Tag Archive | "South Korea"

2017 World Baseball Classic: A Look at Pool A & B


We are just seven weeks away from the first pitch in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. As teams finalize rosters, players will soon begin reporting to spring training where they will begin preparing for the  fourth installment of the tournament.

In 2013 the Dominican Republic finally dethroned the two-time champion Japanese. The Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico in the championship game 3-0.

Each of the four pools have at the very least three strong teams that will compete for the two spots in the second round. So let’s go pool by pool and see how the teams have fared in the past. Today we will look at Pool’s A and B, and tomorrow we will take a look at Pool’s C and D.

Pool A:

Israel – This is Israel’s first time participating in the World Baseball Classic. They qualified through the Brooklyn Qualifier late in 2016. The team went 3-0 in the qualifier defeating Great Britain twice, including 9-1 in the championship game, and Brazil once by a 1-0 score. Israel just missed the 2013 WBC by losing to Spain 9-7 in the championship of a qualifier. They look to surprise someone, and they will need to, to move on.

South Korea – Back for a fourth time, South Korea recently moved up to no. 3 on the WBSC World Rankings which is their highest ranking ever. They look to continue moving up the ranks with some huge wins at the WBC. Korea finished runner-up in 2009 to Japan for its highest finish so far.

Chinese Taipei – This is their fourth time in the tournament as well. Their highest finish so far has been to advance to Round 2 in 2013. They will be searching for their first medal in the tournament and will be poised to move onto Round 2 if they can get passed the Netherlands.

Netherlands – They might have been the surprise of the tournament last go around finishing fourth. This is their fourth venture into the tournament and they look to improve on their high finish last time. They will have a strong showing but will have to defeat either South Korea or Chinese Taipei to move on.

Pool B

Japan – With two titles under their belt they are the most accomplished team in the tournament by far. Ranked no. 1 in the WBSC World Rankings, Japan will look to return to the top spot they lost last time out. A third place finish in 2013 would have been seen as a good thing for any team, except maybe the two-time defending champions. Look for a strong showing from them once again.

Cuba – Once the power in international tournaments, Cuba still has the power to make a run deep in this tournament. Their highest finish was a runner-up in 2006 in the inaugural event. Since then they have not advanced out of Round 2. I look for them to once again advance to Round 2, but go no further even though they are capable.

Australia – This is the wild card team in Pool B to me. If they can get passed a good Cuba team, they can advance to Round 2, which they have never done in the past. They had to get to this point by winning a qualifier, which they did quite easily. However, they just get passed Cuba or stun Japan to advance.

China – This is China’s fourth appearance in the tourney. They have never gotten out of Round 1 in the past but have made strides and have won at least one game in the past two tournaments. They might shock someone and hurt a team’s chances to advance by picking up a win like they did to Chinese Taipei in 2009.

Check back tomorrow for a quick look at the other two pools and soon we will start going over rosters as some of them are announced to see just how far they might be able to go.

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South Korea Climbs to No.3 in Baseball World Rankings


South Korea has climbed to the no. 3 spot in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings, its highest ranking ever moving passed Chinese Taipei. The top two spots remain the same with Japan leading the way once again, while the United States continues to be a strong no. 2.

South Korea’s climb moves them even closer to the United States in the second spot. Japan still commands a strong lead over the pack. Rounding out the top 5 are Chinese Taipei and Cuba.

The top representative from Europe comes in at no. 9 with the Netherlands, followed closely by Italy at no. 10.

Men’s Baseball Final 2016 World Rankings Top 10:

1. Japan
2. USA
3. South Korea
4. Chinese Taipei
5. Cuba
6. Mexico
7. Venezuela
8. Canada
9. Netherlands
10. Italy

Complete World Rankings

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Korea: A Look at the Foreign Imports Part 2


A few days ago we looked at the foreign imports in the KBO for the Samsung Lions, Nexen Heroes, NC Dinos, LG Twins, and Lotte Giants. Today we will finish out the KBO by taking a look at the imports for the other five teams and where they have been previously.

So let’s get going. Here are the imports for the rest of the league and where they have been over the past few seasons either in the US or abroad.

KIA Tigers

Philip Humber – Humber might be one of the more recognizable names in the KBO, at least from a MLB stand point. He spent parts of eight seasons in the MLB with the Mets, Twins, Royals, White Sox, and Astros. He is remembered for a couple things. First, he was the third overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Rice University, where he pitched his team to the College World Series title in 2003, by the New York Mets. He made his MLB debut just two years later. However, perhaps what he is most remembered for is the fact he pitched the 21st perfect game in MLB history in 2012 while with the White Sox. He spent 2014 pitching mostly out of the bullpen for Triple-A Sacramento.

Brett Pill – A former San Francisco Giant, Pill has appeared in over 100 MLB games. He put up nice numbers in 2014 as a member of the Tigers hitting .309 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI. Look for him to improve on these numbers in 2015. He has the power, some speed, and will hit for average.

Josh Stinson – A tall right handed pitcher, Stinson spent a brief time with the Baltimore Orioles the past four seasons. While his MLB numbers are unimpressive, mainly due to his lack of game time, he has at times impressed in the minors. He can struggle with the walk at times, but he has the ability to be a nice addition to KIA.

Hanwha Eagles

Shane Youman – Youman is no stranger to the KBO having spent the past three seasons with Lotte. While his numbers have gotten progressively worse in the KBO, his ERA has risen from 2.55 to 5.93 over the three seasons, look for him to rebound this season in Daejeon if he can get back to his career numbers. Despite his high ERA last season he still won 12 games.

Mitch Talbot – Talbot returns to the KBO after having pitched with Samsung in 2012. That year he went 12-3 before returning to the USA. Most of his time since leaving the KBO has been spent in AAA with two different organizations. However, he has only pitched in 13 games over the past two years.

Nyjer Morgan – Another name that many know from the MLB, Morgan spent parts of seven seasons with different MLB clubs. Morgan spent 2013 in Japan with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars where he hit .294 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI. In 2014 he returned to the MLB with the Cleveland Indians but only appeared in 15 games. He has stolen 120 bases in the Major Leagues and should provide speed and solid outfield glove.

KT Wiz

Phil Irwin – The tall right handed pitcher was one of many that got a start for the Texas Rangers in 2014. He spent most of his time in 2014 in Triple-A. He strikes out nearly one an inning and walks only half of what he strikes out. If he can find his control he could have a nice year for the Wiz.

Andy Marte – Marte was once thought of as a big prospect for the Atlanta Braves where he started his MLB career in 2005 before being shipped off to Cleveland for Edgar Renteria. He played in parts of five seasons for the Indians, but never lived up to expectations. He has showed power at almost every stop though. Look for him to provide some big power and possibly hit for a nice average. He is a career .282 hitter in the minors and last season in Triple-A hit 19 home runs.

Chris Oxspring – Chris has seen playing time all over the world. He spent time in the MLB, NPB, KBO, and the ABL. The last two seasons he has spent with the Lotte Giants where he want a combined 23-15. If he can stay healthy, he will be 38 this year, he will put up good numbers for the Wiz.

Andy Sisco – Sisco spent the 2014 season in the Futures League in Korea with the Wiz. He has MLB experience and has put up good numbers in the past in the minors. He is not an overpowering pitcher and will strike out less than one an inning. In order to be effective he needs to find his control.

SK Wyverns

Merrill Kelly – The 26-year old right handed pitcher has no MLB experience. He spent most of the past two seasons with the Durham Bulls in Triple-A. He posted an impressive 9-4 record with a 2.76 ERA in 2014 for Durham. Over 114 innings he struck out 108 and walked only 37 in 2014.

