With the imminent arrival of the 2023 World Baseball Classic in March, “Mission Classic” was officially launched inside Sala Giunta at CONI Palazzo H in Rome on Wednesday, November 9, 2022. Team Italy staff and 13 MLB-affiliated players were announced as part of the Azzurri baseball squad.
CONI President Giovanni Malagò, FIBS President Andrea Marcon and Team Italy manager Mike Piazza unveiled “Mission Classic” at CONI headquarters in Rome in anticipation of the upcoming 2023 World Baseball Classic, which begins for Team Italy on March 8, 2023 in Taichung, Taiwan.
The 13 players scheduled to take part in Mission Classic are MLB players and high-level minor league prospects including: Ben DeLuzio (OF, St. Louis Cardinals), Matt Festa (RP, Seattle Mariners), David Fletcher (IF, Los Angeles Angels), Dominic Fletcher (OF, Reno Aces, AAA Arizona Diamondbacks), Vito Friscia (C, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, AAA Philadelphia Phillies), Sam Haggerty (UTL, Seattle Mariners), Nicky Lopez (SS / 2B, Kansas City Royals), Joey Marciano (RP, Sacramento River Cats, AAA San Francisco Giants), Miles Mastrobuoni (UTL, Tampa Bay Rays), Andre Pallante (RP, St. Louis Cardinals), Vinnie Pasquantino (1B; Kansas City Royals), Mitchell Stumpo (RP , Reno Aces, AAA Arizona Diamondbacks), and Brett Sullivan (C / UTL, El Paso Chihuahuas, AAA San Diego Padres). Team Italy manager Mike Piazza will be assisted by bench coach Blake Butera, pitching coach Brian Sweeney and coaches Jack Santora, Chris Denorfia and Michele Gerali.
Team Italy manager Mike Piazza said, “I would like to thank FIBS, CONI and IABF for supporting this project. We have a group with so much enthusiasm and passion. They strongly wish to represent Italy. All responded positively immediately and others asked if there was the possibility of playing for Team Italy. We will not have much time to prepare and work together before the tournament, so let’s start from this week to create the bond right away.”
CONI President Giovanni Malagò offered greetings to the guests present and congratulated them for a unique initiative. FIBS President Andrea Marcon highlighted the importance of the approach towards the World Baseball Classic. He said, “Given my Italian and Canadian origins, this is an initiative with significant importance. The Classic will be an important moment for Italian baseball. We believe in the path from Asia to continue in our goal of the expedition, which is to go as far as possible.”
Team Italy begins its journey in the preliminary round against host Chinese Taipei, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Cuba and Panama. The first step for invited Italian-born and developed players in pursuit of a WBC roster spot takes place in Arezzo on Sunday, November 13, 2022, when the Future Stars Game is scheduled.
November 9th marked the second anniversary of the untimely passing of Bill Holmberg, a dear friend of Mike Piazza and a big influence on the growth and development of Italian baseball. On this memorial date, the link between FIBS and the Italian American community was also strengthened. Present at the CONI press conference were the board members of the Italian American Baseball Foundation (IABF) including Joe Quagliano, Carmine Gangone, Mark Cardillo and Chris Vaccaro. The IABF spearheaded the development of the Classic Mission and have been awarding college scholarships for Italians and players of Italian descent. FIBS also signed an agreement with “We The Italians”, represented by founder and CEO Umberto Mucci, who, on its tenth anniversary, becomes an official FIBS media partner.