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As we continue to look toward the World Baseball Classic, we preview Team Colombia.

As we continue to look toward the World Baseball Classic, we preview Team Colombia.

After qualifying for the tournament last March with a defeat of Panama, the country of Colombia will be represented at the World Baseball Classic for the first time this spring. With few well-known big-league players on their roster, Colombia will have a unique opportunity to showcase the country's true baseball talents.

Key Players

After performing as one of the most underrated pitchers in the game for the last few seasons, Chicago White Sox' left-hander Jose Quintana will twirl the ball for his native Colombia. Perhaps due to the fact that he resides in rotation that was long ruled by Chris Sale, Quintana was denied much appreciation, despite logging at least 200 innings and maintaining an ERA of 3.51 or lower every season 2013, including 2016, his best season yet. Last year, the 28-year-old Quintana recorded 208 frames for the White Sox and recorded a 3.20 ERA, the seventh-best mark in the American League.

One of the few bright spots on a rebuilding Atlanta Braves' team, right-hander Julio Teheran has quietly been one of the National League's durable pitchers since he earned a starter's role back in 2013, and he'll don the same role for Colombia in the WBC. Across 30 starts for Atlanta last year, Teheran displayed a 129 ERA+ in 188 innings, the sixteenth-highest count in the league. At 26, Teheran became an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2016 and is projected to lead a revamped Braves rotation in 2017 that will feature newcomers Jaime Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. 

Underrated Players

Cleveland Indians' minor-league third baseman Giovanny Urshella will represent Colombia this spring after a solid 2016 campaign in the minors.  In 491 plate appearances with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, Urshella slashed .274/.294/.380 with 24 doubles, a triple, and eight home runs to go with 57 runs batted in over 117 games.

Dilson Herrera, who was traded by the New York Mets back in July to acquire Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds, will play for Colombia in the WBC. Herrera, 22, combined for 43 extra-base hits between the Las Vegas 51s (Mets' Triple-A affiliate) and the Louisville Bats (Reds' Triple-A affiliate) in 2016 and batted .274 in the 110 total games.

Roster

Pitchers: Jose Quintana, Julio Teheran, Horacio Acosta, Kendy Batista, Randy Consuegra, Nabil Crismatt, William Cueves, Dayan Diaz, Luis Escobar, Ernesto Frieri, Tayron Guerrero, Sugar Ray Marimon, Erling Moreno, Guillermo Moscoso, Greg Nappo, Javier Ortiz, Yohan Pino, Jaider Rocha, Reiver Sanmartin, Karl Triana, Angel Vilchez, Ezequiel Zabaleta

Catchers: Jorge Alfaro, Jhonathan Solano, Meibrys Viloria

Infielders: Giovanny Urshela, Dilson Herrera, Mauricio Ramos, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Adrian Sanchez, Donovan Solano

Outfielders: Jesus Valdez, Tito Polo, Efrain Contreras

Expectations

With this being the country's first year in the tournament and the fact that they are playing Pool C, along with Team Canada, Team United States, and Team Dominican Republic, expecting a title run from Colombia seems like a long shot. Nevertheless, having a one-two punch in the rotation with Quintana and Teheran and two under-the-radar infielders like Urshela and Herrera make Team Colombia an intriguing underdog club.


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