On a roster that featured the return of former World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, it was a Royals prospect who stole the spotlight.
Sugar Ray Marimon gave up one run on four hits and struck out four over five innings Friday as Colombia coasted past Nicaragua, 8-1, in a World Baseball Classic qualifier at Panama City, Panama.
The victory means Colombia will face Brazil in a play-in game Saturday, with the winner moving on to the regional final. Brazil edged the host country, 3-2 on Thursday.
The only run Marimon yielded came in the fourth, when he served up a solo homer to fellow Royals prospect Cheslor Cuthbert. Otherwise, he never allowed more than one baserunner in an inning, thanks to solid control that saw hit one batter without issuing a walk.
The 24-year-old right-hander was 7-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 26 appearances (21 starts) between Class A Advanced Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He was named a Carolina League midseason All-Star after posting a 2.12 ERA and .206 opponents' batting average before earning a promotion in mid-June.
Former Astros farmhand Steve Brown led the offensive charge for Colombia, going 2-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored. His RBI single from the ninth spot in the lineup sparked a five-run second inning. Marlins infielder Donovan Solano contributed a two-run triple, his only hit in five at-bats, while Indians prospect Giovanny Urshella went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBIs.
As for Renteria, the five-time All-Star went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored out of the No. 2 spot in his Colombian debut. The 36-year-old shortstop did not participate in the WBC in 2006 or 2009 and did not play in the Majors this past season after going unsigned.