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With Talent From Two Small Islands, the Netherlands Is a W.B.C. Favorite

By Ken Belson The New York Times

SEOUL, South Korea — Stijn van der Meer can still hardly believe his good fortune. One of the best baseball players to come out of the soccer-crazed nation of the Netherlands, van der Meer played shortstop at Lamar University in Division I and was drafted last year by the Houston Astros in the 34th round.

But none of that prepared the affable and lanky 23 year old for playing alongside some of the best infielders in the game with Team Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic. Yet there he was at a recent workout, fielding ground balls with three of the top shortstops in the major leagues: Xander Bogaerts, who has won two Silver Slugger awards with the Red Sox; Didi Gregorius, who replaced Derek Jeter on the Yankees; and Andrelton Simmons of the Angels, who has two Gold Gloves awards.

“It’s just awesome: I’m in between superstars,” said van der Meer, who started playing baseball when he was 5 in Rosmalen, a hotbed of Dutch baseball. “We pretty much have a dream team...READ MORE