Rosters for the 2017 World Baseball Classic were announced yesterday, and there are a heaping number of current and former Twins taking part—41 in all.
Let’s have a look at who these participants are, shall we?
Eleven current players in the Twins organization are participating in the WBC.
Practically half of the current Twins WBC participants are on Team Puerto Rico. Those players are:
- Jose Berrios - Big pitching prospect who made his major league debut with the Twins last year.
- Dereck Rodriguez - Son of Pudge. Has been pitching for the Kernels.
- Eddie Rosario - He’s been playing left field for the Twins.
- Hector Santiago - Acquired in the mid-season trade last year for Ricky Nolasco.
- Kennys Vargas - The big DH/1B who just shoved Byung Ho Park off the 40-man roster (sorta).
It should also come as no surprise that the Twins are well represented on Team Australia, given the organization’s recruitment efforts there. Put another shrimp on the barbie for these three currently playing in the Twins’ minors:
- Todd Van Steensel - Has been pitching in the Twins minors since 2011. Spent most of last year with the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle.
- Lachlan Wells - Signed as a free agent with the Twins in November 2014, Wells spent last year with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He has a twin brother, Alex, who is also on Team Australia, which makes it extra Twinsy.
- Aaron Whitefield - This young pup at only 20 years old has basically been playing outfield and some second base down in the rookie leagues for the past couple years.
The Twins have two under-the-radar names going out there for Team Colombia, those being:
- Yohan Pino - Recently re-signed with the Twins on a minor league contract, Pino actually started 11 games for the Twins in 2014 and I have no recollection of it what-so-ever.
- Reynaldo Rodriguez - This 30 year old is a career minor leaguer, having spent all eight of his professional seasons down there. He’s been with the Twins organization since 2013, and spent last year with the Ft. Myers Miracle and Rochester Red Wings. He plays first base and outfield.
Getting in just under the wire is the newest-oldest Twin for Team Israel:
- Craig Breslow - We just re-signed him yesterday! He also played for the Twins back in 2008 and 2009.
Even more than current Twins players, tons of former Twins are participating in the WBC as well. Thirty of them, to be exact.
Again, no surprise, that ten former Twins players are on Team Australia, including:
- Luke Hughes - Still alive!! In fact, he’s only 32 years old. If you don’t remember, Luke played for the Twins in 2010, mostly 2011, and then some of 2012 before being claimed off waivers by the Athletics. Hughes the force, Luke!
- James Beresford - Mr. 1000. A career minor leaguer who was finally rewarded with a big league call-up by the Twins last September. He became a free agent this off-season, so he’s technically now a former Twin.
- Liam Hendriks - Surely you remember pitcher Liam Hendriks, right? Liam appeared in 30 games for the Twins between 2011 and 2013. He’s with the Athletics now.
- Peter Moylan - You may recognize this name because he spent a lot of years in the majors with the Braves. Before he was a major leaguer, however, he signed a minor league deal with the Twins—way back in 1996! He’s 38 years old now, and pitched for the Royals last year. In fact, the Royals were playing the Twins when James Beresford was called up, and Moylan was the one who filled his locker with balloons.
- Trent Oeltjen - This guy actually appeared in 99 major league games, but none with the Twins. He was originally signed by the Twins in 2001 and was with the organization until 2007. His Baseball Reference page lists his position as “Outfielder and Pinch Hitter”, which I would humorous.
- Tim Atherton - Don’t worry if this isn’t ringing any bells, because we’re getting down into the former minor leaguers only now. Atherton is a pitcher and outfielder who spent 2011 through 2013 with the Twins organization. He never got higher than Low-A.
- Logan Wade - A 25-year-old right-handed reliever who spent last season with the Ft. MYers Miracle, but was then released.
- Allan De San Miguel - A catcher with a long minor league career, including 2005 through 2010 in the Twins organization. He’s spent last season in the Royals organization.
- Josh Guyer - A right handed hurler who spent 2013 through 2015 toiling away for the Twins in the rookie leagues.
- Matt Williams - If this name is ringing some bells, you’re probably just thinking of someone else named Matt Williams. Williams here spent five years playing in the Twins minors, reaching his highest level in Double-A. No word on if he is related to Twins Australian legend, Glen Williams.
Two former Twins are pitching for Team Puerto Rico, and trust me, it’s quite the doozy:
- JC Romero - Yes, that J.C. Romero. The lefty reliever who pitched seven years out of the Twins bullpen from 1999 to 2005. He used to wear number 33, which is why Justin Morneau originally wore number 27. The Twins traded Romero to the Angels for Alexi Casilla before the 2006 season, at which point Justin Morneau changed his number to 33. Romero last pitched in the majors for Baltimore in 2012, and is currently 40 years old. Give it up for J.C. Romero for getting the band back together in the 2017 WBC!
