2023 World Baseball Classic Pool A Odds, Teams and Predictions

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

March 2, 2023 07:19 PM

Pool A features Cuba, Netherlands, Italy, Chinese Taipei and Panama

The Pool A teams are Cuba, Netherlands, Italy, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) and Panama. Cuba was the 2006 runner-up in the first WBC, but has struggled since. The Netherlands have finished fourth in each of the last two WBC tournaments (2013, 2017). Panama is back in the event for the first time since 2009, while Italy and Taiwan are looking to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time in tournament history.

Odds are posted for Group Play and also the overall tournament winner at DraftKings Sportsbook, so let’s look at those and also some info on the teams.


Odds to Win Pool A

Cuba +110

Netherlands +250

Italy +500

Chinese Taipei +800

Panama +1200

Team Cuba Roster

Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert and Yoenis Cespedes are the big names that most will know among the position players. Roenis Elias, Ronald Bolanos and Miguel Romero are the MLB pitchers that stand out the most. Livan Moinelo, Raidel Martinez and Yariel Rodriguez are solid pitchers over in Japan. Alfredo Despaigne has hit 443 home runs in his career and seven more in the WBC.

Cuba should have a potent offense, but the top-end pitching and the pitching depth look to be concerns, given that Elias is likely to be the top starter and he had a 5.12 ERA in Triple-A last season. The Cubans will have to outslug everybody in this pool to advance, though there are a lot of players that have had international success and simply haven’t played in MLB or any of its affiliates.

Team Netherlands Roster

There are a lot more names that people know on the Netherlands roster, including Xander Bogaerts, Didi Gregorius, Jonathan Schoop, Andrelton Simmons and several others with MLB experience are on the team. As with Cuba, the pitching staff is the question mark here, especially because the Netherlands have some young arms. Players born in Aruba and Curacao are also part of the Netherlands roster.

Kenley Jansen is part of the designed pitcher pool and could be added later. Pedro Strop is a household name as a reliever. But, the Dutch will be reliant on 19-year-old Antwone Kelly, a prospect in the Pirates organization, and Jaydenn Estanista, who is a prospect across the state for the Phillies. Former MLBers Jair Jurrjens and Shaion Martis are also part of the ballclub managed by current Rockies hitting coach and longtime assistant Hensley Meulens.

Team Italy Roster

The Italians might have the best pitching staff of any team in Pool A, as they have several competent MLB relievers in Matthew Festa, Sam Gaviglio and Andre Pallante. They also have guys with MLB experience as starters in Joe Biagini, Ryan Castellani and Matt Harvey. The Italians have a diverse pitching staff in that several guys can either relieve or start, so they have a lot of guys for a lot of roles, including others in MLB organizations like Joe LaSprsa, Joey Marciano, Mike Nittoli, Nicolo Pinazzi, Claudio Scotti and Mitchell Stumpo.

Most of the position players are also signed with MLB teams, headlined by Vinnie Pasquantino of the Royals. David Fletcher and Nicky Lopez will also be starters around the diamond. Sal Frelick of the Brewers was the 15th overall pick in 2021 and Fletcher’s younger brother, Dominic, is a regarded prospect in the Diamondbacks organization.

Team Chinese Taipei Roster

Chinese Taipei, more commonly known as Taiwan, is the host country for Pool A, so they will have home-field advantage. Most of these guys play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League or Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan), so there aren’t a lot of recognizable names to most, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play. With teams like Cuba and Taiwan, a lot of these guys play together instead of coming together for a two-week stretch. Baseball in Asia or Latin America is also different from the North American game.

Tzu-Wei Li, Yu Cheng-Chang and Tsung-Che Chang are position players with MLB experience, while Chih-Wei Hu and Kai-Wei Teng are guys that have pitched in the States. Teng is a prospect in the Giants organization. Twenty-three of the Taiwan players are on CPBL rosters. Thirteen players hit at least .300 in the CPBL last season and most are on this roster, including the league’s top six players.

Team Panama Roster

Panama is back after failing to qualify in 2013 and 2017. This is an interesting mix of vets and prospects, as Panama is headlined by Jaime Barria, Christian Betancourt, Javy Guerra and Ruben Tejada, but Joshwan Wright, Jose Caballero and Jose Ramos are prospects looking to make names for themselves.

Ultimately, though, Panama is a big underdog for a reason and I don’t see them having a long tournament.

World Baseball Classic Pool A Prediction

I’d prefer the Netherlands at +250 compared to Cuba at +110, but I also like Italy +500 as a value pick with upside here. This is a solid pitching staff and a decent offensive team. Cuba and Netherlands have better position player pools, but the versatility of Italy’s pitching staff really intrigues me a lot. The Italians should also be at full strength in the game against Cuba since it is their first game, whereas Cuba will have played the Netherlands the day before. Italy is also +140 to be one of the top two teams and qualify for the next round, which is maybe the better route.

How to Watch the World Baseball Classic

All games streamed on Fox Sports App. All games will be televised on either Fox, FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes or Tubi.

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