Travis Banwart – Travis spent some time last season with the Wyverns pitching in 11 games. He put up great numbers over that time going 9-1 with an ERA of just 3.10. He has impressive minor league numbers and is only 29 years old.

Andrew Brown – Brown has 144 games at the MLB level where he hit 14 home runs but struggled with the average hitting just .220. He has been much more impressive in the minors posting a lifetime .286 average where he has showed power. In 2014 in 103 games at Triple-A, he hit 21 home runs.

Doosan Bears

Yunesky Maya – The former Washington Nationals pitcher is back for his second year in the KBO. Pitching for the Bears last season, Maya went 2-4 in 11 starts. He has some good minor league numbers and could provide Doosan with a solid starter through the season if he can find his control.

Zach Lutz -Lutz has some time with the New York Mets at the MLB level, but most of his time has been spent at the Triple-A level. He spent a few games in 2014 with the Rakuten Eagles in Japan where he hit five home runs in just 15 games. Most of the past few seasons he has spent at Triple-A where he put up good numbers and has a lifetime .295 average.

Dustin Nippert – The former Texas Rangers pitcher has found a home in the KBO where he has thrived. He arrived in Korea in 2011 and has not looked back. Over his four seasons with Doosan he has gone 52-27 with an ERA of 3.25. Last season he went 14-7. Look for him to continue his dominance of the KBO hitters.

Again if you haven’t done so, head on over to MyKBO.net and check out the daily happenings of the KBO. There is a lot of information there, and it is easily the best site for the KBO in English.

Also if you want to play the KBO in a simulation game, check out the Out of the Park Baseball 16. It’s the best sim game on the market and now features international leagues like the KBO. You can purchase the game below and help out our site a little bit.
OOTP Baseball

Buy OOTP Baseball 16 PC & Mac

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Korea: A Quick Look at the Foreign Imports in the KBO


The 2015 KBO season has kicked off in Korea. For the first time in the league’s history it features ten teams as the KT Wiz begin play this year. Once again the team to beat is four-time defending champion Samsung Lions.

As we kick off the season, we thought we would take a look at the foreign imports this year for each team. Many of the names you might recognize from the minors or MLB.

Samsung Lions

Alfredo Figaro – Figaro has had a cup of coffee with two MLB teams (DET/MIL) with most of his MLB experience coming in 2013 out of the bullpen pitching in 33 games. Overall he has put up solid numbers in the minors both as a starter and reliever.
Yamaico Navarro – Navarro had a big season last year with Samsung hitting .308 with 31 home runs, 96 RBI, and 25 stolen bases.
Tyler Cloyd – Cloyd pitched last season with Triple-A Columbus in the Cleveland minor leagues. He has a little bit of MLB experience, all with PHI in 2012 and 2013.

Nexen Heroes

Andy Van Hekken – Van Hekken had a great year last season with Nexen going 20-6. He is back for his fourth year with the Heroes.
Ryan Feierabend – A former 3rd round pick by Seattle, Ryan has a small bit of MLB experience. Most of it came early in his career with Seattle, but he was in six games last season with Texas. The left handed pitcher has over 230 minor league starts with success at different levels.
Brad Snyder – Another one that got in a few games for Texas in 2014, Snyder has very little MLB experience but he has put up good numbers at all levels of the minors and has a lot of AAA experience. He played in a few games last season with LG as well.

NC Dinos

Charles Shirek – This will be Charlie’s third year in the KBO, all with NC. He pitched well last year posting a 12-8 record.
Eric Thames – Eric had a huge year at the plate for NC last year hitting 37 home runs. It was easily his best season as a professional. He hit .343 with 121 RBI.
Eric Hacker – Hacker is back for his third straight year with NC. He improved last season to 8-8 after going 4-11 in his initial season although he posted a bit better ERA.

LG Twins

Lucas Harrell – Lucas pitched the past four season with the Houston Astros. He led the league in losses in 2013 with 17. His numbers in the minor leagues are much better but he is looking for a nice comeback year in 2015.
Henry Sosa – Sosa is not new to the KBO. He pitched for two season with Kia in 2012 and 2013. Then came back and pitched for awhile with Nexen in 2014.
Jack Hannahan – Jack has a lot of MLB experience with over 1800 plate appearances with Detroit, Oakland, Seattle, Cleveland, and most recently Cincinnati. He has never shown much pop in the bat (13 home runs in AAA is a high) and can struggle with the strike outs from time to time.

Lotte Giants

Jim Adduci – Jim had a few at bats with the Texas Rangers the last two seasons but has spent most of his career in the minor leagues. He has some speed (high of 35 stolen bases) and has shown some recent pop (16 home runs in 2013 with Triple-A Round Rock).
Brooks Raley – The big lefty hurler has a little time in the MLB with the Cubs, but little success. However, he doesn’t walk many batters and has posted 2+ SO/K ratios over several seasons.
Josh Lindblom – The former 2nd round pick has had some success in the MLB with Philadelphia and a few other teams. His best season in the MLB was 2012 when he pitched in 74 games for Philadelphia and the Dodgers posting a 3.55 ERA in relief. He has more relief experience and even some as a closer.

This is part one of two looking at the foreign imports for the KBO. Next time we will look at the players from KIA, Hanwha, KT, SK, and Doosan. Thanks to Dan over at MyKBO.net for the names of the players. If you haven’t done so, check out what he does over there for the most comprehensive coverage of the KBO in English anywhere.

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Groups Unveiled for the U12 Baseball World Cup


The World Baseball Softball Confederation announced the groups for the upcoming U12 Baseball World Cup to take place in Taiwan later this summer. Twelve teams will compete for the title that the US will defend after winning the 2013 edition of the tournament in Taiwan.

The top four nations will compete in the event with the top two, Japan and the USA, competing in the same group for the first stage.

Group A
1. Cuba (World No. 3)
2. Chinese Taipei (No. 4)
3. South Korea (No. 8)
4. Venezuela (No. 10)
5. Brazil (No. 15)
6. Russia (No. 32)

Group B
1. Japan (No. 1)
2. USA (No. 2; Defending U12 World Champions)
3. Mexico (No. 12)
4. Australia (No. 14)
5. Nicaragua (No. 16)
6. France (No. 27)

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College: Cal State Fullerton to Represent USA at 2015 World University Games in Korea


This summer in Gwangju, South Korea the 2015 World University Games will take place from July 3-14. Representing the USA at the games will be the Cal State Fullerton Titans.

The four-time national champion Titans are ranked No. 23 in the Baseball America preseason rankings. The team is coming off its 40th consecutive 30 win season.

Originally USA Baseball was going to send an All-Star team to the World University Games. However, eleven teams showed interest before Fullerton was chosen.

A pair of Titan players, pitchers Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza, competed with the USA Collegiate National team a year ago finishing with an 18-8-2 record competing both in Cuba and the Netherlands.

The games are held every two years in different cities around the world. Internationally it is known as Universiade. In 2013, they were held in Kazan, Russia where the US finished in 6th place with 40 medals. This year will be the US’s largest participation ever with 550 athletes competing in 21 sports.

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Korea: Why Do Koreans Call Baseball Yagu?


Ever wonder how to say baseball in other languages and how it came about? Well the Korea chapter of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) recently released an article on why Koreans call baseball yagu.

It is an interesting read into the history of the game in Korea and why the sport became called yagu.

You can read the article online from the Korea Times by Patrick Bourgo through the link below.

