By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
With 16 days to go until the World Baseball Classic begins, here’s a look at a player to watch from each of the American League’s 15 teams.
Baltimore Orioles – Anthony Santander will get playing time in the outfield for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic. Last year, Santander played in 152 games with 647 plate appearances batted .250 with 33 home runs, 138 hits, and 89 RBI. Santander is entering his seventh season at the major league level, all with Orioles. Santander is a lifetime .245 hitter in his career along with 83 home runs and 238 RBI.
Other Orioles in the WBC: Daniel Federman, RHP (ISR), Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP (VEN), Dean Kremer, RHP (ISR), Ryan Long, RHP (GBR), Cedric Mullins, OF (USA).
Boston Red Sox – Third basemen Rafael Devers, a two-time All-Star, 2018 World Series Champion, and 2021 Silver Slugger Award winner, has proved he can bring the lumber to the major league diamond. Devers is entering his seventh season at the major league level and has a career .283 batting average, hitting 139 home runs and driving 455 RBI’s. Last season Devers Played in 144 games, recorded 164 hits, hit 27 home runs, and drove in 88 RBI’s while batting .295 Devers will be a solid bat for the Dominican Republic come the World Baseball Classic.
Other Red Sox in the WBC: Jorge Alfaro, C (COL), Richard Bleier, LHP (ISR), Edwin Díaz, INF (PUR), Jarren Duran, OF (MEX), Kiké Hernández, INF/OF (PUR), Norwith Gudino, RHP (VEN – DPP), Rio Gomez, LHP (COL), Kenley Jansen, RHP (NED – DPP), Nick Pivetta, RHP (CAN), Alex Verdugo, OF (MEX), Masataka Yoshida, OF (JPN).
Chicago White Sox – Tim Anderson is entering his eighth season with the White Sox and will be the starting shortstop for Team USA during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Anderson is a capable defender and adds to Team USA’s good depth offensively during the tournament. Anderson is a two time All-Star, 2020 Louisville Slugger Award Winner, and 2019 American League Batting Champion and is a lifetime .288 hitter with 97 home runs, swiping 104 stolen bases, and 313 runs batted in during his major league career.
Other White Sox in the WBC: Luis Robert, OF (Cuba), Lance Lynn, RHP (USA), Kendall Graveman, RHP (USA), Nicholas Padilla, RHP (Puerto Rico), Yoan Moncada, INF, (Cuba), Eloy Jimenez, OF, (DR).
Cleveland Guardians – Canada catcher Bo Naylor will have a great feel for the pitching staff of the Cleveland Guardians this upcoming major league season. Naylor last year excelled in stops at Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo in the Guardians organization, playing a combined in 188 games batting .263, hitting 21 home runs, recording 109 hits in 510 plate appearances. Naylor is currently ranked fourth in the pipeline of the organization and will likely be the starting catcher out of spring training.
Other Guardians in the WBC: Dayan Frias, INF (COL), Andrés Giménez, INF (VEN), Richie Palacios, INF (NED), Cal Quantrill, RHP (CAN), Cade Smith, RHP (CAN), Meibrys Viloria, C (COL), Josh Wolf, RHP (ISR).
Detroit Tigers – Miguel Cabrera is playing in fifth World Baseball Classic and could help Venezuela get over the hump during this World Baseball Classic against high-caliber pitching from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in Pool D in Miami. A future Hall of Famer entering his 20th major league season, The 12-Time All-Star, 2-Time American League Most Value Player, and the last Triple Crown winner in baseball, Cabrera will have to rise to the occasion one last time on the grandest stage.
Other Tigers in the WBC: Javier Báez, INF (PUR), Chavez Fernander, RHP (GBR), Jack O’Loughlin, LHP (AUS), Andy Ibáñez, INF (CUB), Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (VEN), Jonathan Schoop, INF (NED), John Valente, INF (ITA)
Houston Astros – Second baseman Jose Altuve will play in his third World Baseball Classic for Venezuela. Altuve in 2017 hit .259 with 27 at-bats, he recorded seven hits, one run batted in, walked once, and struck out four times. The eight-time all-star, two-time World Series Champion, and 2017 American League MVP Award winner could be a key factor for Venezuela offensively during the World Baseball Classic. Last season, Altuve batted .300 in 141 games with 604 plate appearances he had 28 home runs, 57 RBI’s, and recorded 158 hits.
