Korean baseball, which won the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG), will be put to a true test.
The Japanese national baseball team, led by coach Hirokazu Ibata, was unveiled on the 24th. The final entry of 26 players to participate in the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) has been confirmed. This tournament, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan for four days starting from the 16th of next month, will feature players from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia who are under the age of 24 (born after January 1, 1999) or within 3 years of joining the team (entered after 2021). . Up to three players under the age of 29 can be included as wild cards.
Coach Ibata took over as head coach of the Samurai Japan A national team (top team) earlier this month, succeeding coach Hideki Kuriyama. APBC is the first international competition held after the coach was appointed. As the final entries are announced, interest in Japan is growing. It is evaluated that the age of the national team was lowered significantly in line with the purpose of the competition to discover young players. Coach Ibata said, “We selected players with little representative experience. We selected young players with the hope that they will take on the baseball world in the future.” A large number of players with little exposure to international competitions have been selected, but they are not easy opponents.
The number one person to watch out for is Shugo Maki (Yokohama DeNA Baystars). Maki was the only member who won the World Baseball Classic (WBC) last March to enter the APBC final entry. Yokohama’s star with a batting average of 0.293, 29 home runs, and 103 RBIs this season. He possessed both accuracy and power to rank third in home runs in the Central League, following Kazuma Okamoto (Yomiuri Giants, 41) and Munetaka Murakami (Yakult Swallows, 31). Coach Ibata early on selected Maki as the number 4 hitter. In APBC, he is expected to form a central batting lineup with Teruaki Sato (Hanshin), who ranked 4th in home runs (24) in the Central League.
Shota Morishita (Hanshin) and Yuto Akihiro (Yomiuri Giants), who hit double-digit home runs this year, were also named to Samurai Japan. The catcher position included Shogo Sakakura (Hiroshima Toyo Carp) as a wild card. Chusei Mannami (Nippon Ham Fighters), who is of mixed race with a Congolese father and a Japanese mother, will also make his debut at an international competition. Mannami hit 25 home runs this season, ranking him fourth in the Pacific League. There is only one difference from the joint first place group (Kensuke Kondo, Gregory Polanco, Hideto Asamura). Among the 14 final entry fielders, there are 6 batters with more than 10 home runs in the season.
Mound power is also solid. As a wild card, 10-win pitcher Tatsuya Imai (Seibu Lions), Kazuto Taguchi (Yakult), who ranked second in saves in the Central League this season, was transfused. In addition, next-generation ace Chihiro Sumida (Seibu), left-handed prospect Takahisa Hayakawa (Rakuten Golden Eagles), and left-handed bullpen Takuma Kirishiki (Hanshin), who throws a 150 km/h fastball, were selected by Manager Ibata.굿모닝토토
Korea achieved its fourth consecutive victory in Hangzhou AG. Although the location of the Asian leader has been confirmed, it is too early to be happy. This is because Japan sent players from a social league with the concept of professional baseball to AG, creating a level difference from Korea where professionals played. APBC has a strong return match nature against Japan, which has moved up a weight class. As for the national baseball team led by coach Ryu Joong-il, most of the players who played for Hangzhou AG were named to the APBC final entry. If AG loses in the APBC, where pros compete against pros, AG’s performance may fade.