Team Netherlands: Right-Handed Pitcher Antwone Kelly & Outfielder Josh Palacios
After being signed as an international free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Aruba in 2021, 19-year-old Antwone Kelly pitched well out of the bullpen in the Florida Coast League. In 23.1 innings pitched, Kelly posted a 2.31 ERA, a 4.13 FIP, struck out 29 batters, walked 10 batters, and had a 1.29 WHIP. For a relatively unknown prospect, Kelly impressed and is the second youngest Pirates player to represent a team in this year’s World Baseball Classic behind Alessandro Ercolani. Keep an eye on this kid in Bradenton this season.
Joining the youngster will be 27-year-old outfielder, Josh Palacios. Palacios was a former top prospect in the Blue Jays farm system who eventually landed with the Washington Nationals in 2022. Earlier in the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Palacios in the 2nd round of the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. With the Rochester Red Wings, Palacios got off to a hot start, hitting a .298/.382/.433, hit 7 home runs, drove in 44 runs, and had a 121 wRC+ across 76 games.
Palacios was also an on-base and baserunning threat, stealing 19 bases, and walking 10.4% of the time at the plate. Palacios had a brief stint in the majors with the Nationals but struggled immensely. Both players are looking to be solid contributors to Team Netherlands.