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After a disappointing elimination in pool play in 2013, the Canadian team is looking to gain some revenge and show out in the 2017 WBC.

After a disappointing elimination in pool play in 2013, the Canadian team is looking to gain some revenge and show out in the 2017 WBC.

If they are in any other pool, the Canadian national team has a pretty good chance at advancing. The issue is, they're in a pool with the USA and the defending champion Dominican Republic side. The trouble becomes that even if Canada plays very well, outdoing those two juggernauts is going to be a tall task. The Dominicans seem likely untouchable, but the USA rotation has potential to let down meaning there is an outside chance Canada could slide into the runner up spot.

Key Players

No one will be more key to the Canadian side than their superstar, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. One of the most underrated players in the entire game, Freeman will be the anchor and the big gun in the Canadian lineup. There's several other youngsters in the Canadian lineup, with some high potential, but without Joey Votto, Freeman is the guy for the Canadians.

On the rotation side of things, Canada's pitching is a little suspect but will likely be led by longtime major-league starter Ryan Dempster. The two time All-Star hasn't pitched in the majors since 2013, but could still have a little something left in the tank to be the "ace" the Canadians need to make them a legitimate threat.

In the bullpen, Canada is pretty seasoned, but the main man in the pen will be former dominant closer Eric Gagne. It's been over a decade since Gagne won the NL Cy Young, and at 41 years old he seems to be likely on his final legs as a professional pitcher. On that note though, anyone who had the nickname of "Game Over" has to still be able to bring it in some regard. It's almost thirteen years since it ended, but that streak of 84 consecutive save still has a bit of intimidation to it.

Underrated Players

Freddie Freeman will be the glue of the Canadian lineup, but look out for Mariners' prospect Tyler O'Neill. In his last two years at Advanced-A and Double-A, O'Neill hit a combined 56 home runs and driving in a whopping 189 runs. On top of that, O'Neill hit .293 last year with a .374 OBP en route to leading Double-A Jackson to a league title. He also is a plus-defender with pretty solid speed for a power hitter.

In addition to O'Neill, another underrated player is Blue Jays' high flying outfielder Dalton Pompey. Pompey has had a tough time finding a spot in the Jays outfield, but has continued to produce solid numbers at the minor league level. Pompey doesn't possess much power, but can fly on the base paths and is a terrific defender in center field, where he'll most likely see himself as the starter for Canada.

Roster

Pitchers: Andrew Albers, John Axford, Kevin Chapman, Shane Dawson, Ryan Dempster, Eric Gagne, Jim Henderson, Chris Leroux, Adam Loewen, Scott Mathieson, Dustin Molleken, Nick Pivetta, Scott Richmond, Roman Wick

Catchers: Kellin Deglan, George Kottarras

Infielders: Freddie Freeman, Jonathan Malo, Josh Naylor, Justin Morneau, Pete Orr, Daniel Pinero, Jamie Romak, Eric Wood

Outfielders: Michael Crouse, Tyler O'Neill, Dalton Pompey, Rene Tosoni

Expectations

It's hard to say what we should expect from Canada. If this is a team with Joey Votto and Michael Saunders it's a different story. Without them though, there's a lot of question marks even with Freddie Freeman. The pitching is suspect and the lineup isn't very deep. There's potential though and Canada could make some noise especially if the US slips. Realistically though, that's unlikely and unless Canada vastly overachieves, they're likely to find themselves coming up short again.


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