Full Korea Times Article Here

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Korea: A Review of the 2014 KBO Season


The Samsung Lions claimed their fourth straight KBO title in 2014 defeating the Nexen Heroes in six games. The Lions pounded the Heroes in Game 6 to claim the Korean Series winning 11-1 to finish off the series.

The Heroes have made one of the biggest turnarounds in KBO history. Since joining the league in 2008 the Heroes have been a perennial doormat of the league. In 2013 the Heroes finally made the playoffs finishing the regular season in third place. This year they finished just a half game behind the eventual champion Lions for first place in the regular season.

The Lions are arguably the most successful team in KBO history. While they have not won the most titles (KIA has 10), they have made the championship seven more times than KIA finishing the runner up nine times.

The Lions were boosted by some solid years from their foreign imports. Rick van den Hurk had a great year on the mound going 13-4 with an ERA of just 3.18 in 25 starts. J.D. Martin didn’t fair as well but did a good job in the rotation going 9-6/4.78. However, perhaps the biggest impact came from infielder Yamaico Navarro who finished the season hitting .308 with 31 home runs, 96 RBI, and 25 stolen bases.

Some other names you may recognize that had big years in the KBO included:

Eric Thames (NC Dinos) hit .343 with 37 home runs and 121 RBI.

Jorge Cantu (Doosan Bears) hit .309 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI.

Felix Pie (Hanwha Eagles) hit .326 with 17 home runs and 92 RBI.

Travis Banwart (SK Wyverns) started 11 games going 9-1 with an ERA of just 3.11.

Dustin Nippert (Doosan Bears) went 14-7 with an ERA of 3.81 in 30 games.

Charles Shirek (NC Dinos) went 1208 with an ERA of 3.81 in 28 starts.

Henry Sosa (Nexen Heroes) went 10-2 in just 20 starts with an ERA of 4.61.

Andy Van Hekken (Nexen Heroes) went 20-6 in 31 starts posting an ERA of 3.51.

Another big surprise this season was the quick emergence of the NC Dinos. A year after finishing 20 games under .500, the Dinos finished in third place and made the playoffs in only their second year of play in the KBO.

Final Regular Season KBO Standings

1. Samsung Lions 78-47-3
2. Nexen Heroes 78-48-2
3. NC Dinos 70-57-1
4. LG Twins 62-64-2
5. SK Wyverns 61-65-2
6. Doosan Bears 59-68-1
7. Lotte Giants 58-69-1
8. KIA Tigers 54-74-0
9. Hanwha Eagles 49-77-2

Photo courtesy Yonhap

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Looking Forward to 2015 at Baseball de World


With 2014 coming to a close, we thought this would be a good time to look back at the world of baseball and discuss some of the major events and championships that took place. Over the next week or two we will be recapping all of the major leagues from around the world. So in case you missed it, and we did as well for some because of how busy 2014 was, stay tuned and check out what happened around the world.

In 2015 we hope to bring a few more things to the site including more writing on independent baseball leagues throughout the USA. These leagues have garnered my attention more and more over the past few years. They not only interest me in the ways they handle themselves on the field (see article on Pecos League commissioner charging field with chair) but off the field and how the leagues actually survive is very interesting to say the least.

In addition to covering some of the independent leagues, we hope to bring you some new and interesting ideas like the top independent managing prospects. With managers being picked up from independent leagues into affiliated ball, we thought we would look at a few of the manager prospects in the game right now. So stay tuned for that and other new ideas on independent ball.

In addition we plan to bring you more reviews on books, documentaries, movies, and other sites as well. We are apart of a huge baseball blogosphere and we want to help spread some of the great writing that is going on. For one, Dan Glickman over at the Hall of Very Good wrote about the best baseball links of 2014. There is a lot of great writing here from some of the top writers in the sport. I have read many of the articles throughout the year but some of the I missed so I will be going back through them in the next week and I recommend you do the same.

I dropped the ball in 2014 due to my schedule becoming so crazy but most of that is behind me now and I hope to continue bringing you updates from around the world in 2015.

I would also like to have your opinions and ideas on what you would like to see. I have tossed around the idea of a podcast with others joining me to discuss baseball from around the world. I’ve also tossed around the idea of starting a vlog and doing some video. Those are on hold right now until I can get back into the swing of regular updates. I am putting together a schedule of when I will update what leagues in order to bring some regularity to the site and hopefully more interaction with you the readers.

With all of that being said, Happy New Year! Here is hoping your favorite teams continue, or start, a winning tradition in 2015!

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Baseball’s Rise Marked By New Stadiums Worldwide


Press Release IBAF.org

“Our sport has entered into a new era of globalisation.” WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — A fresh wave of planned or recently completed baseball and softball construction projects is set to boost the growing popularity and globalisation of the bat-and-ball sports, as well as local economies, World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) officials reported. The latest developments follow historic growth for baseball and softball across Africa, with first-ever national stadiums erected in Ghana and Uganda in early 2014.

Now, as baseball and softball’s global footprint deepens, new facilities are being rolled out in the Bahamas, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom, in addition to new-builds in mature markets like Mexico — and South Korea and Taiwan, where the first-ever domed baseball stadiums are currently taking shape.

Bahamas 

In 2015, a new national baseball stadium in the Bahamas — Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium — will be completed and “heralds rapid expansion of the game of baseball in the Bahamas,” reads a statement posted in November on the official website of the Government of the Bahamas.

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Christie told reporters at the groundbreaking ceremony:”This is a result of the extraordinary progress of baseball in the [Bahamas], without government support, sponsored by people who had an interest, who stimulated young people…to get involved in baseball. We are now talking a benefit to the economy of the Bahamas.”

Government officials in the Bahamas indicate the state-of-the-art facility “will support the nation’s current energies to fully develop its sports tourism.”

Netherlands

Europe’s first state-of-the-art baseball and softball complex just outside Amsterdam in Hoofddorp, Netherlands was inaugurated for the 2014 season and has already hosted its first international competition. As well as attracting major baseball and softball events to the region and providing a new and exciting athlete-/fan-experience, the venue’s strategic location makes it very attractive as a regional training centre to further strengthen the development of baseball and softball in the Netherlands and in Europe.

In 2013, the Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Association unveiled Europe’s first baseball and softball urban playground. The innovative “urban” concept was rolled out in Rotterdam and aims to take organised baseball and softball to the street, increasing the sports’ pathway and connection with young people in non-traditional settings.

New Zealand

Last month, the Auckland Council unveiled a new crown jewel baseball facility, cited by Auckland city officials as “the first of its kind in New Zealand.” Baseball New Zealand and McLeod Park Baseball Diamond have since been awarded the hosting rights of the U18 Baseball Oceania Championship, which serves as the qualifier for the 2015 U18 WBSC Baseball World Cup. Following McLeod Park’s opening ceremonies, officials in New Zealand have already been assessing the feasibility of building baseball’s first-ever national stadium in New Zealand.

Spain

The Instituto Barcelona Deportes (Barcelona Sports Institute) announced last week that it is set to begin construction on a new sports/community project, including the roll out of a new softball field next to baseball’s Estadio Carlos Perez de Rozas on Pierre de Coubertin Street in Barcelona.

“Sport is fundamental in Barcelona, so we are committed to providing the city with sports facilities necessary to ensure constant sport and of quality,” Deputy Mayor for Quality of Life, Equality and Sports, Ms. Maite Fandos, said in a statement.

South Africa

In a joint venture, the City of Cape Town and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport announced last month the unveiling of the rebuilt Bishop Lavis Softball field, which included laser-levelling of the pitch, installation of irrigation, construction of a backstop and fence, as well as installation of floodlights to hold training and competitions in the evenings.

