SPOKANE, WA - The fourth iteration of the World Baseball Classic is just one week away and the Spokane Indians will be well represented. Eleven former players from seven different countries, including Ian Kinsler and Rougned Odor, are set to compete in the 16-team tournament which begins on March 6th in Seoul, South Korea.
Team Venezuela, which finished third in 2009, leads the way with three former Indians donning the maroon and yellow including Martin Perez (2008), Odubel Herrera (2010) and Odor (2011).
"This is an honor for me to play for Venezuela in the WBC," Odor told the Dallas Star-Telegram. "Those guys are great players. Being around those guys, it's good experience. Maybe I can learn a lot of little things that can help me a lot. That's why I want to go."
A tournament dark horse, Team Netherlands will lean heavily on Jurickson Profar (2010) to lead an offense that will likely need to score plenty of runs for a suspect pitching staff. Profar will be joined by fellow Curacao native Christopher Garia (2012-13), who provides depth in the outfield and speed on the bases.
Carlos Beltran (1996), who will be competing in the event for the fourth time, and Alex Claudio (2011) will seek to help Puerto Rico avenge their loss to the Dominican Republic in last tournament's championship game. Beltran has a .274 batting average with three home runs, six doubles, nine RBI, and 15 walks in 21 Classic games.
"It's another dream come true for me," Claudio told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. "Obviously it's a great experience, but I also want to use it to get better. Yadier Molina is going to be my catcher. I can learn from guys like that."
Team USA has never finished among the top three in the event but a star-studded roster that includes Kinsler (2003) at second base looks poised to reach the tournament's championship round for the first time.
Jorge Alfaro (2011), who was just one of four Colombians in Major League Baseball when he debuted for the Phillies last year, will represent his native country and play an important role as the team's primary catcher.
Team Canada's Kellin Deglan (2010) and Israel's Richard Bleier (2008) round out the former Indians competing in the tournament.
For more information about the tournament schedule or broadcast information, please visit worldbaseballclassic.com.
About the Indians
The Indians are the Short Season Class "A" affiliate for the Texas Rangers. For more information, please visit www.spokaneindians.com or call (509) 343-6886 (OTTO).