The second round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers are underway today in Mexicali, Mexico and Panama City, Panama. Oh boy are their some interesting things to look out for.
We’ll start with the city four hours away from San Diego, Mexicali. Now the teams playing there are really not that interesting apart from the host, Mexico, but there should still be plenty of action. The other teams include in this group are Germany, Nicaragua, and Czech Republic. There will be only two representatives of the current San Diego Padres organization who will be part of the qualifiers in the border city of Mexicali. Those players being young pitchers Jesus Soto representing Mexico and Diomar Lopez representing Nicaragua.
Diomar Lopez certainly looks like an interesting young pitcher being only 19 years old and having only pitched in the Dominican Summer League so far. The youngster is certainly going up against his biggest challenge so far as a professional. While there will only be two representatives of the current Padres organization you may have not even heard of, there will certainly be other familiar faces to look out for especially on Team Mexico.
Among them are veteran relief pitcher for the Nationals and former Friar, Oliver Perez, and of course the Gonzalez brothers. Older Brother Edgar Gonzalez will be at the helm for Team Mexico after a great campaign with the hometown Aguilas de Mexicali, in which he won the manager of the year award. It’s quite exiting to see Edgar’s managerial career progress. There is no doubt in my mind that Edgar will definitely have a job in the big leagues or in an MLB organization in no time.
Mexico’s star player will of course be the former face of the Friars franchise, Adrian Gonzalez. Even though El Titan has always been patriotic it still comes as a shock that he will participate in these qualifiers against not the strongest of opponents. It’ll certainly be interesting to see Edgar manage his younger brother and it should also be a treat to potentially see Gonzo go yard quite a few times.
Now from the beloved brothers to an exciting prospect in Panama. Before we get into that prospect let’s do a quick rundown of the teams who will be playing at Rod Carew Stadium and the familiar faces that you will see in the Panamanian capital.
The pool of teams is certainly more balanced in Panama than in Mexico. we have Panama of course, Colombia, France and Spain. Colombia brought quite a few youngsters from the MLB including the Mets Dilson Herrera and the Pirates Harold Ramirez, who is the number seven prospect in the Buccos organization.
Host Panama who will be managed by former MLB slugger Carlos “El Caballo” Lee will also bring a pretty strong team to the table with a few MLB prospects as well. Among those prospects will be the Padres top shortstop Prospect Javier Guerra. The 20-year-old Guerra was of course part of the Craig Kimbrel package from the BoSox and certainly looks to have a very bright future ahead of him. I am certainly excited to watch Javier play in these next few games, as you should be as well.
Your first opportunity to watch Guerra in action will be tonight as Panama takes on France at 6 PM. Now France doesn’t have a very interesting team but they have a very interesting man who will lead the charge. That man of course being Montreal, Quebec native and former Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne.
Isn’t that hard to believe? Eric Gagne as a manager. It is extremely rare for a former closer to be the skipper of any team. I know a lot of people will not watch these games but if you’re a hardcore baseball fan it certainly is a must watch and if you’re a Padres fan at least check out future Shortstop Javy Guerra in action. GO PADRES!