Puerto Rico seems to have the perfect formula. The mix of young players with the veterans who have the knowledge and experience. This leads them into being a strong team with their winning streak.
They have beaten Venezuela, Mexico, Italy, United States and the champion of the 2013 edition of the World Baseball Classic — Dominican Republic. They have scored 38 runs in the entire tournament, and they are still alive and on to the semifinals in Los Angeles with an unbeaten record.
They have two types of Carlos’s on Team Puerto Rico. One is an experienced player and has played 19 years at the big league level, including 421 home runs in his career — Carlos Beltran. On the other hand, they also rely on the young 22-year-old Carlos Correa, the future superstar of baseball, according to Beltran and many experts.
Only entering his third season in the majors, Correa has already become a force in the league and he’s also doing well at the WBC, at the same time, overshadowing the legends of the team — Beltran and Yadier Molina. He chose to play with Puerto Rico for the pride of wearing the jersey of his country and to “give the Puerto Rican people the happiness they need so bad.”
“I’ve always wanted to play for my country and this was the opportunity to do that,” Correa said in an interview with HardballScoop.com. “I’m proud to be (on) this team.”
He is playing with Beltran on the WBC squad, but they’re also new teammates on the Houston Astros. They get along and the veteran teaches him everything he can in order to make him a better player.
“Beltran has the knowledge and experience the team needs,” said Correa.
Beltran, who’s respected by so many in the game, believes that Correa is going to be among the league’s elite in a few years.
“He’s going to be a star, I know that, and it’s great having him on the team,” Beltran said about Correa. “We want Puerto Rico to make it to the championship game. We are proud of our backgrounds. We are giving it everything for the country.”
When he was young, Correa answered said that he wanted to be like Yadier Molina and Beltran.
“I want(ed) to play like them and make it to the big leagues. Now it’s a blessing that (Beltran and I) are playing together.”
That formula plus the philosophy of game-by-game and one pitch at a time has made Puerto Rico one of the strongest at the WBC. But even a great team like this isn’t safe from making mistakes that could lose them a big game, even though it hasn’t happened.
When a young player makes a big mistake on the game, what do you tell him? How can your experience can help them?
“In this sport, we make more mistakes than good moves,” mentioned Beltran. “So they need to know that and also to learn how to switch to the next game very fast. I tell them that they need to take from the bad the good.”
Puerto Rico has reached the championship round, after finishing undefeated in both the first and second rounds. They are the strongest of Pool F and have proved, again, that their game is one of the best ones at the WBC. With young players like Carlos Correa, Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor, and experienced ones like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina, they had the freshness and the maturity, the rookies and the veterans, but they also have the perfect mix of creativity and good play. They play an awesome kind of baseball and we have the chance to see more of that.
“We are all pros,” said Beltran. “We are here to support each other and to make Puerto Rico proud. We have a young, but powerful, team and we are going to give our best at this tournament. We have no room for errors and hope that we can be the champions.”