Bernardina, Wang Wei-zhong, Kelly, and Stark. These are foreign players who were active in the KBO League. They transform into national teams from different countries and participate in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which is called the ‘Baseball World Cup’.
Twenty countries will participate in the WBC finals, which will begin in March. Foreign players who returned from playing in the KBO League are also preparing to compete. The most notable player is Dutch national team outfielder Roger Bernardina (39). Bernardina joined the KIA Tigers in 2016 and played for two years. A native of the major leagues, he was adored by fans for his quick feet, strong arm, and slugging power. He also contributed to KIA’s 11th Korean Series victory in 2017. 안전놀이터
Bernardina is from Curaçao, the Netherlands, not the mainland. Nestled in the Caribbean Sea, Curacao is a small country with a population of 160,000. The Netherlands, which is difficult to build a team with only players from its home country, invites major leaguers from Curaçao and another island, Aruba, to participate in international competitions. Korea met the Netherlands twice and lost both times.
Left-handed pitcher Wang Wei-zhong (31), who throws a ball as fast as 150 km per hour, will also participate in the WBC. Wang Weizhong was highly anticipated to the extent that Scott Boras took over as an agent, but he did not become a major leaguer. When he joined the NC Dinos in 2018, he became the first Taiwanese KBO league player. That year, he went 7-10 with an ERA of 4.26 and left Korea after a year.
The defending champion, the United States, also has a ‘Korean wave’. This is Meryl Kelly (35), who joined the SK Wyverns in 2015. Kelly, a former minor leaguer, recorded a career record of 48-32 with a 3.86 ERA in Korea and signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kelly, who won 13 games in his MLB debut season, went 13-8 last year while throwing over 200 innings.
Players who played in Korea until last year also participate in the WBC. This is Robert Stock (34), a right-handed pitcher who recorded 9-10 with a 3.90 ERA for the Doosan Bears. Stark, who is of Jewish descent, will represent Israel, not the United States. Ju Kwon, a Chinese KT Wiz pitcher, will also represent China.
Israel has a majority of American-born players. In the 2017 WBC, it caused a surprise by defeating Korea and advancing to the second round. They have a stronger power in this tournament. Active major leaguers Zak Pederson (San Francisco) and Harrison Bader (New York Yankees) joined the team.