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2023 World Baseball Classic Preview: Pool D

Let’s dive into the most talented and talked about pool in the tournament.

BASEBALL: MAR 20 World Baseball Classic Championship Round - Puerto Ricov Netherlands Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s World Baseball Classic time folks! And I’m here to preview the single most talented pool in the tournament, featuring perhaps the best baseball team ever assembled on one field. The countries featured in this group include Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Israel, and Nicaragua. Basically, we have a combination of three elite Latin American countries/territories, one less baseball prominent Latin American country, and a country with basically an all American roster. It’s a mixed bag of fun that will bring some exhilarating matchups.

Rather than giving you a full rundown of the rosters (since this has been done by many outlets), I’m going to focus on the most notable plyers from each roster and my prediction for who makes it out of the pool. More so than any other pool, this one will be tough to predict. The Dominican Republic is the clear frontrunner, but if they didn’t make it out of the pool because they lost two games, I wouldn’t be completely surprised. With that said, let’s jump into why the DR is so impressive.

Dominican Republic

Baseball America Ranking: 1

2017 Result: Eliminated in second round (4-2 overall)

Most Notable Stars:

· Juan Soto, San Diego Padres

· Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

· Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners

· Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox

· Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins

· Cristian Javier, Houston Astros

To be honest, I could keep listing the hitters on this roster, because it’s a superstar lineup from 1-9. Unfortunately, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. bowed out due to some lingering knee soreness, but I don’t think the team will have any trouble replacing him in the lineup. As it stands, they don’t have a clear first baseman, but the team is loaded in every other position. Their pitching is headlined by the reigning Cy Young winner, Sandy Alcantara. They’ll face a tough road to the finals, but no team is better suited for the run based on pure explosiveness.

Full Roster

Puerto Rico

Baseball America Ranking: 5

2017 Result: Runner-up (7-1 overall)

Most Notable Stars:

· Francisco Lindor, New York Mets

· Javier Baéz, Detroit Tigers

· Edwin Díaz, New York Mets

· Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs

After winning the WBC MVP in the last tournament, Marcus Stroman is returning, but this time for Puerto Rico. With pitching being the team’s biggest weakness, the addition of Stroman will prove to be quite valuable. After Stroman, the team has several quality ‘pen arms — headlined by Edwin Díaz. They’ll return their middle infield in Lindor and Baéz, but will miss Carlos Correa. Another Twins hitter, Jose Miranda, also just bowed out due to shoulder soreness. This might be the least talented Puerto Rican team to ever come to the WBC, but they cannot be ruled out. They have a fire that runs deep.

Full Roster


Baseball America Ranking: 4

2017 Result: Eliminated in second round (2-5 overall)

Most Notable Stars:

· Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves

· Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

· Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

· Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees

Kudos to whoever put this rotation together, because is the most likely the deepest group of pitchers any country has ever brought to the tournament. The team has six-to-seven legit average to above average major league starting pitchers. That puts them at an extreme advantage compared to just about any team! And on top of that, they have top end offensive talent. It may not be the lineup of the USA or DR, but it is quite scary!

Full Roster


Baseball America Ranking: 17

2017 Result: N/A (WBC debut)

Most Notable Stars:

· Jonathan Loáisiga, New York Yankees

Unfortunately for Nicaragua, J-Lo cannot pitch every inning. While the team has a fair share of former and future big leaguers like Erasmo Ramírez and Carlos Rodriguez, their chances in this pool are quite low given the top end talent from the already discussed teams. Offensively, they are featured by former big leaguer Cheslor Cuthbert. It’s not a super-talented team, but they do have the benefit of playing together a bunch very recently, something these other teams cannot say. When Nicaragua beat Brazil on October 5th of last year during the WBC qualifiers, they made the tournament for the first time.

Full Roster


Baseball America Ranking: 13

2017 Result: Eliminated in second round (4-2 overall)

Most Notable Stars:

· Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants

· Richard Bleier, Boston Red Sox

· Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles

Israel’s roster is unique. Every single player outside of 44-year-old reliever Shlomo Lipetz was born in the USA, so there is a good bit of talent here. Perhaps in a different pool they’d have a slight shot at picking up a win, or maybe two, but in this pool they will have their backs against the walls the entire time. Barring Joc Pederson hitting a grand slam every time he comes to the plate or Cubs prospect Matt Mervis breaking out, they likely won’t have the juice to match the fire power that these Latin American clubs will bring to the park. That said, this is likely the most talented team Israel has ever brought to the tournament.

Full roster

If you couldn’t tell, I’m obviously quite high on the first three teams discussed here. Venezuela might not have the history of success in the tournament, but I think their pitching is as deep as can be, and it will propel them through the entire WBC. They are my pick to win the entire thing because of it. It’s hard to bet against the team I’ll be rooting for, Puerto Rico, but the DR’s offense is just too overwhelming. If they don’t make it out of the pool, the world would be shocked.

This pool will give you some of the most entertaining baseball you’ll ever see. I urge you to tune in and watch what this brand of baseball does to the energy in the park. It’s infectious and will leave a lasting impact on you.

PSA WBC previews

Pool A
Pool B
Pool C
Pool D