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Farmers Only Goes Global: Reds in the WBC

The provisional 45-man rosters for the World Baseball Classic came out yesterday, and there were lots of names on them that Reds fans should know.  These rosters will be whittled down to 28 names by the first game in March, so let's look at the 17 Reds selected, and their chances of making the WBC.


Joey Votto - 1B - Jo-eh is one of the fastest rising Canadian stars in MLB.  After an impressive rookie season last year, he should make the roster easily, with only Justin Morneau as the other big league 1B.  Chances of making the roster: Lock

Kyle Lotzkar - RHP - Reds fans should know of this guy by now.  As the #8 rated prospect in the system by Red Reporter, Lotzkar has a live arm and the potential to end up at the upper end of a major league rotation some day.  However, with a lot of returning major leaguers to the Canadian pitching staff (Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Jesse Crain), Kyle's chances of making the roster could be in jeopardy, but with Adam Loewen, Chris Reitsma, and Erik Bedard all not returning from last year's roster, the Canadians could see a youth movement in the pitching staff led by Lotzkar and Phillippe Aumont.  Chances of making the roster: Likely

Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette - LHP - Lotzkar's teammate in Dayton faces a tougher road than he does.  A former 7th round pick, Valiquette had a decent year in Dayton and Sarasota last season, but an absymal winter league line (8.59 ERA, 2.60 WHIP).  He's still young and could develop into a decent prospect, but Canada will be likely looking for more experienced players.  Chances of making the roster: Slim

James Avery - RHP - A little older than the other guys (25), but will be in spring training with the Reds this year.  He's a starter by trade who had a medicore year last year in AA, and if he's presumably behind Lotzkar on the depth chart, there's little chance of him making this team.  Although barring injuries, you can never say never, but I think this is pretty close.  Chances of making the roster:  Slim to none

Dominican Republic

Francisco Cordero - RHP - Among guys like Valverde, Dotel, Marte, and Marmol, Coco deserves a spot in this bullpen.  Chances of making the roster: Lock

Wilkin Castillo - C - He's probably the third catcher, behind Ronny Paulino and Miguel Olivo.  That said, the D.R. carried three catchers last time, so I would think they would do the same this time.  Chances of making the roster: Lock

Edinson Volquez - RHP - The Wagon seems like a good bet to make the roster.  He had a breakout year last year, and has been a rock star down in the D.R. (as Verka can attest).  The Dominican roster has lots of relievers on it, meaning an elite starter like Edinson has a good shot of making the club.  Still, he wasn't there in '06, so I can't call him a lock.  Chances of making the roster: Likely

Johnny Cueto - RHP - I really want this one to happen, but I have a feeling it won't.  Despite being one of the most exciting rookie pitchers to come out of the D.R. in the past few years, names like Pedro Martinez, Fausto Carmona, Francisco Liriano, and Ervin Santana make a young gun like Cueto expendable.  If he makes the team, he may not start.  Chances of making the roster: Questionable

Willy Taveras  - OF - Let's be honest.  Unless Dusty is managing this team, there's no way T-Virus makes it.   He's most likely the 5th or 6th outfielder on the roster (maybe better than Alou), and if they're looking for a leadoff man, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes are already on the team.  Chances of making the roster: Slim


Alexander Smit - LHP - He had a good year in Sarasota last year, and playing in the tournament in '06.  I think he makes it.  Chances of making the roster: Lock

Juan Carlos Sulbaran - RHP - A 30th round pick last season out of Curacao, Juan Carlos has a lot of potential, but is still very young (19).  He's yet to throw a pitch in the minors, but who knows how desperate the Netherlands will be for pitching.  I don't know.  Chances of making the roster: Questionable

Chinese Taipei

Yen-Wen Kuo - SS - Had a decent first year in the pros, playing in the GCL.  It's hard to say whether or not he'll make the team, but as one of the few there playing in the minor leagues, I'd say it's a possibility.  Chances of making the roster: Likely


Ramon Hernandez - C - Played in the WBC in 2006, so I think it's likely he gets another invite.  He will probably play alongside Henry Blanco, and Dioner Navarro will probably take Victor Martinez's vacant spot.  Chances of making the roster: Likely


Jerry Hairston Jr. - IF - Will it be Cherry Hudson Junior time in the WBC?  He's arguably one of the best infielders on the Mexican roster.  After a solid year last year, I like his chances.  Chances of making the roster: Likely


Luis Machuca - RHP - Be honest, you've never heard of this guy before.  He was signed as an undrafted free agent and started 4 games in the GCL last year after having an impressive 3.03 ERA over 11 starts in the DSL.  What does that mean for his WBC chances?  Being a 20 year old, he'll have a lot more chances, but I don't know if the Panamanian team will take a chance, even though there isn't much big league pitching on their team either.  Which young players the Panama team picks is anybody's guess at this point.  Chances of making the roster: Questionable


Luca Panerati and Matteo Pizziconi - LHP - Both are 6'2", 19-year-old Italian lefthanded pitchers.  Panerati had a pretty nice season in the GCL, but Pizziconi's was better.  Still, what happens with these guys is anybody's guess.  I'd love to see them get the chance to compete on the international level, but honestly, I don't know much about Italian baseball.  Chances of making the roster: No idea