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Tribe farmhand Maronde to play in WBC qualifying round

Left-hander will suit up for New Zealand in Sydney tournament
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- The fourth installment of the World Baseball Classic is scheduled to begin next spring, giving many of baseball's biggest stars the chance to suit up with pride for their home countries. This month, the first steps toward that global stage are being constructed.

A series of qualifiers are approaching fast, helping narrow the field for next year's tournament. The first one will take place in Sydney, Australia, giving Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines the chance to move on to the 2017 Classic. One of the Indians' farmhands, left-hander Nick Maronde, will play for New Zealand in the upcoming six-game, double-elimination tournament.

CLEVELAND -- The fourth installment of the World Baseball Classic is scheduled to begin next spring, giving many of baseball's biggest stars the chance to suit up with pride for their home countries. This month, the first steps toward that global stage are being constructed.

A series of qualifiers are approaching fast, helping narrow the field for next year's tournament. The first one will take place in Sydney, Australia, giving Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines the chance to move on to the 2017 Classic. One of the Indians' farmhands, left-hander Nick Maronde, will play for New Zealand in the upcoming six-game, double-elimination tournament.

Maronde -- acquired from the Angels in July 2014 -- will pitch for a New Zealand squad managed by former Major Leaguer Chris Woodward. New Zealand will square off against South Africa on Feb. 11 in the first game of the qualifier, which runs from Feb. 11-14 at Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney.

The winner from each of the four qualifiers will join the 12 countries -- Canada, China, Chinese Tapei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela -- that are already guaranteed spots in the March 2017 World Baseball Classic.

After Sydney, additional qualifiers will take place at Estadio B Air in Mexicali, Mexico, from March 17-20 (Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany and Nicaragua), Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama, from March 17-20 (Colombia, France, Panama and Spain), and MCU Park in Brooklyn, New York, from September 22-25 (Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan).

Maronde, 26, logged 33 games in the Major Leagues in parts of three seasons (2012-14) with the Angels, who dealt the lefty to Cleveland on July 12, 2014. Between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in 2015, Maronde went 0-9 with a 4.70 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 92 innings.

Maronde -- a third-round pick by the Angels in the 2011 MLB Draft -- has posted a 3.73 ERA in 131 games in five Minor League seasons.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cleveland Indians