On Thursday evening, it was reported that Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes and infielder Matt Carpenter have accepted their invitations to represent the Dominican Republic and the United States, respectively, in the upcoming World Baseball Classic this spring.
The 22-year-old Reyes was slated to pitch his way to a starting rotation spot in spring training, but the right-hander will instead represent the Dominican Republic in the WBC. Reyes received an invitation from the Dominican team, despite accumulating just a sliver of big-league experience in 2016; in this case, quality outweighed quantity.
Following a promotion to the majors in early August, Reyes appeared in twelve games (five starts) down the stretch for St. Louis, logging 46 innings in span. The flame-throwing Reyes maintained a 1.57 ERA and whiffed 52 batters, accounting for a 10.17 K/9. Reyes exhibited some command issues -- he walked 24 batters -- but his stellar LOB percentage of 87.9 cancels out the bases on balls nicely and helped Reyes be the only Cardinals pitcher with fewer than ten earned runs allowed (he allowed eight) with at least 45 innings pitched in 2016.
Reyes has joined a Dominican roster that features Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez and several other notable players, such as Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers, Hanley Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox, and Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners.
With the subtraction of Brandon Moss as the result of free agency, Carpenter is expected to serve as the Cardinals’ starting first baseman in 2017, a season that will be the third one in four years in which Carpenter has switched his primary defensive position from the prior year. Carpenter got some work in at the first sack last year, as the versatile Cardinal committed just one error and managed a 1.0 UZR in 312 frames of fieldwork at first base in 2016.
Across his injury-hampered, 129-game season a year ago, the left-handed-hitting Carpenter posted a 135 wRC+ and tallied 63 extra-base hits, including 36 doubles, six triples, and 21 home runs, his second consecutive year (and third in the last four seasons) with a wRC+ of at least 135 and 60 XBHs. With the arrival of Dexter Fowler, Carpenter — the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter the last four years — will shift lower in the batting order, theoretically giving the 31-year-old a more pristine opportunity to drive in runs.
Like Reyes is with the Dominican squad, Carpenter is joining a promising cast of U.S. players, including Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants.
In addition to Reyes, Martinez, and Carpenter, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is charted to compete in the tournament. Molina, unlike his fellow Cardinals, will not be competing in his first WBC; it will be his fourth. Molina is one of just six players — Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzales, and Justin Morneau are the other five — on track to play in their fourth tournament. The six players also represented their native countries in the 2006, 2009, and 2013 tournaments.
The WBC will begin on March 6 in Seoul, South Korea, with a contest between Team Israel and Team Korea. The tournament will conclude on March 20-22 with a three-game finale at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles after stops in Tokyo, Miami, Jalisco, and San Diego. For a full schedule, ticket information, and rosters (they will be finalized in early February), please visit the official WBC website.