Minnesota Twins: 5 Best WBC Performances by Twins Players
The World Baseball Classic was a great alternative to spring training baseball for many Twins players this March.
There was a wide variety of Twins in the tournament, from stars (Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer) to prospects (J.O. Berrios, Eddie Rosario) to unheralded minor leaguers (Ray Chang, Tom Stuifbergen).
Minnesota players played big roles on their respective teams, so here are the top performers of this year's World Baseball Classic.
Pitching for team USA, the Twins' closer was called upon in two games. He totaled two innings pitched and gave up two earned runs.
The defensive catcher started on team Italy in the WBC. He had only three hits in the tournament, but had a huge two-run home run against Mexico to help lead Italy to a first-round victory.
The No. 7 ranked prospect in the Twins' organization, according to Baseball America, started off his 2013 season by playing for the surprising Puerto Rican team. He played outfield in six of their nine games and picked up three hits in 14 at-bats.
Another top Twins prospect playing for Puerto Rico, the 18-years-old pitched in two games for PR. He gave up four earned runs in two innings pitched.
5. Curt Smith, Netherlands
Going into the World Baseball Classic without a team, the Dutch first basemen played well enough to earn a minor league contract from the Twins.
Smith played in all eight games for the Netherlands and finished the tournament going 9-for-28 (.375) with one double and one home run. He showed patience at the plate with five walks, as well as some timely hitting with four RBI.
Never getting above Double-A, Smith has played five MLB seasons with a career average of .301 and 47 homers.
4. Justin Morneau, Canada
Still trying to regain his pre-concussion form, Morneau took another step forward with a great performance in the World Baseball Classic.
Canada was knocked out in the first round of this year's tourney, but it was not because of a lack of production from the Twins first baseman.
Morneau batted .636/.692/.909 with seven hits, three RBI and four runs scored. His best game came in Canada's only win when he was 4-for-5 with two doubles and all three of his RBI.
Morneau will hope to bring that hot hitting into the 2013 MLB season, which could unfortunately get him traded out of Minnesota midway through the year.
3. Chris Colabello, Italy
After spending seven seasons in the Independent League, Chris Colabello was signed by the Twins and spent last season in Double-A New Britain.
He proved he was good hitter with a .284 average, 19 home runs and 98 RBI.
Colabello followed that up with a great World Baseball Classic performance, helping team Italy reach the second round this year.
His best game came in a 14-4 rout of Canada when he was 4-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and three runs scored. He also hit a three-run bomb in a loss to the Dominican Republic.
He finished the WBC with a .333 average, seven RBI and a 1.035 OPS in 18 at-bats.
Colabello was just recently sent down to Triple-A, but could possibly be called up to the Twins later in the season as an extra bat off the bench.
2. Joe Mauer, USA
Batting clean-up for the United States squad, Mauer was a bright spot for the disappointing team this March.
Playing in all six U.S. games this year, Mauer lead the team in OBP (.538), walks (5) and tied for the lead in extra-base hits (3).
Mauer never truly had one dominant game, but had a hit in every game that he played in.
He finished the tournament going 9-for-21 (.429) with two doubles, one triple and two RBI.
After a great season last year, batting .319 with an American League leading OBP, Twins fans are hoping he can continue to hit and get on base at a high level.
1. Samuel Deduno, Dominican Republic
After a below-average stint with the Twins in 2012, Deduno was dropped off of Minny's 40-man roster, leaving little hope for making the Opening Day roster this season.
That was up until a MVP-calibar performance in the WBC with the Dominican Republic.
He picked up his first of two wins in a game against Spain. He pitched four innings and gave up five hits with zero earned runs. He showed off his great stuff with five strikeouts, but what may be most impressive to Twins fans was his zero walks.
In the second round, Deduno was matched up against the loaded United States team. He gave up one run in the first inning but settled in after that, as he finished with four innings pitched and seven strikeouts.
His final call for the Dominican Republic was in the WBC championship game against Puerto Rico. He pitched another gem, going five innings, giving up zero runs and punching out five.
The 29-year-old picked up the win and led the Dominican Republic to their first World Baseball Classic championship.
Management for the Twins has noticed Deduno's stellar performance, and he will now have a chance to be the No. 5 starter coming out of spring training.