“We are committed to providing facilities which will encourage communities to participate in sport and will nurture young talent. Sport encourages young people to live healthy and keeps them involved in wholesome activities and off the street,” the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services, Alderman Belinda Walker, said in a statement.

United Kingdom

Following the first-ever dedicated baseball/softball stadium in the U.K. with Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex built last year in Slough, BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK) recently announced plans to build a new baseball and softball facility in Manchester to promote the sports and bolster participation numbers in the North of England. As growth has taken off in the U.K., including the newest facility inaugurated in Essex, John Boyd, BSUK Joint CEO, announced in November a project to expand the Farnham complex to include another international-standard baseball field.

WBSC on Baseball/Softball’s Continued Trend of Global Growth

WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari hailed the wave of initiatives as a major boost for the positioning of baseball and softball as one of the world’s leading global sports, particularly as WBSC and its partners continue working toward a return of baseball and softball in the Olympic Games.

“Our sport has entered into a new era of globalisation,” said the world governing body president. “More and more clubs, communities, cities and nations are investing in the development of baseball and softball because it is being recognised that baseball and softball are proven and popular sporting and fan activities that engage young people across both genders as well as sponsors and broadcasters, and can help to stimulate economies.

“WBSC, our National Federations, our professional league partners and the youth leagues are heavily invested in promoting our sport around the world to attract and reach — and remain relevant to — the next generation of athletes and sport fans, alike. This recognition and support from governmental institutions to help drive growth marks a significant breakthrough for our sport in terms of universality and evolving into a truly global sport.”

Based on data compiled, the WBSC estimates that over 65 million athletes practice the sport of baseball and softball in over 140 countries, with youth and females making up the majority of the participation-demographic.

Copyright © 1999-2014 IBAF . All rights reserved. Permission to cite from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to ibaf.org as the source.

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Korea: KBO Makes Changes to Imports and Will Expand


There are a lot of changes going on in the Korean Baseball Organization that could really change the landscape of the game in the Land of the Morning Calm.

For years now there has been a limit of two foreign players for each team, and over the past few years all of these spots have been taken up by pitchers. However, the league has decided to expand the roster spots for foreign players to three beginning with the 2014 season.  The teams have quickly begun snapping up some former MLB talent to add to their rosters including some position players.

Already signed this off season has been infielder Jorge Cantu by the Doosan Bears, outfielder Felix Pie by the Hanwha Eagles, and infielder/DH Luke Scott by the SK Wyverns.

Another change deals with the foreign players as well as the league is lifting the salary cap on these imports. Previously players were maxed out at a level of $300,000 for a year. Many of the contracts were reported as $250,000 salary with a $50,000 signing bonus. Now that will be lifted and should bring in some bigger talent to the league.

This is the the third time the salary cap has been changed. Initially the cap was at $120,000. It was then raised to $200,000 in 1999 and to $300,000 in 2004.

The third and final change to take place will happen in 2015 when the league expands to 10 teams with the new KT Wiz take the field for the first time. The league currently sits at 9 teams after the NC Dinos joined in last season.

The Samsung Lions will look to defend the three straight titles won over the past few seasons in 2014, but with the addition of some new bats they will be challenged like never before.

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Korea: A Second Racist Incident in a Year for the KBO


Recently there was a racist cartoon published by a group of cartoonists under the pen name of Bounce Kim. The cartoon, published on the site Nate.com, was apart of a weekly series called “Fastball and Jokeball”, but there weren’t many that found it too funny.

The cartoon depicted Dominican pitcher Radhames Liz of the LG Twins being hounded by the Ku Klux Klan.

In a recent game, Liz hit Samsung Lions batter Bae Young-seop in the head which lead to Bae being taken off the field on a stretcher. Later in the inning, after striking out the side, Liz ended the inning with a little hop and fist pump after the last strikeout. Apparently that show of emotion was too much for these cartoonists.

This isn’t the first time there has been a racist incident this year in the KBO. Earlier in the year all-star Kim Tae-kyun apologized after making racist comments about American import Shane Youman who pitches for the Lotte Giants.

From the outside all of this makes the Korean people in general look very racists. And while racism exists in every part of the world, it is not the everyday way of life for Koreans.

Immediately after the cartoon was released, there was an outcry from Koreans that demanded some sort of discipline for the offenders. However, that was not the case as their employer, Nate.com, and the parent company SK Communications have said there will be no discipline taken in the matter.

The cartoon was taken down after only 30 minutes and Bounce Kim did release an apology saying:

“We didn’t have enough knowledge on the subject matter, and we were trying too hard to come up with something new and compelling. More than anything, we fully understand that this was borne out of our sheer stupidity.”

The LG Twins also expressed their desire for the situation not to get escalated and made no official comment on the matter.

Sheer stupidity or not, I don’t understand why the team could not issue a statement to back up its own player. A player who has been with the team since 2011.

You can see the cartoon below.

comic

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Korea: Teams Fight For Playoff Position in KBO


With just a few more weeks to go in the KBO season, the playoff races are still in full force. While the final four teams are almost set, the race for positioning between the teams is in full swing.

Currently the LG Twins lead the league (70-47) bu they are only 1.5 games up over the two-time defending champion Samsung Lions. The Twins are one win away from being secured a spot in the final four which would be the first time they have made the playoffs since 2002. That was also the last time the Twins had a winning record.

Currently in second place are the Samsung Lions (67-47-2). The two-time defending champs are looking to secure their spot once again at the top of the league’s standings.

However, the biggest surprise is the team that is currently in third place, the Nexen Heroes (65-49-2). The Heroes, while they have only been a team since 2008, have their first winning season in team history. So far their best finish has been 6th in 2009 and 2012.

The final playoff team for 2013 looks to be the Doosan Bears. If, or when, the Bears make the playoffs this year it will mark the eighth time in the past ten years they have played in the postseason. However, they haven’t won a title since 2001.

This is also the first season for the NC Dinos after playing last season in the Future’s League, the KBO version of minor league baseball. They have been respectable so far this  year and a lot of that goes to a foreign import, Charles Shirek.

Shirek, who hails from the University of Nebraska, was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox. However, he never did make it to the big leagues getting as far as Triple-A Charlotte in 2012.

After a solid year with the Charlotte Knights, Shirek made his way to Korea and the NC Dinos. So far he has been nothing short of spectacular. In 27 games this season, Shirek has pitched 176.2 innings. He has posted a nearly 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio (105/57) and a 2.39 ERA which leads the league. Perhaps the biggest key to his success has been keeping the ball in the yard. Through his 27 starts so far this year he has given up just five home runs.

KBO Standings:

1. LG Twins 70-47
2. Samsung Lions 67-47-2
3. Nexen Heroes 65-49-2
4. Doosan Bears 65-50-3
5. Lotte Giants 56-55-4
6. SK Wyverns 56-56-2
7. KIA Tigers 48-64-2
8. NC Dinos 48-67-4
9. Hanwha Eagles 37-77-1

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Korea: Baseball Hall of Fame to be Built in Busan


According to a report by Busan Haps, the city of Busan and the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) have agreed to build a Korea Baseball Museum and Korea Baseball Hall of Fame.

An entire ‘Baseball Theme Park” will be build including a three-story building, four regular baseball fields, two Little League fields, one softball field, an indoor baseball practice field, and a baseball experience hall.

In the three-story building there will be many attractions comprising 3,374 square meters (36,317 sq ft). The first floor will be composed of a multi-purpose hall, video room, and a library of foreign player stats. An amateur baseball center, a professional baseball center, and a lecture room will be on the second floor. Finally, the third floor will include the hall of fame and a conference hall. The building will also feature a roof top garden.

