Dominic Fletcher: best Diamondback’s performance at the WBC!

Mar 23, 2023 - 8:00 PM
World Baseball Classic Pool A: Netherlands v Italy
Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images

Now the WBC is over, we wrap up this series by grading all Diamondbacks that were at the WBC. There were eventually 12 Diamondbacks at the tournament, which is a new record, beating the 9 that played in 2009.

The performance of the Diamondbacks’ “stars” can be called disappointing: Ketel Marte and Merrill Kelly didn't exactly shine on the world stage.

On the other hand, Emmanuel Rivera’s appearances can be defined as hopeful.

But no one impressed as much as Dominic Fletcher on Team Italy. Without a doubt he can take home the MVP award of best performing Diamondback at the WBC.

Keep it rolling

Dominic Fletcher (Italy/Reno Aces)

  • RF, 5-9, 185lb, September 2, 1997.
  • 5 G, 19 AB, 7 H, 4 BB, 3 SO, 5 R (1 HR), 4 RBI.

His .368 BA looks absurdly high, but we are talking about a guy that has a batting average of .296 over 3 minor league seasons. with a .396 BABIP in 2019 in Class A, .320 in AA in 2021 and .369 in 2022 in AAA. That might put his .400 BABIP at this year’s WBC in a different perspective, although still unsustainable anyhow, but with the air in Reno it isn’t a hard push to expect Fletcher to repeat his WBC’s 1.110 OPS over there. If he does, he will certainly get the opportunity to show off his skills in Arizona at the highest level, and combined with some of the defensive highlights he showed at the world cup, guys like McCarthy and Thomas better be at their best.

Emmanuel Rivera (Puerto Rico)

  • 3B, RHB, 6-2, 225lb, June 29, 1996.
  • 5 G, 18 AB, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2 R, 5 RBI.

I had expressed my worries about Rivera playing the WBC. He isn’t really assured a spot on the 40-man roster and I thought he would do well in staying this spring with the Diamondbacks. But with Carlos Correa opting out an opportunity rose to seize 3B on Puerto Rico’s team and it was too good to pass.

I am sure Torey Lovullo has seen Rivera’s performance. He has probably loved the fire the third baseman played with and the timely hits, as he got quite a few. Five hits and five RBI is a good collection to have on your name when you are hitting not that far behind a player like Francisco Lindor.

On the other hand, there were some RBIs achieved on groundouts and the OBP wasn’t that impressive, so it’s not like he was one of the stars on Team Puerto Rico, but in a tournament where bigger Diamondback names like Merrill Kelly and Ketel Marte didn’t impress at all, Rivera’s contribution was nice to see and something he could build on in the beginning of the season.

Mitchell Stumpo (Italy/Reno Aces)

  • RHP, 6-2, 205lb, June 17, 1996.
  • 3 G, 3.0 IP (44 P - 31 S), 2 H, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1 R.

As part of one of the outsiders in this tournament, it is already encouraging that Stumpo was one of few pitchers on a “smaller” team who didn’t give up a lot of runs. He played in a couple of low-leverage situations but gave up just one run, a ghost-runner, and his performance on Team Italy was only matched by Matt Festa.

Mitchell Stumpo was good with his 89+ mph cutter, but more encouraging was his ability to keep the walks limited, something that wasn’t a certainty in this year’s WBC nor in Stumpo’s last season in Reno, where the 6.4 BB/9 almost nullified his good strikeout results. Maybe it means Stumpo is ready for his MLB debut in 2023.


Alek Thomas (Mexico)

  • CF, LHB, 5-11, 175lb, April 28, 2000
  • 6 G, 20 AB, 6 H, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2 SB, 6 R, 0 RBI.

Alek Thomas did fine in the outfield, being a fixed name in Mexico’s lineup as the starting center fielder. He made a couple of interesting catches although the most impressive ones came from the guy playing in left field, Randy Arozarena.

Thomas proved to be a real threat once on the bases, proven by his two stolen bases and the 6 times he crossed home plate. It’s just that the .200 BA and .273 OBP weren’t that impressive for a guy who might be an everyday player, although Alex Verdugo showed it could be even worse with a .130 BA.

We’ll see how the Diamondbacks’ outfield rolls in 2023, but with several other guys knocking on the door (Dominic Fletcher) it could be that Thomas rather sooner than later sees himself in Reno again if he doesn’t find a way to hit big league pitching. He didn’t show it either in the short-sample size of the WBC.

A great experience

Jacob Steinmetz (Israel/Rookie leagues)

  • RHP, 6-5, 220lb, July 19, 2003
  • 1 G, 1.2 IP (38 P - 19 S), 2 H, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1 R.

I will repeat what we already said in his game day report against the Dominican Republic:

Struggling a bit with his command, Steinmetz showed some good stuff from time to time, with some really good pitches down in the zone. Steinmetz was allowed to go just one time through the order, so with the effort increasing in the second and his fastball velocity dropping a mile (he reached over 94 in the first), he was congratulated by Ian Kinsler and taken out before he had to face Juan Soto a second time.

Definitely a WBC participation to remember.

With such a success against the Dominican Republic, of all teams, you’d say that this gives hope for the future. Now it is up to young Jacob to show he can build on this experience and forget about his two previous seasons at the complex league, where he pitched to a 7.88 ERA in 2022, combined with a 7.5 BB/9.

He will surely repeat at that level.

Eric Mendez (The Netherlands/Visalia Rawhide)

  • RHP, 6-0, 175lb, December 3, 1999
  • 2 G, 2.2 IP (48 P - 26 S), 2 H, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 R.

