By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
Marek Chlup is a relatively unknown name to the average baseball fan, but not for long. The 24-year old will represent his home country Czech Republic at the World Baseball Classic, and has been making headlines early on this collegiate season.
Chlup attended North Carolina State University his first-year and sophomore seasons, but received little playing time. In two years at NC State, he recorded seven hits in just 40 plate appearances. Looking for an increase in playing time,Chlup transferred to Division II North Greenville University in South Carolina. Since then, he has turned into a pitcher’s worst nightmare, hitting .323 in 2021 and .390 in 2022. His OPS was also through the roof, at 1.073 in 2021 and 1.150 in 2022.
The outfielder and first baseman does not just hit for average, but has plenty of pop in his bat. Chlup has hit 31 home runs across four years, including collegiate competition and more recently in the MLB Draft League. In North Greenville’s first game of 2023, he provided three of the four runs the team scored in a 4-0 win against Barton College. Chlup hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning, and followed it up with a solo home run to left center field in the eighth inning. He also hit a home run in the Czech Republic’s 3-1 win against Spain in October to help send his team to the World Baseball Classic.
This will be the first World Baseball Classic for the Czech Republic. Marek Chlup will be joined by MLB journeyman Eric Sogard, who is currently a free agent. Sogard will provide veteran leadership for the Czech Republic, something that could help lead the team to a first-round win. Chlup could also do the same with his bat. Although pitchers will likely throw harder in WBC play, all he needs is one mistake pitch to send it over the wall. At his large size of six foot four, 220 pounds, he does not need to square the ball up to put it into orbit.
The Czech Republic will compete in Pool B alongside Japan, Korea, Australia, and China. The games will be played in Tokyo,Japan from March 9th through the 13th. Marek Chlup and company will look to put one in the win column when they open up the World Baseball Classic against China on March 9, at 10 p.m. ET. The game will be available to watch on Fox Sports 1, and played at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan.