With the 2023 World Baseball Classic just a few days away, we wanted to sit down and highlight the talented Latino players from our communities about to hit the world stage. And even though it was hard, we’ve narrowed it down to 7 Latino players to look out for in this competition. These players come from some of the best teams out there, including the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.
And just in case you need a refresher, the last WBC took place in 2017, with the United States taking home the championship. The next one was supposed to take place in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on that until this year. Starting March 7, 2023, you can see all 20 teams fight for a true baseball championship that the whole world participates in.
Check out the entire schedule and where you can watch the 2023 World Baseball Classic here.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (Venezuela)
Due to a serious injury Ronald Acuña Jr. sustained in 2021, much of the baseball world forgot that he was one of the young faces of baseball. The 2018 National League rookie of the year for the Atlanta Braves already has a World Series championship on his resume and many experts are picking him to have a rebound MLB season in 2023.
Concerns over his health may relegate him to being a designated hitter only in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, but any lineup with Acuña in it is a potent one. He possesses other-worldly bat speed and can steal a base at will. He is a fun player to watch and he represents Venezuela proudly.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Dominican Republic)
Sitting in the middle of the Dominican Republic lineup is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The son of former Hall of Famer, Vladimir Sr, Guerrero the younger possesses even more natural power than his father did. Were it not for Shohei Ohtani, Guerrero would already have an MVP award on his ledger for in 2021 season.
The Silver Slugger hit 32 home runs in 2022 for the Toronto Blue Jays. Not bad for a “down season.” Guerrero also plays good defense at first base. He is going to help lead the Dominican Republic to new heights in the 2023 World Baseball Championship. As this spring training video suggests—he’s already ready.
Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico)
Puerto Rico also has an impressive roster, and they are led by New York Met, Francisco Lindor. “Paquito” has been an MLB star since he entered Major League Baseball in 2015, and he does it with both the glove and the bat. A shortstop, Lindor has shown impressive power at the position, hitting 26 home runs in 2022. A leader with a 1000-watt smile, Lindor looks to take Puerto Rico deep into the tournament.
Manny Machado (Dominican Republic)
There are so many elite players on the Dominican Republic’s roster, but Manny Machado may be one of the most important due to his leadership, experience, and star power.
The San Diego Padre just signed an 11-year extension worth $350 million, and his play on the field has consistently shown that he is worth every penny. The six-time All-Star narrowly missed winning an MVP award in 2022, hitting 32 home runs. He also continues to be a vacuum cleaner at third base—nothing hit to Machado gets by.
He will look to be the face of a stacked Dominican team.
José Urquidy (Mexico)
Mexico’s strength lies in its pitching, and having José Urquidy in their rotation will certainly help them. Urquidy, fresh off a World Series victory with his Houston Astros, went 13-8 in 2022 and became the first Mexican-born player in Major League history to appear in three World Series. The right-hander from Sinaloa brings his mid-90s fastball and excellent 12-6 curveball to team Mexico.
Luis Urías (Mexico)
Luis Urías’ star has been on the rise over the past two years. A native of Sonora in Mexico, Urías has proven over the past two seasons that his abilities don’t just encompass being able to play all over the infield. His 162-game home run average is 19. His power has grown every season. His ability to play three positions only adds to his ever-growing game. He will look to lead Mexico in its lineup.
Gio Urshela (Colombia)
Colombia has a roster that could surprise a few teams. Pitching is a strength for Colombia, but they also bring a few key bats to the lineup, especially Gio Urshela.
In his first year for the Minnesota Twins, Urshela posted a 121 OPS+ while hitting 12 home runs. Mostly a third baseman, Urshela is also capable of playing shortstop for Colombia. Urshela has been a player that has gone slightly underappreciated in his short career in Major League Baseball, but we are looking to see him break out in the World Baseball Classic.
There are so many other Latine players bursting with talent and name recognition that will be competing in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Which players are you most excited to see and which country will you be rooting for?