Washington Nationals: Past/Present Players Enjoying Ride With Team Israel

May 20, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jason Marquis (31) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jason Marquis (31) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /
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Past and present Washington Nationals are part of the run team Israel is on as they are in round two of the World Baseball Classic

Tonight, Team USA will being their World Baseball Classic run against Colombia at Marlins Park (6 p.m ET, MLB Network). Of course, you will see Washington Nationals such as Daniel Murphy and Tanner Roark in that game. Tomorrow night, a couple of Nats past and present will be starting round two in Tokyo playing for Team Israel.

So far, Israel has been the story of this year’s World Baseball Classic. In Pool A, the team went to advance into round two. Two current Nats prospects are on the team in catcher Nick Rickles and pitcher R.C. Orlan.

Also, former Washington Nationals pitcher Jason Marquis heads up the rotation and first baseman Nate Freiman was in the organization last year at triple-A Syracuse. At the plate, Freiman has had a good first three games (4-for-12, five runs scored, one home run, five RBI’s).

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Israel went undefeated in Pool A over in Seoul, South Korea. They scored 21 runs in the three games against Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands. Plus, their offense has shown good patience at the plate as evident by the 21 walks.

Rickles isn’t a starter on the team, but the catcher did have a pinch-hit RBI single against Chinese Taipei as part of their 15-7 win in the second game. The starting catcher is Ryan Lavarnway, who went 5-for-9 with a home run and three RBI’s in pool play.

As for Orlan, he appeared in the last two games out of the bullpen. The left-hander did give up three runs (one earned run) against Chinese Taipei. However, he bounced back against the Netherlands with a 1-2-3 sixth inning. In that inning, he faced Major Leaguers Jonathan Schoop and Didi Gregorius.

When you look at the pitching staff, Marquis has the most experience. Marquis was with the Washington Nationals for two seasons (2010-2011) and went 10-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 33 games. In this tournament, he has thrown four innings because of pitch count rules, but he hasn’t given up a run.

A lot of people thought Israel didn’t have much of a chance heading into the WBC. But, when I talked to Rickles last month on the DoDcast, you can tell this team had a lot of belief that they could compete and advance in this tournament. You can catch my full interview with Rickles as well in the video below the quote:

"“We aren’t worried about the competition. We worry about what we can control. The experience and confidence levels are team has going in, I don’t think we are looking at ourselves as significant underdogs. I think we are going to surprise some people."

Of course, the competition will get tougher for Israel in the second round as they head to Japan to take on Japan and Cuba in addition to the Netherlands. Their first game will be tomorrow against Cuba at 10 p.m ET on MLB.TV (game starts on delay at 12:30 a.m ET Sunday morning on MLB Network).

So, while Team USA, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico have a few Washington Nationals on their respective rosters, keep an eye on team Israel going forward. It’s been exciting to watch this team compete and what they are doing for baseball in that country.

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Once again, we wish these current and former Washington Nationals players/prospects the best of luck in Tokyo.