Pitching depth was weak on The Netherlands’ squad, so one of the Kingdom’s bigger talents, Eric Mendez, got the opportunity to play in two games. The young righty showed that he still needs to work on his command, but he got some encouraging results against big league batters (Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada). On the other hand he also let two inherited runners score, but wasn’t the reason why his country was knocked out in the first round.

It remains to be seen if his low 90s fastball combined with a decent slider is enough for success long term. The Aruban was one of the better pitchers in Visalia last season, although you didn’t need much for that (3.97 ERA), but really needs to work on his command (4.7 BB/9 in 4 years of Rookie and Class A). Probably heads to Hillsboro.

Just a byline

Ketel Marte (Dominican Republic)

  • 2B, SH, 6-1, 210lb, October 12, 1993
  • 2 G, 8 AB, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0 R, 1 RBI.

It was a deception seeing Ketel Marte not play the first two games of the Dominican Republic and, in all honesty, his performance on the offensive side of the game was rather disappointing too although with a bit more luck his BA would have looked better, but just 8 at bats though. He did look good defensively at 2B, with at least one great throw, although with just a total of two games you really can’t say that he has left the struggles of last season behind.

I think we all, Ketel himself included, would have expected to see more of him at the WBC.

Endrys Briceño (Venezuela/Amarillo Sod Poodles)

  • RHP, 6-5, 175lb, February 7, 1992
  • 1 G, 0.1 IP (11 P - 6 S), 0 H, 1 BB, 0 SO, 0 R.

Briceño is just filler in the Diamondbacks organisation, at 31 years and with his last professional experience in 2018, when he pitched in the Tigers organisation at Advanced A. He made the most of his sinker in the sole appearance he had against Team Israel, so that was already a success itself, but has probably enjoyed more of “just being there” as a part of a very competitive Venezuela team.

Gunnar Groen (Great Britain/Rookie leagues)

  • RHP, 6-6, 220lb, July 1, 1997
  • No appearance

It would have made for a great story: Jim McLennan in the stands at Chase Field cheering for Great Britain and Diamondback and England-born Groen. But unfortunately Groen didn’t throw any pitches at all this WBC. You’d wonder why not; Great Britain didn’t exactly have an impeccable pitching corps.

Groen is still with the Diamondbacks, but will probably not make it very far at 25 years of age and pitching to a 5.63 ERA in the complex league in 2022.

Dominic Miroglio (Italy/Reno Aces)

  • C, RHB, 6-0, 205lb, March 10, 1995
  • 1 G, 2 AB, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R.

Miroglio apparently lost out to Brett Sullivan, a 29-year old catcher, who is pretty much like Miroglio facing a battle to make his MLB debut, this year repeating with the Padres. Maybe it was a coin toss, who knows, but the result was that Miroglio made just 1 appearance in a loss against Panama where save a nice defensive play on a foul pop-up he wasn’t given the opportunity to show much more.

Miroglio will play in Reno where they actually have some kind of a “catcher crunch” with off-season waiver claim Ali Sanchez and Jose Herrera.

Performance to forget

Merrill Kelly (USA)

  • RHP, 6-2, 202lb, October 14, 1988
  • 2 G, 4.1 IP (97 P - 57 S), 7 H, 4 BB, 2 SO, 4 R.

Kelly got two opportunities to demonstrate his qualities to the world. The first outing wasn’t really what we had expected, but it was Colombia. On the biggest stage of them all, the WBC final, he faltered in front of the eyes of the whole wide world. There Kelly didn’t get out of the second inning and was pulled early, after struggling to make his pitches and having troubles finding the right spots. A combined 8.31 ERA, is pretty disastrous, especially in a tournament like this one.

Many on here have probably seen his games, so I have nothing else to say but hoping he turns it around once the MLB season starts.

Will Sherriff (Australia/Rookie Leagues/Perth Heat)

  • LHP, 6-0, 170lb, June 2, 2002
  • 2 G, 1.1 IP (44 P - 24 S), 2 H (1 HR), 2 BB, 2 HBP, 1 SO, 3 R.

Despite appearing in just 2 games we can conclude that 20 year old Will Sherriff had an experience he won’t forget, in both positive and negative sense.

Of course it was great that Australia reached the second round or quarter finals, whatever term you prefer, but you can’t really say Sherriff made a positive impact. He was tagged with 3 runs in the game against Japan, when Ohtani hit a 103 mph rocket off his 70 mph curveball that dropped straight into the centre of the strike zone, but also let 3 inherited runners score in his first game against Korea.

The question is when will the Australian Sherriff move across to the States? In Australia, not a competitive league, he has been struggling with his command and the long ball. True, it is just 25.0 innings of pitching in the ABL, but it is not an environment where he is going to learn, apart from the fact that the Australian Baseball League has been struggling for several years now with the COVID aftermath, last year cancelling the season.

This season his K/BB was down from 3.50 two years ago to 2.40. He faced some real tough competition with Korea and Japan in the WBC, but his command and control struggles showed what problems can occur when facing some real good competition.

It is obvious that Sherriff needs to move to the USA rather sooner than later, because he is obviously no longer the freshman like when he signed his contract with the Diamondbacks. Let’s see what he can do with the 90 mph fastball, 70 mph curve and the occasional change-up to a RHB.

And to wrap it all up...

We all know you enjoyed the WBC (impossible not to), but what performance of which Diamondback stood out most to you, in a negative or positive way?

Let’s poll it and explain your choice!

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