WBC 2017 Preview: Breaking down Mexico

WBC 2017 Preview: Breaking down Mexico

Mexico endured a surprising early exit four years ago in the last World Baseball Classic, but it will open this year's tournament before a home crowd at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco in Group D with Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Italy.

The Mexican national team opens play against Italy on March 9 with a roster full of Major League talent, including five-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez. With the tournament quickly approaching, here's a look at how Mexico stacks up:

The confirmed roster so far:

Oliver Perez
Roberto Osuna
Sergio Romo

Position players
Danny Espinosa
Khris Davis

Gonzalez represents the biggest name on Mexico's roster, playing for his older brother Edgar Gonzalez, who assumes managerial duties for Mexico just two years after he retired from his playing career. The Gonzalez brothers previously teamed up when they played for the Padres in 2008-09 and in two previous Classics.

Gonzalez on managing Team Mexico

Yasiel Puig is also rumored to be a possible addition to the roster, along with fellow Major Leaguers Anthony Rendon, Matt Bush, Aaron Sanchez and A.J. Ramos.

How they fared in the past
Mexico has not advanced further than the second round, where it finished in 2006 and '09 prior to a first-round elimination in '13.

What they should do well
In addition to a potent lineup with offensive standouts like Gonzalez and Davis, the Mexican team will boast a strong collection of relief pitchers. Osuna, who turns 22 in February, owns a 2.63 ERA and has converted 56 saves through his first two big league seasons, while Perez and Romo are both veterans with extensive experience in the Majors and in prior tournaments.

Where they could struggle
Marco Estrada's status for this year's tournament is uncertain due to a herniated disc in his back, which puts Mexico's starting rotation in flux. Estrada himself has said he's unlikely to be ready to pitch in the first round, if at all. It's also not yet clear whether Estrada's teammate, Sanchez, will suit up for Mexico.

Estrada flirts with a no-hitter

How far they could go
After not escaping the first round in 2013, Mexico had to qualify for this year's Field of 16 -- it defeated Nicaragua last March in Mexicali, Mexico -- and it will be eyeing a return to at least the final eight. Mexico fared well in exhibitions against Japan, the winning nation in the 2006 and '09 tournaments and last year's third-place finisher.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.