The fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) is starting to look like an extremely attractive tournament, with several stars set to represent their countries.
Even nations with no significant baseball traditions will have solid rosters at their disposal.
This is the case of Italy.
Baseball is not necessarily close to football/soccer or even basketball in popularity in Italy, but there is no denying the sport is growing there.
They have a league, and they have some American players with Italian roots.
That makes them eligible to represent the country at the WBC.
Two Kansas City Royals players will be representing the European country at the WBC.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) November 8, 2022
Vinnie Pasquantino took the league by storm this year, with a .295/.383/.450 line, 10 homers and a 137 wRC+ (100 is considered league-average performance) in just 72 games.
Italy Will Get Some Legitimate MLB-Caliber Help
He is now the future at first base for the Royals, and Team Italy will benefit from his talented bat.
Nicky Lopez is more known for his defense than his offense, but is a terrific defensive middle infielder with lots of stolen base potential.
The last name “Lopez” is definitely not Italian, but the player hilariously helped fans eliminate any doubts about his roots.
Yes, my last name is Lopez. My mom is 100% Italian. Dad has some Italian as well. Family in Italy. Ancestors from Italy. Now we can move on! 😂 https://t.co/yfMtHyiG4Y
— Nicky Lopez (@nick3lopez) November 9, 2022
The WBC will be a wonderful experience for both players, especially the young Pasquantino.
Italy had confirmed Trey Mancini, David Fletcher, and elite reliever Jordan Romano a couple of months ago, so the team is actually coming together pretty nicely.
Mike Piazza, the former Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets superstar, will be the manager, and more commits are expected to be announced in the future.
The WBC will be played in March.