How are members of the Phillies doing in the World Baseball Classic?

How are members of the Phillies doing in the World Baseball Classic?

Every three years, in the month of March, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) sanctions an international baseball tournament -- the World Baseball Classic -- in which the best players in the world compete for their home countries.

With that being said, it's time to check in on six members of the Phillies representing their home countries in this year's World Baseball Classic.

Venezuela, which has suffered two straight losses in the second round of the WBC, has the most Phillies of any team in the tournament … a grand total of two: Odubel Herrera and Edubray Ramos.

Herrera, in five games, has one hit. He's batting .091 (1 for 11). If there is any silver lining, the Phillies' centerfielder has struck out just once.

Ramos has yet to make a pitching appearance.

The Dominican Republic and the United States, who are in the same second-round pool as Venezuela, feature Hector Neris and Pat Neshek, respectively.

Neris (Dominican Republic) has pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowed two hits (one home run), no walks and picked up a strikeout.

Neshek (United States) picked up the victory in the United States' come-from-behind 4-2 win over Venezuela on Wednesday night in San Diego. He pitched a scoreless eighth before the United States tied the game and took the lead on solo home runs from Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer. Neshek has allowed only two hits in his 2 2/3 innings in this tournament.

Columbia, which was eliminated after going 1-2 in the first round, featured Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro. He had a good tournament despite being short-lived. Alfaro hit .250 (3 for 12) with one home run.

Canada -- which went a dreadful 0-3 in round one resulting in elimination -- featured Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta, who pitched 12 games between Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley last season.

Pivetta pitched in four innings for Canada. He posted a 2.25 ERA and allowed five hits and one run.

Team Italy featured pitching prospect Nick Fanti, who threw just one inning and gave up two hits. Italy went 1-3 in the first round as the club was eliminated from the tournament.

Finally, pitching prospect Kenny Koplove (no appearances in the tournament) represented Israel, which made an exit in the second round after going 1-3. The club was 3-0 in round one.

Phillies getting good reports on catching prospect Jorge Alfaro

Phillies getting good reports on catching prospect Jorge Alfaro

Jorge Alfaro, one of the Phillies' most highly regarded prospects, is off to a big start at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
 
He entered Wednesday night's game hitting .377 (23 for 61) with a 1.003 OPS in his first 15 games. He had a double, two triples, three homers and 10 RBIs. Team officials would surely like to see the strikeouts (17) come down and the walks (1) go up, but no one is complaining about the production.
 
"I just looked at his numbers," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's doing very well — knocking the cover off the ball."
 
Alfaro, 23, is widely considered the Phillies' catcher of the future. He's an athletic talent with huge upside. Many scouts believe he could be an All-Star if he puts it all together.
 
Defense is the area where Alfaro needs the most work. Yes, he's got a "howitzer" for an arm, as Mackanin called it, so that doesn't need much work. But there's a lot more to catching than throwing. There's game-calling, receiving and blocking.
 
Alfaro made a cameo with the big club last September and did not impress club officials with his receiving or blocking. Instructors focused on improving those areas in spring training, and Mackanin reports that Alfaro has shown progress in the early season.
 
"We get a complete game report on what everyone does offensively and defensively," Mackanin said. "Apparently he looks very good defensively.
 
"He had some issues defensively. He wasn't getting down enough and he worked on that all spring. He's a big guy and it's a little more difficult for a big guy to get low.
 
"And we wanted him to just be a little more quiet behind the plate, less movement. He had a tendency to be moving while the pitcher was getting ready to pitch. We just want a guy sitting back there nice and quiet with a good target. That might seem pretty elementary, but if you're not concentrating on doing that you might not realize the importance of it.
 
"He's doing well blocking balls. He's doing everything well right now and hitting on top of it, so that's a nice sign."

Clay Buchholz optimistic he can still pitch in 2017 after surgery

Clay Buchholz optimistic he can still pitch in 2017 after surgery

Pitcher Clay Buchholz made his first appearance in the Phillies' clubhouse Wednesday since having surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm last week.  

Many initially believed Buchholz would be out for the remainder of the season -- and he still might be -- but he expressed optimism and believes he can return to the mound in September.

"My goal right now is to let this heal," Buchholz said. "Get it well and if this team keeps playing like they're playing right now, we'll be playing in September, October, so that's my goal."

Buchholz said he wasn't feeling 100 percent leading up to the April 11 game against the New York Mets when manager Pete Mackanin pulled him in the third inning. 

"I told [general manager Matt Klentak] that I was sorry, and the guys in here," Buchholz said. "I was brought here for a reason. I wanted to pitch, I wanted to be good. I guess it's a good thing we have a good farm system here because they've been able to step up and fill in."

Buchholz had a similar issue with the Boston Red Sox in July 2015 and missed the rest of the season. 

In his two starts with the Phillies, Buchholz allowed 10 runs and 19 baserunners over just 7 1/3 innings. 
 
Buchholz, 32, will become a free agent at the end of the season. Given his age and the possibility that he won't return this season, the injury could significantly affect his value heading into the offseason. He's the second-highest paid player on the Phillies' roster at $13.5 million

But Buchholz wants to build the strength in his forearm and continue to pitch in MLB following this season.

"There's a lot of guys that come back," Buchholz said. "I have a lot of buddies that played this game that have come back from major surgeries and played for eight or nine more years. It's all about once I do get healthy, being prepared and building a strong foundation around my muscles."