PANAMA CITY, Panama – With two St. Louis Cardinals prospects on the roster and two more on the coaching staff, the U-23 Puerto Rico Team earned a spot in the WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup 2018. The team won the third-place game in the Pan American U-23 Baseball Championship, Sunday in Panama City.
Cardinals catcher and Puerto Rican-born Yadier Molina was named the manager of the youth national team in November. He called upon his brother Jose and Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo as two of his trusted team assistants.
On the Puerto Rico roster was first baseman Yariel Gonzalez, who played for the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League in 2017. He was joined by shortstop Delvin Perez, a member of Cardinals Gulf Coast League squad.
Gonzalez hit a walk-off grand slam to seal a victory for Puerto Rico in Sunday’s game – but it wasn’t a typical walk off. His sixth-inning blast brought the score to 17-1 to complete the mercy rule victory.
Molina’s led Puerto Rico to a 6-3 record in the tournament, to seal a spot in the 2018 U-23 Baseball World Cup in Nicaragua. The dates of the 2018 tournament have yet to be announced, but in previous years, the games are held at the end of October.
Molina was the captain of the Puerto Rican Men’s National Team that earned a silver medal at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, where he earned All-WBC Team honors, and where he led preparation meetings and guided the pitching staff. He also earned a silver and All-WBC Team honors with Puerto Rico in 2013.