The fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic gets underway on 8th March 2023 as Cuba play the Netherlands at the Taichung Stadium in Taiwan.
Here’s a closer look at the countries taking part in Pool D ahead of the highly-anticipated competition.
|What:||World Baseball Classic|
|Where:||Japan, Taiwan and United States|
|When:||8th March - 21st March, 2023|
|How to watch:||BT Sport|
|Odds (Outright)||Dominican Republic 2/1, Japan 5/2, USA 11/4, Puerto Rico 9/1, Venezuela 10/1|
Puerto Rico are ranked number 13 in the world according to the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and have been runners-up in the past two editions of the World Baseball Classic.
This will be their fifth appearance in the WBC and they start their campaign against tournament debutants Nicaragua on 11th March in Miami Florida.
Puerto Rico have a talented roster including New York Mets pair Edwin Diaz and Francisco Lindor, who will also captain his nation.
Marcus Stroman, who pitched for the USA (and was the World Baseball Classic MVP in 2017) in the previous edition is now playing for Puerto Rico, the home of his mother.
Also on the roster is catcher Martin Maldenado, infielder Javier Baez and outfielder Eddie Rosario. This roster will be hugely disappointed if it doesn't reach the finals again.
Team Venezuela have a tough start against the overall favourites to win the tournament, Dominican Republic, at LoanDepot Park, Miami, Florida.
Venezuela’s best finish in the World Baseball Classic is the semi-finals in 2009, losing to South Korea 10-2. In 2017, they failed to get past round two, losing all three games in the championship round.
With pitchers such as Pablo Lopez, Ranger Suarez and Martin Perez on the roster, there is belief they can put up a stern challenge in their opener.
Also on the roster is Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, Gleyber Torres, Eugenio Suarez and Andres Gimenez, while Ronald Acuna Jr is included in the outfield.
World Baseball Classic Pool A preview: Cuba headline tight top group
World Baseball Classic Pool B preview: Japan expected to dominate
World Baseball Classic Pool C preview: USA the ones to beat
Dominican Republic, ranked at nine in the WBSC, are the favourites to win the World Baseball Classic for the second time in their nation's history. They have such a star-studded roster and it's hard to see them anywhere else but coming out on top in this event, just like they achieved in 2013 when winning all eight games played.
They disappointed in the 2017 tournament, being knocked out in the second round, but they are determined to make up for that this time around.
On the roster, the Dominican outfit include the likes of two-time All-Star and National League Cy Young Award winner in 2022, Sandy Alcantara, Johnny Cueto, Luis Garcia and Bryan Abreu.
They have infielders Rafael Devers, Wander Franco, Manny Machado and Jeremy Pena, while Teoscar Hernandez, Eloy Jimenez, Julio Rodriguez and Juan Soto are the outfielders.
Israel qualified for their first World Baseball Classic in 2017 and surprisingly managed to reach the quarter-finals. ESPN likened Israel, who were ranked 41st in the World, to the 'Jamaican Bobsleigh team', the biggest underdog in the tournament.
Israel pulled off one of the biggest shocks in the short history of the event by defeating hosts South Korea 2-1 in their first game. They then beat the Netherlands and Chinese Taipai to reach the second round/quarter-finals.
Despite beating Cuba in the next stage, Israel lost two other games to be knocked out.
Israel are ranked number 20 in the WBSC and will play their first game against Nicaragua at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida.
Former New York Mets utility player Ty Kelly will turn out for Israel again and 2017 Pool A MVP, Ryan Lavarnway, will once again be on the roster.
With a WBSC ranking of 17, Nicaragua are one of three teams to qualify for the first time in the World Baseball Classic for 2023, joining Great Britain and Czech Republic.
Nicaragua qualified for the WBC by defeating Pakistan, Argentina and Brazil in their group of the Americas section of the WBSC.
Nicaragua will have relief pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga of the New York Yankees and Carlos Rodriguez, a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers on their roster as they look to compete against some of the big guns in the tournament.
They face Puerto Rico in their opening game, before playing Israel, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.