Several A's in mix for spots on World Baseball Classic rosters
This story was excerpted from Martín Gallegos' A's Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
OAKLAND -- The World Baseball Classic is only a couple of months away, and the A’s might have representation from a few countries in the event.
Infielder Jordan Diaz is listed on the preliminary roster for Team Colombia, while infielder Zack Gelof is on Team Israel’s preliminary roster and outfielder Denzel Clarke is on Team Canada’s. On the pitching side, right-hander Adrián Martínez is included on Team Mexico’s preliminary 50-man roster. Final 30-man rosters will be released on Feb. 7, then tournament play starts March 8.
Here’s a closer look at each potential participant for the A’s in the 2023 Classic:
JORDAN DIAZ (COLOMBIA)
Diaz, Oakland’s No. 9 prospect, found immediate success against Major League pitching upon joining the A’s at the end of last season.
The infielder appeared in 15 games and hit .265 with three doubles while receiving most of his playing time at second base.
What the A’s had to say: “The conversation with Jordan was, ‘Hey, you got here pretty quickly. There’s some things we want you to address to be able to come to Spring Training and earn another opportunity to have impact.’ I think that message was heard. I think Jordan is doing the right things in training this offseason to show up and compete at second and even possibly third base. Just fine-tuning and working on his body. We feel he would benefit from being a little leaner and working on foot speed.” -- manager Mark Kotsay
ZACK GELOF (ISRAEL)
The A’s No. 3 prospect and the No. 94 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, Gelof appears close to being ready for his arrival to the big leagues. The only question might be what position awaits him in Oakland.
Seeking extra work in the Arizona Fall League after a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder forced him to miss time during the regular season, Gelof impressed the A’s with his ability to handle second base on a regular basis while playing for the Mesa Solar Sox.
What the A’s had to say: "Right now, we think [second base] is his best spot. I wouldn’t rule out spending more time at third base. He ran out to center field for a game in the middle of the year, so he’s a really good athlete. I think we’re really happy with the progress he made offensively this year and want to keep his ability to fit somewhere open.” -- general manager David Forst
DENZEL CLARKE (CANADA)
A strong showing in his first full year of professional baseball helped Clarke jump to No. 13 on the A’s prospects list at the end of the season.
Clarke also joined Gelof for extra reps in the Arizona Fall League.
What the A’s had to say: “Lawrence Butler, Denzel Clarke and Zack Gelof really opened up some eyes [in the AFL] in what they were able to accomplish. … To get a look at that was great. To have conversations with them and make them aware that there’s a lot of opportunity in this organization to have an impact quickly. They’re aware of it. They’re young and got a little ways to go, but it’s always nice to see talent like that and know that’s going to be part of the future.” -- Kotsay
ADRIÁN MARTÍNEZ (MEXICO)
Martínez went through highs and lows as a rookie in 2022, but he showed flashes of promise through his 12 starts with Oakland -- particularly when his nasty changeup was working and was able to make opposing hitters look silly at times.
He will enter Spring Training in the mix for a starting rotation spot.
What the A’s had to say: “He’s got a plus changeup that really helps him out. Good fastball that he can move around and a developing breaking ball. When he puts those all together and learns how to pitch with them, this guy has a good ceiling for himself. … He knows the adjustments he’s supposed to make. This offseason is huge for him because it’s hard to make those adjustments during the season. This offseason will be a really telling tale to where he’s going to be at.” -- A’s pitching coach Scott Emerson