A former major leaguer, solid pitching, and a young outfield. The final roster for Japan’s baseball team, which will be Ryu Jung-il-ho’s biggest rival, has been finalized.
The All Japan Baseball Association announced the final 24-man roster for Japan’s baseball team at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Monday. The Japanese will be the most wary opponent for the South Korean baseball team, led by Ryu Jung-il.
Unlike the Koreans, who have mostly professional players, Japan is fielding a purely amateur team. However, they are not to be underestimated. They are all social baseball players, which means they play for unemployment teams affiliated with companies. Most of them have played baseball in high school and college, so their level is quite high. The team’s coaching staff, including head coach Ryu Jung-il and power enhancement chairman Cho Kye-hyun, recently traveled to Japan and watched major unemployed baseball players in action, and were concerned that “Japan’s power will be several times stronger than in previous Asian Games.” The players on the unemployed team are very good, especially the pitching.
The Japanese team will be coached by former Tokyo Gas head coach Akio Ishii. Ishii is a well-known name in baseball circles, as he also managed the Japanese team at the 2018 Jakarta Games. South Korea won the gold medal in Jakarta, while Japan finished second.
Looking at Japan’s final roster, the most prominent name is pitcher Junichi Tazawa. Born in 1986, Tazawa signed with the Boston Red Sox out of high school and went straight to the major leagues, a rarity in Japan at the time. He is also a party to the “Tazawa Rule,” which imposes a two- to three-year probationary period on amateur players who go overseas without going through Nippon Professional Baseball.
Tazawa has played for Boston, Miami, and the Los Angeles Angels in his major league career, compiling a 21-26 record, 89 wins, 4 saves, and a 4.12 ERA in 388 games. After failing to find a new team in the major leagues and hoping to be drafted by Nippon Professional Baseball, which was ultimately unsuccessful, he went on to play in the Taiwanese Professional Baseball, the Japanese Independent League, and last year in the Mexican League. Currently, he plays social baseball for ENEOS. As a veteran pitcher with a wide range of experience, he is expected to give the national team a boost.
The expected “ace” is Toyota Motor Corporation’s Shuichiro Kyo. A right-handed pitcher from Okinawa, born in 1995, GAYO gained attention when he was named the MVP of this year’s inter-city social baseball tournament, winning the Hashito Award. Although he is a social baseball player, Kyo is known for his fastball, which can reach speeds in excess of 150 kilometers. His personal best is 152 kilometers. She threw two complete games in the city tournament, and her best performance came in the final, when she pitched a seven-inning, one-hit shutout.
Another veteran to keep an eye on is Katsutoshi Satake, another right-handed pitcher for Toyota Motor Corporation. Born in 1983, he’s only 40 years old, but he’s been to two Asian Games and has won the “Best Player” award at various national tournaments in social baseball over the past decade. In his prime, he threw a 150-kilometer fastball, but now his velocity has decreased, but his control is said to be very good. He is considered one of the top stars of Japanese society baseball. 꽁머니지급
Among the hitters, the name of Tokyo Giants slugger Kohei Sasagawa stands out. Sasagawa was born in 1994 and came up through the youth national team. He is a power-hitting right-hander who has been batting fourth since joining the team. He is said to be the best power hitter in Japanese society baseball.
Motoki Mukoyama, an outfielder for NTT East, is another hitter to keep an eye on. The batting lineup will be a mix of experienced veterans and young players in their 20s.
The team will hold an intensive training camp in Kagoshima from August 15 to 18 to get their feet wet, then train again in Japan from September 25 to 27 before heading to Hangzhou.
South Korea’s team is the most advanced in terms of professional experience. However, this time around, the team is built around players in their early to mid-20s, so there could be variables. In that regard, Japan is the team Ryu Joong-il should be most wary of. They will have to stay on their toes, especially with their experienced veteran players, as they could be in for a surprise.