Left-handed reliever Nick Vespi has joined the collection of Orioles set to participate in next year’s World Baseball Classic.
Vespi, 27, announced on his Twitter account Friday that he will pitch for Team Italy in the international tournament, which is scheduled for March 8-21. Italy is in Pool A, which will play in Taichung, Taiwan, from March 8 to March 13. The top two finishers in each pool advance.
“It is an honor to support my family’s heritage while playing the game I love,” he wrote.
Vespi had a 4.10 ERA in 25 appearances out of Baltimore’s bullpen during his rookie season, and he didn’t allow an earned run in 26 outings at Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles’ 18th-round draft pick in 2015, he figures to enter spring training with a shot at making their opening day roster, though missing time to compete in the WBC might affect his chances of doing so.
Orioles right-handed starter Dean Kremer (Israel), outfielder Anthony Santander (Venezuela), and outfielder Cedric Mullins and right-handed reliever Dillon Tate (United States) have also confirmed they will play in the WBC, but unlike Vespi, each seems assured a spot on Baltimore’s season-opening roster if healthy.
With Team Italy, Vespi joins former Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini, as well as Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano and Los Angeles Angels infielder David Fletcher.