Other Astros in the WBC: Bryan Abreu, RHP (DR), Ronel Blanco, RHP (DR – DPP), Luis Garcia, RHP (VEN), Colton Gordon, LHP (ISR), Cristian Javier, RHP (DR), Martín Maldonado, C (PUR), Rafael Montero, RHP (DR), Héctor Neris, RHP (DR), Jeremy Peña, INF (DR), Ryan Pressly, RHP (USA), Kyle Tucker, OF (USA), José Urquidy, RHP (MEX), Derek West, RHP (NED).
Kansas City Royals – Salvador Perez, a seven-time All-Star starting catcher, five-time Gold Glove Award winner, four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 2015 World Series Champion, will suiting up for Venezuela in his third World Baseball Classic. Perez during the 2017 World Baseball Classic batted .286 with seven at bats, recorded two hits, one of his hits being a home run, and drove in 2 RBI’s. Perez is a lifetime .268 hitter with 223 home runs, 1,274 career hits, and 732 runs batted in.
Other Royals in the WBC: Ronald Bolanos, RHP, (Cuba), Nicky Lopez, INF, (ITA), Robbie Glendinning, INF, (AUS), Brady Singer, RHP, (USA-DPP), Bobby Witt Jr., INF, (USA), Max Castillo, RHP, (VEN-DPP), Carlos Hernandez, RHP, (VEN), Vinnie Pasquantino, INF, (ITA).
Los Angeles Angels – Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout are both playing in their first World Baseball Classic this year. The two could face each other in either the semifinals or championship game in Miami. Trout played last year in 119 games with 438 at bats recorded 124 hits, smashed 40 home runs, and drove in 80 RBI’s and now will suit up for Team USA to start Pool C at Chase Field in Phoenix for the World Baseball Classic. Ohtani will play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic. Last season Ohtani pitched in 28 games recorded a 15-9 record and struck out 219 batters with a 2.33 ERA. Ohtani combined between pitching and starting as the designated hitter played in 157 games with 666 plate appearances he batted .273 with 34 home runs, recorded 160 hits, and drove 95 RBI’s as well last season. The Angels have the most players from the American League in the World Baseball Classic this year, including designated pitcher pool, with 16.
Other Angels in the WBC: Glenn Albanese, RHP (ITA – DPP), Jaime Barria, RHP (PAN), Gustavo Campero, C (COL), Alan Carter, RHP (CHN), Jhonathan Diaz, LHP (VEN – DPP), David Fletcher, INF (ITA), Jake Kalish, LHP (ISR – DPP), D’Shawn Knowles, OF (GBR), José Quijada, LHP (VEN), Luis Rengifo, INF (VEN), Gerardo Reyes, RHP (MEX), Patrick Sandoval, LHP (MEX), Gio Urshela, INF (COL), César Valdez, RHP (DR – DPP), Zachary Weiss, RHP (ISR), Aaron Whitefield, OF (AUS).
Minnesota Twins – Newly-acquired starting pitcher Pablo Lopez will play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Lopez spent last season with the Miami Marlins, going 10-10 starting in 32 games pitching 180 innings recording a 3.75 ERA and having career high in strikeouts with 174. Lopez will have a key role in the rotation for Venezuela under manager Omar Lopez and pitching coach Ivan Arteaga. He’s 28-31 going into his sixth major league season with a lifetime 3.94 ERA and 489 strikeouts. Lopez was traded to the Twins on January 20, 2023 with Jose Salas and Byron Chourio and the Marlins receiving Luis Arraez. If Lopez can work his sinker effectively and locate his fastball consistently he can be a big help to the Venezuela pitching staff.
Other Twins in the WBC: Jose De Leon, RHP (PUR), Edouard Julien, INF (CAN), Jorge López, RHP (PUR), Pablo López, RHP (VEN), Carlos Luna, RHP (PAN – DPP), Jose Miranda, INF (PUR), Jovani Moran, LHP (PUR), Emilio Pagán, RHP (PUR), Dereck Rodríguez, RHP (PUR), Christian Vázquez, C (PUR).
New York Yankees – Jonathan Loaisiga is the potential closer for the Yankees in the 2023 season and will suit up for his nation of Nicaragua in their first World Baseball Classic appearance. Loaisiga is entering his sixth season in pinstripes and could have a big role in key situations for Nicaragua during the World Baseball Classic, going up against powerhouses Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela during Pool D in Miami. Loaisiga last year went 2-3 with a 4.13 earned run average in 50 appearances he pitched in 48 innings and recorded 37 strikeouts along with two saves.
