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Photo: © Samurai Japan

TOKYO — As the host of the inaugural WBSC-sanctioned Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) Presented by ENEOS, Samurai Japan’s roster will feature the nation’s top young prospects from the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league.

Leading the Japanese pitching staff will be 15-game winner Kazuki Yabuta of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and 13-game winner Kazuto Taguchi of the Yomiuri Giants.

Yasuaki Yamasaki of the Yokohama DeNA Baystars will be ready to come out of the bullpen to put out any fires and close the game. He earned 26 saves this season and boasted a 1.64 ERA. Yamasaki also brings major international experience to the team, as he earned a bronze medal with Japan’s top squad at the WBSC Premier12 2015.

Unlike rival Korea, Japan will be carrying three “wild card” players on their 25-man roster: Chunichi Dragons pitcher Katsuki Matayoshi; Fukuoka Softbank Hawks catcher Takuya Kai; and Seibu Lions slugger Hotaka Yamakawa, who blasted 23 home runs this season.

Leading the Samurai attack will be catcher Kensuke Kondo, who batted over .400 in 57 games this season with the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2015 star Loius Okoye (Rakuten Golden Eagles) will help patrol the outfield.

Japan National Team and NPB legendary player Atsunori Inaba (Beijing 2008 Olympics and World Baseball Classic 2009 and 2013) will make his managerial debut at the Asia Professional Baseball Championship.

“International tournaments are the serious games that represent the pride of our nations,” said Inaba. “This [APBC] is an important tournament on our way back to the Olympics [in 2020]. The Samurai Japan uniform symbolizes the unity that we have established among the players, the team, and the fans of this generation and the next.”

WBSC will live-stream all APBC games at www.youtube.com/wbsc (subject to geo-blocking).

  • Thu, 16 Nov: KOR v JPN at 7:00p TBS
  • Fri, 17 Nov: TPE v KOR at 7:00p TBS Channel 2
  • Sat, 18 Nov: JPN v TPE at 6:30p Fuji Television
  • Sun, 19 Nov: FINAL: 1° v 2° at 6:00p TV Asahi (If Japan advances to Final)