A Look at Team Panama in the 2023 World Baseball Classic

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In the same pool as Cuba, Italy, the Netherlands, and Chinese Taipei, Team Panama stands to have a decent chance of being competitive in this year’s World Baseball Classic. Panama’s national team includes several current and former MLB players, including one of the top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. With that said, let’s take a closer look at Team Panama.

Related: A Look at Team Cuba in the 2023 World Baseball Classic

Pitchers

Former Major Leagues Randall Delgado and Severino Gonzalez will be a part of a Panama pitching staff that includes a couple of current MLB hurlers. Rockies RHP Justin Lawrence, who recorded a 5.70 ERA over 42.2 innings last season, will be a part of Team Panama in the 2023 WBC. As will Jamie Barria, who settled in nicely in a relief role with the Angels last season. Across 79.1 innings, the right-hander posted an impressive 2.61 ERA.

Nationals pitcher Paolo Espino, who could be back in the Washington rotation again in 2023, will also pitch for his home country. Espino didn’t record a win over 113.1 innings last season, but was a steady hand for the Nats.

Position Players

Former MLB infielders Rubén Tejada and Allen Cordoba are two of the more notable position players on Team Panama’s roster. Tejada didn’t play in the Majors or Minors last season, but did spend parts of nine seasons in the Majors from 2010-19. Former Rule 5 draft pick Allen Cordoba spent one season in the Majors, with the Padres in 2017. The former Padre started his career on a hot streak, as he batted .291 with three home runs in his first two months in the Majors. But after he scuffled through much of the summer of ’17, Cordoba has yet to return to the Majors. Since then, the 27-year-old has spent time in the Reds farm system and in Mexico.

Panama should be fine behind the plate, as the country’s roster includes two Majors League catchers: Christian Bethancourt and Iván Herrera. Bethancourt hit 11 home runs last season between Oakland and Tampa, seven of which came with the Rays. Herrera, meanwhile, received 22 plate appearances in the Majors in 2022 with the Cardinals after a solid year in Memphis (AAA). One of the Cardinals’ top prospects, Herrera hit .268/.374/.396 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in AAA.