The World Baseball Classic has brought players from across the globe together on one big international stage the past two weeks. Most of the best teams in the tournament are stocked with Major Leaguers, while some of the countries populated their rosters with minor leaguers, players in leagues in the native countries, and in some cases, retired big leaguers.
Wednesday night’s championship game, pitting the U.S. against Puerto Rico, even had a local-to-Spokane flair.
Three former Spokane Indians were part of the championship rosters: second baseman Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers for the U.S. squad; and for Puerto Rico, outfielder Carlos Beltran of the Houston Astros and pitcher Alex Claudio of the Texas Rangers.
Beltran, 39, played part of one season while the Indians were part of the Kansas City Royals organization. In 1996, Beltran saw action in 59 games, batting .270/.359/.433 with seven home runs and 10 stolen bases.
Kinsler, 34, was a Texas Rangers 17th round draft pick in 2003 and joined the Indians later that summer. In 51 games that season the infielder hit .277/.352/.410 with one homer and 11 steals.
Claudio, 24, was a 27th round pick in the 2010 draft. His stay in Spokane was brief – one game, to be exact. He gave up two hits and a walk in three innings without allowing a run.
It just shows that any time you go out to a minor league game you could be watching a future all-star, World Series champ or internationally featured player.
UPDATE: Kinsler homered in his second at bat to give the U.S. team an early 2-0 lead.
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