The inaugural 2015 Premier 12 will feature for the first time the top 12 nations in the world based on the World Ranking. Of the top 12, the 11th ranked Italian squad will be facing off with Puerto Rico (9), Taiwan (4), Holland (5), Canada (7) and Cuba (3).
PUERTO RICO (9) Tuesday, November the 10th
Puerto Rico will be led by manager, Edwin Rodriguez, the AA skipper in the Cleveland Indians organization.
At the Premier 12, Puerto Rico will be able to count on a number of names out of the Minor Leagues, including the likes of Josè Rivera (Rockies), Juan Silva (Reds), Andres Santiago (Cubs), Randy Fontanez (Dodgers), Nick Valenza (Mariners).
TAIWAN (4) Wednesday, November the 11th
Taiwan will be lead by manager Taiyuan Kuo, who has put together what some consider to be one of the best rosters at the tournament with stars out of the NPB as well as out of the Minor Leagues ‘State Side’.
Some of the names to look out for include the NPB ‘Stars’ Yoh Dai-Kang (Nippon Hams), Chun-Lin Kuo (Seibu Lions) and Kuan-Yu Chen (Chiba Lotte Marines), as well as those out the Minor Leagues in the US, such as, Kou-Hua Lo (Twins organization) and Chin-Teh Chang (Pirates organization). Other ball players making the final cut include the CPBL homerun king, Kuo-Hui Kao (Rhinos), and the CPBL rookie of the year, Po-Jung Wang (Lamigo Monkeys).
HOLLAND (5) Thursday, November the 12th
Holland will be led by Hensley Meulens as the acting manager and Steve Janssen as the bench coach.
On the Netherlands’ squad you’ll be able to find a number of names with a stellar past, names such as Wladimir Balentien (60 homer for the Yakult in the NPB in 2013), Roger Bernadina (548 appearances in the ‘Big Leagues’), Andruw Jones (an MLB MVP), Rick Van den Hurk (time in the NPB with the Softbank Hawks, as well as in the Korean professional league), as well as two other ex Major Leaguers, Jair Jurrjens and Shairon Martis.
CANADA (7) Saturday, November the 14th
Ernie Whitt will be at the helm of team Canada for the Premier 12, and he’ll most certainly have a supporting coaching staff who know their way around the field with ex Star Big Leagues Larry Walker and Tim Leiper. Team Canada will have a little bit of revenge on their mind when they hit the field against Italy, after having lost back in 2009 and 2013 at the World Baseball Classic. As for their roster, well, it’s packed with names with AAA and Big League experience from top to bottom beginning with Dustin Molleken (Indians organization), Jared Mortensen (Rays organization), Jeff Francis (MLB experience), Andrew Albers (MLB experience), Scott Diamond (MLB experience), Jim Henderson (MLB experience). Skylar Stromsoe (Giants organization), Jordan Lennerton (MLB experience) and Jim Adduci (MLB experience).
CUBA (3) Sunday, November the 15th
Finally, Italy will round off their very tough preliminary round schedule against the number 3 on the World Ranking, Cuba, a club that will be led by Victor Mesa. The names on Cuba’s roster will feature Yuliski Gourriel, Lourdes Gourriel, Freddy Alvarez, Yovani Year, Hector Mendoza, Livan Moinello, Norberto Gonzalez and Alfredo Despaigne.