D-backs’ Merrill Kelly, Alek Thomas to play in World Baseball Classic at Chase Field

Feb 11, 2023, 10:00 AM
Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws against the Colorado Rockies ...
Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning at Coors Field on July 01, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

A total of 13 players will be representing the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in the 2023 World Baseball Classic in March.

Four guys from the MLB club and nine minor leaguers will be competing in the event that takes place from March 8-21 in four different cities and three separate countries.

Those players feature D-backs right-handed pitcher Merrill Kelly (USA), OF/2B Ketel Marte (Dominican Republic), 3B/1B Emmanuel Rivera (Puerto Rico) and OF Alek Thomas (Mexico), as well as MiLB OF Dominic Fletcher (Italy), RHP Mitchell Stumpo (Italy), catcher Dominic Miroglio (Italy), RHP Gunnar Groen (Great Britain), RHP Endrys Briceno (Venezuela), RHP Jacob Steinmetz (Israel), RHP Boris Vecerka (Czech Republic), RHP Eric Mendez (Netherlands) and LHP Will Sherriff (Australia).

For those interested in watching some of the players compete in the WBC in person, Chase Field will be hosting Pool C, which consists of the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Canada and Great Britain.

Kelly joins a stacked roster of commitments that includes Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and third baseman Nolan Arenado.

In addition to Kelly, the Americans’ pitching group will include Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright, Chicago White Sox RHP Lance Lynn, Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw, Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams and Baltimore Orioles’ Dillon Tate.

Kelly had a career year in 2022, posting a 13-8 record with a career-best 3.37 ERA, 1.138 WHIP, 200.1 innings pitched and 177 strikeouts.

The 22-year-old Thomas was one of Arizona’s top prospects before making his MLB debut last season.

In 113 games and 411 plate appearances, Thomas posted a slash line of .231/.275/.344.

Despite having areas of improvement offensively, the center fielder flashed one of the best outfield gloves in 2022, being named a Gold Glove finalist as a rookie. San Diego’s Trent Grisham took home the award.

Outside of Diamondbacks players, two Arizona Wildcats will be competing in the games, with Rio Gomez donning the Colombia jersey and Justin Wylie representing Great Britain. One former Valley high school product, Jakob Goldfarb (Desert Mountain High School), will represent Israel.

Team USA’s first game in the 2023 World Baseball Classic begins on March 11 prior to the 2023 MLB season getting underway.

The format of the 2023 World Baseball Classic will be four pools featuring five countries each. The 20 teams get whittled down to eight through pool play, with each pool winner and runner-up advancing. From there, a single-elimination bracket will go through the quarterfinals and semifinals before the final on March 21.

The United States’ Pool C will have all its games at Chase Field in Phoenix from March 11-15.

The World Baseball Classic began in 2006. Japan won the first two iterations before the Dominican Republic took home the championship in 2013. Team USA is the defending champion after winning the last event in 2017.

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