Preview: Defending champions highlight intriguing Group C

Preview: Defending champions highlight intriguing Group C
03/11/2019

SEOUL, Korea – The reigning WBSC Premier12 Champion, a Premier12 debutant and two teams with significant history on the international stage highlight an intriguing Group C, which will be based at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Korea.

World no. 3 ranked Korea will begin their 2015 Premier12 title defence with a clash against the only team debuting at the 2019 Premier12 – Australia. Korea has not played Australia at the senior level since the first round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, with Korea claiming a 6-0 win.

World no. 5 Cuba will look to break a three-game losing streak against world no. 10 ranked Canada in their tournament opener, including a 5-1 loss at the inaugural Premier12 tournament in 2015. Despite their recent form, Cuba has a strong history against Canada – winning all 13 games at Baseball World Cup’s between 1970-2011.

Korea

Korea welcome back 2015 Premier12 MVP Kim Hyunsoo to lead their title defence. The 31-year-old went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI in the 2015 gold medal game, and was named to the All-World Team. Korea have nine players returning from their 2015 gold medal side, including All-World third baseman Hwang Jaegyun.

Australia

Australia make their debut at the 2019 Premier12 after failing to qualify for the 2015 edition. After being ranked 14th at the end of 2014, the Australian team has reached unparalleled heights, finishing inside the top 10 in the last three years. Former MLBer Luke Hughes will feature heavily in Australia’s infield, and has the unique accomplishment of hitting a home run in his first MLB at-bat, coming off 2019 World Series Champion Max Scherzer.

Canada

After an injury plagued 2019, outfielder Dalton Pompey has a chance to end his year on a high with a successful Premier12. Pompey only featured in 17 games during the Minor League season. Ten of Canada’s 2015 Premier12 roster return for another chance at the championship, including All-World relief pitcher Dustin Molleken, who claimed a tournament high three saves in 2015.

Cuba

Alfredo Despaigne has been one of Cuba’s best for a number of years, and carried that form into his 2019 season. The veteran finished with 36 home runs and is a three-time NPB All-Star and Japan Series champion. Six of the Cuban side that finished sixth in the 2015 Premier12 return including Yosvany Alarcon, who lead Cuba in hits (8) during the 2015 tournament.

The top two teams from Group C will advance to the Super Round in Japan.