The WBC Rosters

Posted by Lionel on February 28, 2009.

Most people know the MLBer's who'll suit up for the World Baseball Classic, but the Cubs have 8 guys in their system who made WBC rosters, playing for 7 different countries. Let's take a look at them:

Geo Soto (Puerto Rico): The Cubs starting backstop will probably split time with one of the Flying Molina Brother's (i.e. Yadier) as Puerto Rico's catcher. The still free agent Pudge Rodriguez is also on the team's roster, making catcher the deepest position for Puerto Rico by a landslide. Unless Bernie Williams is too old to play the field, you'd figure that one of the two catchers not behind the dish will DH for team Puerto Rico.

Ted Lilly (United States): Theodore, as Lou calls him, will fit the same role for the United States that he does for the Cubs. He is a back of the rotation starter who won't get the headlines that his teammates do. Lilly comes in behind Oswalt and Peavy, with Jeremy Guthrie rounding out the 4 man rotation. With a minimum of 3 games and a maximum of 8 games in the WBC, Lilly shoud get either 1 or 2 starts.

Kosuke Fukudome (Japan): If Team Japan didn't play it's first game at 3:30 AM Central Time, it would be a good time to check out Fuku and see if those core strength exercises he's been doing have paid off. The early results sound positive, as he hit a grand slam in a Team Japan tuneup game against the Yomiuri Giants. But, of course, Cub fans remember his big HR in Game 1 of the 2008 season was the high point of his year. While it's obviously difficult to guess what the Japanese team will look like, you'd have to figure that Ichiro and Fukudome are two of the starting OF's.

Carlos Zambrano (Venezuela): Wait, you say. I remember Z saying he wasn't playing. Well, he's not. Despite that, Team Venezuela still put him on their final roster, possibly thinking they could convince him otherwise. Z's primary reason for opting out is due to his eye infection and possible pending Lasik eye surgery. That, or he is just concerned about being upstaged by Chad Gaudin's 'stache.

Hung-Wen Chen (Taipei): Chen is a 23 year old who split his season between Peoria and Daytona in his second season in the Cubs system. 22 of his 29 appearances were starts, so he could serve either role for Team Taipei. He is joined by 5 other pitchers in minor league farm systems, but seems to be one of the better prospects in the group, so he should see some action for Taipei. For more on Chen, you might want to check TD's top 25 pitching prospects in the near future.

Alex Maestri (Italy): While about half of Team Italy plays in the U.S., Maestri is the only one who is Italian-born. The 23 year old spent the majority of his season at Daytona, where he compiled a 3.69 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts). But he was called up to Tennessee at the end of the season and struggled, giving up 8 runs in 11 innings in 2 starts. Maestri is one of only two guys playing in the States who starts, so I'd expect him to be a starter for Team Italy. Italy and the U.S. are in the same pool, so we see a start against the U.S., really giving him the opportunity to show off his ability.

Corey Koskie (Canada): Koskie is so new to the Cubs that he was added to the list of "Cubs in the WBC" on the wesbite while I typed this blog. As mentioned in the Comments section of Jumbo's Amish Rifle post, Koskie is a 35 year old who hasn't played since a concussion in mid '06. He can play 3rd (the primary reason for the Cubs signing him to a minor league deal), 1st and the OF, and he joins a number of other utilitymen on the Team Canada roster. His best shot is probably as a 3-sack, where he'll compete for PT with Pete Orr and Chris Barnwell.

Vince Perkins (Canada): Who is Vince Perkins? That was what I wanted to know, because I had no clue. It turns out Perkins had his contract purchased this offseason by the Cubs from the Joilet JackHammers, an independent league team. Perkins is only 27 and spent three years on the Blue Jays 40 man roster until he had Tommy John surgery, so he has, or had, some talent. Perkins played in the winter ball in the Dominican Republic, where he was 4-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 starts. With Jesse Crain being the "big name" on Team Canada's pitching staff, it will be interesting to see if Perkins sees action.
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