Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto has committed to the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
The Philadelphia Phillies are vying for their first postseason berth since 2011 — and for catcher J.T. Realmuto, specifically, his first taste of meaningful October baseball in his nine-year career.
Realmuto has another “first” in the back of his mind, as Tuesday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced the three-time All-Star will play for Team USA at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, set for March 8-21.
Team USA will compete as the defending champions, having defeated the Puerto Rico National Team in the tournament’s 2017 finals, 8-0, at Dodger Stadium. The shoutout captured Team USA its first-ever World Baseball Classic title.
Realmuto joins the following four other Major League players who have so far committed to the World No. 5-ranked Team USA roster: Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Paul Goldschmidt. The South Jersey native Trout will serve as the U.S. National Team’s captain.
Pat Neshek was the lone Phillies representative on Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Current Phillies reliever David Robertson, then of the Chicago White Sox, also played for the 2017 champions.
The fifth-ever World Baseball Classic was initially scheduled for 2021. However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it two years to this coming spring. The inaugural World Baseball Classic took place in 2006, when Japan defeated Cuba, 10-6, at the home of the San Diego Padres — Petco Park. Japan repeat as champions in 2009. The Dominican Republic later won in 2013, followed by Team USA in 2017.
Team USA will be among the 20 teams that will vie for the 2023 World Baseball Classic championship. The following 16 teams who participated in the 2017 tournament earned automatic qualifications for the 2023 slate — Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, United States, and Venezuela.
The following other countries will compete for the four remaining spots in next month’s Qualifiers — Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Spain, and South Africa.
Entering Tuesday’s action, Realmuto is slashing .265/.337/.443 with 15 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs and 52 RBI in 92 games so far this season. Through parts of four seasons in red pinstripes, the two-time Silver Slugger and 2019 Gold Glove Award winner has 65 home runs and 240 RBI across 418 games.
It’s good to see Realmuto will get well-deserved national (and global) air time on the 2023 World Baseball Classic stage. Hopefully, however, fans across the world will finally see the “Best Catcher in Baseball” compete in Red October baseball.