Here are the top prospects at the World Baseball Classic

March 7th, 2023

The Minor League season doesn't start until March 31, but you'll have the chance to watch some of baseball's best prospects play meaningful games over the next two weeks in the World Baseball Classic.

Three of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects headline this year’s crop of top young talents: Brewers outfielder Sal Frelick (No. 30) will suit up for Team Italy, Mariners catcher Harry Ford (No. 49) returns to Team Great Britain after leading them in the WBC Qualifiers and Bo Naylor (No. 64) follows in his older brother’s footsteps with Team Canada. 

Here's a look at the 23 prospects ranked within their organization’s Top 30 list who are participating in the 2023 WBC.

POOL A (Taichung, Taiwan)

Chinese Taipei: SS Tsung-Che Cheng (Pirates No. 30)

Signed by Pittsburgh in 2019, Cheng has been a steady defender everywhere he's played while also consistently getting on base -- he's great at making contact but also draws walks, adding up to an OBP of .395 through 142 games in the Bucs' Minor League system. He also comes to the Classic with international showcase experience, having played for Colombia in the 2022 Caribbean Series.

Cuba: None

Italy: OF Sal Frelick (Brewers No. 2/MLB No. 30); OF Dominic Fletcher (D-backs No. 17)

Frelick, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 Draft, reached Triple-A in his first full season as a pro last summer and finished in the top five among all Minor Leaguers with a .331 average between three levels. Fletcher found similar success in the upper levels of the Arizona organization, slashing .312/.378/.486 in 133 games.

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Netherlands: RHP Jaydenn Estanista (Phillies No. 27)

The Curacao native impressed in his U.S. debut in 2022, striking out 10.1 batters per nine in the Florida Complex League. The 21-year-old can reach the upper 90s with his fastball and should sit there more consistently as his frame fills out.

Panama: OF Jose Ramos (Dodgers No. 23)

Ramos hit 25 home runs between Single-A and High-A as a 21-year-old before showing off more impressive pop in the Arizona Fall League.

POOL B (Tokyo, Japan)

Australia: None

China: None

Czech Republic: None

Korea: None

Japan: None

POOL C (Phoenix, Arizona)

Canada: C Bo Naylor (Guardians No. 4/MLB No. 64); 2B Edouard Julien (Twins No. 4); OF Owen Caissie (Cubs No. 13); OF Denzel Clarke (Athletics No. 13); SS Otto Lopez (Blue Jays No. 14); OF Dasan Brown (Blue Jays No. 15); RHP Mitch Bratt (Rangers No. 17)

Naylor, whose older brother Josh was on the roster in the 2017 WBC, joins names like Freddie Freeman and Tyler O'Neill in the lineup, but he's one of a slew of prospects to watch on the squad. Caissie, Clarke and Julien all flashed impressive power and speed during both the regular season and Arizona Fall League, with Julien winning the circuit’s Breakout Player of the Year Award. Bratt spent his age-18 season in Single-A and pitched like he was much older, finishing with a 2.45 ERA in 80.2 innings. Lopez received 10 at-bats in the Majors over the last two seasons but has spent most of that time as a contact-first shortstop in Triple-A. His organization teammate Brown stole over 20 bases for the second straight season in 2022.

Colombia: 1B/3B Jordan Diaz (Athletics No. 7); LHP Luis De Avila (Braves No. 30)

Diaz mashed at the upper levels of the Oakland system, hitting .326/.366/.515 in 120 games before making 15 appearances in the Majors in September. He should benefit from sharing a locker room with veteran hitters like Gio Urshela, Donovan Solano and Jorge Alfaro. De Avila didn't finish 2022 on Atlanta's Top 30 but flashed solid stuff over 24 starts in High-A last season to jump onto the latest rankings.

Great Britain: C Harry Ford (Mariners No. 1/MLB No. 49)

Ford, born in Atlanta, qualifies for inclusion on the Great Britain roster since both of his parents hold citizenship in the United Kingdom. At the WBC Qualifiers in Regensburg, Germany, Ford mashed three homers in three games. Across 104 games at Single-A Modesto in his first full pro season, Ford hit 11 home runs and posted an .863 OPS.

Mexico: RHP Alan Rangel (Braves No. 26)

Rangel was on Atlanta's 40-man roster in 2022 -- even spending a few days in the Majors, though he didn't appear in a game -- but was non-tendered and subsequently re-signed on a Minor League deal. That commitment, along with strong underlying metrics, helped him jump onto the Braves' updated Top 30 list.

(Rangel is a member of Mexico's designated pitcher pool, meaning he can be added to the roster as a substitute in between rounds.)

United States: None

POOL D (Miami, Florida)

Dominican Republic: RHP Luis Ortiz (Pirates No. 8)

Ortiz was a late addition to the DR roster, another feather in the right-hander's cap after he made a swift rise to the Majors last season. After beginning 2022 with only Single-A experience, Ortiz made four starts for the Pirates in September.

Israel: Zack Gelof (Athletics No. 3); 1B Matt Mervis (Cubs No. 7); LHP Colton Gordon (Astros No. 10); 1B Spencer Horwitz (Blue Jays No. 18)

Mostly composed of Jewish-American players, Team Israel’s roster features Gelof, a second-round pick in 2021, and Mervis, whose 36 home runs in 2022 were tied for the third-most in the Minor Leagues. Horwitz, like the other two bats, finished the year in Triple-A, while Gordon returned from Tommy John surgery to run a 2.35 ERA between three levels.

Nicaragua: RHP Carlos Rodriguez (Brewers No. 13)

Rodriguez was born in Nicaragua but was drafted out of a junior college in Florida in 2021. In his professional debut last summer, he pitched to a 3.07 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 107.2 innings as a 20-year-old in A-ball.

Puerto Rico: RHP Dominic Hamel (Mets No. 9)

Hamel, who has Puerto Rican heritage through his late mother, was the Mets' third-round pick in the 2021 Draft and established himself as one of the organization’s top arms in his first full season as a pro. His 3.25 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 119 innings between Single-A and High-A earned him the Mets’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.

Venezuela: None