On Thursday the United States, along with all the remaining participants of the 2013 edition of the World Baseball Classic, released their preliminary rosters for the games in a few weeks. While the focus of many MLB fans was on the fact that the US roster seemed to lack super star power, Cubs fans will not that the only player from the Major League roster that will participate is up and coming first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The lefty slugger will be plying his trade for Italy, from where his great grandparents are from. Tony Campana had intentions of joining his teammate for team Italy, but the speedy outfielder failed to track down documentation that confirmed his grandparents were born in Italy.
Pitcher Ryan Searle will feature for the Australian side and prospect Yao Lin Wang will toss for Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). Neither player is currently on the 40 man roster, but both are in the Cubs system.
In the first two installments of this international competition, Cubs players featured fairly heavily on the participating teams’ rosters. With the Cubs in rebuilding mode for 2013, I for one do not mind the list of Cubs participants being a short one. The concern over injury, whether fact or fiction, is still a realistic possibility. Rizzo’s participation does not raise much concern. The promising cornerstone of the Cubs future figures to benefit from competitive at bats during the WBC, assuming he has taken the steps to get up to speed normally followed through in Spring Training.
There should be some concern for injury over prospects Searle and Wang, as pitchers usually do not need to ramp up as quickly in Spring as the pair will have to do in the competitive WBC format. Considering both are still prospects, hopefully they are more roster and staff fillers than pitchers that will be regularly relied on during group pool play.
One name that fans may be disappointed was left out of the contest is phenom Starlin Castro. The Cubs short stop did not make the Dominican preliminary roster. To be fair, the Latin American rosters tend to be have outstanding depth. However, it would have been nice to get Castro some experience on a roster with a competition level that would be closer to a playoff atmosphere he has yet to experience with the Cubs, rather than some meaningless late summer regular season games such as those from last season.
Regardless, if Cubs fans needed more reason than just rooting for the US to watch the 2013 WBC, they sure have reason to watch names like Rizzo, Searle, and Wang perform on the international stage.