Panama, the ‘ambush’ that Technical Committee Chairman Beom-Hyeon Cho was wary of

The goal of the Korean national team in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is to advance to the semifinals. In the first round, which starts on the 9th, if they finish in second place in Group (Group B), they will meet one of the first and second placed teams in Group A in Taichung, Taiwan, in the quarterfinals, and play a single game for a ticket to the quarterfinals. The power of the participating countries in Group A is also important to Korea. 

Group A consists of Taiwan, the Netherlands, Cuba, Italy and Panama. At the end of last month, the national team dispatched power analyst Heo Sam-young to Taiwan to closely examine the participating countries in Group A. 

The Netherlands is a strong team that won against Korea in the 2013 and 2017 tournaments. There are major leaguers such as Xander Bogarts, Didi Gregorius, and Jurickson Profar. Cuba also strengthened its power by allowing players who had fled to join the national team to advance to the Major League Baseball (MLB). Chicago White Sox starting pitchers Johan Moncada and Louis Robert joined. Taiwan has threatened Korea in every international competition. 

There is also an ambush. Panama, which was considered relatively weak. Cho Beom-hyeon, chairman of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) technical committee, said, “If you put together the information from the Power Analyst, it seems that the possibility of Panama advancing to the quarterfinals cannot be ruled out.” 

Panama defeated Brazil in the WBC Group B winners’ final held last October and confirmed their qualification for the first time since the second tournament in 2009. 

Although it is a Central and South American country, it is difficult to see it as a baseball powerhouse like the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. It is better known as the home country of Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in MLB history. 

There are quite a few players in the Panama national team who are playing in the MLB. Jaime Barria is the main bullpen pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. Justin Lawrence is on the Colorado Rockies 40-man roster. 

Christian Betancourt, who played for the NC Dinos in 2019, draws attention. He was sluggish in the KBO League, but he played in 101 games in MLB last season (2022) and solidified his position as a backup catcher. 

Among the young fielders, infielder Jonathan Araus메이저사이트 (New York Mets), who has made his big league debut for three years, and outfielder Jose Ramos, who ranks 23rd as a prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers, are receiving good reviews. said of Ramos in particular, “This player who hit two home runs in the qualifiers will be able to make a name for himself in this tournament.” 
In addition to these, there are many former big leaguers and prospect-level minor leaguers in Panama. Korea lost 2-4 to the United States, which mainly played minor leaguers, at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Here, players from the Panama League cannot be ignored. In the ‘Caribbean Series’, where the champions of each league in Latin America compete, Toros de Herrera, a member of the Panama League, won the 2019 championship. 

Panama will play the first leg of the first round (Group A) against Taiwan at 8:00 pm on the 8th (Korean time). If Panama catches Taiwan, the competition for the Group A ranking is expected to become a major battle. South Korea also widens its boundaries. 

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