Getty Images

Placed into a tough pool for this year's classic, Team Mexico would really need to grind it out in order to contend

Placed into a tough pool for this year's classic, Team Mexico would really need to grind it out in order to contend.

Mexico surprised baseball fans everywhere with their early exit from the 2013 World Baseball Classic after going 1-2 in pool play. They played in a tough group against the United States, Canada, and Italy, but few expected them to finish last, forcing them to play through qualifiers to make it to this year's classic.

Key Players

Adrian Gonzalez: A long-time staple of Mexico's national team, the five-time MLB all-star will play in this year's classic with his brother Edgar now taking the role of manager. Though his power numbers have declined with age, he still hit .285/.349/.435 in 2016 while driving in 90 runs. He will likely be one of the most important offensive weapons for Team Mexico.

Julio Urias: Long heralded as one of baseball's best prospects, the 20-year-old will be by far one of the youngest players in this year's tourney. However, Urias is by no means inexperienced. In 15 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, the rookie Urias pitched his way to a 5-2 record with an earned run average of 3.39 and an impressive strikeout rate of 9.8 batters per nine innings. With some questions regarding the depth of Mexico's starting rotation, Urias could be important in notching enough wins to escape pool play.

Underrated Players

Marco Estrada: One of the more established names on the Mexico roster, Estrada is also an enormous question mark. Dealing with a herniated disk, he will likely be unavailable for round one. If the team manages to make it past the first round, his status would still be up in the air. However, if he becomes available, MLB fans know what a force the nine-year vet can be on the mound.

Roberto Osuna: Hardly unknown in most baseball circles, Osuna's importance to this Mexico team might be lost amongst other big league names. However, his relief pitching could be so important to this Mexico team with uncertainty in the starting rotation.  The 22-year-old Blue Jay notched 56 saves in his first two big league seasons while also striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings in that same timeframe.

Roster

Pitchers: Miguel Aguilar, Andres Avila, Jorge De La Rosa, Marco Estrada, Charles Fisher, Yovani Gallardo, Giovanny Gallegos, Jaime Garcia, Miguel Gonzalez, Rafael Martin, Luis Mendoza, Mario Meza, Vidal Nuno, Roberto Osuna, Oliver Perez, Sergio Romo, Ivan Salas, Fernando Salas, Jake Sanchez, Joakim Soria, Carlos Torres, Julio Urias

Catchers: Xorge Carrillo, Sebastian Valle

Infielders: Japhet Amador, Daniel Castro, Luis Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon Laird, Esteban Quiroz, Jose "Manny" Rodriguez

Outfielders: Jose Aguilar, Efren Navarro, Christopher Roberson, Alex Verdugo

Expectations

Team Mexico is loaded with major-league talent, as well as with minor-league and domestic players. If Mexico was in any other pool, their chances might be better. However, they did not get the luck of the draw this year. Their pool, Pool D, consists of them, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Italy, Though Italy shouldn't be a tough victory, Puerto Rico and Venezuela will both prove to be dog fights. It wouldn't be unreasonable to say there may be three 2-1 teams in this pool, at which point run differential will be the deciding factor.

But even if they escape Pool D with a first or second place finish, the challenge only becomes tougher, with second round opponents that could be Colombia, the United States, Canada, or the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a path to WBC victory for Team Mexico this year. However, an advance to the second round isn't out of the question, plus you never really know what'll happen with the game of baseball.


Marlins Mania Top Stories