Over the weekend, MCU Park hosted the fourth qualifier round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic tournament. Four teams—Brazil, Great Britain, Israel, and Pakistan—competed for the right to play in the competition proper, which will take place in March 2017. The four teams met up in a modified double-elimination format, with Israel and Great Britain meeting in the finals on Sunday evening and Israel moving on to secure a spot in the competition.
While the teams of these four nations were primarily composed of amateur players, professional players from leagues all over the world dotted the different rosters. Team Israel boasts the largest collection of MLB/MiLB-affiliated players, with all but one man on their roster, Schlomo Lipetz, having professional experience of some kind. Team Brazil has nine players currently affiliated with MLB teams, three players formerly affiliated with MLB teams, four players that played in Cuba’s Serie Nacional de Beisbol, four players that played in Japan’s NPB, and one player that played in Italy’s Italian Baseball League. Team Great Britain has twelve players currently affiliated with MLB teams, four players formerly affiliated with MLB teams, and one player that played in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. Team Pakistan, where baseball is still very much in its infancy, had no players on their roster with professional experience.
The Mets had multiple players, current and former, playing over the qualifier weekend. While Team Brazil and Team Pakistan had no Mets-affiliated players, Team Great Britain and Team Israel had multiple Mets on their roster. Minor leaguers Blake Taylor and Champ Stuart played for Great Britain, while minor leaguers Josh Zeid and Tyler Herron and former major leaguers Josh Satin and Ike Davis played for Israel.
Over the course of the qualifier, Champ Stuart went 7-for-15 with two doubles, a walk, five strikeouts, and a stolen base.
- In Thursday’s Israel-Great Britain game, he went 3-4 with a stolen base. He doubled off of Jason Marquis in the 2nd, singled off of Josh Zeid in the 4th, hit a double off of Zeid in the 7th, and grounded out against Ryan Sherriff in the 8th. In the 7th, he stole third base on a wild pitch uncorked by Josh Zeid and mishandled by Ryan Lavarnway.
- In Friday’s Great Britain-Pakistan game, he went 2-4 with a walk, a strikeout, and two RBI. He struck out in the 1st against left-hander Muhammad Zohaib, drew a walk off of Zohaib in the 3rd, popped out against right-hander Asrar Ahmed in the 4th, and singled off of right-hander Muhammad Asif in the 5th and 6th.
- In Saturday’s Great Britain-Brazil game, he went 2-4 with a strikeout. He tripled in the 1st against Andre Rienzo, struck out in the 3rd, struck out against right-hander Filipe Sales in the 6th, and singled off of Thyago Vieira in the 8th.
- In Sunday’s Great Britain-Israel game, he went 0-3 with three strikeouts. He struck out swinging against Jason Marquis in the 1st, struck out once again in the 4th, and struck out for a third time in the 7th, this time against Josh Zeid. After his final strikeout, Stuart was ejected from the game, as was manager Liam Carroll, after the center fielder made comments directed towards the umpire.
Over the course of the qualifiers, Blake Taylor pitched four innings, allowing two runs and five hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. He mostly threw fastballs, a pitch that sits in the mid-to-high 80s, mixing in a handful of big 11-5 curveballs and change-ups. Especially early on, Taylor’s mechanics were out of sync, leading to control problems and his fastball backing up, but the southpaw was able to correct some of those issues as the game went on.
- In Saturday’s Great Britain-Brazil game, Taylor got the start. He pitched four innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out three.
Over the course of the qualifiers, Josh Zeid pitched seven and two-thirds innings, allowing one run and two hits, with one walk and nine strikeouts. His fastball sat in the low-to-mid 90s, and he complemented it with a handful of curveballs, sliders, and change-ups. He pitched around and located all over the zone, and benefitted from a wide strike zone and batters willing to swing at pitches outside of it.
- In Thursday’s Israel-Great Britain game, Zeid pitched three-and-two-thirds innings in relief. He allowed one run to score, an RBI sac fly off the bat of Todd Issacs, and allowed two hits, a shallow dunker to short center off the bat of Champ Stuart in the 4th, a line drive double off the bat of Champ Stuart in the 7th. He did not allow a walk, struck out six batters, and uncorked a wild pitch.
- In Sunday’s Israel-Great Britain game, Zeid pitched three innings in relief. He did not allow a hit, but walked a batter, an unintentional four-pitch walk to 18-year-old Bahamian shortstop Jasrado Chisholm. He struck out three batters, Todd Isaacs in the 5th, Antoan Richardson in the 7th, and Champ Stuart in the 7th. He threw 37 pitches in total, 20 for strikes.
Over the course of the qualifier, Tyler Herron did not play.
In addition to the current Mets farmhands, former Mets Ike Davis and Josh Satin appeared in games for Team Israel. The Mets’ former first baseman appeared in all three games for Israel, going 1-7 with two walks, three strikeouts, an RBI, and a stolen base. The former Mets utility infielder went 0-6 with a strikeout in two games.