The rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic were revealed Wednesday night on MLB Network and MLB.com. Followers of Beloit baseball may have recognized several familiar names that will compete on this worldwide stage.
A total of 16 former Snappers players will compete for eight different nations next month. Snappers fans could find themselves pulling for Israel or Australia who each have four alumni from the past in addition to representation on Team Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Mexico, Venezuela, Canada and Colombia.
Liam Hendriks, Pitcher
Hendriks is one of three players from the 2009 roster that will play with Australia. Hendriks also began 2010 in Beloit and made six starts with a stellar 1.32 ERA before being moved up in the Twins system. He has since bounced around a bit since then before solidifying himself as a Big League reliever making over 50 appearances the last two seasons.
Matt Williams, Pitcher
Williams spent parts of three seasons with the Snappers with a total of 74 outings and a 2.48 ERA. He fizzled out in affiliated ball after being a Minor League All-Star in 2008 and has played professionally in Australia since 2010.
James Beresford, Infielder
Another Snapper from 2009, Beresford was also in Beloit in 2010. The infielder played in 240 games for the Snappers and made his Major League debut on September 10, 2016 for the Twins after spending 4 year in Triple-A Rochester.
Luke Hughes, Infielder
Hughes has Major League time with Minnesota and Oakland, but has played independent baseball in the United States and Australia since then. He was a Snapper in 2005 and hit .257 that season.
Craig Breslow, Pitcher
Many of the players for Israel are born in the United States, but have chosen to honor their Jewish heritage. Breslow should be one of the household names on the Israel roster. He played on the 2003 Beloit squad along with Prince Fielder, Tony Gwynn Jr., and Rickie Weeks that won 75 games and nearly delivered Beloit their second Midwest League championship. Breslow was a pedestrian 3-4 with a 5.12 ERA that year but has since played 11 Major League seasons, won the 2013 World Series with the Red Sox, and has made over 500 appearances including. He recently signed with the Twins on a Minor League contract.
Joey Wagman, Pitcher
Wagman played in Beloit during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He has been a starter much of his career and started 21 of his 30 total outings for the Snappers with a record of 10-6. Wagman bounced back-and-forth between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland in 2016.
Nick Rickles, Catcher
Nick Rickles was part of Beloit's last winning season in 2013, the first year in the affiliation with the Oakland Athletics. Rickles split catching duties with Bruce Maxwell much of that year while Nick hit .258 over 81 games in a Snappers uniform. He reached Triple-A Nashville in 2015 and was released by the A's after the season. He joined the Nationals organization last year where he looks to break into the Majors for the first time.
Nate Freiman, Infielder
Freiman was a rehab assignment from Oakland for the last two games of the 2014 season. He is currently a free-agent seeking to have a positive audition in the WBC to gain employment for 2017.
Team Puerto Rico
Kennys Vargas, Infielder
Vargas and Eddie Rosario were teammates on the 2012 Snappers that won 77 games with Miguel Sano. Vargas led that team at the plate with a .312 average and has spent his entire professional career with the Twins including some Major League time between 2014-16.
Eddie Rosario, Outfielder
Rosario, like Vargas, has spent his entire career in the Twins organization. Rosario led the 2012 Snappers with 32 doubles and played in over 200 games for the Twins the last two years.
Tom Stuifbergen, Pitcher
Stuifbergen was a Midwest League All-Star in 2010 with the Snappers with a 6-4, 2.98 ERA campaign. He made one appearance at Triple-A the next year, but never quite broke through after that. Tom has played in the Dutch Major Leagues from 2014-16.
Loek van Mil, Pitcher
The 7-foot-1 righty is now 32 years old, but was a Midwest League All-Star in 2008. He had a record of 2-2 and a 3.22 ERA for Beloit that year. Loek has played professionally in Japan, Australia and in his home country in the Dutch Major Leagues. He returned to affiliated baseball in 2015 when the Twins brought him back to play at Triple-A Rochester and was released last April.
Yovanni Gollardo, Pitcher - Team Mexico
Gollardo's tenure in Beloit was brief, but he did make two starts for the Snappers in 2004 before becoming an All-Star at the Major League level in 2010. He has since played 10 seasons at the Major League level with over 100 wins and nearly 1600 innings pitched and has signed to pitch for the Seattle Mariners in 2017.
Yangervis Solarte, Infielder - Team Venezuela
Solarte will be playing on one of the most talented rosters in the World Baseball Classic while sharing the infield with superstars Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve. Yangervis visited Beloit for 41 games in 2008 and hit .218, but he now is one of the veteran leaders for the San Diego Padres. His 116 hits and 71 RBI for San Diego last year trailed only All-Star Wil Myers while Solarte was rewarded with an extension that could keep him in a Padres uniform through 2020.
Rene Tosoni, Outfielder - Team Canada
Tosoni only played 2 games for the Snappers at the end of the 2007 season before playing in Fort Myers the next year. The Toronto native was the batter hit before a bench-clearing brawl broke out between Team Canada and Team Mexico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Tosoni got the Big Leagues for a 60-game stint with the Twins in 2011 and hit .203 with 5 homers. He has been playing in the independent leagues the last three seasons since being let go by Minnesota and played with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2016.
Yohan Pino, Pitcher - Team Colombia
Born in Venezuela, Pino will play for neighboring Colombia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. His 14 wins for Beloit during a Midwest League All-Star campaign in 2006 is the third-most by a Snappers pitcher in team history while his 1.91 ERA that season is one of the best Beloit has ever seen. Pino has made 18 Major League appearances between the Twins and Royals and signed a Minor League contract with the Twins for 2017 which should land him at Triple-A Rochester to begin the year.
The 2017 World Baseball Classic will be the fourth installment of this international tournament that allows professionals from around the world to represent their home countries and compete against each other. The first round of play begins on March 6 and will run through the championship game held on March 22 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Complete information on the World Baseball Classic can be found at www.worldbaseballclassic.com.
The Beloit Snappers are a member of the Midwest League and are entering their fifth season as the Class-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Tickets for the 2017 season go on sale on February 27. Contact the Snappers' offices at 608-362-2272 or visit our website at www.snappersbaseball.com.