Other Yankees in the WBC: Indigo Diaz, RHP (CAN), Kyle Higashioka, C (USA), Gleyber Torres, INF (VEN).
Oakland A’s – Infielder Jordan Diaz will be a key factor for the Colombia national team during the World Baseball Classic and has the ability to produce at the major league level after a breakthrough winter with Vaqueros De Monteria in the Liga Profesional de Beisbol Cololmbiano. Diaz batted .339 in 39 games with 131 plate appearances he recorded 37 hits, three home runs, and 30 runs batted in of the 2022-2023 season and received an all-star selection during this past 2023 Caribbean Series as a designated hitter.
Other A’s in the WBC: Miguel Romero, RHP, (Cuba), James Gonzalez, LHP, (PAN), Joshwan Wright, INF, (PAN), Adrian Martinez, RHP, (MEX), Denzel Clarke, OF, (CAN), Zack Gelof, INF, (ISR), Jake Fishman, LHP, (ISR).
Seattle Mariners – Julio Rodriguez is coming off a stellar rookie season where he played in 132 games with 560 plate appearances, recording 145 hits, with 28 home runs and 75 RBI’s. He was a 2022 All-Star and the American League Rookie of the Year Award winner. Rodriguez will suit up with the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic and could have a big impact for the Dominican Republic lineup, especially with players such as Manny Machado and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. offering protection in the lineup.
Other Mariners in the WBC: Matt Festa, RHP, (ITA), Jose Caballero, INF, (PAN), Blake Townsend, LHP, (AUS), Matt Brash, RHP, (CAN), Milkar Perez, INF, (NCA), Eugenio Suarez, INF, (VEN), Diego Castillo, RHP, (DR), Rob Kaminsky, LHP (ISR), Jake Miednik, LHP, (ISR), Harry Ford, Catcher, (GB).
Tampa Bay Rays – Pinar del Rio, Cuba-native Randy Arozarena will suit up for Mexico during the 2023 World Baseball Classic, having received Mexican citizenship last April. After he left Cuba in 2015, where he played in the Serie Nacional circuit with Vegueros de Pinar del Rio, he played in Mexico in 2016. Arozarena has raised his game to the major league level, winning the 2020 American League Championship Series MVP Award, and was named the 2021 American League Rookie of the Year. Arozerena will play in his fifth organization since signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in the international free agent period in July of 2016. Last season, Arozarena played in 153 games with 645 plate appearances he hit 20 home runs, drove in 89 RBi’s and recorded 154 hits.
Other Rays in the WBC: Jason Adam, RHP (USA), Jonathan Aranda, INF (MEX), Christian Bethancourt, INF (PAN), Trevor Brigden, RHP (CAN), Wander Franco, INF (DR), Andrew Gross, RHP (ISR), Joe LaSorsa, LHP (ITA), Francisco Mejía, C (DR), Isaac Paredes, INF (MEX), Harold Ramírez, OF (COL), Graham Spraker, RHP (GBR).
Texas Rangers – Southpaw Martin Perez is suiting up for Venezuela in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Last year All-Star for the first time in his career Perez put up great numbers in his second stint with the Rangers he posted a 12-8 record striking out 169 batters over 196.3 innings pitched in 32 starts. Last offseason, Perez signed back with the Rangers for a one year, $4 million contract, and after putting those numbers up, he accepted a one-year qualifying offer worth $19.6 million to return to Texas for this upcoming year. Perez is entering his 12th major league season.
Other Rangers in the WBC: Texas Rangers: Mitch Bratt, LHP (CAN), Jose Leclerc, RHP (DR).
Toronto Blue Jays – First baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will have a big role with the Dominican Republic during the World Baseball Classic. Guerrero Jr. is entering his fifth season at the major league level, and is a two-time All-Star and 2022 Gold Glove Award winner. Last season, Guerrero played in 160 games and batted .339. In 706 plate appearances, he recorded 175 hits, hitting 32 home runs, and 97 RBI. Guerrero will get a chance to shine on the international stage for the first time. Son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr., Junior will have a legacy to build the star that his father once carried to have the Dominican Republic raise glory for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Other Blue Jays in the WBC: José Berríos, RHP (PUR), Jiorgeny Casimiri, RHP (NED – DPP), Yimi García, RHP (DR), Spencer Horwitz, INF (ISR), Alejandro Kirk, C (MEX), Otto Lopez, INF (CAN), Luis Quinones, RHP (PUR – DPP).