HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is back, and seven former Rocket City Trash Pandas will be competing in baseball’s premier global tournament for six different countries.
The first of the former Trash Pandas who are taking the world baseball stage is right-handed pitcher Glenn Alabanese Jr. who will be representing Italy. He is an Italian-American who pitched in five games for Rocket City in 2022, posting a 4.66 ERA and striking out nine over 9.2 innings.
Alabanese Jr. and the Italian squad will begin play on March 9, taking on Cuba in Pool A of the classic at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Chinese Taipei.
Left-handed pitcher Adrian Almeida will be putting on the yellow, blue, and red to represent Colombia alongside catcher Gustavo Campero.
Almeida went 3-0 with a 4.70 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 30.2 innings for the Trash Pandas in 2021. He spent his 2022 split between the York Revolution in the Atlantic League and two teams in the Mexican League.
Campero appeared in six games for the Trash Pandas in 2022 and was 3-for-12 with a run scored and a stolen base in his debut in Double-A.
Almeida and Campero along with their Colombian teammates will be taking on Mexico in Pool C play in Phoenix, AZ. on March 11.
Valencia, Venezuela native and left-handed pitcher Jhonathon Diaz will be playing for his native country in the WBC. He was a star on the first-ever Trash Pandas team in 2021, and threw the first complete game in Toyota Field history on July 29, 2021. He went 5-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 13 games, nine of which were starts, while striking out 78 in 61.0 innings
Diaz and his Venezuelan teammates will be headed to LoanDepot Park in Miami, Fla. to take on the Dominican Republic on March 11.
Former Trash Panda’s infielder Ray-Patrick Didder will be competing for the Netherlands, which he also previously represented in the 2021 European Baseball Championship.
Didder was another member of the inaugural Trash Pandas team, spending the entire 2021 season in the Rocket City. He played in 96 games for the team in 2021, batting .240 with five home runs, 39 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.
The Netherlands will be taking part in the classic’s first game, playing Cuba on March 7 at the Taichung Intercontinental Stadium.
Kyle Molnar, a right-handed relief pitcher who had one save in 11 appearances for the Trash Pandas in 2021, will be playing for Israel in the WBC. His save came in his first relief appearance for Rocket City, where he struck out six in four innings.
Israel will begin play in the WBC on March 12 in Miami at LoanDepot, as they take on Nicaragua.
The final former Trash Panda who will be taking his talents to this international baseball tournament is outfielder Aaron Whitefield who will be representing the land down under, Australia.
Whitefield, who was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, played with the Trash Pandas in 2022 hitting .262 with nine home runs, 38 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 79 games. He was the first former player to get the call-up to the Trash Pandas’ major league affiliate, the Los Angeles Angels. He also holds the Rocket City record for longest hitting streak at 22 games.
Whitefield and the Australia team will begin Pool B play against Korea on March 8 in the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
The World Baseball Classic begins on March 7, and you can view the tournament schedule to see when and where you can watch these former Rocket City Trash Pandas represent on the international baseball stage!