Proud Italian-Americans to play for Italy in 2017 World Baseball Classic

world baseball classic italy
Italy aims to surprise again at WBC ’17

Team Italy is here for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The WBC officially announced each participating country’s roster on Wednesday for the tournament that begins March 6.

With only eight players on the Italian roster actually born in Italy, the team will lean on Major League catchers and World Baseball Classic veterans Francisco Cervelli and Andrew Butera to lead the way.

Italy will surely miss Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo, but the Italians welcome back one of their top performers from the 2013 WBC in Chris Colabello, who led the team in home runs (two), RBIs (seven) and total bases that year.

Both Butera and Colabello’s grandparents came to America years ago, but they both cared so much about their heritage that they worked hard to successfully obtain dual citizenship.

“I am very proud of my heritage. It’s something I have great pride in,” said Colabello.

Drew Butera echoed his sentiments, saying: “I have Italian blood running through my veins. I grew up with Italian traditions in my family and I’m proud to be an Italian-American.”

2017 world baseball classic
Drew Butera (Left) and Chris Colabello. Photo: Supplied

Rookie A.J. Morris, who is currently a free agent, said he was honoured to represent Italy.

“I’m a little emotional, knowing how proud my grandmother would be if she could see me now,” he said.

His younger sister Lauren took to Twitter following the announcement.

The Italians open play March 9 in Pool D against Mexico, the team it stunned in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico.

Scroll down to see the highlights from that game

Italy will be joined by the United States, Japan, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Israel and China to determine a champion.

Here is team Italy’s roster:

Pitchers

Filippo Crepaldi – From Rovigo, Italy.

Tiago Da Silva – Born in São Paulo, Brazil. Mom is Italian.

Frank De Jiulio – Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Italian ancestry.

Mike DeMark – Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Italian ancestry.

Jose Escalona – Born in Lara, Venezuela. Grandmother is Italian.

Nick Fanti (Philadelphia Phillies) – Born in Smithtown, New York. Italian ancestry.

Frailyn Florian – Born in Gaspar, Dominican Republic. Has claimed Italian citizenship after legally residing in Italy for eleven years.

Sam Gaviglio (Seattle Mariners) – Born in Ashland, Oregon. Italian ancestry.

Tommy Layne (New York Yankees) – Born St. Louis, Missouri. Italian ancestry on mom’s side.

Luis Lugo (Cleveland Indians) – Born in Lara, Venezuela. Grandfather is Italian.

Alessandro Maestri – Born in Cesena, Italy.

A.J. Morris – Born in Houston, Texas. Grandmother is Italian.

Trey Nielsen  (St. Louis Cardinals) – Italian ancestry on mother’s side.

Orlando Junior Oberto – Born in Lara Venezuela. Has claimed Italian citizenship after legally residing in Italy for thirteen years.

Luca Panerati – Born in Grosseto, Italy.

Jordan Romano  (Toronto Blue Jays) – Born in Ontario, Canada. Italian ancestry.

Carlos Teran – Born in Lara Venezuela. Has claimed Italian citizenship after legally residing in Italy for ten years.

Pat Venditte (Seattle Mariners) – Born in Omaha, Nebraska. Italian ancestry.

Catchers

Drew Butera (Kansas City Royals) – Born in Evansville, Indiana. Italian ancestry.

Francisco Cervelli (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Born in Valencia, Venezuela. Italian ancestry.

Marco Sabbatani – Born in Godo, Italy.

Infielders

Gavin Cecchini (New York Mets) – Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Italian ancestry.

Chris Colabello (Cleveland Indians) – Born in Framingham, Massachusetts. Italian ancestry.

Daniel Descalso (Arizona Diamondbacks) – Born in Redwood City, California. Italian ancestry.

Alex Liddi – Born in Sanremo, Italy.

Andrew Maggi (Oklahoma City Dodgers) – Born in Phoenix, Arizona. Italian ancestry.

Rob Segedin (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Born in Old Tappan, New Jersey. Italian ancestry.

Alessandro Vaglio – Born in Montefiascone, Italy.

Outfielders

John Andreoli (Chicago Cubs) – Born in Worcester, Massachusetts. Italian ancestry.

Mario Chiarini – Born in Rimini, Italy.

Brandon Nimmo (New York Mets) – Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Grandmother is Italian.

Sebastiano Poma – Born in Parma, Italy.

Highlights from the 2013 WBC Classic Italy vs Mexico: This is what happened the last time they met