Star power, former Classic MVP lead Puerto Rico's roster

Club seeks mountain top after two consecutive runner-up finishes

February 10th, 2023

Puerto Rico is looking to take another step forward in this year’s World Baseball Classic, and after finishing as the runner-up in both 2013 and 2017, a championship is the only thing left.

Yadier Molina, who competed for Puerto Rico in each of the first four World Baseball Classics, will not be playing in his fifth event after retiring at the end of the 2022 season, but the longtime Cardinals catcher will serve as manager, hoping to lead his country to that elusive title.

Although opted out of participating in the WBC due to the expected due date of his second child next month, Puerto Rico features some significant star power, led by and .

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of Team Puerto Rico. Within each position, players are listed in alphabetical order, with any affiliation to an MLB organization noted in parentheses.

Catchers: (Astros), MJ Melendez (Royals), (Twins)

One of the strongest catching units in the tournament, Puerto Rico has a nice mix of experience with veterans Maldonado and Vázquez to go along with up-and-comer Melendez.

Infielders: (Tigers), Edwin Díaz (Red Sox), Kiké Hernández (Red Sox), (Mets), (Phillies), (Twins), (D-backs), Neftali Soto

Lindor and Báez are the most notable names in this group, and both players will be hungry to win after being part of the starting lineup that lost to Team USA in the title game in 2017. Hernández could very well see time in center field, as Lindor and Báez are expected to play up the middle.

Outfielders: Henry Ramos (Reds), (Braves), Nelson Velázquez (Cubs)

As mentioned above, Hernández could emerge as the team’s center fielder, while Rosario -- the 2021 NLCS MVP -- should play left field. Both have represented Puerto Rico in the WBC before, part of the starting lineup in 2017. That leaves Velázquez, a 24-year-old who made his big league debut last season and appeared in 77 games for the Cubs, and Ramos, a 30-year-old with 18 games of MLB experience, in the right-field mix.

Pitchers: José Berríos (Blue Jays), Fernando Cruz (Reds), José De León (Twins), Alexis Díaz (Reds), Edwin Díaz (Mets), Dominic Hamel (Mets), Jorge López (Twins), Anthony Maldonado (Marlins), Jovani Moran^ (Twins), Nicholas Padilla (White Sox), (Twins), (Braves), (Twins), Hector Santiago^, (Cubs), (Pirates)

^ denotes left-handed pitcher

The name that stands out above the rest is Stroman, who captured the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award in 2017 as a member of Team USA. Stroman, whose mother is from Puerto Rico, decided to suit up for her country this time, looking to help his new team to its first WBC title. Berríos will form a strong 1-2 punch atop the rotation, while Pagán, López and Edwin Díaz give the staff plenty of late-inning experience.