In the Dominican Republic baseball is more than just a sport, it is a way of life. Baseball brings out the passion, unity and love for not only the game, but the country. From early on, many young children hope to grow up to be the next Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz and Juan Marichal.
In 2013, Nelson Cruz, Miguel Tejada, Robinson Cano, and a talented bullpen help bring the title home to the island as the Dominican Republic won the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
When the 2017 World Baseball Classic came around, the Dominican Republic was a big favorite to win the whole thing. They advance out of Pool C after going 3-0 but were eliminated after falling to Puerto Rico and the United States.
Some of the new wave has arrived and are ready to make an impact on the baseball field. Just like the US, the DR is full of talent at all positions all over the field. With so much young talent, who will fill in the shoes left behind? Here is what the 2021 Dominican Baseball team could look like in the World Baseball Classic.
- Luis Severino
- Luis Castillo
- Alex Reyes
- Sandy Alcantara
- Jose Urena
Luis Severino has turned himself to one of the best pitchers in the American League. The Yankees ace has 33 wins over the last two years and could be apart of one of the best rotations in the tournament. Luis Castillo is having a great year for the Reds. The 26-year-old is emerging as the Reds' next ace. Castillo struck out 165 batters in 169.2 innings in 2018 and is having a great year in 2019 so far. Who wouldn't want guy that has a 97mph fastball and 97mph sinker? Castillo and Severino would make a great 1-2 punch for the DR.
It would be a huge get if Alex Reyes returns to pitch for the Dominican Republic. He pitched for the Dominican Republic last time out and is still chasing his dream of pitching in the major leagues. Come 2021, he should be a part of the Cardinals rotation. His fastball clocks in at 97mph with a curve that reaches 81mph and a 88mph slider. Combine Reyes with Severino and Castillo and you have a solid one through three rotation.
- Miguel Diaz
- Victor Alcantata
- Carlos Martinez
- Hector Neris
- Gerson Bautista
- Pedro Baez
- Alex Colome
- Dellin Betances
- Gary Sanchez
- Francisco Mejia
- Welington Castillo
Gary Sanchez has evolved into one of the best hitting catchers in the game. The 26-year-old has accumulated 315 hits and has crushed 95 home runs. As Sanchez continues to work on his defensive skills, he could be the best option to be the Dominican backstop. He can hit anywhere in the lineup and gives the DR a chance to win every time he takes the field.
Francisco Mejia has had an up-and-down career since making his major league debut. However, you cannot deny his tremendous talent and upside. Usually in the spring, Mejia is a force to be reckoned with. Mejia owns a .384 batting average with seven home runs and 29 runs batted in. Mejia’s .411 on-base percentage and .709 slugging percentage make him a perfect candidate for the spring tournament. He has also seen some time at first base and could fill in for Carlos Santana.
Welington Castillo is the only member of the 2017 catchers’ team to return for the 2021 Classic. Castillo has spent the last couple of seasons in Chicago mentoring some of the young backstops that the White Sox have. After 2020, he could be looking for another team. When the next Classic comes around, he will be 34-years-old and possibly winding down the rest of his career. His competitive edge may be the thing that brings him back for the tournament. Another reason would be to audition for a team that could use a backstop. If added, he could give a lot of advice to Mejia and help him improve his game.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
- Fernando Tatis Jr.
- Carlos Santana
- Jonathan Villar
- Manny Machado
- Katel Marte
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. have made themselves well known in their first seasons in the majors. The possibly of the two coming together would give the DR a huge push against the competition. Tatis Sr. suited up for the Dominican Republic back in 2009 and it would be a huge honor if his son followed in his footsteps. Vlad Sr. never suited up for the Dominican National team, but that won’t stop the young slugger from taking the field with his fellow countryman. So far in his rookie season, Tatis Jr. has 68 hits with nine doubles and 14 home runs while driving in 33 runs. Guerrero Jr. has 56 hits with 13 doubles, eight home runs and has driven in 25 runs.
Manny Machado, Carlos Santana and Jonathan Villar are the infield returns for the Dominican Republic. Machado wrote a letter to The Players Tribune describing where his love for playing with Dominicana written across his chest:
"My grandfather loved baseball so much. He’s one of the reasons that I fell in love with the game. He lived with us in our home in Hialeah, Florida — where I was born — but he grew up in the Dominican Republic, in the city of La Vega. He wanted me to play Major League Baseball because it had always been my dream, and also because it would allow me to help my family live a better life. But he also wanted me to play in the Dominican if I ever got the chance — he wanted me to play winter ball for his favorite team, the Licey Tigers, or to represent the Dominican in some way."
When Vlad Jr. is in the lineup, Machado can hit at the designated hitter spot, giving the DR a lot of flexibility. If he does play in the tournament once more, the love for his grandfather will keep him at the corner for the DR once more.
Santana performed big for the Dominican Republic in 2017. In six games, Santana slashed .308/.333/.385, and finished the tournament with six singles, two doubles and three RBI’s. His .308 batting average was third best for Dominican starters and one of the best sluggers at his position. Santana could also be penciled in at the DH position to keep his bat in the lineup.
Katel Marte has emerged as one of the best sluggers for the National League and has helped the Arizona Diamondbacks hang around in the 2019 Wild Card race. Because of his versatility, he can play in the infield and the outfield. His speed will also play a difference late in games if used as a pitch runner.
- Victor Robles
- Juan Soto
- Manuel Margot
- Marcell Ozuna
- Domingo Santana
- Eloy Jimenez
The starting outfield of Ozuna, Robles and Santana are a stellar outfield for any team. Ozuna and Santana would supply the power while Robles can hit for both contact and power. Both Santana and Ozuna have strong arms as Santana is currently ninth in putouts while Ozuna sits at 12 for left fielders.
Juan Soto is a younger option that could make his tournament debut. Soto gets a lot of credit for his bat but his glove and arm aren't talked about as much. Soto currently sits fourth in put outs for left fielders. Manuel Margot has been very consistent for the Padres since making his debut. His ability to get on base would and strong defensive play would make him a good option for the Dominican Republic.