XXX WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup to showcase plenty of talent

XXX WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup to showcase plenty of talent
07/09/2022
Professional prospects feature on almost every roster. The tournament opens in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, on Friday, 9 September. The pre-tournament press conference is scheduled for Thursday, 8 September.

The XXX WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup is set to open on Friday, 9 September at 11 am local time in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. Korea-Canada will open the tournament at LECOM Park in Bradenton, while the defending champions, Chinese Taipei, will play against Panama at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.

World No. 3 Korea and No. 12 Canada are competing in Group A and will face No. 25 Brazil, No. 26 South Africa, No. 8 Netherlands and No. 5 USA.

Nine time champions the United States will debut against the Netherlands after the opening ceremony at LECOM Park and look like the team to beat in Group A. During three warm-up games, the 2019 runner's up outscored Canada and Australia and beat Chinese Taipei, displaying a lot of offensive power. In particular, outfielder RJ Hamilton and first baseman Bryce Eldridge went 4-for-6 in the three games. Hamilton also stole six bases.

The Netherlands, who have four professionals on their roster (infielders Alexander Albertus, Gedionne Marlin and Jakey Josepha and outfielder Darnel Collins), will represent a good test.

Korea, who won bronze in 2019, has a couple of pitchers expected to score high in the 15 September Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) draft: left-hander Youngcheol Yool is a 13-game winner in the 2022 high school season, and right-hander Seohyeon Kim throws a 152-kilometre (or 94.5 miles) fastball.

Brazil has a very young roster while South Africa can count on three players who committed to college programmes in the US: infielders Kyle Schwarts and Rio Harrison and right-handed pitcher Robert White, who has also competed internationally in the sport of badminton.

World No. 2 Chinese Taipei and No. 13 Panama will face No. 1 Japan, No. 4 Mexico, No. 10 Australia and No. 17 Italy in Group B.

Japan has a roster filled with stars from their Koshien tournaments, such as right-handed pitcher Haruto Yamada, catcher Shion Matsuo and outfielder Shogo Asano.

Chinese Taipei has the talent to defend the U-18 World Title they earned in 2019. Right-handed Pao-Lo Huang is a first-round draft pick of the Fubong Guardians of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) while two-way phenom Sheng-En Lin has been dominant both with the bat and on the mound.

Panama has picked MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates prospect, Andres Silvera, as the opening game starter. Infielder Miguel Dominguez, outfielder Roger Lasso and outfielder Angel Rodriguez also play professional baseball in the US.

Australia tested the strength of the US and Chinese Taipei in pre-tournament friendlies. They can count on pro pitching prospects such as Callum Wallace (Dodgers) and Jackson Grounds (Pirates).

Mexico has a talented roster with shortstop Rosman Verdugo, left-handed pitcher Victor Garcia and utility infielder Ichiro Cano players to watch.

While Italy hasn't enjoyed a brilliant summer, finishing fourth in the European Championship, but will still display some talent with Pittsburgh Pirates minor league Alessandro Ercolani and 16-year-old lefty Giacomo Taschin.

Cuba, who didn't qualify for this edition, is the most successful team in U-18 Baseball World Cup history with 11 gold medals (18 medals from 27 appearances in total), while USA - the only team to compete in all previous 29 editions of the tournament - has won the most medals with 26, including nine gold. For more info, click here.

The 12 managers will participate in the pre-tournament press conference, scheduled for Thursday, 8 September, at 6 pm local time at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Sarasota.

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