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Sep '09 29

Final IBAF Notes on Baseball World Cup

Press Release International Baseball Federation, www.ibaf.org

LARGEST TELEVISION AUDIENCE EVER FOR THE WORLD CUP: Sunday’s final was broadcast on the MLB Network in the United States, Eurosport2 across Europe, ICRT in Cuba, RAI Sport in Italy and on tape delay on ESPN STAR Asia, making it the most widely broadcast final in the World Cup’s 71 year history.  In addition to the final, World Cup country-specific games were shown live or on tape delay on NOS in the Netherlands, TVES in Venezuela,  VIASAT in Sweden,  TV4 in Nicaragua, CzechTV in the Czech Republic, WIPR in Puerto Rico and on NBC Universal’s Spanish language channel in the United States, WAPA TV, giving the event its largest broadcast footprint.

WORLD CUP BRINGS RECORD TRAFFIC TO IBAF.ORG : The IBAF’s official site, Ibaf.org attracted over 750,000 visitors and over 12 million page views through the World Cup, coming from over 170 countries, an increase of over 70% from during its last heavy visit period, which was the Beijing Olympics.

ATTENDANCE MARKS: Further evidence of baseball’s growth in Europe was seen throughout the tournament. Leading the way was Regensburg, Germany, which saw crowds in excess of 5,000 for almost all of the three days of competition in the first round, highlighted by a Friday night crowd of almost 10,000 fans for USA-Germany… at other first round sites, Sweden had a capacity crowd of over 2,100 for Saturday’s final day and strong crowds approaching 1,500 on the others…Spain had overflow crowds on both Friday and Saturday in excess of the 1,500 seating capacity for their games with Puerto Rico and Cuba…and Prague had an overflow of 2,500 for Saturday and crowds in excess of 1,500 for Friday, all positive signs of growth…the Netherlands drew crowds of over 3,000 for their home games, capped by a near-capacity of 4,000 in Rotterdam for their game with Cuba…the Gold Medal game in Nettuno, Italy drew a sellout of 4,600.

FUTURE STARS ALIGN: Over 120 players from 17 countries under contract with Major League teams participated in the three weeks of the World Cup, the largest professional international tournament in the history of the sport.  Also there were 25 players with Major League experience who participated in this year’s World Cup. Both the numbers of prospects and veterans were records for the event.

CUBA MEDALS AGAIN: Despite their loss in the final. Cuba continued their consecutive run of medals in the World Cup…they have taken Gold in 25 of the 29 World Cups in which they have played, and have taken two silvers and two bronze medals in the other four…they had won all three of the World Cups held in Italy (1978, 1988, 1998) prior to Sunday’s loss

CANADA, AUSTRALIA LAND BEST-EVER FINISHES: Canada’s 6-2 win Saturday over Puerto Rico gave them the Bronze medal, their best-ever finish, while Australia’s 4-1 win over the Netherlands on Saturday gave them a fifth place finish, their best ever…Canada’s previous best was fifth on three different occasions, while Australia’s previous best was sixth in 2007… Kansas City Royals prospect Tim Smith (.414  2 HR 10 RBI), Future’s Game MVP, Eastern League All-Star and Minnesota Twins prospect Rene Tosoni (.357 3 HR 16 RBI) and  Milwaukee Brewers farmhand Adam Stern (.333 1 HR 9 RBI) led the hitting,  while pitchers Matt Kniginyzky (2-0, 0.00 ERA in 18 innings), a Kansas City Royals prospect,  Toronto Blue Jays prospect Trystan Magnuson,  and Brewers prospect Nick Bucci (0.00 ERA in 14 innings) led the pitching staff.

PUERTO RICO USES MIX OF YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE TO TAKE FOURTH: Puerto Rico used a mix of veterans and prospects to finish fourth, matching their best overall performance since 1976 (they also finished fourth in 1990). Baltimore Orioles prospect Miguel Abreu was an All-World Cup selection, leading the team in hitting at .380, while Toronto Blue Jays prospect Angel Sanchez (.333) finished second and was named top Defensive Player.  Puerto Rico had a tournament high NINE players with Major League experience on their roster in addition to their rising stars.

NETHERLANDS CONTINUES AS EUROPE’S ELITE: The Netherlands continued their spot as Europe’s top country, finishing sixth, after taking fourth in each of the last two World Cups. San Francisco Giants prospect Sharlon Schoop hit .364, while Los Angeles Angles prospect Hainley Statia (.333) took all tournament honors, along with leading hitter and veteran Sidney deJong.

GEOGRAPHIC DOMINANCE A RARITY: The top four finishers…USA, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Canada…all came from the same geographic region, something which had not happened in World Cup competition since 1974, when the USA, Nicaragua, Colombia and the Dominican Republic finished 1 through 4.

