Cuba: They are still the favourite number one to win it all. But their invincibility took a hit at the last day of the preliminary round, when they lost to the Netherlands. They are facing Mexico in the quarterfinals and are on course for a clash against Australia in the semis. Aroldis CHAPMAN and Yadel MARTI are lined up to start both games.
Players to watch: Frederich CEPEDA (.500, 5 extra-base-hits, 6 RBI), Yulieski GOUERRIEL (3 homeruns, 6 RBI), Yoandry URGELLES (.333, 9 RBI)
Australia: It will be interesting to see, if they can continue their streak of dramatic games. They got clutch performances in the from their players in the first round. If they can carry on the trend, they are in position to challenge Cuba in the semis. However they have to beat Japan first. The BLACKLEY brothers Adam and Travis are slated to lead the team into the finals from the mound.
Players to watch: Trent OELTJEN (.600, 11 runs scored), Justin HUBER (.367, 8 RBI), Luke HUGHES (.400, 8 RBI)
USA: Every hitter in the line up is dangerous. The offense got hot the last days and is certainly a reason for the success. 36 of their 69 hits went for extra bases. Maybe they do not need so much run-support, because their pitching staff is not bad either. Jeff KARSTENS, a pitcher with major league experience for the Yankees, will be starting on Friday against Korea. Matt WRIGHT and Dallas TAHERN should be in the mix for the weekend.
Players to watch: Evan LONGORIA (.357, 7 RBI), Andy LAROCHE (.385, 12 RBI), Justin RUGGIANO (.350, 3 homeruns, 6 RBI)
Chinese Taipei: The host of the World Cup relies on the fanatic crowd behind them, which is celebrating the team the whole time. It is definitely an advantage for them. They are hitting .285 so far and the pitching staff has an ERA of 3.69. The numbers are not the best, but they got the big hits at the right time.
Players to watch: Chia-Hsian HSIEH (.370, 2 doubles, 3 homeruns, 9 RBI), Chin-Feng CHEN (.355, 9 runs scored, 8 RBI), Tai-Shan CHANG (.393, 9 runs scored)
Netherlands: The best European team climbed the ladder and could be one of the sleeper picks to win it all, especially since winning against Cuba. They are riding the momentum and could face the Americans in the semis, after beating Chinese Taipei. Their question mark is the pitching, after using their best players the last few days. Rob CORDEMANS could be on line for Friday.
Players to watch: Dirk VAN’T KLOOSTER (.407, 9 RBI), Vince ROOI (.333, 6 runs scored, 7 RBI), Sharnol ADRIANA (.357, 7 runs, 7 RBI)
Japan: They are the underdog against Australia and have only young blood on the roster, without much experience. Maybe they can surprise with their fresh energetic play and their small ball tactics. It all depends on their starter. If he can control the strong offense, they would have a chance.
Players to watch: Hisayochi CHONO (.455, 6 runs scored, 5 RBI), Toshiyuki HAYASHI (.292, 8 RBI), Yasuyuki SAIGO (.500, 6 runs scored, 8 RBI)
Korea: They had their problems against the better teams of the tournament so far. It would be a huge upset, if they can defeat team USA. They need to defend perfect and have to score as many runs as they can. Because the powerful line up of the Americans is difficult to stop. Chan Heon JEONG could be the starter in the quarters.
Players to watch: Ji Wan NA (.462), Si Hyun SOO (.400, 8 runs scored, 6 RBI), Jae Woong YOO (.300, 7 RBI)
Mexico: They were added to the final round at the last possible moment. They won the last four games in a row and their confidence level is high. They are winning their games, because of their strong offense. They hit .361 in the first round, but it is difficult to say, if their bats can do it against the pitching staff of Cuba.
Players to watch: Baltazar LOPEZ ACEDO (6 runs scored, 11 RBI), Sergio CONTRERAS ESTRELLA (.458, 8 runs scored, 7 RBI), Efren RODRIGUEZ ESPINOZA (.478, 8 runs scored)