Japan released its preliminary roster for the upcoming 2013 World Baseball Classic this March, and this time they will be doing it with no Major Leaguers. However, manager Koji Yamamoto will still have a very talented squad as they look for their third consecutive WBC title.
Leading the squad for Japan is Central League MVP Shinnosuke Abe. He led the league in hitting at a .340 clip, hitting 27 long balls, and driving in 104 runs for the Yomiuri Giants.
The Japanese squad will be full of young talent as most of the players are under 30. The lack of MLB experience is being played up in the media as current MLB stars such as Yu Darvish and Ichiro Suzuki declined to participate this year to prepare for the upcoming season.
However, don’t take this team lightly.
They will be led by veteran MLB’er Kazuo Matsui who played 7 years in the Major Leagues with three different teams bringing leadership to the young team.
The pitching staff will be led by Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka. The 2007 Pacific League Rookie of the Year has won 75 games in 6 years with Rakuten posting a 2.50 career ERA and over 1,000 strikeouts.
Also on the pitching staff will be Sawamura Award winner Tadashi Settsu of the Softbank Hawks. He went 17-5 with and ERA of just 1.91 in just his 4th season. Also in the mix are Kenta Maeda (14-7/1.53) of the Hiroshima Carp, and a pair of lefties from the Giants in Toshiya Sugiuchi (12-4/2.04) and Tetsuya Utsumi (15-6/1.98).
Japan will open the Classic in Fukuoka facing off against China, Brazil, and powerhouse Cuba.
Pitchers:- Toshiya Sugiuchi (Yomiuri Giants), Tetsuya Utsumi (Yomiuri Giants), Tetsuya Yamaguchi (Yomiuri Giants), Hirokazu Sawamura (Yomiuri Giants), Daisuke Yamai (Chunichi Dragons), Kazuki Yoshimi (Chunichi Dragons), Takuya Asao (Chunichi Dragons), Kenta Maeda (Hiroshima Carp), Takeru Imamura (Hiroshima Carp), Atsushi Nomi (Hanshin Tigers), Kazuhisa Makita (Seibu Lions), Hideaki Wakui (Seibu Lions), Tadashi Settsu (Softbank Hawks), Kenji Otonari (Softbank Hawks), Masahiko Morifuku (Softbank Hawks), Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Eagles)
Catchers: Shinnosuke Abe (Yomiuri Giants), Ryoji Aikawa (Yakult Swallows), Ginjiro Sumitani (Seibu Lions)
Infielders: Shuichi Murata (Yomiuri Giants), Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Giants), Hirokazu Ibata (Chunichi Dragons), Takashi Toritani (Hanshin Tigers), Atsunori Inaba (Nippon Ham Fighters), Nobuhiro Matsuda (Softbank Hawks), Yuichi Honda (Softbank Hawks), Kazuo Matsui (Rakuten Eagles)
Outfielders: Hisayoshi Chono (Yomiuri Giants), Yohei Oshima (Chunichi Dragons), Yoshio Itoi (Nippon Ham Fighters), Sho Nakata (Nippon Ham Fighters), Seiichi Uchikawa (Softbank Hawks), Ryo Hijirisawa (Rakuten Eagles), Katsuya Kakunaka (Lotte Marines)