The outlines of Japan’s Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) national team appear to be slowly being revealed. First of all, the cleanup trio has been confirmed, and the pitchers who will appear in the finals following the match against Korea also appear to have been decided to some extent.
The APBC national team, led by coach Ryu Joong-il, will train and hold two practice games at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu from the 6th to the 13th, then depart for Tokyo, Japan on the 14th and begin the full-scale competition schedule on the 16th.
APBC, whose entries are mostly made up of players under the age of 24 and players within their third year of becoming a professional, is a competition whose main purpose is for young players to gain experience in international competitions. In the first APBC in 2017, three countries, including Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, participated and finished in second place. And starting this year, young prospects from four countries, including Australia, will have time to check each other’s skills.
Of course, it is important for young players to gain experience, but we cannot help but worry about their grades. While they missed out on winning the first competition, the biggest obstacle to winning is definitely Japan. In the case of the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG), Japan was mainly comprised of players belonging to professional baseball teams. However, in the case of APBC, the team’s strength is solid as all professional players participate.
First of all, Japan has ‘perfect game’ Rocky Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines), as well as ’56 home runs’ Munetaka Murakami, who participated in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Shosei Togo, Taisei, Hiroto Takahashi, and Hiroya Miyagi. Players who are classified do not appear. However, many of the most promising players from each team joined the team. In particular, Shugo Maki, who ranks 3rd in home runs in the Central League, is a player to be especially wary of.
As time goes by, the outlines of how the Japanese national team will conduct the competition are gradually becoming apparent. According to multiple local media such as Japan’s ‘Chunichi Sports’ and ‘Daily Sports’, it seems very likely that Chihiro Sumida will appear on the mound in the match against Korea. Every time the local media mentions Sumida, they use the phrase, “He is likely to appear in the Korean game.” Unless there are any special variables, Sumida’s appearance is likely.
Sumida is a prospect who entered the professional stage after being nominated by the Seibu Lions in the first round of the 2021 rookie draft. Sumida experienced the joy of winning in his first start on the mound last year, but he did not receive support from the batting lineup in subsequent appearances, and recorded 1 win and 10 losses in 16 games (14 starts) this season. However, his earned run average was very respectable 안전놀이터 at 3.75.
His performance this season was even more dazzling. Sumida pitched in 22 games (2 complete pitches) and recorded 9 wins, 10 losses, and an ERA of 3.44, settling into the starting rotation and experiencing the joy of being a member of the APBC national team. He is a left-handed pitcher who throws a wide variety of balls, including curves, sliders, cutters, splitters, changeups, and two-seamers, with fast balls reaching up to 150 km/h.
Sumida pitched live to four national team batters on the 8th, and at that time, he struck out two without allowing any hits and recorded no runs. And on the 10th, he took the mound as the second pitcher in a practice game against the Yomiuri Giants and pitched 30 pitches in two innings, allowing one hit, one walk, three strikeouts, and no runs. Sumida took the mound in the 4th inning when he was down 0-1, hit a double, and was shaken by giving up a walk, but he showed off his powerful pitching by striking out all 3 outs, and tied up the Yomiuri batters with 3 fly balls in the 5th inning. paid it
APBC is a short tournament with a maximum of four games, so it is not easy for a starting pitcher to be on the mound twice. Therefore, Japan even decided in advance on the pitcher who would appear in the finals. It is unclear who the opponent will be and whether Japan will be able to advance to the finals, but if the finals are played, Tatsuya Imai, first rounder of the 2016 rookie draft, will appear. Imai, who has played in the first team for six seasons this year, has a record of 38 wins, 32 losses, and an average ERA of 3.69 in 110 games. This year, he recorded 10 wins, 5 losses, and an average ERA of 2.30 in 19 games.
In the case of Imai, his pitch control is not great, but his fastball is very powerful. Imai uses a fast ball with a maximum speed of 159km as his main weapon, and throws a mix of sliders, changeups, curves, and cutters. Until the third year of his first-team debut, his average ERA was above 4 points, but his recent performance has improved noticeably, with an average ERA of 3.30 in the 2021 season, and he had a career-high season this year. He can be seen as the ‘ace’ of the current Japanese national team.
Coach Hirokazu Ibata also completed the idea of a cleanup trio. According to ‘Chunichi Sports’, Maki, who competed in the WBC, is scheduled to take on the number 4 position of the national team, and behind Maki will be the ‘Hanshin Tigers duo’ Teruaki Sato and Shota Morishita. The head coach said, “I only have the image of playing numbers 3 and 5 in Hanshin.”
While Japan’s outline is slowly being revealed, ‘Ryu Joong-il’, whose team composition has been disrupted due to the current Korean Series (KS) schedule, is also expected to have his entry clearly decided ahead of his departure on the 14th.