.

    For as much quality major league talent as the Caribbean nation has produced over the years, the fact that it has failed to advance to the final round of previous World Baseball Classics is well, surprising to say the least.

    With 17 active and two former MLB players on the roster, along with eight minor league prospects—all led by a former American League Manager of the Year in Tony Pena—the Dominican Republic enters opening-round play with an excellent chance of improving its all-time 6-4 record in the WBC.

    Let's take a look at the squad that Pena has assembled and what it is up against.

Schedule

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    Dominican Republic Opening Round Schedule
    DATE/TIME (LOCAL) DATE/TIME (ET) MATCHUP
    Thursday, Mar. 7, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 7, 6:30 p.m. Venezuela vs. D.R.
    Saturday, Mar. 9, 12:00 p.m. Saturday, Mar. 9, 11:00 a.m. D.R. vs. Spain
    Sunday, Mar. 10, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Mar. 10, 7:30 p.m. D.R. vs. Puerto Rico

     

    The Dominican Republic is in Pool C with Spain, Venezuela and the host nation, Puerto Rico, and these first-round games will be played at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.

    Of the three other teams that the Dominican Republic shares Pool C with, it has only faced one previously, defeating Venezuela 11-5 in the first game of Pool D play in the 2006 WBC.

    From that game, only one player remains on the Dominican Republic's roster: Edwin Encarnacion, who will be playing first base this time around, a spot previously held by Albert Pujols and David Ortiz.

    Should the Dominican Republic get past Venezuela in its opening game, there is a chance that the squad could run the table in Pool C play, with Spain posing little-to-no threat and Puerto Rico having a solid offense but a very shaky pitching staff.

    Of course, advancing out of the opening round is only part of the battle.

    The second round would likely see manager Tony Pena's team facing off against Team Canada, Team Mexico or Team USA at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida.

Position Players

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    Catchers Age Bats MLB Affiliation
    Francisco Pena 23 R New York Mets
    Carlos Santana 26 S Cleveland Indians
    Infielders Age Bats MLB Affiliation
    Erick Aybar 29 S Los Angeles Angels
    Robinson Cano 30 L New York Yankees
    Edwin Encarnacion 30 R Toronto Blue Jays
    Leury Garcia 21 S Texas Rangers
    Hanley Ramirez 29 R Los Angeles Dodgers
    Jose Reyes 29 S Toronto Blue Jays
    Miguel Tejada 38 R Kansas City Royals
    Outfielders Age Bats MLB Affiliation
    Nelson Cruz 32 R Texas Rangers
    Alejandro De Aza 28 L Chicago White Sox
    Melky Mesa 26 R New York Yankees
    Ricardo Nanita 31 L Toronto Blue Jays
    Moises Sierra 24 R Toronto Blue Jays

     

    The strength of the Dominican squad is primarily in the lineup—specifically the infield, which is comprised of MLB All-Stars around the horn.

    You've got Edwin Encarnacion at first base, Robinson Cano at second, Jose Reyes at shortstop and Hanley Ramirez manning the hot corner.

    There isn't another team in tournament with an infield as potent as what the Dominican Republic is rolling with.

    Consider the numbers that the fearsome foursome put up in 2012:

      G BA OBP SLG HR RBI SB
    Encarnacion 151 .280 .384 .557 42 110 13
    Cano 161 .313 .379 .550 33 94 3
    Reyes 160 .287 .347 .433 11 57 40
    Ramirez 157 .257 .322 .437 24 92 21

    That's an impressive collection of talent, that has power and speed as well as the ability to get on base.

    Carlos Santana behind the plate and Nelson Cruz in right field both add additional pop to an already powerful lineup, while center fielder Alejandro De Aza gives skipper Tony Pena options: Should he bat De Aza second, behind Jose Reyes, or ninth, in front of his speedy shortstop?

    I'd imagine that he'll opt for the latter, giving the Dominican Republic two speedsters at either end of the lineup, and someone for Reyes to drive home with one of his shots to the outfield gaps.

    The most interesting decision that faces Pena is who he should give the bulk of the playing time in left field—Toronto's Moises Sierra or the New York Yankees' Melky Mesa. Both made their major league debuts in 2012, and while Sierra has more experience and is a better fielder, Mesa has more pop in his bat.

