We did some analysis on Spain a couple days ago and posted it but during the posting all the information disappeared. So myworld attempts to recreate it here.
Overall WBC Record: 3-1, achieved through winning a qualifier in Florida.
Previous Finishes: This is their first participation. In the World Cup they were 9-34 but this is a better team with Cubans, Venezuelans and even Americans on the roster proving some Spanish descent in their background. Spain finished in third place in four of the last five European championships, failing in only 2010.
World Ranking: 16
First Round 2013 Opponents: They will be playing the baseball giants in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dominican Republic, Venzeula and Puerto Rico will be a good test.
Catcher: Adrian Nieto, Salomon Manriquez
First Base: Barbaro Canizares
Second Base: Paco Figuroa
Third Base: Jesus Golindano
Shortstop: Yunesky Sanchez
Utilty: Jesus Merchan
Outfield: Rafael Alvarez, Engel Beltre, Daniel Figueroa, Yasser Gomez, Fernando Martinez, Gabe Suarez
LHP: Ivan Granados, Ricardo Hernandez, Chris Manno, Antonio Noguera, Paco Rodriguez, Richard Salazar
RHP: Richard Castillo, Jose Cruz, Rhiner Cruz, Eric Gonzalez, Eddie Morlan, Leslie Nacar, Nick Schumacher
This is an interesting mix of players dotting the global map. Only two of these players played in the Spanish League (Golindano and Nacar) and two played in the Italian League (Jose Cruz and Noguera). The team hit well in the qualifiers with every player in the starting lineup except for one hitting over .300. Three of the four starting pitchers also pitched well, giving up only one earned run in their three combined starts.
The catchers are a current National and an ex-National mix. Adrian Nieto played for Spain in the qualifier, hitting .313. He was a high school teammate of Eric Hosmer when they were rated the number one high school team in the United States. Nieto came from Cuba with his parents. Salomon Manriquez did not play for the team but has more minor league experience, signed by the old Expos franchise. He may have the better bat with more experience handling a pitching staff.
First base belongs to Cuban defector Barbaro Canizares. He was the only player not to hit over .300 in the qualifier (.238) but he did hit their only homerun. He plays in the Mexican League and is usually good for thirty plus homeruns. He could also move to the DH spot where he is better suited.
Paco Figueroa is a scrappy player who fills the lead off spot by getting on base. Myworld is familiar with him from his days with the Bowie Bay Sox. He hit .438 with a .550 OBA in the qualifier. Not a great stolen base threat but he does have some speed. Yenesky Sanchez is another Cuban who now sees his baseball in the Independent Leagues. He hit .368 during the qualifier. Jesus Golindano was born in Venezuela, but at least he plays in the Spanish League. He will play third. He hit .357 in the qualifier. Jesus Merchan is a career minor leaguer and can fill in at any position except for first base.
The outfield will have their star player in Engel Beltre patrolling centerfield. Beltre is a top prospect in the Rangers system with both speed and potential power. He hit .375 in the qualifier and was 3 for 3 in stolen bases. The Astros may not be pleased with the brittle Fernando Martinez playing for Spain. Injuries have prevented him from reaching his high prospect hype but he could patrol left field or play DH. Yasser Gomez, another Cuban who won the rookie of the year award in Cuba before defecting and signing with the Braves will play another outfield spot. He is normally a centerfielder, now playing Independent ball. He hit .357 in the qualifier. He will play left if Martinez DHs. Their top hitter in the qualifiers was Gabe Suarez (.500, .647 OBA). He played nine seasons in the minor leagues and last year played briefly in the Mexican League. They have to find room for him in the lineup. Rafael Alvarez is another player who hit well in the qualifiers (.375). Of the outfielders only Suarez hits righthanded and Paco’s brother Daniel, but he only got one at bat in the qualifier.
The starting pitching will be led by Richard Castillo, a Venezuelan who pitches in the Cardinals organization. Not a top prospect, but he did win nine games with a 3.27 ERA. Spain will then probably go with what got them here using Ricardo Hernandez, Nick Schmacher and Richard Salazar to finish their rotation. They only gave up one earned run (two unearned) in 17 innings of work. All three pitched in various Independent Leagues last year.
The bullpen could be tough with major league Rhiner Cruz as the set up to 2012 draft pick Paco Rodriguez being used as the closer. Paco became the first 2012 draft pick to reach the major leagues. Rhiner throws hard, hitting the mid-90s with his fastball but has very little command. Paco throws soft, from the left side, but has great command. They will be joined by two pitchers who had great success in the qualifiers, Jose Cruz and Eddie Morlan. The two pitchers did not give up a run in their three appearances covering seven plus innings. Cruz struck out six in his four innings of work. Chris Manno is another new addition to the team. He pitched in the bullpen for the Reds AA team in Pensacola.
Projected Finish: If they win a game against the big three they should be happy. While they hit in the qualifiers they will be facing different pitchers in the WBC. The key will be the bats of Canizares, Martinez and Beltre. If they can provide some offense and the starting pitching repeats their qualifier performance they could surprise.