They are the defending champs, the first team to go through all their games undefeated after being embarrassed in 2009 by being eliminated in the first round. It was a star studded lineup but so was the 2009 team. What will be the lineup in 2017?
Catcher - Carlos Santana will only be 31 in 2017. The question will be whether he will still be catching or playing first base by that age. Gary Sanchez is the best young catcher out there. He should be ready to make an impact with the Yankees by 2017. The question may be whether the Yankees would allow him to participate in the event. Wilin Rosario is probably suited more for a backup role.
First base - Miguel Sano will earn this spot with his 40 homerun bat making an impact on the Minnesota Twins. The Dominican Republic should be able to find plenty of good defensive players for the third base position, his current position. Edwin Encarnacion will only be 34 and he could DH or play first base to allow Miguel to play third. The Dominicans could also make room for veterans Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre if they can remain healthy. Neither got to play on the championship team because of the existing injury rule. Both will be pushing 40 by 2017.
Second Base - Eric Aybar will be a veteran that will have lost his range at 33 to play shortstop. He could slide over to second or play third base. Alen Hanson is a younger player who may not have the arm for short and could be the Pirates second baseman by 2017. Ronny Rodriguez of the Cleveland Indians could also fill the second base role. There could also be a battle for the shortstop position between Starlin Castro, Jean Segura and Manny Machado (if he qualifies) and the losers will move to second and third.
Shortstops - They were loaded here in 2013 with Jose Reyes and Eric Aybar switching off. The Dodgers wanted Hanley Ramirez to get some reps here as well. All three will be in their mid-30s by then and they could still occupy that position as Derek Jeter did for the United States team in 2009 at age 35. They will have to fight three up and comers in the Cubs Starlin Castro, the Brewers Jean Segura and the Orioles Manny Machado. Down on the farm youngsters like the Royals Adalberto Mondesi, son of Raul and the Indians Dorssys Paulino could be ready for backup roles. Emilio Bonafacio could be a nice utility option that could play all three infield positions. Leury Garcia filled that position for the 2013 team and will be available to fill that role again in 2017.
Third Base - Pedro Alvarez is of Dominican descent. He needs to swing and miss less to make an impact. Juan Francisco is getting an opportunity with the Braves. The Cubs Junior Lake is down on the farm and should be a regular by 2017. The Dominicans also have a lot of names they can choose to put here from the shortstop position. It will be a wide open but talented position.
Outfield - The Dominicans were a bit short here in 2013. That should not be the case in 2017. They should have lots of choices to cover ground in centerfield in Starling Marte, Eury Perez, Rymer Liriano and Gregory Polanco. The corners should see Moises Sierra, Marcell Ozuna, Domingo Santana, Jorge Bonafacio (who could be teammates with his brother Emilio) and any of the losers in the centerfield fight. The outfield could be so crowded that one of the best corner outfielders Oscar Taveras could choose to play for Canada, but the Dominicans would be wise to make room for him.
Starting Pitchers - Major league teams are very protective of starting pitchers they let participate in this event. Johnny Cueto could be their ace. Alexi Ogando and Michael Pineda are also potential starters here. Carlos Martinez was just called up by the Cardinals. His small stature makes him better suited for the bullpen. The Brewers may have Willy Peralta as their ace by this time. The Rays will have called up Alex Colome by this time. There are others scattered in the majors, future Samuel Dedunos.
Bullpen - They will have a number of players coming out of the pen more talented than Fernado Rodney, but he was a late bloomer, closing for the Dominicans at 36. Neftali Feliz should be healthy and Kelvin Herrera should be an established closer with the Royals by this time. The Mets have a load of pitchers who could move to starter or relief in Jeurys Familia, Rafael Montero and Domingo Tapia. Arodys Vizcaino will have established himself with the Cubs by 2017. You could always have a late bloomer like Pedro Strop or Felipe Paulino.
The Dominicans won’t have a hard time finding players to repeat their championship run.