SAN JUAN — Former Major League Baseball (MLB) slugger and MVP Juan Gonzalez has been named the manager of the Puerto Rican National Team in November’s WBSC Premier12, the biggest international baseball event of the year and Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier, the Puerto Rican Baseball Federation announced.
Gonzalez guided Puerto Rico to their first-ever gold medal in baseball at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. He also led Puerto Rico to the gold medal at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia. In the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he served on the coaching staff for a Puerto Rico squad that reached the Final.
To start the WBSC Premier12, which features the top-12 ranked baseball nations in the world, No. 11 Puerto Rico will begin battle in Group B, along with No. 1 Japan, No. 4 Chinese Taipei and No. 9 Venezuela. Puerto Rico will open against Chinese Taipei on 5 November at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium in Taiwan. In their last meeting, Puerto Rico knocked Chinese Taipei out of the 2015 WBSC Premier12, with an extra-inning, walk-off grand slam.
The top two teams from each of the three Premier12 groups will advance to the Super Round, 11-16 November, which will be played in Japan at Chiba’s ZOZO Marine Stadium and the Tokyo Dome.
The top nation from the Americas in November’s global battle will qualify into the Olympic baseball tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
At the inaugural WBSC Premier12 in 2015, Puerto Rico fell to Japan in the quarter-finals and finished in 8th Place.