The World Baseball Classic is one of my favourite things about baseball. The players representing their countries, the pride from the players and fans and the immense competition are few of the many things I love about the World Baseball Classic.
The 2021 World Baseball Classic starts exactly a year tomorrow. With the tournament being expanded from 16 to 20 teams, there will be two qualifying tournaments of 5 different countries vying for a spot in the 2021 edition.
Pool 1 consists of Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Pakistan. The qualifiers take place in Tucson, Arizona from March 13-18. There are some players and coaches who are in or formerly apart of the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Two players in Pool 1 are currently in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. RHP Rafael Viana, currently apart of the DSL (Dominican Summer League) Blue Jays will be representing Brazil. I was unable to find any stats or information when looking him up.
Infielder Jesus Lopez who played at the A level in 2019 will be representing Nicaragua in the qualifiers. He’s spent 6 seasons in the minors where he’s slashed .227/.281/.317 but did better in 2019 where he slashed .276/.310/.366.
Going into memory lane, there are 3 former members of the Blue Jays organization who will be representing their countries in the qualifiers. While not there as a player, LaTroy Hawkins is serving as the pitching coach for Brazil. He came over to the Jays as part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade in 2015. In 18 games during the regular season, he went 1-0 with a 2.76 E.R.A. along with 4 holds and 1 save. He struggled in 1.2 innings pitched in the playoffs though.
Perhaps the name Alen Hanson might seem more familiar as he played 18 games for the Jays last season. He was part of the return from the Giants for Kevin Pillar. He struggled to a .163/.229/.163 slash line and was ultimately released. He will be representing France.
Gift Ngoepe will be representing South Africa. He played 13 games for the Jays in 2018 where he struggled mightily with a slash line of .056/.165/.056 recording only one hit in 18 AB.
Unknown to many, Vince Horsman served as the pitching coach for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He was fired after the 2019 season. He will be serving as a coach for South Africa.
While not apart of the Jays organization, Bo Bichette‘s older brother, Dante Bichette Jr., will be representing Brazil. Bo did play for Brazil at the 2017 WBC qualifier but Brazil fell short of reaching the Classic for the 2017 edition.