01/09/2017 - 10/09/2017

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XXVIII U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017 - Official Payoff

Where are they now? Stars of the 2017 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup

Where are they now? Stars of the 2017 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup
A superb look back at some of top players who have featured at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup over the years and gone on to superstardom at the professional level.

Many of the best players in the world have passed through the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup on their way to becoming superstars.

One of the games shown that WBSC pulled out of the archives to show on "GameTime Classics" was the final of the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017 in Thunder Bay, Canada. The tournament itself has seen many of its players go on to greater things at the professional level.

The final itself showcased the talent of players like U.S. clean-up hitter Triston Casas, the World Cup MVP. Casas was one of many players from USA's U-18 World Cup championship team who were selected in the first round of the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. The Boston Red Sox selected Casas as the 26th pick overall. Casas hit 19 home runs at the Class A level during the 2019 season and was promoted to Class A advanced.

Left-handed hitting outfielder Jarred Kelenic was drafted sixth overall by the New York Mets in 2018. Before the 2018 season, the Seattle Mariners landed him in the trade that sent star second baseman Robinson Cano to the Mets. Kelenic played consistently at three Minor League levels in 2019, AA was the highest, and the Seattle Mariners invited him to MLB Spring Training in 2020.

Left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore was drafted 16th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays. After starting 15 games at Class A for the Rays in 2019, he was traded to the St Louis Cardinals.

Third baseman Nolan Gorman is another Cardinal. Drafted 19th overall, he split the 2019 season between the Class A and A advanced level. The Cardinals invited him to Big League Spring Training 2020.

Slick-fielding shortstop Brice Turang was drafted 21st overall by the Milwaukee Brewers and split the 2019 season between the Class A and Class A advanced levels. He is amongst the top 100 MLB prospects.

The New York Yankees selected catcher Anthony Siegler as the 23rd pick overall. The switch-hitter appeared in 97 games at the Class A level in 2019.

Right-handed pitcher Mason Denaburg was drafted 27th overall by the Washington Nationals. He didn't make his professional debut until the 2019 season, when he started 4 games at the Rookie League level.

Six-foot-six-inch (198 centimetres) Ethan Hankins, another right-handed pitcher, was drafted 35th overall by the Cleveland Indians. He is projected to become a top of the rotation starter. He allowed only 43 hits and struck out 71 over 13 starts, 60 innings of work, at two different Class A levels during the 2019 season.

J.T. Ginn, a right-handed pitcher selected 30th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers, elected to attend Mississippi State University. He is considered a top prospect in the 2020 MLB Draft.

Kumar Rocker, was selected 38th overall by the Colorado Rockies, but decided to attend Vanderbilt University, where he made history in 2019 as the first pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter in the Super Regional round of the NCAA D1 Baseball Tournament.

After he helped his country earn a U-18 World Cup silver medal, Baek-ho Kang was named The Otani of Korea due to the fact he can dominate as a pitcher and hit for power. The Korea Baseball Organization KT Wiz drafted him and believed he needed no Minor League time. Baek-ho Kang homered in his first KBO at-bat, went on to push the all-time home run season total for a rookie to 29 and is now the everyday left fielder for the KT Wiz.

Kotaro Kiyomiya was the captain of the bronze medallists Samurai Japan at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017. He was selected by seven teams in the 2018 Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Draft. He agreed to terms with the Nippon Ham Fighters and has appeared in 134 games over two seasons for them, hitting 14 home runs.

Catcher Shosei Nakamura and infielder Hisanori Yasuda were also selected in the first round. Nakamura has not yet appeared at the NPB level for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

Yasuda, nicknamed Yassan, has played in 17 NPB games in 2018 and in 15 games in the Puerto Rico Winter League during the 2019-2020 season.

Ji Hwan Bae played shortstop for Korea at the U-18 Baseball World Cup. In March 2018 he signed as a non-drafted free agent for the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates. He played 86 games at the Class A level during the 2019 season.

The Cleveland Indians selected Canadian Noah "Bo" Naylor with the 29th pick overall. Naylor's brother, Josh, played a record three times in the U-18 Baseball World Cup (2012, 2013 and 2015) and now plays for the San Diego Padres after himself being drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft.

All players from Chinese Taipei's team are currently active in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), Minor League Baseball or playing college ball. Arguably the biggest prospect from that squad is right-hand pitcher Chih-Jung Liu, who is now in the Boston Red Sox system and is a potential two-way player. He was a switch-hitting shortstop/pitcher in the U-18 World Cup, carrying a 1-1 record against a 1.98 ERA, while batting .316 against the best young pitchers in the world.

Leonardo Seminati signed as a non-drafted free agent for the MLB Cincinnati Reds before the U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017. He was Italy's starting first baseman and clean-up hitter during the tournament. He has appeared so far in 100 games over two seasons at the Rookie League level, connecting for 13 home runs.

After helping the Netherlands win European titles in the U-15 and U-18 age brackets, right-hander Donny Breek and his heater didn’t go unnoticed at the U-18 World Cup 2017. Breek signed a contract with the MLB Minnesota Twins at the end of the tournament. He has started 15 Rookie League games over the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Many other players from the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017 were drafted by professional leagues and/or elected to play college ball further illustrating the incredible amount of talent, which participates in one of the WBSC's most popular tournaments. The next edition is due to take place next year in the United States.