Hyundai Motor Corp has agreed to donate the four regular sized baseball fields for the project.

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Korean Player Apologizes for Racist Remarks Made Toward American Import


South Korean baseball All-Star Kim Tae-kyun recently apologized for insensitive remarks he made during a baseball radio show according to Yonhap News reporter Yoo Jee-ho.

In an interview that aired Monday on Radio Ball, a Naver Internet radio show, the Hanwha Eagles slugger was asked about facing Shane Youman of the Lotte Giants who is considered one of the toughest pitchers in the league. Kim apparently replied that, “Youman’s face is so black and that makes his teeth seem whiter. When he smiles on the mound as he throws, I tend to lose the ball in his teeth. That has fooled me often.”

Kim did not make those remarks on the air, but instead they were repeated by the show’s host from what Kim had told him. Regardless, there has been an uproar for Kim to apologize, and that is just what he did hours after the broadcast when he issued this statement through the Eagles:

“Regardless of the truth of the comments, I’d like to offer Youman my apology,” Kim was quoted as saying by the team. “I had meant to tell the reporter that Youman’s delivery makes him a difficult pitcher to hit against from a hitter’s perspective, and that he’s a great player.”

Kim has experience playing in a foreign league after spending the 2010 and parts of the 2011 seasons with the Chiba Lotte Marines, ironically the same company that owns the Lotte Giants that Youman plays for in Korea. The KBO has allowed imported players since 1998, and many African-Americans have played there including the first foreign MVP Tyrone Woods.

Youman spoke with the news outlet Busan Haps in response to Kim’s remarks and had this to say:

“After hearing about Kim Tae-kyun from my translator initially I laughed, and said it was ok, not a problem, people make mistakes. After I thought about it for a bit, I became a little upset which is the initial reaction from someone who hears about something that’s potentially racist towards them. No matter your ethnic background, you will either feel hurt, anger, or both when it comes to racism towards you.

As far as being here in Korea, I’ve never felt that my race, or nationality has played a role in how I’ve been treated. Then again, I’d never know, because I don’t speak Korean (lol).”

You can read more of Youman’s response here at BusanHaps.com.

Only time will tell if this story dies down and goes away. I have seen many post on different message boards that this might have been a cultural misunderstanding and that Kim didn’t mean anything harmful by it. However, had this been a foreign player commenting on a Korean player it would have stirred up a hornet’s nest that might never go away.

The question I am waiting to be answered, is will Kim be fined or suspended at all. What are your thoughts on this?

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Korea: KBO Opening Day Recap; Doosan Belts a Pair of Grand Slams in Win over Samsung


The Korean Baseball Organization kicked off its 2013 season on Saturday afternoon with eight of the nine teams competing. The one team not in action on Saturday was the newest team the NC Dinos. They will open their season on Tuesday April 2 against the Lotte Giants.

Six foreign pitchers started on Saturday with two of the four games featuring opposing foreigners starting for their respective teams. Here is a rundown of the games from Opening Day in the KBO.

Hanwha Eagles 5, Lotte Giants 6

The Hanwha Eagles are starting their season without their former ace Ryu Hyun-jin who is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but what they were needing on Saturday was a closer.

Denny Bautista got the start for Hanwha with the absence of Ryu to the USA. Bautista, who pitched in 44 games with Hanwhat last season going 4-6 with 8 saves, tossed five innings on Saturday giving up three runs in the process giving up four hits along the way. He left the game with the chance to win, but that was quickly taken away as the bullpen gave up the lead.

Hanwha jumped out to a four run lead after scoring two runs in both the third and fourth innings. Lotte battled back to tie the game with a three run sixth inning. The Eagles offense pounded out 11 hits in the game and took a one run lead in the seventh inning and held onto it heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Lotte faced an uphill climb in the bottom of the ninth before their home crowd. Trailing by a run and facing closer Ahn Seung-min who had 16 saves in 2012. However, Ahn loaded the bases and gave up the tying run when Chang Song-ho looped a ball over the infield into left for a single. Then, still with only one out, Park Jong-yoon drove a ball into deep center field to bring home the winning run for Lotte.

LG Twins 7, SK Wyverns 4

Former Atlanta Brave Jo-Jo Reyes got his first KBO start for the SK Wyverns on Saturday. He faced off with the Twins Radhames Liz who went 5-12 last season with LG.

Reyes was going strong early on not giving up a hit till late in the game. When he was pulled his line read 7.1 innings pitched, three hits, four runs (three earned), and nine strike outs.

LG had trailed most of the game unable to solve Reyes, but they finally got the bats going in the eighth inning when they scored five runs.

SK broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh on a Cho Sung-woo two-run home run. But the lead was short-lived.

In the top of the eighth, the Twins stormed back with five runs. The big blow came from Jeong Seong-hoon who hit a grand slam to cap off a five-run inning. Lee Jae-young walked in the first run to make it 4-3. The next hitter, Jeong, took a high and inside fastball from Lee and sent it out over the left field wall for the home run.

Lee Jae-young would take the loss for SK. Yoo Wan-Sang got the win in relief for LG with Bong Jung-keun picking up his first save of the year.

Doosan Bears 9, Samsung Lions 4

The two-time defending champion Samsung Lions got off to a slow start on Saturday losing their home opener to the Bears 9-4.

Former Texas Rangers pitcher Dustin Nippert got the start for Doosan coming back for another year after finishing the 2012 season with an 11-10 record and an ERA of 3.20. He would toss six innings giving up four runs (three earned) to pick up the win for Doosan.

Bae Young-soo got the start for Samsung. In 2012, he went 12-8 with an ERA of 3.21. However, he got off to a poor start on Saturday in Daegu giving up eight earned runs in just 3.2 innings taking the loss.

The Bears jumped out to a 4-0 lead after a half inning. They would score four more runs in the fourth giving them an 8-3 lead. Bae gave up a pair of home runs before being pulled. The first came in the bottom of the first inning when Oh Jae-won hit an opposite field grand slam to get the scoring started. The second came in the top of the fourth. Again the Bears loaded the bases against Bae. This time is was Kim Hyun-soo that would come through with the big blow. Again Bae gave up a grand slam making the score 8-3.

Trailing 4-0 after a half inning, the Lions stormed back in the bottom of the inning scoring three runs off of Nippert. Choi Hyung-woo singled in a run and was driven in on Park Seok-min’s two-run home run down the left field line.

Samsung would pick up another run in the fifth inning, but never posed a threat to the Bears big lead.

Nexen Heroes 9, Kia Tigers 10

Again two foreign imports got the start against one another. Brandon Knight, who had a great year in 2012 going 16-4 with a 2.20 ERA,  started for Nexen. He would go up against the Tigers Henry Sosa who finished 2012 9-8 with a 3.54 ERA.

Neither fared as well as they did in 2012. Knight pitched five innings giving up four runs on seven hits. Sosa didn’t do much better also pitching five innings giving up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. It was a day for offense in Gwangju.

Nexen jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, but the see-saw battle had the teams exchanging leads. The Heroes loaded the bases in the second inning on two hits and a walk. Then Seo Geon-chang came through with a single just out of the reach of the Tigers second baseman giving Nexen a 1-0 lead. Nexen got two  more runs when the Tigers shortstop threw the ball away on a double play attempt allowing two runs to score on the play.

Kia came right back in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally. Lee Bum-ho got the rally started with a single. He would come around to score on a double off the center field wall by Na Ji-wan. Choi Hee-seop followed him up with a double of his own to left off the base of the wall to score Na.

