16%. Of the 25 players included in the final entry for the 2017 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), only four players were listed in the final entry for the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).
The APBC final entry announced in October 2017 was a bit special. APBC, in which only three Asian countries (Korea, Taiwan, and Japan) participated, was a national competition focused on ‘nurturing’. The purpose was different from the Olympics or Asian Games, where the best members aim to win.
Players who can participate in the tournament are also limited to those under the age of 24 or under the third year of professional service. At that time, the Korean national team did not use the wild card system (three cards) that could be selected without restrictions on age and years of service. Recognizing the need for a generational change, a final entry of 25 (12 pitchers, 2 catchers, 11 fielders) was made with only prospects representing each team.
Seon Dong-yeol, head coach of the national team at the time, who lost to Japan in the final, said, “(Among the participating countries), only we did not use a wild card. It was to allow at least one more young player to play at this stadium (Tokyo Dome). The result was that we lost to Japan, but we I think it was a good experience for the players,” he once again emphasized the purpose of the tournament. Coach Sun put seven pitchers on the mound in the 0-7 final match. Including fielders, close to 20 players stepped on the Tokyo Dome ground, the heart of Japanese baseball, with 30,498 players.
In the WBC final entry (30 players) announced on the 4th, the only players with APBC experience in 2017 are pitcher Park Se-woong (Lotte Giants), Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos), infielder Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres), and outfielder Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes). Most of them are not even listed on the 50-man interest list, which is a preliminary entry concept, and there is almost no effect of participating in APBC.
The generational change of the national team is also at a standstill. Kim Gwang-hyeon (SSG Landers), Yang Hyeon-jong (KIA Tigers), Kim Hyeon-soo (LG Twins), Yang Eui-ji (Doosan Bears), etc.
The outlook is also bleak. Among the APBC players, outfielder Na Gyeong-min (then Lotte) chose to retire early. Pitcher Kim Yun-dong (then KIA), who suffered a severe shoulder injury in 2019, was announced as a free agent in February last year and virtually took off his uniform. Infielder Jeong Hyeon (KT Wiz at the time) also left the ground after his contract with NC was terminated in August of last year. Pitcher Kim Dae-hyeon (LG), who is serving in the military, is undergoing a military trial as the issue of school violence in high school surfaced. 안전놀이터
Infielder Ha Joo-seok (Hanwha Eagles) was caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.078% after the end of last season and was suspended for 70 games by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). It is unclear if he will be able to return for the 2023 season even if he digests the disciplinary action. In addition, left-handed pitcher Ham Deok-joo (LG), right-handed pitcher Lee Min-ho (NC), and catcher Han Seung-taek (KIA) are also slow to grow. As discipline, residual injuries, and poor performance intertwined, competitiveness plummeted.
On the other hand, the situation in Japan is different. NPB pitcher Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), and infielder Munetaka Murakami (Yakult Swallows) will join the WBC national team. Among the players who played APBC, infielder Genda Sosuke (Seibu Lions) and outfielder Kondo Kensuke (Nippon Ham Fighters) were selected. It is expected that there will be a shift in pitching and other generations centering on active big leaguers such as Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) and Yu Darvish (San Diego Padres).
After announcing the final WBC entry, Lee Kang-cheol, coach of the baseball team, said, “When I took this position (national team coach), my first thought was to focus on young players. did. Yang Eui-ji, born in 1987, is still the center of the national team, and his backup catcher Lee Ji-young was born in 1986. It is a painful current state of Korean baseball that a ‘young player’ cannot produce good results.