Magno cleared for world qualifiers
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former Ohio State star Fil-Am pitcher Andrew Magno has been cleared to play for the Philippines in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) qualifiers at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, on March 20-25 with the 5-11, 190-pound Detroit Tigers draft pick expected to shore up the mound corps now being formed by the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) in coordination with American coach Bill Picketts.

PABA secretary-general Pepe Muñoz confirmed Magno’s eligibility after receiving clearance from the sanctioning body World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) which is organizing the fifth WBC next year as the official national team world championships.

Magno, 21, was born in Dublin, Ohio and was Detroit’s 15th round draft pick last year. His parents are Manny Magno and Liz Allen. He’s now pitching for the New York-Penn minor league Norwich Sea Unicorns, the Tigers’ Class A short season affiliate. Magno is among 10 US-based players nominated for the Philippines 28-man roster for the qualifiers. The others are pitcher J. R. Bunda, catcher Brady Conlan, outfielder Riley Conlan, outfielder Chase D’Arnaud, outfielder Andre Mercurio, pitcher Devon Ramirez, pitcher Peter Reyes, first baseman Mario Songco and outfielder Tim Tebow.

The Philippines is bracketed with the Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama and Spain in the qualifiers. The format is a nine-game double elimination round with the top two finishers advancing to the 20-team WBC. So far, 16 countries are set to play in the WBC after receiving automatic invitations based on their previous tournament performance. The 16 countries are Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US and Venezuela. Aside from the Philippines’ bracket, six other countries are playing in a separate qualifying group where the top two placers will also earn slots in the WBC. The six teams in the other qualifying bracket are Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Pakistan and South Africa.

Eligibility rules allow players holding passports and those born in the country they are representing. Tebow, 32, is eligible to play for the Philippines because he was born in Makati. The former football quarterback played baseball for the Class AAA team Syracuse Mets last year. “We haven’t been able to locate Tebow,” said Muñoz. “But word from the grapevine is he wants to join the Philippine team. I think he’s too busy on his honeymoon right now. He should resurface soon.”

Aside from the US-based players, Muñoz said the working roster lists shortstop Jared Cruz from Australia and outfielder Jonhil Carreon and pitcher Yuki Takayama from Japan. “Carreon is 100 percent Filipino but was born and grew up in Japan while Takayama has a Filipina mother,” said Muñoz.          

The others in the tentative lineup are catcher Dino Altomonte, shortstop/second baseman Adriane Ros Bernardo, outfielder Erwin Bosito, pitcher Pablo Luis Capati, pitcher Junmar Diarao, pitcher Vladimir Eguia, pitcher Francis Michael Gesmundo, pitcher Romeo Jasmin, pitcher/outfielder Diego Lozano, third baseman/second baseman Juan Alvaro Macasaet, pitcher Juan Pablo Macasaet, pitcher Carlos Alberto Muñoz, pitcher Miguel Salud, pitcher Kennedy Torres, pitcher Jerome Yenson, catcher Brad Haynal, first baseman Dean Long and shortstop Ripken Reyes. The nucleus is from the Philippine team that struck gold at the recent Southeast Asian Games.

“The Manila-based players continue to work out with our regular Philippine team coaching staff,” said Muñoz. “We have a problem because the qualifiers will coincide with the UAAP season so many of our coaches are not available. We’ll bring two Manila-based coaches to Tucson, Keiji Katayama and Wilfredo Hidalgo.” The Philippine delegation plans to leave Manila on March 17 or 18, hook up with the foreign-based players for training in Los Angeles then proceed to Tucson for the qualifiers.

ANDREW MAGNO
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