Four Black Bears Named to National Rosters for World Baseball Classic

February 10, 2023 – With the World Baseball Classic returning for the first time since 2017, four former West Virginia Black Bears will represent their countries in the international competition beginning Wednesday, March 8. From 2021’s inaugural MLB Draft League team, Mitchell Bratt will represent Canada, while 2022 players Branden Noriega and Marek Chlup will take the field for Great Britain and the Czech Republic, respectively. In addition to the recent players from the MLB Draft League, 2017-2018 Black Bear and former Pittsburgh Pirates player, Robbie Glendinning will represent his native Australia.  

The World Baseball Classic makes a comeback this March after a five-year hiatus. Originally scheduled in 2021, the international tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s format features 20 national teams competing in pools in four locations in Taiwan (1), Japan (1) and the United States (2). The championship matchup of the WBC is set for Tuesday, March 21 in Miami, Florida.

Fifth-round draft pick, pitcher Mitchell Bratt joins the Canadian team for the WBC as he enters his second year with the Texas Rangers. Bratt made an immediate impact in his time with the Black Bears. The left-handed ace – who turned 18, mid-season – threw 44 strikeouts with a 2.57 ERA and only eight earned runs in his seven starts for West Virginia. Bratt, from Ontario, Canada, made his professional debut in 2022 for the Single-A Down East Wood Ducks in Kinston, North Carolina. Noted as one of the Rangers’ top 30 prospects, Bratt shined in his first season with 99 strikeouts through 80.2 innings pitched. He finished the year with a 5-5 record and a 2.45 ERA in 19 appearances (18 starts).

Branden Noriega, a left-handed pitcher selected in the 11th round of 2022 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, will represent Great Britain in the Classic. In his 10 appearances on the mound for the Black Bears, Noriega recorded 14 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched. Armed with a high-velocity fastball, the Florida-native was one of six players taken in the Draft from last season’s team and was assigned to the rookie-league ACL Cubs in December before making the British roster.  

Appearing for the Czech Republic is 2022 Black Bear, Marek Chlup. The senior outfielder at North Greenville University played in 15 games for West Virginia, batting .222 with 10 runs and six RBI. Prior to joining the Bears, Chlup won the 2022 NCAA Division-II Baseball Championship with North Greenville, picking up Division-II Second Team All-American honors and the 2022 Conference Carolinas “Player of the Year” award, along the way. Chlup made his debut for the Czech national team in the 2021 European Championship.

Robbie Glendinning joined the Black Bears after being drafted in the 21st round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The native Australian played in 29 games in 2017 and in 25 the following season before being promoted to the full-season West Virginia Power. After being released by the Altoona Curve, Glendinning signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals. In 2022, he made 118 appearances for the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals and batted .252 with 77 runs, 19 home runs and 76 RBI.

In total, five players from the MLB Draft League were named to national rosters ahead of the World Baseball Classic. Along with the three former Black Bears, Alan Carter from the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (2022) was named to China’s roster and Damiano Palmegiani of the State College Spikes (2021) joined Bratt on the Canadian team.

The 2023 MLB Draft League season begins on June 1 with the Black Bears’ Home Opener scheduled for Tuesday, June 6.