    With the Yankees needing to replace Curtis Granderson in their lineup for at least the first month of the season and Mesa being one of the candidates, it would be surprising if Pena didn't take the opportunity to get Mesa as much playing time as possible so that he and the team can keep evaluating him.

Pitching Staff

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    Pitchers Age Throws MLB Affiliation
    Lorenzo Barcelo 35 R  
    Santiago Casilla 32 R San Francisco Giants
    Angel Castro 30 R  
    Juan Cedeno 29 L New York Yankees
    Samuel Deduno 29 R Minnesota Twins
    Octavio Dotel 39 R Detroit Tigers
    Kelvin Herrera 23 R Kansas City Royals
    Fernando Rodney 35 R Tampa Bay Rays
    Wandy Rodriguez 34 L Pittsburgh Pirates
    Atahualpa Severino 28 L Washington Nationals
    Alfredo Simon 31 R  
    Pedro Strop 27 R Baltimore Orioles
    Jose Veras 32 R Houston Astros
    Edinson Volquez 29 R San Diego Padres

     

    Starting Rotation

    If there's an area of weakness on the Dominican roster, it is the starting rotation.

    While both Edinson Volquez and Wandy Rodriguez have had success at the major league level, both are middle-of-the-rotation arms on a contending team.

    Volquez, who possesses electric stuff, has terrible command of his pitches and was terrible outside the confines of Petco Park, the biggest "pitcher's park" in baseball, posting a 5.60 ERA and 1.65 WHIP on the road.

    Rodriguez has become more of a finesse pitcher than a power one, with his 6.1 K/9 rate in 2012 being the lowest since his rookie season of 2005 and significantly lower than his career mark of 7.4. The good news is Rodriguez is lined up to face a light-hitting Spain team where that shouldn't be an issue.

    The bad news is that after Volquez and Rodriguez, the cupboard is pretty bare for Pena to choose from.

    Sam Deduno, with 15 career major league starts under his belt, is in line to be the third starter for Tony Pena's squad. While he's had some success (his career 4.36 ERA isn't terrible), Deduno walks nearly as many batters as he strikes out.

    That's a problem, especially if Deduno is called on to face Puerto Rico.

    If I'm Pena, I'm going with Volquez against Venezuela, Deduno against Spain and Rodriguez against Puerto Rico.

     

    Bullpen

    If the starters can give the Dominican Republic some length, the bullpen is stacked and ready to close out games.

    Santiago Casilla, Octavio Dotel, Kelvin Herrera and Pedro Strop are four outstanding setup men, while Fernando Rodney is coming off of one of the best seasons any closer has ever had. 

      W-L ERA SV WHIP BB/9 K/9
    Casilla 7-6 2.84 25 1.22 3.1 7.8
    Dotel 5-3 3.57 1 1.07 1.9 9.6
    Herrera 4-3 2.35 0 1.18 2.2 8.2
    Strop 5-2 2.44 3 1.34 5.0 7.9
    Rodney 2-2 0.60 48 0.78 1.8 9.2

    If the Dominican Republic can get out to an early lead, opposing teams will have a very hard time catching up against a formidable bullpen.

Predictions

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    The good news is that the Dominican Republic will put forth a much stronger showing in 2013 than it did in 2009. The oddsmakers seem to think that as well, evidenced by the team's 7-to-2 odds of winning the entire tournament (via Bovada.lv).

    I'm picking the team to run the table in Pool C play and advance to the second round of the tournament in Miami.

    But Team USA will put an end to the Domincan's dreams of a WBC championship at that point.

    While the Dominican Republic has one of the most potent lineups of any team playing, it simply doesn't have the starting pitching necessary to make a deep run in the tournament.

    That will ultimately be its undoing, for as we know, pitching wins championships.

    Had Johnny Cueto or Alexi Ogando chosen to pitch in the tournament—or even Bartolo Colon and Ubaldo Jimenez—I could see the team advancing to the semifinals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

    But without the quality depth in the starting rotation that it needs, the Dominican Republic will be hard pressed to get past Team USA in Miami. 

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