Manager of the Korean national team, Kim-In Sik says that he fears team Kingdom of the Netherlands most. The team will be the toughest test for the Koreans, with its infield stacked with MLB players. Kim-In Sik claims that the primary goal for Korea is to survive round one.
Kim-In Sik claims that the Dutch will be the toughest opponent in group A, that will be hosted by Korea as the group will play at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.
With an infield with Xander Bogaerts at third, Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, Jonathan Schoop at second and (possibly) Jurickson Profar at first base, the team will have two players with more than 20 homeruns in the past season. Add Didi Gregorius as DH, there will be three players that are a potential homerun threat.
According to Kim-In Sik, the Dutch pitching will be good as well, and with a fine defensive infield, the Dutch will be an opponent that will be hard to beat.
For this year’s WBC, South Korea had to work hard to assemble a healthy roster. A handful of KBO stars dropped out because of offseason surgeries. Two of the country’s major league players, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Ryu Hyun-Jin and Minnesota Twins’ Park Byung-Ho were never considered because of injuries. Choo Shin-Soo of the Texas Rangers and Kim Hyun-Soo of the Orioles were scratched from the provisional roster because of their club commitments. Pittsburgh Pirates’ infielder Kang Jung-ho was cut from the team following a DUI accident in December.
In 2013, the Dutch beat Korea 5-0 and the Koreans were ousted in the first round of the tournament. Therefore, Sik sets a modest goal: Surviving the first round.
But since Korea won the inaugural Premier 12 tournament in 2015 without any Major Leaguer by beating a strong Japanese team in the semi final 4-3 and beating the USA in the final, Kim-In Sik may try to move the Korean team in an underdog role. The 2015 Korean team existed of players from the local competition and thrived in the underdog role in the (semi-)final.