Bogaerts leads impressive Netherlands infield group

February 10th, 2023

The Netherlands is aiming to finally reach the medal stand in the 2023 World Baseball Classic after finishing the past two tournaments in fourth place.

Managed by Hensley Meulens, the Netherlands is led by an experienced group of infielders who should be familiar to MLB fans: , , and . They will try to advance out of Pool A, which features Cuba, Italy, Panama and Chinese Taipei. The Netherlands and Cuba will face off in the first game of this year’s Classic on March 7 (11 p.m. ET, live on FS1).

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of The Netherlands, the No. 7 team in the world. Within each position, players are listed in alphabetical order, with any current affiliation to an MLB organization noted in parentheses.

Catchers: Sicnarf Loopstok, Dashenko Ricardo, Chadwick Tromp (Braves)

Tromp played parts of two seasons with the Giants before being picked up off waivers by Atlanta prior to the 2022 season. The 27-year-old appeared in one game in the big leagues last year – and went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Ricardo is the WBC veteran among this group, having participated in each of the past two tournaments.

Infielders: Xander Bogaerts (Padres), Didi Gregorius, Dwayne Kemp, Richie Palacios (Guardians), Juremi Profar, Jonathan Schoop (Tigers), Sharlon Schoop, Andrelton Simmons, Zander Wiel

Bogaerts, Simmons and Jonathan Schoop are headed into their third WBC together. While Bogaerts (.737 OPS) and Schoop (.707 OPS) have been decent contributors in the competition, Simmons -- a free agent after struggling last season with the Cubs -- owns an impressive .339/.373/.516 slash line over 15 tournament games.

Beyond the well-known names, this roster is highlighted by a lot of brotherly love. Sharlon Schoop, Jonathan’s older brother by four years, is also on Team Netherlands for the third time. Richie Palacios will team with his older brother, Josh. Richie made his big league debut last season with the Guardians while Josh played 29 games for the Nationals before being claimed off waivers by the Pirates this winter. Both are first-timers to the World Baseball Classic. Profar is set to make his WBC debut as well, but without older brother Jurickson, who isn’t on this squad for the first time since 2009.

Outfielders: Wladimir Balentien, Roger Bernadina, Ray-Patrick Didder, Josh Palacios (Pirates)

Balentien paced all players in hits (16), home runs (4), RBIs (12) and OPS (1.792) en route to becoming a unanimous selection for the 2017 All-Classic Team. His .469 average is the best among all hitters with at least 30 career at-bats in the tournament.

Bernadina, who spent seven seasons in the Majors, batted .364 with a .925 OPS last year in Honkbal Hoofdklasse, the Netherlands’ top level of professional baseball.

Pitchers: Mike Bolsenbroek, Tom de Blok, Jaydenn Estanista (Phillies), Wendell Floranus, Lars Huijer, Ryan Huntington^, Antwone Kelly (Pirates), Kevin Kelly, Shairon Martis, Eric Mendez (D-backs), Pedro Strop, Juancarlos Antonio Sulbaran, Franklin Van Gurp, Derek West (Astros)

^denotes left-handed pitcher

Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen isn’t on the final roster but is a member of the team’s designated pitcher pool, meaning he can be added later. Strop, a 13-year MLB veteran, joins Team Netherlands after pitching for his home country, the Dominican Republic, during the 2013 WBC. Strop’s father is from Curaçao.

Martis is slated to compete in his fourth WBC. The 35-year-old appeared in 20 games for the Nationals in 2008-09 and pitched in six games out of the Twins’ bullpen in 2013.

Antwone Kelly, 19, pitched to a 2.31 ERA with 29 strikeouts across 23 1/3 frames in the Florida Complex League last year. Estanista ended 2022 as the Phillies’ No. 26 prospect.