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World Baseball Classic Team Italy Preview

Italy looks to make their best WBC run under manager and Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza alongside some major league experience on the team.

Since 2006, fans of professional baseball worldwide have taken one common trip around the bases every four years. This has come in the form of the World Baseball Classic. The tournament is bigger than ever, having expanded to 20 teams. Of those original 20 teams, four are from Europe. Of those four, only two have participated each time. One of those is Team Italy. 

With a veteran former All-Star pitcher, a promising infield, a top outfield prospect and a manager who has seen it all since the inception of the tournament, Team Italy is hungry to compete in this year’s crowded field.

History In the Tournament/History of Baseball in Italy

When people think of Italian baseball, the names of several MLB superstars past and current with Italian roots may come to mind. From Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra to current stars such as Anthony Rizzo, Italian Americans have been an instrumental part in baseball’s landscape over the years.

However, the game has not taken center stage in Italy, despite being introduced as far back as World War II when American troops taught the game to locals. Today the highest level of baseball in Italy is a league known as Serie A1, which was founded as the Italian Baseball League in 1948. Italy is also thriving in the youth baseball scene. Emilia Romagna Little League out of Bologna, Italy represented the Europe and Africa region at the 2022 Little League World Series.

Italy has appeared in every WBC tournament. Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza has seen it all. He was a member of the inaugural team in 2006 as a player, an assistant coach two other years, and now the manager. The team has made it out of pool play once. In 2013 they pulled off an upset win over Mexico in the opening round. 


The offense has some major league names to it including one of baseball’s premiere contact hitters David Fletcher, Kansas City Royals top rookie performer Vinnie Pasquantino, and fellow Royals infielder Nicky Lopez. The team will turn to a few catchers with high level minor league experience in addition to some top prospects in their outfield. Fletcher’s brother Dominic is currently the No. 13 prospect in the Diamondbacks system. Sal Frelick currently sits as the No. 30 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The other outfielder, Ben DeLuzio, appeared in 22 games with the St. Louis Cardinals last season.


The pitching staff will be headlined by former New York Mets All-Star Matt Harvey. The rest of the pitching rotation has five other guys that have pitched at the big league level.  Matt Festa (Mariners) and Andre Pallante (Cardinals) expect to pitch meaningful innings in the Bigs this season.


Team Italy looks poised to be a true competitor in Pool A, as the group does not have a clear winner. The competition won’t be easy, particularly the Netherlands and Cuba. With some promising major league talent on offense, the team could emerge as a dark horse and make their deepest tournament run yet.  Italy is off to a great start after defeating Cuba 6-3 in ten innings.

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