Earlier this week, Team Italy played the Chicago Cubs in an exhibition game at Sloan Park in preparation for their World Baseball Classic run. The Italian Team beat the Cubs, thanks in no small part to contributions from the Cubs’ own outfield prospect John Andreoli, who reached base twice and scored two runs.
Team Italy kicked off its WBC run last night in Jalisco, Mexico, against the favored host country.
Andreoli got things started off right for the Italians, popping a homer to center field in the first inning:
But, by the 9th inning, the Italians trailed by four runs, and things looked bleak. But a serious rally brought Andreoli to the plate with the bases loaded, down by a run. He slapped one toward second base, and walked things off:
The win sets up Italy for a chance to move on to the next round, which I doubt very many saw coming, considering their pool includes Puerto Rico and Venezuela, in addition to Mexico.
Andreoli, 26, has played the last couple years at AAA Iowa, holding steady as outfield depth for the big league team (posting identical 111 wRC+ figures each year, incidentally). He’ll serve that role again this year, hoping for a chance to come up in a reserve role. Given the Cubs’ championship repeat aspirations, they’ve loaded up the roster once again, and, coupled with the inherent versatility of so many of the players, it’s a tough fit for a guy like Andreoli to find time. But it’s hard not to see him as a capable 4th/5th outfielder at some point soon, given his developing power (ISO increases from sub-.100 before 2015 to .124 in 2015, and then .140 in 2016), speed on the bases (43 SB in 2016), and his consistently double-digit walk rate.
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