Virtually every team will be losing members during Spring Training to participate in the World Baseball Classic. The Tampa Bay Rays are not an exception, as four members of the team will play for their countries.
Regardless of what one thinks of the World Baseball Classic, it is still an honor to be selected to take part in the event. Such a selection means that you are one of the best that your country has to offer, and a vital part needed to bring home the title. It is, indeed, a wonderful feeling to be a part of such a roster.
The Tampa Bay Rays will have four of their players participating in the World Baseball Classic this year. Four pitchers, Chris Archer, Jose De Leon, Alex Colome, and Jose Alvarado, will be playing for their countries. Even though they will be leaving Spring Training, they still should get enough work to be sharp for the regular season.
Archer was an easy choice to put on the roster. Even in a down year, he was still a true workhorse, pitching over 200 innings for the second consecutive season. His 233 strikeouts ranked second in the American League, the second consecutive season he finished as the runner up. He has become a true ace, and the type of pitcher that the United States entry would want in their rotation.
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Colome, meanwhile, became a force in the Rays bullpen last year. After bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen, he was named the Rays closer, and was one of the better ones in the game. Named to the All Star Game last year, Colome ranked fourth in the American League with 37 saves. His presence will help solidify the back end of the bullpen for the Dominican Republic.
De Leon, one of the top pitching prospects in the game, will be a part of the Puerto Rican pitching staff. Although he struggled during his first taste of the Majors, De Leon dominated in the minors, posting a 3.35 ERA and a 1.125 WHiP, striking out 446 batters in 330.2 innings of work.
Alvarado may be the least known of the Rays to participate, but he can still help the Venezuelan squad. He has yet to pitch above the High-A level, but Alvarado has displayed some potential. Although his command is iffy at best, as indicated by his 135 walks in 199.2 minor league innings, he does possess one of the better fastballs in the system. He has struck out 223 batters, and if he can harness that heater, he could be a surprise weapon for Venezuela.
Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays will have plenty of reasons to watch the World Baseball Classic this year. It will be interesting to see how each player performs in the tournament.