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Dominican Republic’s ‘Dream Team’ in 2023 World Baseball Classic

Dominican Republic's Superstars for 2023 World Baseball Classic - Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/MLB

NEW YORK– “I can’t wait to go there, and show the world what the Dominican team is gonna do,” San Diego Padres superstar Juan Soto said about the Dominican Republic National Team that heads into the 2023 World Baseball Classic starting Wednesday March 8th until Saturday March 21st. 

The 24-year-old, of Santo Domingo, DR, and 2021 National League Latino MVP recipient, referred to this year’s Dominican Republic roster as a ‘Dream Team’, similar to an NBA Olympic squad. 

2023 Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic Official Roster – Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/Twitter

Yeah, I’d say Soto has a legitimate point… Where do you even want to start? The players listed on the roster above have combined for 40 All-Star appearances in their careers. Additionally, there are five recipients of previous Latino MVP awards representing the Dominican Republic in this year’s WBC (Soto, Robinson Canó, Wander Franco, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., & Gary Sánchez).

Regarding the offense, Soto, Guerrero Jr., Rafael Devers, and Manny Machado headline the projected starting lineup with Franco, Jeremy Peña, and Julio Rodríguez filling out the backend. Those seven players have totaled 714 home runs and 3,963 hits in their careers combined. A true depiction of any opposing pitcher’s and manager’s nightmare. 

Juan Soto in 2022 Home Run Derby – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

On the pitching front, reigning National League Cy Young award winner Sandy Alcantara, and Cristian Javier, who started in two combined no-hitters for the Houston Astros last year (June @ NYY, November @ PHI in 2022 World Series), make for DR’s pair of aces in the starting rotation. 

Stabilizing the bullpen, Camilo Doval, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Gregory Soto are set to be the go-to arms in late inning scenarios. Doval, Abreu, Montero, and Soto compiled 301 strikeouts all together in 2022. 

Led at the helm by manager Rodney Linares, currently the Tampa Bay Rays bench coach, who resides in San Pedro de Macoris, DR, during the winters, begins Dominican Republic’s journey on Saturday March 11th, when Pool D play starts up in Miami, Florida with games played in LoanDepot Park (Home of the Miami Marlins). 

Pool D in 2023 WBC – Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/Twitter

“Putting on the uniform of the Dominican Republic, it’ll be a dream come true,” Linares said on what he is looking forward to most in the World Baseball Classic. 

“As you know, people talk about dreaming of getting to the big leagues. Getting to the big leagues is a dream, but representing, and managing the team of your country… I think it’s more than an honor and it’s a dream come true.” 

Pool D includes Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Israel. Each team in Pool D will play one another with two of the top teams (record wise) advancing to the Quarterfinals, played in Miami. The Semifinals (March 19th-March 20th) and Championship game (March 21st) will also be played in Miami. 

Television Schedule for Dominican Republic in Pool D Play – Image Credit: Fox Sports/World Baseball Classic

“They’re all gonna be really good teams,” Nelson Cruz, Dominican Republic’s general manager, said about Pool D. “Venezuela and Puerto Rico are strong teams. Even the ones we’re gonna play, Israel and Nicaragua. Anyone can be a surprise.”

Cruz, 42, of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, DR, a recipient of the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award, is also listed on the Dominican Republic roster as a right fielder, and designated hitter. “Right now, I don’t think I’d make the team,” he joked. 

Nelson Cruz presented the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award – (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

On the betting landscape, Dominican Republic is slated as the favorites to win the WBC, with the United States, Japan, Venezuela, Korea, and Puerto Rico lurking behind. 

Betting Odds to win 2023 World Baseball Classic – Odds listed from Fanduel Sportsbook

Dominican Republic: +200 

Japan: +270 

USA: +280

Venezuela: +900

Korea: +1000

Mexico: +1800

Puerto Rico: +2100

“The whole country is pumped,” Cruz noted about the Dominican Republic’s excitement leading up to the World Baseball Classic. “I have calls coming from everywhere asking about tickets. Anyone who has my contact number is reaching out about how they can get to the games.”

Provided below are some of the superstars’ emotions, and excitement to represent their home country of the Dominican Republic by participating in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. 

“The players play different,” superstar third baseman Manny Machado said. “You’re playing for your country. It’s like the World Series, but you’re playing for your country. You don’t see it in (MLB). It’s passion. Everyone goes crazy. It’s like a nonstop party the whole time… These fans are in it. They might as well be on the field with you.”

Manny Machado in 2017 World Baseball Classic – Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/Twitter

Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara referred to winning a World Baseball Classic along the lines, or perhaps even better than winning a World Series. “You’re there with the best of the best in baseball to represent your country, and represent your family,” Alcantara said. 

“It’s something that happens every four years. If you’re able to play there, then you gotta enjoy it, and give 100% for your family and country.”

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Robert Rizzo is a journalist and co-editor of Latino Sports

Email: RobertRiz994@gmail.com

Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and co-host Robert Rizzo

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Julio

    February 22, 2023 at 9:58 am

    Excellent article. The excitement of the games well documented in your article. This is truly the “World Baseball Series.” Looking forward for more articles on the WBBC.

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