The Brazilian baseball team is now en route to Panama, where they will face the host in the first game of the WBC qualifying round taking place this weekend between Panama, Brazil, Nicaragua and Colombia.
Brazil’s roster was only announced on Friday, after a one week training camp that brought players in from all over the world. When you look at the assembled roster and take stock of the collective baseball talent, you have to be impressed by how much professional depth they now have. This is arguably the most experienced baseball team that Brazil has ever fielded in an international tournament.
14 of the players on the roster currently play in various MLB organizations and U.S. colleges, the most prominent of which is Yan Gomes (Cleveland), who this year became the first Brazilian player to make it to the major leagues with Toronto. There are also 10 players from the Japanese pros/semi-pros and college ranks, including long-time NPB Yakult Swallows utility player Daniel (Yuichi) Matsumoto. You can read more on the players bios on the Brazil WBC Facebook page. Here’s the roster (courtesy of ExtraTime):
André Rienzo, Chicago White Sox/ ( AAA)
Carlos Yoshimura, Yamaha/JAP (industrial league)
Daniel Missaki, Nippon Blue Jays (Brazil)
Ernesto Chacon, Atibaia (Brazil)
Gabriel Asakura, Cal State Univ. LA Golden Eagles/ (NCAA)
Hugo Kanabushi, Tokyo Yakult Swallows/JAP (minor league)
Jean Antônio Tomé, Atibaia (Brazil)
Kesley Kondo , Utah Utes/(NCAA)
Murilo Gouveia, Houston Astros/(A)
Oscar Nakaoshi, Hakuoh University/JAP (university level)
Rafael Fernandes, Tokyo Yakult Swallows/JAP (NPB)
Rafael Moreno, Baltimore Orioles/(DSL)
Thyago Vieira, Seattle Mariners/(VSL)
Bruno Hirata, Toshiba/JAP (industrial league)
Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians/ (MLB)
Allan Fanhoni, NTT East/JAP ( industrial league)
Daniel Matsumoto, Tokyo Yakult Swallows/JAP (minor league)
Felipe Burin, Seattle Mariners/(rookie)
Iago Januário, Tampa Bay Rays/(rookie)
Leonardo Reginatto, Tampa Bay Rays/(A)
Lucas Rojo, Philadelphia Phillies/(VSL)
Márcio Tanaka, JR Kyushu/JAP (industrial leagues)
Pedro Ivo Okuda, Seattle Mariners/EUA (rookie)
Reinaldo Sato, Yamaha/JAP (industrial league)
Juan Carlos Muniz Armenteros, Marília/Brazil
Mike Magario, Tokyo Yakult Swallows/JAP (minor league)
Paulo Orlando, Kansas City Royals/(AA)
Tiago Magalhães, Yamaha/JAP (industrial league)
Based solely on experience, you could potentially see a starting lineup that goes like this (by defensive position):
1B – Matsumoto
2B – Sato
SS – Tanaka
3B – Burin
OF – Magalhães
P – Rienzo
I assume Rienzo will start the first game against Panama seeing as how he really came on this past season in the U.S. minors, blowing through Double A and Triple A hitting while on his way to becoming one of the more highly touted prospects in the White Sox organization. He is a proven shutdown starter, doesn’t allow very many runs and strikes out lots of hitters. He will have to bring his A game in order for Brazil to have a chance against a favored, MLB player-laden Panama team that is playing in its own stadium.
The good news for Brazil manager Barry Larkin is that he has a lot of options off the bench to play batter/pitcher matchups, and his bullpen features a number of Japan-based and college pitchers that not many Panamanian players or coaches will have seen before. Additionally, most of the players on Brazil’s roster grew up playing in Brazil for club teams and for the national team, and their cumulative international tournament experience is strong, albeit mostly at the youth level.
Regardless of how they do in the WBC, Brazil gets a real opportunity to show the world how good at baseball they really are. Hopefully the rest of the country gets behind them.