Tampa Bay Rays’ ace Chris Archer has formally committed to pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March. It’s been an exciting week for Team USA, who received commitments from Cy Young hopeful Max Scherzer, and outfielder Adam Jones.

The 28-year-old right-hander has long dreamed of playing in the WBC since watching the 2006 tournament as a senior in high school, and 11 years later he finally gets his shot. “This is the equivalent of the World Cup of soccer. To represent the U.S. on that stage, this is a dream come true,” said Archer.

Chris Archer is widely known among the league and fans to be a class act. He has acted as an ambassador for the game, playing a big role in the exhibition game with Cuba back in March. He didn’t pitch in the game but made his presence known in the announcer’s’ booth, as well as with President Obama. Archer shared an extended handshake with the President, and walked over and gave him a glove at the end of the game.

The important exhibition game in Cuba was not the only international game Chris attended. Over the past year, Archer has attended games in Taiwan and Curacao, which excited him even more for the future classic. “Their whole infield is going to be top-notch,” Archer said, referring to the players he saw in Curacao. Many of these players will be representing the Netherlands in the tournament.

He has been putting himself in talks along with the best pitchers in baseball since being called up in 2013, but 2016 wasn’t ideal for Archer, going 9-19 with a 4.02 ERA. However, his numbers weren’t as bad as they look, as he averaged just 3.48 runs of support from Rays hitters. He struck out 233 batters, tied for second in the American League, and posted a 10.4 K/9.   

To Archer, this tournament could have much more meaning than just winning games and bringing home the gold. “We can play and compete in tournaments like this and uplift the country. Hopefully, we can make the country proud through the game of baseball,” said Archer.  

Personally, this statement stuck with me, as it was evident what baseball could do to a community just by looking at social media. Before the election and before the United States went into a frenzy, it was the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series as the talk of the country. Baseball can unite people, and it’s player like Chris Archer that can help make that happen not only through his skill, but the way he handles himself within the sport.

Archer sees the WBC as an opportunity to continue the sport’s momentum after this season’s historic World Series, and believes it’s not only great for the game, but for the country. He’s also excited to play for Jim Leyland, as well as connect with fellow young stars of the game.

Chris Archer will be a huge part of Team USA come March not only for what he will do on the mound but the leadership and class he displays on a regular basis. If there’s anyone who is perfect for a tournament of this magnitude, it’s Archer.