Armando Johnson managed Cuba in four international senior events in 2023. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The Federacion Cubana de Beisbol will have have players that are playing in both Cuba’s Serie Nacional and Elite League, as well as Cuban players abroad, listed on the roster for the 2024 Premier 12 tournament hosted by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, Yusseff Diaz of Cuban Baseball Digest reported Tuesday.
During the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Cuba had active Major League Baseball players on their roster for an international senior tournament for the first time since the 1960 trade embargo with the United States began. The FCB has yet to discuss any options for allowing Cuban players in the United States or Canada to play in the Premier 12 tournament.
Ronald Bolanos, Miguel Romero, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Roenis Elias, and Andy Ibanez were all part of the Cuba roster for the 2023 World Baseball Classic that helped the nation reach the semifinals at loanDepot Park in Miami, where they lost to the United States 14-2.
This was the first time that Cuba went deep in the World Baseball Classic since the 2006 tournament, when they lost to Japan 10-6 in the championship game at Petco Park in San Diego.
Cuba had professional players playing abroad and domestic players on their rosters in the 2023 Pan American Games, the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games, and the 2023 Caribbean Cup, the three other international senior tournaments on the 2023 international baseball calendar.
Armando Johnson was the manager for Cuba for all four international senior events during 2023.
The Premier 12 will be the only international senior event on the international baseball calendar in 2024.
The Premier 12 tournament will be played November 10-24, following the regular seasons in Major League Baseball, the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, Nippon Professional Baseball, Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, and the Korean Baseball Organization.
The top 12 teams in the World Baseball Rankings as of Dec. 31, 2023, will participate in the event in November 2024.
Cuba is ranked No. 8 in the WBR, behind Japan at No. 1, the United States at No. 2, Mexico at No. 3, South Korea at No. 4, Chinese Taipei at No. 5, Venezuela at No. 6, the Netherlands at No. 7, and ahead of the Dominican Republic at No. 9, Panama at No. 10, Australia at No. 11, and Puerto Rico at No. 12 in the rankings released November 2.
If Cuba can finish inside the top 12 at the end of this year, it would mark their third consecutive appearance in the Premier 12 tournament since it began in 2015.
South Korea won the first Premier 12 in 2015, beating the United States in the gold medal game 8-0 at the Tokyo Dome. In the 2019 Premier 12, Japan beat South Korea 5-3 on home soil in the gold medal game at the Tokyo Dome.
At the 2019 Premier 12, Cuba went 1-2 in Group C at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea and failed to qualify out of the first round.
The Premier 12 was supposed to be scheduled in November 2023 but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 Pandemic resulting with the World Baseball Classic being switched from 2021 to 2023.
The Premier 12 and WBC cannot be held in the same year in the international baseball calendar cycle.
Group A of the Premier 12 will take place from November 10-14 in the Americas region. The host country, city and venue has yet to be announced.
Group B of the tournament will start on November 13 at the Nagoya Dome in Nagoya, Japan, which is home to the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball and the rest of the games until November 19 will take place in Taipei City.
Taipei City has three baseball stadiums that can be used for the Premier 12 event with the Taipei Dome opening up on December 3 for the 2023 Asian Baseball Championship, Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium which is the home of the Fubon Guardians of the CPBL, or the Hsinchu Baseball Stadium home of the Wei Chuan Dragons in the CPBL.
The Tokyo Dome will host the Super Round and the Bronze Medal and Gold Medal Game from November 21-24.
All Premier 12 games will be streamed on all WBSC social media pages.