There are many players participating in the World Baseball Classic that will be familiar to MLB fans. Team USA, among others, will be made up entirely of current Major League players. However, many teams will be featuring professional players outside of North America. In previous pieces, we looked at prominent NPB hitters & fielders and pitchers and KBO hitters, fielders, and pitchers.

That doesn’t quite cover everyone that we want to talk about. Remember, we cover the game globally, and thanks to our NPB and KBO data we can tell you about players on some of the other WBC teams that you might want to check out.


Team Cuba features many talented Cuban players and for the first time Major League stars will be participating in WBC play as well. Team Cuba features a nasty bullpen with two relievers from NPB who have been at times dominant out of the pen in Japan. 

Starting with Liván Moinelo who is as nasty as they come. Moinelo took over the closer role this season for the Softbank Hawks and produced his best season so far in NPB. Last season he posted his best K/9 at 14.9 and actually got his BB/9 down to 3.4, the lowest of his career last season. 

The stuff is there but control has always been the question mark for him as he can snap his head off target causing him trouble in locating his pitches consistently. His 43% strikeout rate ranks 1st among the 66 pitchers with at least 35 innings pitched. His 9.9 % walk rate was the 15th-highest. 

He has a 12.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in his six seasons in Japan. Moinelo is a wild card in terms of control but if he is throwing strikes, Team Cuba will have a menace on the mound because of his pure stuff. 

Moinelo’s heater sits around 94-95 mph and has amazing ride at the top of the zone. Here he is slamming the door shut for one of his 24 saves last season. 


Add in a slider at 88 mph and a changeup around 83 mph and Moinelo at times is unhittable in NPB. The lefty power pitcher has racked up his fair share of swords with all of his offerings. Here’s a look at the slider and changeup. His stare in after a decent take on his changeup shows just how much he expects to strike guys out when he’s dialed in.



By the numbers, his changeup is his best offering with an opponent batting average of just .036 and a whiff rate of 35% on the pitch. His ability to neutralize right handed hitters with the pitch was a big step this season.

To me his curveball has the most potential though, and is arguably one of the best curveballs not in MLB. The breaking pitch is a lethal mix of spin and velocity. The curve just drops out of the sky and into the strike zone at around 80 mph.


Raidel Martinez was the most successful closer last season in NPB. He led the league in saves with 39 and had a sub one ERA at 0.97 Moinelo was at 1.03. Pitching for the last-place Chunichi Dragons in the Central league, Martinez was lights out. 

He’s 95-97 mph with the fastball from the right side mainly thrown at the top of the zone.It has good ride when it’s on, but can flatten out if he doesn’t stay on top of the ball and repeat his delivery well. At its best it stays above the barrel as a swing-and-miss pitch.


He also has a slider that generates depth hovering around 90 mph. It’s average but flashes potential and is a pitch he can mix in to keep hitters off of his fastball up.


His splitter is late diving and his best secondary offering. He racks up a lot of strikeouts with the pitch but has also been using it as a weak contact inducer. Getting lefthanded hitters to roll over on the pitch a lot this past season.


He keeps mixing in a slower changeup as a change of speed pitch especially early last season this one was around 82 mph. It’s solid but the splitter is always going to be his main secondary.


Something in his back pocket is the ability to quick-pitch with such a high leg kick and slower tempo Martinez does speed up his delivery at times and catches batters looking. This at-bat ended in a quick pitch as Shiomi Yasutaka goes back to the dugout shaking his head. With major strides in control, Martinez is able to do more things like this to disrupt timing.


Both of these Cubans will get a chance to display their talents to scouts this WBC and both might have futures as high-leverage relievers in MLB if they choose to ever sign with a team. After battling control issues early both seem to have turned the corner and are ready to shut down teams when the bullpen door swings open for Team Cuba.

Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)

Team Chinese Taipei will showcase many players with brief MLB experience, such as pitchers C.C. Lee and Chih-Wei Hu, and defensive standout infielder Tzu-Wei Lin. Current Red Sox infielder Yu Chang will likely also play a big role on the team.

The most interesting pitcher on Team Chinese Taipei is 21 year old right hander Jyun-Yue Tseng. Tseng has a very small frame for a pitcher (he’s listed at 5’8” and 149 lbs), but he can still generate high velocity. Here he is throwing 96 MPH with some tailing action:


Tseng has been a dominant reliever in Taiwan so far, striking out 126 hitters and posting a 2.31 ERA over 105 ⅓ innings. The WBC is a good opportunity for Tseng to showcase his stuff against teams with multiple major leaguers like The Netherlands and Cuba in pool play.

On the position player side, Po-Jung Wang and Nien-Ting Wu both have significant playing time in NPB.

Wang is a legend in Taiwanese baseball, though he has struggled recently in Japan. The 2016 season was his first full season playing in Taiwan, and he dominated the league. He became the first player in CPBL history to reach 200 hits in a season (the previous record was 176), and finished the year with a .414 batting average.

From 2015 through 2018 Wang hit .386 with a 1.100 OPS and 86 home runs in 378 games in Taiwan. He was posted after the 2018 season and signed with the Nippon-Ham Fighters. While he has punished farm team pitching, he has struggled in NPB games, as the outfielder has managed only a .235 career average since the move.

Wang has primarily played left field for Nippon-Ham, with occasional appearances in right field and at DH. He grades out really well as a left fielder by DRS, but his playing time has diminished as his hitting struggles have continued. Wang will hope that getting some games against lesser pitching in WBC pool play will jump-start his bat for this season.

Wu is a utility infielder who spent time at first, second, and third base last year for Seibu and graded out as serviceable at all three spots, with his range holding him back.

As a hitter, Wu has struggled to hit for average in NPB, but has managed to post on-base percentages above .300 in each of the last three years due to his approach at the plate. Like Wang, Wu will hope to have a surprise showing facing pitching that is not of the same caliber he is used to facing in NPB.


Team China does not have many familiar names to North American fans. Veteran minor leaguer Ray Chang is the most accomplished player on the team, having spent 12 seasons in the minor leagues. However, Chang has not played affiliated baseball since 2016.

On the pitching side, Team China features an interesting KBO pitcher Kwon Ju of the KT Wiz. Ju has spent the last 4 seasons pitching exclusively in relief, and has averaged less than an inning per appearance in the last three seasons.

Ju takes the idea of pitching backwards to the extreme. He only averages 89 MPH with his fastball, but he only threw a fastball 31% of the time last year. He leans on his changeup and the occasional splitter (he threw them a combined 62% of the time) to mess with a hitter’s timing.

Since Ju’s changeup is not as taxing on the arm, Team China may opt to use him in longer outings or potentially as a starter (he has 51 career KBO starts). Regardless of how he is used, hitters will have to adjust to his unique approach on the mound.