The World Baseball Classic is almost here. The tournament starts March 2 and runs through March 19 with 16 teams hoping to rule the baseball world. Since international baseball brings new players and storylines, Big League Stew is helping you get ready this worldly clash with previews of each team.
Pool: Pool B, Taiwan
'09 finish: Seventh, 2-4, eliminated in round 2
First game: March 2 vs. Korea
Biggest star: The householdiest name is Andruw Jones, the former Atlanta Braves star, who has most recently been playing professional ball in Japan. On the younger side, there's Xander Bogaerts, the prize prospect for the Boston Red Sox.
Notable absences: Jurickson Profar, Baseball America's top-rated prospect and budding Texas Rangers star. Profar was on Netherlands' provisional roster, but has since changed his mind and will focus on spring training with Texas. Jair Jurrjens also recently decided to skip the tournament.
Name you may not know, but should: Jonathan Schoop, a third-baseman in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. He's another of Baseball America's top 100 prospects and helped the Dutch team win the World Cup in 2011 with an RBI single in a 2-1 win against Cuba.
Important questions to ask about Netherlands:
Will the Dutch prospects come of age in 2013? This is a young team. Yes, it's balanced by some veterans players, but the young guys will have to make an impact for Netherlands to be successful. Among them: Bogaerts, Hainley Statia, Tom Stuifbergen and Randolph Oduber. Like any baseball team that has young guys with potential, Netherlands has to be wondering: Is this the year they break out?
Can this young Dutch squad make a run? Besides the prospects, this team also has some international momentum on its side. It won the 2011 World Cup and, by doing so, became the first European team to win since the tournament's inception in 1938. In the WBC, Netherlands made it out of pool play in 2009 and has a good chance to do so again in 2013. After that? You never know.
Will someone make a Honkbal drinking game? Honkbal Hoofdklasse is the professional baseball league in the Netherlands. We can't wait to giggle every time the WBC announcers say Honkbal on TV.
Seriously, don't they have the best cap? I'm pulling for Team USA, of course, but I wouldn't mind wearing that Netherlands cap. You can see all the WBC caps here, but the Dutch cap is definitely the freshest.