Kia got another run in the fourth and fifth to tie the game at four. After another two runs in the sixth on a Na Ji-wan two-run home run, Kia led 6-4. That’s when it really got interesting.

Nexen took a 9-6 lead after a five-run seventh inning. The scoring was capped by a long two-run home run from Lee Sung-yeol. But it didn’t take long for the Heroes bullpen to give up the lead.

It all started in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Cah Il-mok was hit by a pitch. A single and a walk loaded the bases for Kim Jo0-chan who came through with a two-run single. After a walk to Lee Bum-ho, Na Ji-wan once again came up big with a two-run single to left to give Kia the lead 10-9.

Anthony Lerew came in to earn the save for Kia, but it wasn’t without a little drama. Lerew game up two straight singles, but a nice defensive play by the Tigers defense threw out one runner trying to advance on a throw. However, with one out Nexen had a runner at third base. Lerew then struck out the next batter and induced a foul pop out to third to end the game.

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Korea: Chris Oxspring Signs with Lotte Giants


Jeeho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency has reported that Chris Oxspring will replace the injured Scott Richmond for the 2013 season with the Lotte Giants. The Australian native is returning to Korea after pitching for the LG Twins from 2007-2008.

Oxspring will join fellow foreign import Shane Youman in the Giants rotation.

 

Oxspring was signed by the San Diego Padres in 2000 as a free agent and made it to the Major Leagues with the Padres in 2005. Chris pitched in five games that season pitching 12.0 innings of relief work. Before and after that he has bounced around the minor leagues for several organizations.

He also pitched a year in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers in addition to his previous time in Korea. Being an Australian native, he has also pitched in the Australian Baseball League since its reemergence in 2010.

In the 2012-2013 season, Oxspring went 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA over 12 starts for the Sydney Blue Sox of the ABL. He also pitched for Team Australia in the recent World Baseball Classic. He tossed 7.2 innings for Team Australia, including one start, losing a game and compiling a 3.52 ERA.

 

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WBC: Korea Wins but Eliminated


Korea Eliminated Despite Win Over Chinese Taipei

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

With excitement befitting of the stakes at hand, Korea and Chinese Taipei battled for the right to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.Fourth-ranked Korea used a dramatic eighth inning to earn a 3-2 victory, but it was the host, Chinese Taipei, who advanced via tiebreaker rules. It is fifth-rated Chinese Taipei’s first-ever second round appearance, while Korea, which has the most wins in WBC history, had never failed to advance.

Chinese Taipei, Korea, and the Netherlands all finished 2-1 in the pool, so a tiebreaker was necessary to determine the two teams that would move on to Tokyo. Using a complicated formula involving run differential, it was determined that Chinese Taipei was more deserving to join Cuba, Japan, and the Dutch in the second round.

Both teams threatened throughout the game, which featured only a single 1-2-3 inning per side. Each manager used his game liberally as the tension mounted throughout the game.

Chinese Taipei was the first to take advantage of their runners on base. Dai-Kang Yang led off the third with an infield single, though Korean starter Won-Jun Chang got the next two batters, including a bunting Che-Hsuan Lin, who plays for the Houston Astros. But with two outs, Chih-Sheng Lin, Chinese Taipei’s cleanup hitter, stroked a single to centre to plate Yang. Szu-Chih Chou followed with a single, but Chang struck out Yung-Chi Chen, hero of the 2006 WBC.

The hosts added another run an inning later. Yen-Wen Kuo ripped a two-out double into the right field corner. After Kyung-Eun Noh relieved, Yang stroked a single over the mound to plate Kuo and give Chinese Taipei a 2-0 advantage.

After loading the sacks and failing to score in the fourth, Korea came very close to finally putting a run on the scoreboard in the fifth. Keun-Woo Jeong reached on a fielding error with one out and, two batters later, cleanup hitter Dae-ho Lee, who hit .455 for the tournament, stepped up to the plate.

Lee launched a ball into the alley in right centre and Jeong raced around the bases, but Lin sent a good throw in from centre that was cut off by Kuo, who fired the ball to catcher Chih-kang Kao as Jeong reached the plate. Kao planted himself firmly over the plate as he caught the ball, and Jeong barrelled into him.

Chinese Taipei’s catcher held steady and Jeong was out, failing to even touch the plate. It was the second time Jeong was cut down on the basepaths, as in the first inning he tried to advance to third after stealing second with a wild throw and was out 8-5.

Korea’s second reliever, Hee-Soo Park, continued where he had left off in the fifth and retired Chinese Taipei 1-2-3 to give Korea a quick chance to threaten again. Ching-Lung Lo entered for Chinese Taipei, though, and got two strikeouts to continue the shutout for Chinese Taipei.

Neither team got a safety in the seventh and Chinese Taipei got nothing out of a hit in the eighth. In the bottom of the frame, Chinese Taipei’s manager, Chang-Heng Hsieh, sent in setup man Hong-ChihKuo to get the ball to his closer.

After failing to create much momentum on offence throughout the game despite 10 baserunners, Korea finally got firing on all cylinders. Kuo, a seven-year MLB veteran, gave up a ground rule double to Seung-Yeop Lee to lead off the frame. It was his third double in as many games. Lee moved to third on a passed ball and, with no outs, the Blue Bogy finally had a rally going.

Dae-Ho Lee drove his man home with a safety to left, but Kuo buckled down and got the next two outs. It appeared that the southpaw would get out of the inning with the 2-1 lead intact, but Jung-Ho Kang took Kuo deep to left field, with the four-bagger landing well over the wall.

Kuo struck out the final batter to ensure that Korea would not advance in spite of the win. Chinese Taipei’s arch-rivals had to win by at least five runs to advance, so the home run gave Korea nothing but a bit of pride after Seung-Hwan Oh got the last three outs for the save.

Chinese Taipei out-hit the blue-and-white 9-8, but left nine runners on base. They were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Yang was the only hitter from Chinese Taipei with two hits and only Chou also reached base twice.

Korea also stranded nine baserunners, though they had only three reach scoring position. Kang and Dae-Ho Lee both recorded a brace of hits. Jeong walked twice and had Korea’s only stolen base.

Four hurlers toed the rubber for the loser. Yao-Hsun Yang started and threw 2 2/3 frames, working around three baserunners. He struck out one. Ching-Ming Wang hurled 2 1/3 innings, going unscathed despite three hits and a walk with no strikeouts. Lo had the strongest outing, striking out two in two frames. Kuo was the final pitcher.

Korea’s manager Joong-Il Ryu went to the ‘pen more liberally, sending six pitchers to the mound. Chang tossed 3 2/3, allowing six of Chinese Taipei’s nine hits and both of their runs. He struck out a pair. Won-Sam Jang earned the victory in relief, throwing a scoreless eighth. Oh whiffed two in a perfect ninth.

Korea qualifies for the 2017 Classic, but will drop from the No. 4 position in the world rankings. Korea is now 14-5 in WBC history. By virtue of their defeat of the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei is the Pool B winner and will face No. 3 Japan, who finished second in Pool A. After going 1-4 in the two previous Classics, Chinese Taipei is 5-1 in all rounds of the 2013 edition.

The two sides will face off in the Tokyo Dome on Mar. 8 at 10 a.m. GMT. Chinese Taipei will be the home team. Stay tuned for news, reviews, and analysis of this year’s WBC.

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WBC: Korea Shuts Out Australia to Keep Hopes Alive for Second Round


Song Delivers as Korea Shuts Out Australia

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

Korea scored three runs in the first inning against Australia and Seung Song made the advantage stand up in a 6-0 victory over punchless Australia. The Blue Bogy was much more effective on defence and received the timely hits they were missing against the Netherlands two days prior.

