Last week I asked what the first five MLB players from Brazil had in common, other than being born in Brazil. The answer? They’ve all been members of the Brazilian National Baseball Team and all participated in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Well, sort of.
In 2013, the World Baseball Classic was played for the third time, with Brazil playing for the first time. Qualifying tournaments were held in 2012. Yan Gomes was on the Brazilian team for the qualifier, but decided to skip the Classic in 2013 so he could focus on earning a roster spot with the Cleveland Indians (which he did). The remaining members of Brazil’s First Five – Andre Rienzo, Paulo Orlando, Thyago Vieira, and Luiz Gohara – were all on the roster for the 2013 Classic. Like Gomes, however, Gohara, who was only 16 at the time, opted to focus on his career in the Mariners’ farm system. (Gohara had signed with the Mariners in August 2012 and had been assigned to the Mariners Venezuelan Summer League team.)
Rienzo, Orlando, and Vieira stayed with the team for the 2013 tournament. Vieira was the saves leader of the tournament, saving 2 games. Rienzo lead the tournament in walks, with 5. Team Brazil was eliminated in the first round and ended up in 14th place (out of 16).
Rienzo and Vieira were also on the roster for Brazil for the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifier (along with Dante Bichette, Jr., and his younger brother Bo), but the team did not qualify for the 2017 WBC. Rienzo and Vieira also were on the roster for Brazil for the 2019 Pan American Games Qualifier held between January 29 and February 3. Unfortunately, they did not qualify for the 2019 Games (the contenders will be Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru, and Puerto Rico).
More on Brazilian baseball tomorrow – so stay tuned!