With Xander Bogaerts leading the charge, Team Netherlands is ready to challenge the big dogs in this year’s World Baseball Classic.
The Netherlands made it to the semi-finals in 2017, ultimately finishing fourth. It was their second straight fourth-place finish in the tournament.
This year, they’ll play the group stage in Taichung, Taiwan, facing off against Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, and Panama. The Taiwanese team is the favorite in the group, but Team Netherlands has a good chance to finish second in their pool and advance to the next round. The Dutch have never finished first in the group stage, but that hasn’t stopped them from advancing to the semi-finals in each of the last two WBC tournaments.
Let’s take a look at the roster they’ve put together.
Position Players for Team Netherlands
Chadwick Tromp, Sicnarf Loopstok, Dashenko Ricardo
- Chadwick Tromp has had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in each of the past three seasons. He’s currently the third catcher on the depth chart on the Braves’ 40-man roster.
- While Tromp looks to be the most talented catcher on Team Netherlands, Dashenko Ricardo’s WBC experience is a major asset as well. He caught for Team Netherlands in the 2013 and 2017 tournaments.
- Sicnarf Loopstok is a former minor leaguer who now plays in the Dutch Major League.
Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Schoop, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, Richie Palacios, Dwayne Kemp, Juremi Profar, Sharlon Schoop, Zander Wiel
- The infield is where you’ll find the star power on Team Netherlands. Four-time All-Star Xander Bogaerts is the most important player on the roster, and he’ll have to have a huge tournament if Team Netherlands is going to have a shot at the crown.
- Bogaerts is a shortstop, but he’ll presumably slide over to third base for the WBC so that defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons can man short. Simmons is no longer an offensive threat, but he’s the best defensive shortstop of his generation. At 33 years old, he still has a slick glove.
- Bogaerts might also play some DH while Didi Gregorius takes over at the hot corner. Gregorius could see some at-bats from the DH spot as well.
- Jonathan Schoop of the Detroit Tigers, another strong defender with a questionable bat, will cover second base. His brother Sharlon, a shortstop in the Dutch league, is also on the roster.
Wladimir Balentien, Josh Palacios, Roger Bernadina, Ray-Patrick Didder
- Wladimir Balentien was a star in the 2017 WBC, batting .615 with four home runs. The 38-year-old outfielder played for the Mariners and Reds from 2007 to 2009. More recently, he’s been slugging in Japan, Mexico, and the Dominican Winter League.
- Roger Bernadina has seven years of big-league outfield experience. These days, he’s keeping sharp in the Dutch Major League. He’ll serve a valuable leadership role on the squad.
- As for the younger outfielders on the roster, Josh Palacios has made brief appearances in each of the last two MLB seasons, while Ray-Patrick Didder played for the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate last season. Didder is the only outfielder on the team without MLB experience, but he’s also the only player on the roster with significant experience in center field. He’ll get plenty of chances to show off his glove.
Pitchers for Team Netherlands
From a quick glance at the pitching staff, it’s even more apparent that the infield is going to have to carry this team. The staff is mainly made up of inexperienced arms and former minor league journeymen. The starting rotation, in particular, lacks high-end talent.
Pedro Strop, Antwone Kelly, Jaydenn Estanista, Eric Mendez, Derek West, Shairon Martis, Mike Bolsenbroek, Tom de Blok, Wendell Floranus, Lars Huijer, Ryan Huntington, Kevin Kelly, Juancarlos Antonio Sulbaran, Franklin Van Gurp
- Shairon Martis is famous for throwing the first (and only) no-hitter in WBC history. This will be his fourth WBC. Martis hasn’t been an MLB starting pitcher since 2009, but he’s continued to play in the Dutch Major League.
- Other starting options on the roster include Ryan Huntington, Tom de Blok, and Lars Huijer. The Netherlands might also choose to piece together some bullpen games rather than rely on a traditional starting rotation.
- Star closer Kenley Jansen is on the list of eligible pitchers, which means he isn’t on the roster right now but could join the WBC in a later round. He has said he’d prefer to remain in Red Sox camp during the group stage, but he hasn’t ruled out pitching for the Netherlands if the team advances.
- Pedro Strop had a long and successful career in Major League Baseball. Across 13 seasons, he pitched in 561 games with a 3.20 ERA. He brings a valuable veteran presence to this pitching staff.
- Mike Bolsenbroek is another veteran reliever with experience playing for the national team. He and Strop will serve as mentors for the many young arms on the staff.