Florida’s Atlantic Coast hosts one of the most anticipated events of the Olympic qualifying season this week, the 2021 Baseball Americas Qualifier, where eight of the world’s 15 best-ranked national teams have sights set on a single berth in the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament.
The United States, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Cuba headline the field of North, South and Central American baseball powers hoping to join already-qualified nations Mexico, Israel, South Korea and hosts Japan in the six-team Olympic competition.
The six-day tournament (May 31 through June 5) begins with a preliminary group stage. Two groups of four will play round-robin style, with each team playing one game against its three group opponents. The top two teams per group after the round robin will advance to the semifinals. The semifinal winners will match up in the final with the Olympic berth on the line.
|Group A||Group B|
The loser of the final, along with the winner of the third-place game, will secure places in the “last chance” qualifying tournament taking place next month in Mexico.
Since the Americas Qualifier (like the Olympic Games) coincides with the 2021 Major League Baseball season, North America’s top baseball stars — Mike Trout, Ronald Acuña Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jacob deGrom — will not participate. However, several former big league All-Stars will take part, including Matt Kemp, Todd Frazier and Matt Wieters for the United States, as well as Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera for the Dominican Republic.
In addition, multiple top MLB prospects will get an opportunity to shine on an international stage, including Julio Rodriguez (DOM), Jeter Downs (COL) and Matthew Liberatore (USA).
Two pitchers who have thrown Major League no-hitters, Homer Bailey (USA) and Anibal Sanchez (Venezuela), will pitch in the tournament as well.
Two MLB Spring Training facilities, Clover Field in Port St. Lucie and the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, will cohost the competition with live fans in attendance.
The United States is looking to qualify for the Olympics after letting a golden opportunity slip away against Mexico in the 2019 Premier 12 tournament. They will open the competition against Nicaragua on Monday in Port St. Lucie. The U.S. will then face the Dominican Republic on Tuesday in West Palm Beach and Puerto Rico on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie. All three games begin at 7 p.m. E.T.
Four out of five previous Olympic baseball gold medals have been won by North American teams: Cuba in 1992, 1996 and 2004 and the U.S. in 2000.
All games will be streamed live on ESPN+.