Mets infielder Dilson Herrera, who will celebrate his twenty-second birthday on March 3, will take a brief break from the organization's spring training in Port St. Lucie to play for his native Colombia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier.
There are a few groupings of countries playing to qualify for the tournament. Colombia plays in a grouping with France, Panama, and Spain and is set to take on Spain on March 17 in Panama City. Herrera is one of just a handful of Colombian-born players who appeared in a major league game last year.
The winners from each qualifier will advance to the World Baseball Classic tournament, scheduled for March 2017. Those four teams will join the 12 countries -- Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela -- that received automatic invitations based on their performance in the 2013 tournament.
While he's no longer eligible for prospect lists, Herrera remains one of the better players in the Mets' minor league system heading into the 2016 season. With Neil Walker, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, and Asdrubal Cabrera on the team's roster, there isn't a spot for him on the Opening Day roster, but Herrera figures to see some playing time in the big leagues this year, especially if any of those four infielders spends any time on the disabled list.
In 169 plate appearances between 2014 and 2015, Herrera has hit .215/.308/.383 with 6 home runs and a 97 wRC+ in the big leagues. Last year, he hit .327/.382/.511 with a 138 wRC+ with Triple-A Las Vegas.