Great Britain announced their 40-man preliminary roster for the 2009 Baseball World Cup yesterday. The roster is built around the core of the 2007 European Championship silver medal team, including tournament MVP Brant Ust and catcher Mike Nickeas, and features players currently competing in leagues in North America, Europe and here in Britain.
The 40-man roster will be reduced to twenty-four when the tournament begins on 9 September. Team GB’s first game is scheduled for 10 September, when they will take on Japan in Zagreb, Croatia.
Great Britain have made a determined effort to increase the quality of their player pool over the past few years by holding try-out camps in the States. Such British eligible players like the aforementioned Ust and Nickeas have been instrumental in raising the standards of Great Britain national team play, both via their own contributions on the field and in helping British talent to improve their games as well.
The British Baseball Federation will be publishing further details about the players when the final roster is announced. Until then, here’s a brief guide to the make-up of the preliminary roster.
There are three current Minor Leaguers on the roster:
- Mike Nickeas is on the Mets’ Double-A team: Binghamton Mets. However, Team GB will be slightly concerned that he has just gone on the DL, reportedly with an elbow injury.
- Ryan Baker is a catcher on the Yankees’ Class-A Short-season team: Staten Island Yankees.
- Tom Boleska is a pitcher for the Pirates’ Single-A team: Lynchburg Hillcats. He has pitched mainly in relief for the Hillcats this season.
Although he is not with a club at present, Brant Ust was playing for the Mariners’ Triple-A team the Tacoma Rainers as recently as the 2007 season.
Current British league players
Three players currently in the British baseball league have made the list. The Harrogate Tigers are having an excellent season at the top of the Northern Conference and that has been reflected in the selection of pitcher Dave Mercado. Meanwhile the player development policy employed by Bracknell Blazers has been rewarded with Matt Maitland and Ryan Trask both making the preliminary roster.
A whole host of recent British baseball league players have also made the roster. They range from Brian Essery, who had a 9-0 record and a 1.95 ERA with London Mets in 2008 before returning to Canada, to players such as Will Lintern and Alex Malihoudis who have played in Germany and France respectively this year in the lead up to the World Cup.
Other European-based players
Lintern and Malihoudis are joined by a number of other players competing in countries such as Germany, France and Belgium to have made the roster. Great Britain have also selected two players from arguably the top league in Europe, the Dutch Hoofdklasse.
Matt McGraw played in all but one of DOOR Neptunus’ forty-two games, batting .273 and driving in twenty-four runs. Neptunus finished top of the Hoofdklasse with a 32-9 record and are hoping to turn that strong regular season campaign into a championship during the playoffs.
Aedan McQueary also has had a good season for Dutch team ADO, finishing fourteenth in the batting average leader board (hitting .324) while helping out on the mound, picking up three saves in the process.
The countdown continues
The announcement of the 40-man roster is yet another landmark along the journey to Team GB’s 2009 World Cup campaign getting underway. The next is the announcement of the final 24-man roster. There’s no definitive word yet on what that will be, but we shall let you know as soon as we hear any news.