Reyes headlines prospects playing in WBC
De Leon, O'Neill, Verdugo, Alfaro also participating in tournament
By Michael Leboff / MiLB.com
Some of baseball's most exciting young talent will be on display at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Five players ranked among MLB.com's Top 100 prospects -- Alex Reyes (Cardinals/Dominican Republic, No. 6), Jose De Leon (Rays/Puerto Rico, No. 33), Tyler O'Neill (Mariners/Canada, No. 36), Alex Verdugo (Dodgers/Mexico, No. 61), and Jorge Alfaro (Phillies/Colombia, No. 72) have been selected to represent their respective countries in the 16-team tournament that begins March 6.
Reyes started last season with Triple-A Memphis, but after posting 93 strikeouts in 14 starts, the 22-year-old right-hander was promoted to St. Louis for the rest of the campaign. He pitched to a 1.57 ERA over 46 innings in 14 appearances, including five starts, with the Cardinals.
Like Reyes, De Leon also spent most of last year at Triple-A before finishing in the Majors. This offseason, the Rays acquired the 24-year-old right-hander from the Dodgers for second baseman Logan Forsythe.
O'Neill spent all of 2016 with Double-A Jackson, where he helped the Generals win the Southern League championship. In 130 games, the 21-year-old outfielder posted an .882 OPS with 24 homers and 102 RBIs to earn league MVP honors. He ended the year in the Arizona Fall League and batted .292/.395/.486 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 19 games.
Verdugo put up a .273/.336/.407 slash line while establishing career highs with 13 homers and 63 RBIs in 126 games for Double-A Tulsa last season. The 20-year-old outfielder will attend Spring Training with the Dodgers.
Before joining the Phillies last September, Alfaro posted a .285/.325/.458 slash line with 15 homers and 67 RBIs in 97 games for Double-A Reading.
Other notable prospects who will be playing in the World Baseball Classic include Padres first baseman Josh Naylor (Canada), Mets infielder Gavin Cecchini (Italy), Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria (Colombia), and Reds right-hander Austin Brice (China).