When the World Baseball Classic’s preliminary rosters were announced recently, several baseball players with ties to local teams were on them.
The names include former UC Davis standout Tyler LaTorre, a minor leaguer in the San Francisco Giants system who will play for Italy in the WBC.
LaTorre, 29, heads to Arizona next month to compete for a spot on the final roster. The former Aggie responded to the announcement on Twitter:
“I am honored and blessed for the opportunity to represent and compete for Team Italy in this year’s World Baseball Classic!”
In 2012, LaTorre played 42 games at catcher for the Fresno Grizzlies — San Francisco’s Triple-A affiliate — batting .278 with two home runs and 15 RBIs. He also worked opposing pitchers for 15 bases-on-balls.
LaTorre completed a standout four-year UCD career in 2006, then signed with San Francisco, where he has moved up through the minors over the past six seasons.
With Italy, LaTorre will get a chance to learn from one of the greatest catchers of all time, Mike Piazza, who will serve as a coach with the team. He also will be joined by Chris Denorfia, who local fans will remember as a former Sacramento River Cat.
Other former Cats on WBC preliminary rosters include Trystan Magnuson (Canada), Fernando Cabrera (Puerto Rico), and Nelson Cruz and Giants pitcher Santiago Casilla, each of whom will compete for spots on the Dominican Republic team.
Two members of last year’s division-champion Sacramento squad Luke Hughes (Australia) and Pedro Figueroa (Dominican Republic) also were named to WBC rosters.
Figueroa, the lone member of the group who is still a member of the A’s organization, appeared in 19 games for Oakland and 32 games for the River Cats in 2012. During his time with Sacramento, he recorded a 2.62 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 44.2 innings pitched.
The 2013 World Baseball Classic begins March 2 with Pools A and B in Fukuoka, Japan, and Taichung, Taiwan, respectively. The other two pool-play rounds begin March 7 with Pool C in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Pool D in Phoenix.
Round Two will be played in Tokyo (March 8-12) and Miami (March 12-16), with the semifinals and finals scheduled for March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.