Song utilised a filthy splitter to keep the Baseballroos swinging on pitches out of the zone, striking out five and scattering four baserunners in four innings. He retired six in-a-row late in his outing.

The Korean lineup gave him a 3-0 advantage before he ever took the mound as the first seven batters of the inning reached base. Seung-Yeop Lee ripped a double in the inning and Hyun-Soo Kim had a two-run single against Ryan Searle, who walked two and hit one in the frame.

Korea was back at it again in the second. Yong-Kyu Lee started things off with a single to left and came around on another two-bagger by Lee. Searle got out of the inning, but the four-run advantage was too much for an Australian offence that failed to put a rally in motion throughout the game.

Searle struggled through three innings before giving way to Steven Kent, who pitched two strong innings. The left-hander gave up only one hit to Dae-Ho Lee, erasing the slugger on a double play. He struck out one.

Australia had its best chance in the fifth inning. Tim Kennelly worked a seven-pitch at bat for a double, but Allan de San Miguel struck out after working a 3-0 count. James Beresford then blooped a hit to left centre, but Kennelly could not advance and reliever Hee-Soo Park got Mitch Dening to fly out to right and then struck out No. 3 hitter Luke Hughes.

Clayton Tanner put the blue-and-white away in the sixth, but Kyung-Eun Noh struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the bottom of the frame to prevent Australia from lessening the deficit.

Korea added another run in the seventh. Yong-Kyu Lee had his second hit to start things off, with Keun-Woo Jeong replacing him on a fielder’s choice. Dae-Ho Lee singled the run home and the Blue Bogy grabbed a 5-0 lead.

Australia’s struggles continued against Korea’s reliever in the seventh, despite a Kennelly leadoff hit. Noh and Tae-Hyon Chong teamed up to retire the final three batters.

Korea loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth, and Jeong crushed a pitch to left field, but the wind blew it down and Australia escaped with no further damage.

The Aussies had their only other real opportunity in the bottom of the inning after Stefan Welch blooped a ball that landed in shallow left centre. Yong-Kyu Lee made a last-second attempt after Hi-Hyon Son pulled away at the last minute. Welch advanced to third on a ground ball, but Seung Lak-Son would retire Mike Walker, who had two hits on the day, to end the threat. It was the only time Australia had a runner reach third.

Korea struck a final time in the ninth off Ryan Rowland-Smith, who spent several years in the Seattle Mariners’ rotation. Seung-Yeop Lee led off with a safety and advanced to second on a single by Dae-Ho Lee, later scoring on a grounder by Jeong Choi. James Beresford made a nice play for the out, backing up a diving Welch at third and catching the ball after it tipped of Welch’s glove and nailing Choi by a step.

Son finished off the shutout by striking out two batters in the ninth. Park got four outs, two by strikeout and Noh struck out two-of-five batters in relief. Chong and Son finished off the game. Korean hurlers whiffed 12 batters and were backed up flawlessly by a defence which had committed four errors against the Netherlands.

Korea was 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position after going hitless against the Netherlands in the same situation. Australia was 1-for-11 in their attempts to drive men home from second or third.

Seung-Yeop Lee and Dae-Ho Lee both had three hits and a RBI. Yong-Kyu Lee reached base four times, twice on hits. Ah-Seop Son reached base in all four plate appearances.

Seven hurlers toed the rubber for Australia. Searle gave up four runs on four hits and two walks, striking out two. Kent was easily the most effective reliever, though Tanner (1 IP), Brad Thomas (1/3 IP), and Matthew Williams (2/3 IP) did not allow a run. Kennelly reached base in all three plate appearances and joined Walker with a brace of hits.

Barring a surprising turn of events, Australia will be eliminated from the Classic and will have to win their final match to avoid relegation to the qualifiers. The Aussies will take on the Netherlands in their final contest on only 18 hours rest. First pitch is at 4:30 a.m. GMT on Mar. 5. Korea will face Chinese Taipei, who is undefeated in Pool B action. The showdown between the Asian arch-rivals is set for 11:30 a.m. on Mar. 5.

Stay tuned for more news, reviews, and analysis.

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WBC: Australia vs Korea Pitching Match Up


With both Korea and Australia losing their opening games, this match proves to be very important for both teams if they want to keep their chances alive of advancing to the next round. So with a short time to go before first pitch, let’s take a look at the starters.

Korea

Seung-Jun Song will get the nod for Korea. He pitched for eight years in the US minor leagues after being signed initially by the Boston Red Sox. He advanced as far as Triple-A in both the Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants organizations before returning to pitch in Korea.

In 2012, he pitched for the Lotte Giants posting a 7-11 record with an ERA of 3.31 in 28 games. It was his first year in the KBO to not win 10 or more games after doing so from 2008-2011.

His international experience consists of being apart of the 2008 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Beijing.

Australia

Going tonight for Australia will be Ryan Searle. Signed by the Chicago Cubs, Searle has pitched in their minor league organization since 2008.

Searle spent most of the 2012 season with Single-A Daytona, but did make appearances in Double-A and Triple-A during 2012. He pitched in a 42 games across the different leagues in 2012 going a combined 8-5 with a 3.87 ERA.

His international experience includes a win over Canada at the 2011 World Cup where he pitched 7.1 shutout innings.

Tonight is a must win for both clubs, so don’t be surprised if a lot of pitchers are used.

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WBC: The Netherlands Defeat Korea 5-0 in Pool B


The Netherlands flashed some leather and picked up timely hits to defeat what looked like an out of sync Korea team on Saturday night in Taichung in front of a sparse crowd. The Dutch are no strangers to knocking off powerhouse teams after defeating the Dominican Republic twice in 2009 to advance to the second round, and they did the same tonight with a 5-0 win over Korea.

The game started a bit shaky for the Korea defense issuing two errors in the bottom of the first. But Keun-woo Jeong made up for his error with a nice defensive play to turn two and get out of the inning without giving up a run.

The Netherlands would get on the board an inning later. Andruw Jones lead off the inning with a double to left, moved to third on a sacrifice, and scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Curt Smith.

That is where the game would stay for awhile as Dutch starter Diegomar Markwell pitched well. He tossed four scoreless innings allowing just two hits, one walk, and struck out two along the way. Markwell got ground balls and stayed out of trouble. His defense backed him up well too making play after play.

The Netherlands picked up another pair of runs in the fifth inning. After loading the bases, the Washington Nationals Roger Bernadina grounded out driving in a run. The Korea defense, which was shaky all night, was only able to get one out on the play although it would have been really tough to double up Bernadina.

Wladimir Balentien followed up Bernadina’s ground out with a single driving in another run to make the score 3-0.

Korea threatened in the seventh when Dae-ho Lee started the inning with a walk. Hyun-soo Kim singled to right putting runners at first and second with no outs. After a force play at second, Min-ho Kang came to bat with one out and runners at the corners. Coming off a nice season with the Lotte Giants, Kang needed a big hit to put Korea back into the game. However, he went down swinging.

Seung-yeop Lee pinch hit next and was put out on a nice running catch by second baseman Jonathan Schoop to end the inning and the threat by Korea.

That seemed to be the way the game went for Korea. Anytime they threatened, a nice defensive play was made, or they hit into an easy out. Neither their offense or defense really seemed to be running on more than on cylinder.

Immediately after the threat by Korea, the Dutch team came right back with more runs of its own. Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to left field. He immediately moved to third on a passed ball. After Schoop was hit by a pitch, Bernadina came through with his second RBI of the game on a double to right field.

