Venezuela announced its roster for the Premier 12 on Saturday, and it includes four players with significant MLB experience. As with most teams from the Americas, Venezuela is severely hampered by MLB’s decision not to allow 40-man roster players to attend the tournament, removing all current big leaguers (except free agents) and top prospects.
The big names on the squad are Henderson Álvarez III, Williams Pérez, Félix Doubront, and Miguel Socolovich, all of whom spent significant time in the big leagues. Among those ineligible are José Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Ronald Acuña Jr. Gleyber Torres, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Robinson Chirinos, Willson Contreras, Eduardo Escobar, Eugenio Suárez, and Eduardo Rodríguez.
Free agents are not part of 40-man rosters, meaning once the World Series is over, it is possible that Felix Hernández, Pablo Sandoval, Martín Prado, Gerardo Parra, Jhoulys Chacín (pictured right, pitching in 2017 WBC), and Martín Perez could join the list, along with Gorkys Hernández, Gregor Blanco, Alcides Escobar, Sandy León. It is unclear why players like Carlos González, Yangervis Solarté, and Jeanmar Gómez, all of whom are already free agents, did not make the cut. It is unclear when the roster submission deadline is or whether these players have been included on a long list.
As things stand, the top offensive threats are 10-year major league Andrés Blanco, former Red Sox prospect Carlos Rivero, and long-time minor leaguer Ali Castillo. Blanco has languished at Triple-A the last two seasons, with solid numbers, after last appearance in the bigs for the Phillies. Rivero had a big season in the Mexican League (.336/.404/.567) and Castillo is a career .289 hitter in 12 professional seasons.
Jecksson Flores and Manuel Meléndez (left, playing for Asheville in 2017) are the more interesting young players already on the roster, though there are no surefire prospects tabbed for inclusion. José Godoy made it to Triple-A as a 24-year old catcher with solid numbers.
The federation’s press release [link] notes five players who will join the team in México so they can try out for the squad: Dédgar Jiménez, Ramón Flores, Balbino Fuenmayor, Francisco Arcia, and Alfred Gutiérrez. Fuenmayor is a lock to make it after hitting .334 with 31 HR in the Mexican League (career .299 and 197 HR across all leagues), while Flores and Arcia both bring MLB experience. Jiménez and Gutiérrez would be the most intriguing prospects on the roster.
The squad travels to Puebla, México, to take on the Mexican National Team on Oct. 26-27 before flying to Taiwan for the Premier 12. Venezuela will take on Japan at 11 a.m. BST/6 p.m. local time on Nov. 5. Venezuela will take on Taiwan on Nov. 6 one-half hour later before contesting Puerto Rico on the 7th at 5 a.m./noon.
Pitchers: Felix Doubront, Hénderson Álvarez, Williams Pérez, Miguel Socolovich, Jhonleider Salinas, Andrés Sotillet, Yezo Campos, Anthony Vizcaya, Liarvis Breto, Carlos Navas, Elvis Escobar, Argenis Angúlo, and Cristian Álvarado.
Catchers: Juan Apodaca and Jose Godoy.
Infielders: Andrés Blanco, Carlos Rivero, Henry Rodríguez, Dixon Machado, Ali Castillo, Luis Castillo, Jecksson Flores, and Juniel Querecuto.
Outfielders: Manuel Meléndez, Diego Rincones, Herlis Rodríguez, and Alexander Palma.