- Rene Rivera - Long-time, journeyman, back-up catcher who played with the Twins in 2011.
Of course, here we have some of our favorite Twins ever (okay, maybe one of our favorite Twins ever):
- Justin Morneau - 2006 AL MVP for the Twins. 2008 Home Run Derby winner (eat it, Josh Hamilton). One of the Twins GOATs. He’s still currently a free agent, so doing well for team Canada could pay big dividends.
- Andrew Albers - Who could forget Andrew Albers? He pitched briefly for the Twins in 2013 and last season. Remember when he was called up out of nowhere, threw back-to-back complete games, and we were going to build a statue of him outside of Target Field? Good times. Anyway, he’s with the Braves now.
- Rene Tosoni - Viva le resistance! Played 60 games for the Twins in 2011 and hasn’t really been seen since. His name still looks like a type of pasta.
Hey all you honkball lovers—we got three former Twins here too:
- Loek Van Mil - Perhaps the most recognizable name of this bunch because he’s freaking 7’11”. If you’re wondering where that ranks among all-time professional baseball players, he is the tallest. The Twins traded him to the Angels in 2010 for Brian Fuentes.
- Shairon Martis - Actually pitched in six games for the Twins in 2013. Huh.
- Tom Stuifbergen - A right-handed pitcher in the Twins organization between 2007 and 2013.
You might think the Twins would have more representation on Team Dominican Republic, given how many players come from there, but there are only two:
- Samuel Deduno - More like Deduyes! Deduno was actually a start for the Dominican Republic team in the last WBC when they won it all. He pitched for the Twins in 2012, 2013, and 2014 before he was claimed off waivers by the Astros.
- Fernando Abad - Signed a minor league contract with the Twins before last season, made the bullpen out of spring training, and then was flipped at the deadline to the Red Sox in exchange for Pat Light. Not abad job.
The Twins have three former players here, sadly none of which are Johan Santana:
- Deolis Guerra - Here’s a name you might recognize because he was part of the Johan Santana trade! He spent 2008 through 2014 in the Twins sytem before moving on to the Pirates and Angels, where he actually made some apperances in the majors.
- Yangervis Solarte - An infielder who spent 2005 through 2011 in the Twins minor league system. He went on to play in the majors for the Yankees before they traded him to the Padres for Chase Headley in 2014. He’s still with the Padres now.
- Omar Bencomo - A right-handed pitcher who spent last year pitching for the Chattanooga Lookouts and Rochester Red Wings. He was released after the season.
Joining newest-oldest Twin Craig Breslow on Team Isreal are two other former Twins:
- Jason Marquis - Man, remember the Jason Marquis era? The Twins signed him in 2012, and he only lasted seven games before being released. IT was a rough year for poor Marquis, who ended up being gone for a lot of spring training because his daughter was in a freak, life-threatening bicycle accident.
- Sam Fuld - The Twins claimed Sam Fuld off waivers from the Athletics in early 2014. A few months later, the Twins traded him back to the Athletics for Tommy Milone. Still one of my favorite claims/trades ever, because seriously? lol.
Two former Twins are back to represent Team Italy. Unfortunately, one of them is not Nick Punto:
- Drew Butera - SON OF SAL.
- Chris Colabello - Played for the Twins for two seasons, including 2014 where he started the season amazingly hot, setting a Twins franchise record with 26 RBIs in April. He moved on the the Blue Jays, where he was suspended most of last year for testing positive for PEDs (he swears it was a mistake). Recently signed a minor league deal with the Indians.
One former Twins minor leaguer is ending his professional baseball career with a bang, playing for Team China:
- Ray Chang - Pretty much known for being the guy someone else tricked Denard Span into thinking was Tsuyoshi Nishioka in spring training 2011. He’s supposedly retiring to take a non-playing job with MLB.
Team Chinese Taipei—which is the Republic of China, aka Taiwan—has one former member of the Twins organization on their roster:
- Kuo Hua Lo - A right-handed pitcher who spent 2012 through 2016 in the Twins minors. He was released in August of last year.
And just when you thought the Twins were totally devoid of any American participants, one former Twin comes through for Team USA:
- Pat Neshek - Good ol’ Pat. Having grown up in the Twin Cities area, Pat was quite popular playing for the Twins between 2006 and 2010. He was known for throwing the ball super funky, being very friendly with fans, and tragically losing his newborn baby Gehrig pass away in 2012. Neshek made his only All-Star Game appearance in 2014, in his home town of Minneapolis (he was the losing pitcher for the NL in that... doh). He still got one of the three loudest ovations in the lineup announcements. Last November the Astros traded Neshek to the Phillies, making them his official current team.
WBC action gets started March 6 with a first round match between Israel vs. Korea in Seoul, kicking off at 4:00 am CT.
Will you be watching? Who will you be cheering for? Anyone?