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WBN’s Preview of Pool D at the 2023 World Baseball Classic

 Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network  |    Mar 9th, 2023 12:53pm EST

LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida will host Pool D, as well as the quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

How will the five teams in Pool D fare at LoanDepot Park in Miami? Let’s take a look:

Dominican Republic 

Notable Players: Manny Machado and Juan Soto will provide power in the heart of the Dominican Republic’s lineup. The 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara will be the starting pitcher for the first game of pool play against Venezuela on March 11, where Alcantara will have to get ahead of batters efficiently for the Dominican Republic’s pitching staff. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz will bring veteran leadership, along with possible at-bats in clutch situations to be called upon. The 2022 World Series MVP Jeremy Pena can possibly fill a significant role for the Dominican Republic, since many options have opened up since Vladimir Guerrero Jr. landed on the injured list with right knee inflammation.  

Best Result at World Baseball Classic: The Dominican Republic won the 2013 World Baseball Classic, beating Puerto Rico at AT&T Park in San Francisco. 

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – vs. Venezuela – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 
March 12 – Off
March 13 – vs. Nicaragua – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2 
March 14 – vs. Israel – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 
March 15 – vs. Puerto Rico – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 

Prediction: The Dominican Republic can win the World Baseball Classic if they can execute with starting pitching and the deep end of their bullpen as efficiently along with scoring early offensively to make a deep run in the tournament.  

Israel 

Notable Players: Joc Pederson and Ryan Lavarnway will be the key offensive factors for Israel. Matt Mervis, who is a rising prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization, can give a boost to the Israel offense as well. Pitching will be the biggest question for Israel, with majority of the staff returning from the Tokyo Summer Olympics team, including Joey Wagman, Alex Katz, and starting pitcher Dean Kremer, who will have to eat up a chunk of innings to stop the bats of Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico for Israel to advance out of Pool D.  

Best Result: Israel advanced to the second round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic and finished sixth. 

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – Off 
March 12 – vs. Nicaragua – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2
March 13 – vs. Puerto Rico – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 14 – vs. Dominican Republic – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 15 – vs. Venezuela – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2 

Prediction: Israel will put up a good fight in the World Baseball Classic, but it might not be enough to advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals. Manager Ian Kinsler will have a great plan on going up against the top countries of the baseball world. Rising in the rankings in the World Baseball Softball Confederation will be a big boost to Israel even if they do not advance to the next round.  

Nicaragua 

Notable Players: Potential New York Yankees closer Jonathan Loaisiga will be a key factor for Nicaragua during the World Baseball Classic. Starting pitchers J.C. Ramirez and Erasmo Ramirez will have to get ahead of batters efficiently against the tough offenses of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela in order for Nicaragua to have a chance to escape out of Pool D.  Starting Catcher Melvin Novoa, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Dwight Britton can lift the offense of Nicaragua if they can manage deep counts during the majority of their at-bats in pool play.   

Best Result: Nicaragua is making its first appearance in the WBC.  

Pool Play Schedule 
March 11 – vs. Puerto Rico – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2
March 12 – vs. Israel – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2 
March 13 – vs. Dominican Republic- 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2
March 14 – vs. Venezuela – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2
March 15 – Off 

Prediction: The talent Nicaragua has might draw notice from baseball fans who are not familiar with how developed Nicaragua’s baseball scene is. With only a few Major League Caseball players on the roster under manager Sandor Guido, it will be very tough for Nicaragua to more than one win during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Israel and Nicaragua face off the second day of Pool D, with the outcome likely determining which nation won’t have to qualify for the 2026 World Baseball Classic. 

Puerto Rico 

Notable Players: Francisco Lindor, Javy Baez, Emmanuel Rivera, and Eddie Rosario will be a huge factor for Puerto Rico offensively during Pool D.  Manager Yadier Molina will have his work cut out for the pitching staff as starting pitcher Jose Berrios and 2017 World Baseball Classic Most Valuable Player with Team USA Marcus Stroman that are listed for the World Baseball Classic. Closer Edwin “Sugar” Diaz will be waiting patiently for his opportunity in the World Baseball Classic to silence the offenses of the mighty Dominican Republic and Venezuela.  

Best Result at the WBC: Puerto Rico finished second at the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics.

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – vs. Nicaragua – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2
March 12 – vs. Venezuela – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 
March 13 – vs. Israel – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 
March 14 – Off 
March 15 – vs. Venezuela – 7 p.m. – Fox Sports 1 

Prediction: Puerto Rico will have to make a large leap to beat the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.  With the runs-for/runs-against tie breaking procedures, Puerto Rico needs to win big when it can to win the total quality balance (TBQ) tiebreakers. It would not be a total shocker if Puerto Rico made a deep run during the 2023 World Baseball Classic.  

Venezuela

Puerto Rico Miguel Cabrera is playing in his fifth World Baseball Classic. Venezuela will carry a tough offense with Ronald Acuna Jr., Gleyber Torres, Salvador Perez, and Jose Altuve will be a major factor during Pool D. Pitching will be the biggest concern for Venezuela, outside of starting pitcher Pablo Lopez. Martin Perez and Jesus Luzardo will have to be in full control for the Venezuela pitching staff in order to advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals. 

Best Result: Venezuela finished third at the 2009 World Baseball Classic

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – vs. Dominican Republic – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 12 – vs. Puerto Rico – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 
March 13 – Off 
March 14 – vs. Nicaragua – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2 
March 15 – vs. Israel – 12 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 2 

Prediction: Venezuela can play their game as efficiently if they can score runs early and their all-around pitching holds up as well to advance to the quarterfinals. Venezuela has not appeared in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic since 2009.  It will be monumental if Venezuela can prove the baseball world that they can compete with the top elite teams that are ranked higher in the World Baseball Softball Confederation rankings and finishing the tournament from start to finish in Miami. 

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Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network
Matthew (Matt) Tallarini is the Founder and Chief Correspondent for the World Baseball Network.