Announcing their roster this past week, Team Italy aims to surprise once again following a successful run in the 2013 event.
Occurring every four years, the World Baseball Classic showcases the top baseball players competing against one another on the international level.
A number of Major League players anticipate making the roster including Francisco Cervelli and Brandon Nimmo, giving the Italians solid hitting with strong defensive play. Upsetting the accredited Mexican team in the past iteration of the WBC, the Italians will not be taken lightly this time around.
Italy will compete in group D alongside powers Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. With the presence of a strong pool, it will likely be tough for Italy to advance into the second round of games. This fact is supplemented by the loss of Chicago Cubs star Anthony Rizzo due to injury.
Rizzo led the Italians in 2013 in hitting and was instrumental for a ninth-inning comeback against Mexico and a 14-4 thwarting of Canada.
Baseball writer Tony DeMarco says, “The schedule-makers did Team Italy no favors, as this arguably is the deepest and most-balanced first-round pool. Keep in mind that host Mexico will be looking for revenge for a 2013 loss”
The spotlight fixes on New York Mets outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo as he will attempt to be the power in the middle of the Italian lineup that they so desperately need. Following a mediocre season with the Mets in which he posted a .274 batting average, Nimmo hopes to showcase his power and defensive prowess.
Team Italy opens their tournament play on March 9 against Mexico.