2 MVPs, a ROY, the AL batting champ ... Venezuela has it all

February 10th, 2023

Venezuela has often featured some of the game’s best players in the World Baseball Classic, but the country has never reached the championship game in the first four editions of the event.

The team is hoping that will change in 2023, as Venezuela’s roster is loaded with big-time MLB talent, putting it in position to make a run. Venezuela’s previous best finish came in 2009, when it finished third.

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

Catchers: Robinson Chirinos, Omar Nárvaez (Mets), Salvador Perez (Royals)
Perez suffered a knee injury in the 2017 Classic, and although he avoided any serious issues, it ended his tournament prematurely. His veteran presence behind the plate will help guide Venezuela’s strong pitching staff.

Infielders: Jose Altuve (Astros), Luis Arraez (Marlins), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Eduardo Escobar (Mets), Andrés Giménez (Guardians), Luis Rengifo (Angels), Miguel Rojas (Dodgers), Eugenio Suárez (Mariners), Gleyber Torres (Yankees)
It’s difficult to imagine a group of infielders with more experience than Venezuela’s, which is led by WBC veteran Altuve. There’s power (Suárez, Torres), a reigning batting champion (Arraez) and some serious talent up the middle (Giménez, Rojas). The biggest problem for Venezuela might be finding enough playing time for everybody in the group. Oh, and there’s also Cabrera, who will likely be the DH as he starts the final season of his career repping his home country.

Outfielders: Ronald Acuña Jr. (Braves), David Peralta (Dodgers), Anthony Santander (Orioles)
In addition to this trio, Escobar and Rengifo have seen limited time in the corner outfield spots during their respective careers, so they could fit into the mix, too.

Pitchers: Endrys Briceno (D-backs), Maximo Castillo (Royals), Emmanuel De Jesus^ (Marlins), Jhonathan Diaz^ (Angels), Edwin Escobar^, Norwith Gudino (Red Sox), Jesús Luzardo^ (Marlins), Eduardo Rodriguez^ (Tigers), José Alvarado^ (Phillies), Silvino Bracho (Reds), Jhoulys Chacin, Luis Garcia (Astros), Carlos Hernandez (Royals), Elieser Hernandez (Mets), Darwinzon Hernandez^ (Orioles), Pablo López (Twins), Andres Machado (Nationals), Germán Márquez (Rockies), Martín Pérez^ (Rangers), José Quijada^ (Angels), José Ruiz (White Sox), Ranger Suárez^ (Phillies), Anthony Vizcaya
^denotes left-handed pitcher
Venezuela will have no shortage of starting options, with López, Pérez, Luzardo, Garcia, Rodriguez and Marquez all boasting strong MLB résumés. The bullpen will likely be anchored by a pair of Phillies teammates in Suárez and Alvarado.