Twins sending 7 Minor Leaguers to Classic

Beresford heads group playing for Australia, S. Africa in qualifier

Twins sending 7 Minor Leaguers to Classic

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will have seven Minor Leaguers participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifying round, including five players on Team Australia and two on South Africa's roster.

Infielder James Beresford, an International League All-Star with Triple-A Rochester last year who is a non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year, is joined by fellow infielder Logan Wade, outfielder Aaron Whitefield and right-handers Sam Gibbons and Todd Van Steensel on Team Australia. Van Steensel and Wade played for Class A Advanced Fort Myers, Gibbons played at Class A Cedar Rapids and Whitefield participated in the Gulf Coast League last year.

• Bracket for the qualifying rounds

The Twins also have two players on South Africa's roster, as right-hander Callan Pearce and outfielder Rowan Ebersohn both played in the Gulf Coast League last year.

They're set to play in the Sydney, Australia, qualifier, which will be held from Feb. 11-14 and feature teams from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa. The winner of the qualifier will compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The qualifier begins on Feb. 11 with a doubleheader, as South Africa takes on New Zealand before Australia plays the Philippines. Australia, which has participated in the last three World Baseball Classics, also plays again on Feb. 12 against either South Africa or New Zealand.

Beresford, 27, is the most notable Twins prospect participating, as he was under strong consideration to be a September callup last year after hitting .307/.341/.359 with one homer, 21 doubles and 50 RBIs in 129 games with Triple-A Rochester.

Van Steensel, 25, had an impressive year as a reliever for Fort Myers in 2015, posting a 2.32 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 66 innings.

Wade, 24, was his teammate at Fort Myers and hit .258/.296/.374 with three homers, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 99 games as a utility player.

Gibbons, 22, started 15 games with Class A Cedar Rapids in 2015, going 7-4 with a 2.89 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings.

Whitefield, 19, hit .167 with one RBI and two walks in seven games in the Gulf Coast League.

Pearce, 20, finished his second year in the Gulf Coast League and posted a 4.67 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings.

Ebersohn, 19, hit .193 with four doubles, three walks and three RBIs in 27 games with the Gulf Coast League Twins.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.