The fourth World Baseball Classic is set for March 6-22, culminating with the semifinals and championship game in Dodger Stadium. Leading up to the event, we’ll preview each of the 16 competing countries. Team Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) is No. 3, following Team China and Team Australia:
Pool A round-robin schedule in Seoul, South Korea
March 6 v Israel
March 8 v Netherlands
March 9 v South Korea
Tournament history: 3-7 in three previous WBC appearances. Taiwan advanced to the second round in Japan in 2013, where they lost 4-3 to host Japan after taking a 2-0 lead into the 7th inning, and then were blown out by Cuba, 14-0. In the first round — played in Taiwan — they finished 2-1 along with Netherlands and South Korea, and advanced on the run differential tie-breaker. Taiwan beat Australia, 4-1, and Netherlands, 8-3, but lost to South Korea, 3-2. Taiwan went winless in the 2009 WBC, and 1-2 in the 2006 WBC.
Manager: Tai-Yuan Kuo
Pitchers: Hung-Wen Chen, Kuan-Yu Chen, Ping-Hsueh Chen, Yun-Wen Chen, Shao-Ching Chiang, Sheng-Hsiung Huang, Chun-Lin Kuo, Chen-Hua Lin, Kun-Hua Lo, Fu-Te Ni, Wei-Lun Pan, Chia-Hao Sung, Ming-Chin Tsai, Chien-Ming Wang, Wei-Chung Wang
Catchers: Ta-Hung Chen, Kun-Sheng Lin
Infielders: Yung-Chi Chen, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Chi-Hung Hsu, Chih-Hsiang Lin, Chih-Sheng Lin, Yi-Chuan Lin, Sheng-Wei Wang
Outfielders: Cheng-Wei Chang, Chih-Hao Chang, Chin-Lung Hu, Kuo-Hui Kao, Che-Hsuan Lin, Guo-Long Luo
The rundown: This is a much different team than the one that participated in 2013. A boycott has cost the roster three prominent offensive players — Chun-Hsiu Chen, Hung-Yu Lin and Po-Jung Wang. In addition, a handful of regular position players from the 2013 team aren’t around this time — OF Dai-Kang Yang (homered v. Netherlands), 1B Cheng-Min Peng (homered v. Australia), OF Szu-Chi Chou, 2B Yen-Wen Kuo and catchers Chih-Kang Kao and Hung-Yu Lin.
The roster also includes only four players currently in MLB organizations — RHPs Ping-Hsueh Chen (Indians) and Shao-Ching Chiang (Indians), and LHP Wei-Chung Wang (Brewers). Wang, 24, posted a 10.90 ERA in 14 relief appearances (17.1 IP) for the Brewers in 2014. He finished a combined 7-8-3.78 at Double-A and Triple-A stops in 2016.
Veteran right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who pitched out of the Royals bullpen last season, is among the designated pitchers pool for the second round. Wang, now 36, threw six scoreless innings in a victory over Australia in 2013.
Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is not on the current roster.
Players to watch
Veteran SS Chih-Sheng Lin hit cleanup for the 2013 team and returns. 3B Yung-Chi Chen also is back from the 2013 team.
OF Che-Hsuan Lin got 12 at-bats for the 2012 Red Sox, and finished a seven-year minor-league career in 2013 at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
RP Fu-Te Ni, possibly the closer, posted a 4.33 ERA in 58 games and 54 innings out of the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen in 2009-10.
2B Yung-Chi Chen, 33, compiled a .287 career batting average in seven minor-league seasons ending in 2010.
Right-hander Wei-Lun Pan, 34, pitched 4.2 scoreless relief innings — allowing only one hit and one walk — in the 2013 victory over Netherlands.
Right-hander Hung-Wen Chen, 31, threw two scoreless ninth innings —earning one save — in the 2013 WBC. He pitched five seasons in the Cubs chain (2007-11), peaking at Triple-A Iowa, and also in Mexico.
Prediction: A weakened Chinese Taipei roster could have problems advancing out of the Pool A round-robin that also includes host Korea and an improved Team Netherlands.