Overview - Baseball is a curiosity sport in Colombia but it is picking up steam in popularity. Not everyone is enamored with soccer so the niche sports can prosper. In Colombia baseball is the niche sport for those kids who are outclassed by the soccer super stars. If you are not good with your feet perhaps you are better with your hands.
Colombia got in the WBC by winning a qualifier over teams from France, Panama and Spain. Panama was the favorite but a homerun from Dilson Herrera in the eighth inning gave Colombia the 2-1 win in the finals. It was the second time Colombia had defeated Panama in the tournament so they have earned their right to play. Unfortunately, they will be placed in one of the toughest pools with the United States, the defending champion Dominican Republic and Canada.
While many think baseball is in its infancy in Colombia they do have a record of winning medals in the baseball World Cups. The last medal they won was in 1974, though they have won gold medals in 1947 and 1965. Silver medals were earned in 1945 and 1971 while another bronze was taken in 1948. In both years they won the gold medal the games were hosted by Colombia in Cartagena. Interestingly, those are the only two world cups they have ever hosted for baseball. So there is some winning history for baseball in Colombia, who had an overall record of 91-84 in World Cup competetion.
This will be their first time playing in a WBC. They have competed in two qualifiers, not advancing in the first but advancing to the big show in the second.
Current World Ranking - Colombia falls out of the top 12 listed as the 19th ranked country for baseball. The United States is number two and Canada sits at number eight. The Dominican Republic may be ranked 13th but they are the defending champions. They do not fare as well in international tournaments without their major leaguers so their ranking for the WBC is probably lower than it should be.
Pitchers - Horacio Acosta (DPP), Nabil Crismatt, William Cuevas, Dayan Diaz, Ernesto Frieri, Tayron Guerrero, Sugar Ray Marimon, Guillermo Moscoso, Gregg Nappo (DPP), Javier Ortiz, Yohan Pino, Jose Quintana, Julio Tehran, Karl Triana
Designated Pitchers Pool - Kendy Batista, Randy Consuegra, Luis Escobar, Erling Moreno, Reiver SanMartin, Angel Vilchez, Ezequiel Zabaleta
Catchers - Jorge Alfaro, Jhonatan Solano, Meibrys Viloria
Infielders - Dilson Herrera, Mauricio Ramos, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Adrian Sanchez, Donovan Solano, Giovanny Urshela
Outfielders - Efrain Contreras, Tito Polo, Jesus Valdez
Strengths - While they are the underdogs Colombia should not be overmatched, not when you have two aces like Jose Quintana and Julio Teheran in your rotation. The challenge will be finding the third starter to finish out the pool. Tayron Guerrero throws in the mid 90s but Ernest Frieri and Sugar Ray Morimon have more experience. They also have some strength behind the plate. If you want tools you’ll go with Jorge Alfaro and if you want experience call on Jhonaton Solano. Meibrys Viloria is one of the hottest prospects in the low minors hitting over .340. The middle infield should be solid with Dilson Herrera and Donavan Solano taking up those spots. Herrera got the game winning homerun to put Colombia into the WBC and Solano is a utility infielder good enough to make the major leagues. Giovanny Urshela is a good defensive option at third but he was demoted by the Indians a couple years ago because of a lack of offensive production.
Weakness - The starters will not go nine so that is where a solid bullpen comes into play. Colombia is weak there. If Guerrero does not start he may be asked to be their closer. They also do not have a lot of depth and zero major league experience in their outfield. While they have some talented players, many of them are only highly touted prospects in the minor leagues. The only major leaguers on this roster Quintana, Tehran, the Solanos and Frieri with Herrera also seeing some time are not enough to compete in this pool. They are playing in a pool with three teams whose rosters are filled with major leaguers. For Colombia you can only say their roster is dotted with major leaguers.
Prospects to Watch - They have a ton of them. The most talented pitcher is probably Tayron Guerrero. He can throw the ball hard but lacks command. Two catchers are future potential stars in the major leagues. Jorge Alfaro is a top prospect who will make his name known in 2017 with his power bat and solid defense behind the plate. Meibrys Viloria is a prospect on the rise who will probably not see a lot of playing time in these games. Dilson Herrera should compete for playing time at second base for the Reds now that they have traded Brandon Phillips. Tito Polo is a fringe outfield prospect while Giovanny Urshela made the Indians roster as a third baseman but was demoted because of his lack of offense.
Expected Finish - With Quintana and Teheran they could surprise with one win and Canada is a team they can beat. They may choose to start their two aces against the United States and Dominican Republic, which will leave a lesser starter to do battle against Canada. Myworld does not see them advancing past the first round.