Soto, Sandy, Manny, Vlad -- that's just start of stacked D.R. squad
For months, there have been whispers and rumors of all the stars who could appear on Team Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic roster. From a Cy Young Award winner to the reigning AL Rookie of the Year to, well, a handful of some of the best players on the planet. After the full team reveals on MLB Network, Team D.R. looks as if it’ll live up to all that hype and could very well be the favorites to win their second WBC title.
Here's a position-by-position breakdown of Team Dominican Republic. Within each position, players are listed in alphabetical order, with any affiliation to an MLB organization noted in parentheses.
Catchers: Francisco Mejía (Rays), Gary Sánchez
In Mejía and Sánchez, Team D.R. will have two of the strongest arms in the Majors behind home plate. Mejía, 27, hasn’t quite hit in the big leagues like he did back in 2018 in the Minors, when he was the No. 1 catching prospect in baseball … but maybe Sánchez can help pick up the slack in that department? The two-time All-Star hit 16 homers last year for the Twins and has hit 30-plus in two of his eight seasons in the bigs. Granted, they likely won’t be counted on to produce too much offense with the star-studded lineup already around them.
Infielders: Willy Adames (Brewers), Robinson Canó, Rafael Devers (Red Sox), Wander Franco (Rays), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays), Manny Machado (Padres), Ketel Marte (D-backs), Jeremy Peña (Astros), Jean Segura (Marlins), Nelson Cruz (Padres)
It’s hard to think of a better mix of experienced veterans, up-and-coming phenoms and proven stars in one infield. Vlad Jr. will likely be the starting first baseman, but other than that, the other three positions could go a variety of ways. Superstars Machado or Devers could start at third; while Franco, Peña, Adames, Marte and Segura could rotate between short and second – although the young Gold Glover Peña may be the go-to at short. The 40-year-old Canó only played in 33 big league games in 2022 but could serve as a capable bat off the bench against right-handed pitching. And Cruz, also the GM of Team D.R., could enter late into a game to use some of that 459-HR power against a tough lefty.
Outfielders: Teoscar Hernández (Mariners), Eloy Jiménez (White Sox), Julio Rodríguez (Mariners), Juan Soto (Padres)
D.R.’s outfield has more Silver Sluggers (seven) than it does players (four). There’s the speed and excitement of AL Rookie of the Year J-Rod, the discipline and pure talent of Soto, the prodigious power of Jiménez and the steady veteran production of Hernández. You’d be lucky to pick a better, more fun to watch batch of outfielders in your annual fantasy draft.
Pitchers: Bryan Abreu (Astros), Sandy Alcantara (Marlins), Ronel Blanco (Astros), Génesis Cabrera^ (Cardinals), Diego Castillo (Mariners), Roansy Contreras (Pirates), Johnny Cueto (Marlins), Enyel De Los Santos (Guardians), Camilo Doval (Giants), Carlos Estévez (Angels), Jarlín García^ (Pirates), Luis García (Padres), Yimi Garcia (Blue Jays), Cristian Javier (Astros), José Leclerc (Rangers), Rafael Montero (Astros), Héctor Neris (Astros), Joel Payamps (Brewers), Gregory Soto^ (Phillies), César Valdez (Angels)
The starting rotation is, of course, led by reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Alcantara. Then you have World Series combo no-hitter starter Javier, Pirates breakout star Contreras and the wily, shimmying veteran Cueto. The bullpen is stacked with three key members of the Astros World Series team in Montero, Neris and Abreu, while the lefty Soto (3.28 ERA, 30 saves in 2022) and young fireballer Doval (2.53 ERA, 27 saves) could get the ball to close out tight games. That is, if they have any of those.