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Wladimir Balentien, the affable slugging outfielder for the Netherlands and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, said he knew the young group of players darting around the infield for the Dutch during the World Baseball Classic four years ago were going to be special.

Balentien saw the talent even then, the same talent MLB evaluators had seen, and surmised the public at large simply hadn’t at the time. Which is why those players’ performances might have come as a surprise to some.

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