The Korea Baseball Organization released South Korea's 28-man roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic on Thursday. Four Major Leaguers headline a squad many consider among the favorites in the 16-team field.
Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang and Mariners first baseman/designated hitter Dae-Ho Lee will participate for Korea, which is one of the four host countries. Pool play begins March 6, 2017, in Seoul's Gocheok Sky Dome -- an 18,000-seat stadium that is the home of the KBO's Nexen Heroes.
Korea will face Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands and Israel in Pool A as it looks to rebound from a disappointing finish four years ago. South Korea was eliminated in pool play by a run-differential tiebreaker in 2013 after reaching the tournament finals in '09. South Korea placed third in the inaugural tournament in '06.
It'll be the third straight Classic for Kim and Lee, and the second for Kang. Choo was a member of South Korea's 2009 team, but he did not participate in '13.
Choo hit .242/.357/.399 during an injury-shortened season with the Rangers, his third in Texas and 12th Major League season overall. Kang returned from a horrific leg injury last October to hit .255 with 21 home runs in 103 games of a productive sophomore season for the Pirates.
Lee showed his ability to hit for power with 14 home runs as a rookie for Seattle. Kim hit .302 as a rookie for the Orioles, and he batted second for Baltimore in the American League Wild Card Game.
Two Korean Major League players were left off the WBC roster: Cardinals reliever Seunghwan Oh and Twins first baseman ByungHo Park. Oh was suspended by the KBO for gambling with a former teammate at a casino abroad -- which is forbidden by South Korea laws for its citizens -- before joining St. Louis last offseason. Park underwent wrist surgery in August.