ASIAN NATIONS MISS OUT: With Chinese Taipei finishing eighth, it marked the first time since 1974 that no Asian team medaled at the World Cup…Korea (9) and Japan (10), two traditional baseball powers, had their lowest-ever finishes…Korea had never finished lower than eighth (1988) while Japan had never finished lower than fifth (1998 and 2005)…

RECORD BREAKERS: The World Cup thus saw several team and overall records be tied or fall.  They include:

  • Cuba’s Alfredo Despaigne set the World Cup record with 11 home runs.
  • The USA’s Chris Smoak set the USA World Cup record with nine home runs.
  • Cuban pitcher Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico in his first start (13 overall in 6 1/3 innings), one short of the World Cup mark of 11 set by former Major Leaguer Burt Hooton (Dodgers and Cubs) of the USA in 1971.
  • Australia pitcher and Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect David Welch set an Australian record with 13 strikeouts in just seven innings Tuesday against Chinese Taipei.
  • USA pitcher and California Angels prospect Trevor Reckling, had 11 K’s against China, tying the team mark of pitcher Burt Hooten, who fanned 11 consecutive batters in 1970.
  • USA infielder and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Pedro Alvarez set a team mark by hitting three home runs in a win over Chinese Taipei

CLOSE SHAVES: Australia (2-4) and Mexico (1-2) had the most one run games.

JAPAN STRIKES EM OUT: Despite the low finish, Japanese pitchers finished with the second-highest strikeout total (122), and struck out 12.2 batters per game…Japan was also third overall in fielding (.986)…

SPAIN’S TWINS, ORIOLES PROSPECTS LED THE WAY: Spain went 3-7 in their 10 games, but made marked progress, as three of those were narrow losses to Puerto Rico (5-3), Cuba (5-4) and South Korea (2-1)…the twin brother combination of Orioles prospects Paco Figueroa (.500 1 HR 8 RBI 10 runs, four stolen bases) and Daniel Figueroa (.278, 9 runs) led Spain’s play. Padres prospect Eric Gonzalez went 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA in his three starts.

NICARAGUA’S GONZALEZ AMONG TOP HITTERS: Nicaragua got off to a 3-0 start before dropping five of its last seven, but veteran Jimmy Gonzalez remained among one of the event’s premier hitters, with a .410 average and 5 HR and 14 RBI…Nicaragua (5-5) was one of only two countries with a .500 record not to make the final round.

MEXICO JUST MISSES: The other country at .500 that did not make the final round was Mexico, which also finished at 5-5, losing two of their final three games by one run…6-5 to Australia and 1-0 to Chinese Taipei…Mexico’s 3.68 ERA was the lowest among teams not to make the final round

MINNESOTA TWINS PROSPECTS, DRAFTEES PLAY BIG ROLES: Many of the MLB organization-high 14 players under contract to the Minnesota Twins played prominent roles in the World Cup. They included Puerto Rico’s Nelvin Fuentes (1.42 ERA), the USA’s  Trevor Plouffe  (.287 3 HR 7 RBI), leading Canadian hitter Rene Tosoni (.357 3 HR 16 RBI), the Netherlands top pitcher Tom Stuifbergan (1.80 ERA) , leading Australia hitter Luke Hughes (.286 4 HR 12 RBI),  and pitchers Liam Hendriks (2.57 ERA) and Matthew Williams (2-0). The Twins had 23 total players who originally signed with or currently under contract with the Twins, play in the World Cup.

NEW YORK METS PROSPECTS AND VETS ALSO MAKE AN IMPACT: Besides the Twins prospects in the World Cup, the New York Mets organization was represented by 13 players, eight current and five former players…Canadian infielder Shawn Bowman was selected to the All-World Cup team (.275 3 HR, 15 RBI), while Team USA first baseman Ike Davis, the club’s 2008 first round pick and organization Player of the Year in 2009, hit .308 with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Canada’s Jonathan Malo hit .263, while Aussie infielder Stefan Welch hit .259 with 3 HR 11 RBI. Puerto Rico’s roster had five former Mets players not currently signed to an MLB team, including Jose Santiago, Raul Casanova, Luis Matos, Jose Valentin and Juan Padilla.  Valentin led the team with 10 RBI.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES SIGNEES PLAY ROLES AS WELL: Australia’s Tim Kennelly and Joel Naughton, two Phillies Prospects, were key in the Aussie’s best-ever finish. Kennelly hit for average (.273) and power (three home runs, nine RBI), while Naughton (.464, eight RBI) was key as well.  USA’s All-World Cup pick Terry Tiffee (.357 4 HR 20 RBI), who spent the season with Lehigh Valley, also had a solid tournament.

PIRATES FUTURE CHIMES IN: A group of Pittsburgh Pirates prospects also made an impact in the World Cup, including USA’s  Pedro Alvarez, a New York native who set the record with three home runs in one game (3), and pitcher Brad Lincoln, who went 2-0 in four appearances with a 2.70 ERA.  Australia’s Christopher Snelling, who spent the season at AAA Indianapolis, also hit .240 as a key starter in their best-ever finish.  There are also six current Pittsburgh Pirates who helped USA win the Gold in 2007.

D-BACKS SIGN FIRST EUROPEAN PROSPECT: The Arizona Diamondbacks last week signed pitcher Andrea Pizziconi of Italy, their first ever European player signing.  Pizziconi is the cousin of Cincinnati Reds prospect Matteo Pizziconi, who went 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA for the Reds Rookie League team this past summer

MLB INTERNATIONAL OPENS CHINA ACADEMY: Another example of baseball’s growing global footprint was announced last week, as Major League Baseball International announced the opening of a baseball development center in Wuxi , China.  The new academy will provide professional baseball training for middle school and high school-aged students within an academic setting.  This is the latest and boldest step in the development of baseball in China. An initiative which began in 2001 continued through the Beijing Olympics and will grow into the future.

RANKINGS UP NEXT: Following the World Cup, the new country-by-country rankings will be announced in the next week.

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