Balentien walked to load the bases, and then the carnival was back in town. Andruw Jones hit a comebacker to the pitcher which looked like an easy double play. After the force out at home, catcher Kang Min-ho threw the ball into right field allowing Bernadina to score making it 5-0.

Two things were obvious in the game. First of all, Korea didn’t look like they were ready to play. Their offense has struggled in the warm up games and it continued to struggle on Saturday night. They are still in the hunt, but they need to get their offense going or there will be a lot of unhappy people on the peninsula.

Secondly, somebody needs to teach Andruw Jones how to slide before he hurts himself. Twice at home plate he had awkward slides. Once was when it looked like he might try to run over the catcher but didn’t, and on the other there was no play at the plate. Then later on after choosing not to run over the catcher, he runs over the second baseman as he is going from first to second on a ground ball. He is called out and it costs the Dutch a run.

The Netherlands got a combined shutout performance out of starter Markwell and relievers Orlando Yntema, Leon Boyd, and Mark Pawelek. Combined the group gave up only four hits and four walks.

Korea will try to regroup and find their bats when they face off with Australia on Monday. The Netherlands will turn around and play the other winner in Pool B, Chinese Taipei Sunday afternoon.

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WBC: Korea vs Netherlands Pitching Match Up


Game 2 of Pool B is nearly upon us with two teams that have a good chance of advancing making this an important game between Korea and Netherlands. So before they get going, let’s take a quick look at the starting pitchers.

Korea

Yoon Suk-Min will take the hill for Korea in their opening match with the Netherlands. The right-handed pitcher has been pitching for the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) where he went 9-8 in 2012. In 28 starts, Yoon tossed a pair of shutouts posting an ERA of 3.12.

He had an outstanding 2011 season when he led the league in wins (17), ERA (2.45), and strikeouts (178). He was the first pitcher to lead in four different categories (he also led in winning percentage) since 1991.

He has international experience pitching in the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 WBC. In 2009, he went 2-0 over four games posting a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings. He looks to anchor down the Korea staff once again with the hopes of leading them back to the championship game.

Netherlands

The Dutch starter will be lefty Diegomar Markwell, who is the cousin of teammate Andruw Jones. Markwell was signed at the age of 16 by the Toronto Blue Jays and bounced around the minor leagues for seven seasons reaching as high as Double-A.

Outside of a short stint in the CPBL, since 2004 Markwell has been playing in the Dutch Major League and with the Neptunus Rotterdam since 2005. He was the Dutch Pitcher of the Year in 2006, and had a great season in 2012 posting a 11-1 record with an ERA of 1.34 in 12 games for the Neptunus.

He has been apart of the Dutch National Team since 2004 and has pitched in the past two WBCs and the 2008 Olympics.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 81-90


Last time we took a look at #91-100 on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List which featured three international players. Today we take the next step down the list with #81-90.

Hak-Ju Lee, ss, TB – #90

Born in South Korea, Lee was signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 2008. He was later traded to Tampa Bay in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs.

Lee spent the 2012 season in Double-A Montgomery where he put up solid numbers, but the slipped a bit as he moved up against tougher competition. This is his third time on the Top 100 List starting at #92 in 2011. He then jumped up a lot after a nice 2011 season to #44 before falling back to #90 this year.

Lee has a lot of speed stealing 37 bases in 2012 in Double-A and hitting 10 triples. His on-base-percentage fell quite a bit this past season as his strikeout numbers jumped to over 100, but look for him to settle in with more at-bats against the higher competition. He is a plus defender at shortstop and has consistently been ranked among the top Rays prospects for the past couple seasons.

James Paxton, lhp, SEA – #87

Paxton hails from Canada but played his college ball at the University of Kentucky. He is a hard throwing lefty who has averaged more than a strikeout per inning over his brief career. Drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009, Paxton didn’t sign and elected to return to school. However, the NCAA deemed him ineligible due to his contract with agent Scott Boras. Instead, he signed with the independent Grand Prairie Airhogs before being drafted again in 2010. This time he was drafted in the 4th round by Seattle and signed.

In his first season of affiliated ball, Paxton struck out 131 batters in 95 innings. He spent all of the 2012 season at Double-A Jackson where he posted a line of 9-4/3.05 in 21 starts. He throws hard and has a good breaking ball, but like many young pitchers can struggle with his control at times. In 2012, he walked 54 batters in 106 innings. Look for him to get a little more seasoning in the minor leagues this upcoming season.

Yordano Ventura, rhp, KC – #85

This is the first appearance on the Top 100 for Ventura who hails from the Dominican Republic. While Ventura may be small in stature, 5’11” and 150 lbs, he has shown a live arm and the ability to get hitters out.

Ventura spent 2012 split mostly between Single-A and Double-A, but he posted good numbers at both. In 109.1 combined innings he struck out 130 batters. After his move up to the higher level he struggled a bit, but he is still only 21. For the past two seasons he has ranked #1 in the Kansas City Royals organization for the best fastball.

He will need more seasoning in the minors, but he could have a big future ahead of him, especially if he harnesses that fastball and learns to throw more strikes.

Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, CHC – #83

Vizcaino is no stranger to the Top 100 List as this is his fourth appearance on it. Out of the Dominican Republic, he was once a top prospect with the Yankees and then Atlanta.

He is still  young at only 22, but he has has injury problems. He had Tommy John surgery in March of 2012 and missed the entire season. He has a great fastball, once clocked at 101 mph, and has had a top rated curve ball in every minor league system he has been apart of.

In 2011, Vizcaino got a taste of the big leagues pitching in 17 games for the Atlanta Braves. While he struggled with his control at times (he walked 9 in 17 innings), he also showed how he can be overpowering striking out a batter per inning.

He will look to come back from injury this season and reclaim the form that made him one of the top prospects. He has a strong arm, is still very young, and with some time already in the big leagues he will look to eventually help the Cubs at the big league level sometime in the near future.

Martin Perez, lhp, TEX – #81

Perez comes out of Venezuela and is a highly thought of pitching prospect for the Texas Rangers. At the age of 21, Perez got a taste of the big leagues making six starts in Texas and getting into six other games in relief.

Perez has been talked about for several years now within the Rangers organization. He is a left-handed pitcher with good off speed stuff having ranked at the top of the Rangers minor league system as having the best curve ball and change up and one point or another. His biggest problem it seems so far has been control. He has continually walked more than three batters per nine innings pretty much everywhere he has gone. He is not going to blow hitters away and rack up strikeouts, so he has to learn better control.

Perez has a shot at the Rangers rotation this year if he can come away with a big spring. The team is hurting for starters as a few of their regulars are on the DL with injuries to start the season. He could just make it in as the number five starter if he pitches well enough.If not, look for him to start the year in Triple-A Round Rock.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #71-80.

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New Podcast on Korean Baseball


There is a new kid on the podcast block. Dan from over at MyKBO.net has ventured into the world of podcasts with his first two over the weekend.

If you are not familiar with Dan or the site, you should definitely check it out. The site is THE site for updates and information on the Korean Baseball Organization in English. There is no other site that rivals it.

And there isn’t a better time to learn about the KBO, its players, and the goings on around the league with the World Baseball Classic coming up in under a week. Team Korea finished 2nd in the 2009 Classic, and they will once again be one of the favorites to make a run at the championship.

So head on over to the site, click on News and see what Dan has been doing with his podcasts. So far there are two. They are short, but they are full of good information. And if you like them, like I do, drop him a note and let him know so he will continue making them.

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