For more than 65 confirmed Little League® graduates, playing in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) serves as a chance for these now-professional all-stars from around the world to show off their national pride, baseball prowess, and the inner-Little Leaguer® in all of them.
From the comradery in the clubhouse that is fueled by a love for their country to the opportunity to play alongside some of the best baseball players from around the world, each of these Little League graduates has the opportunity to once again shine a light on the joy that playing the game of baseball offers during the World Baseball Classic.
Just as the 16 teams compete at the Little League Baseball® World Series every August in hopes to take the championship banner back home to their country, these former Little League graduates are looking to take the WBC title home this year:
NOTE: If you know of a player that we have missed, please e-mail the information, including name, current Major League team (if applicable), and the name of the city or town where they played Little League, to media@LittleLeague.org.
Last season, despite all the talent on the roster, was terrible for the Blue Jays.
This year, they’re in the thick of the American League East race. Jose Bautista leads the league in on-base percentage, and Melky Cabrera and Jose Reyes are providing production. Edwin Encarnacion had 26 homers (which is still just three off of the major league lead) before he got hurt. Mark Buehrle has quietly—and quickly—put up a 2.86 ERA.
Now, as the stretch run approaches, it’s time for tweaks and upgrades. The Blue Jays believe prized righthander Aaron Sanchez is one of those upgrades, particularly when it comes to the team’s 4.50 ERA out of the bullpen, which ranks fourth from the bottom in the American League.
A first-rounder in 2010 out of Barstow (Calif.) HS, Sanchez is as talented an arm as Toronto has in its stable. Armed with a high-octane fastball, a plus curveball and a solid changeup, he has the arsenal, at least, to be a weapon at the front of a rotation.
What he doesn’t have is command. His delivery is easy and he’s repeated well in the past, but he’s always had high walk numbers. He issued more than five free passes per nine with Double-A New Hampshire this year before a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo, where he cut that rate by one.
He recently shifted to the bullpen, where he’ll work now that he’s been called up to Toronto to join Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays’ other top arm.
Scouts have evaluated amateur players all spring, with the First-Year Player (Rule 4) draft, scheduled for June 5-7, now just two months away.
Now the teams’ planning for the draft kicks into a higher gear, as Major League Baseball has informed the clubs of their bonus pools and the slot values for the first 10 rounds.
The Marlins pick second in the draft but have the largest bonus pool allotment at $14,199,300, thanks to having four of the first 43 selections. The Astros, who pick No. 1 overall for the record-setting third straight year, rank second with a $13,362,200 pool allotment. Houston has three of the first 37 selections. Miami gets a compensatory selection at No. 36 overall for failing to sign last year’s comp pick, lefthander Matt Krook, now a freshman at Oregon.
The total allotment for the first 10 rounds of the draft is $205,786,400, and teams almost certainly will exceed that amount; in the last two years, for example, the industry has spent 8.86 percent more than the top 10-round allotment in rounds 11-40. The industry spent $219,302,880 last year on signing bonuses, the second-highest total ever but below the more than $228 million laid out in 2011, the last year of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement. The numbers could change slightly with two free agents, Stephen Drew (Boston) and Kendrys Morales (Seattle), still available. If they were to sign with new teams, the Red Sox and Mariners would gain compensation picks near the end of the first round, and their new employers would forfeit a draft pick (though the first 10 picks in the draft are protected).
The Astros’ No. 1 selection has a $7,922,100 bonus allotment, and Houston has yet to spend its full allotment with the top pick. Shortstop Carlos Correa, the No. 1 pick in 2012, signed for $4.8 million, while last year’s No. 1 selection, righthander Mark Appel, signed for $6.35 million. The largest signing bonus in draft history remains the $8 million straight bonus Gerrit Cole received from the Pirates as the No. 1 overall selection in 2011.