Japanese Roster - Premier 12

One of the biggest international tournaments is happening in November. The 12 best countries will be competing for two qualifying spots in the Olympics to be played in Tokyo next year. Two countries have already qualified. Japan, which is hosting the Olympics and Israel, which won the European/Africa qualifier, upsetting Netherlands and Italy, which usually represent Europe in international competition are the only two countries with Olympic spots.

The 12 teams will be playing pool play in three countries, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan. The top two teams from each pool will then travel to Tokyo to play in a Super Round pool play in Tokyo. The top two countries from that tournament will qualify for the Olympics.

The Japanese roster is filled with NPB players. If these players were put together to compete against major league teams they would be a playoff contender. One of the best pitchers in baseball, Kodai Senga is on the roster. His fastball hits triple digits. They have a shortstop in Hayato Sakamoto, who hit 40 homeruns in the NPB last year. One of the reasons these players have not been posted to the major leagues is the teams they play for, the Softbank Hawks and Yomiuri Giants do not post players. They have to wait for free agency, which means they have to wait until after they have been playing for eight years.

Missing from the roster are major league players, and at least three NPB All Stars. Tsutsugo Yoshitomo a power hitting second baseman/outfielder who has expressed his interest in playing major league baseball is absent from the roster, as are his 29 homeruns and the 44 dingers he hit in 2016. Also not on the roster is 30/30 (homers/stolen bases) player Yuki Yanagita, who has been struggling with injuries these past two years. In 2019 he was limited to 38 games. On the pitching front Takahiro Norimoto is not on the roster. He was out most of this year because of injuries, limited to just 12 starts. From 2014 to 2017 Takahiro had 200 plus strikeouts.

Interesting that no player from the Hanshin Tigers or the Lotte Marines made the roster. The Yomiuri Giants and the Softbank Hawks had the most players on the team with five each.

Pitchers

Takayuki Kishi (Rakuten Eagles), Taisuke Yamaoka (Orix Buffaloes), Yuki Matsui (Rakuten Eagles), Shun Yamaguchi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Yasuaki Yamazaki (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Shota Imanga (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Yudai Ono (Chunichi Dragons), Kodai Senga (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Rei Takahashi (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), Kohei Morihara (Rakuten Eagles), Yuta Nakagawa (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Kazuto Taguchi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants)

Catchers

Seiji Kobayashi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Tsubasa Aizawa (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Takuya Kai (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)

Infielders

Tetsuto Yamada (Tokyo Yakult Swallows), Sosuke Genda (Seibu Lions), Eitoto Asamura (Rakuten Golden Eagles), Ryosuke Kikuchi (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Shuta Tonosaki (Seibu Lions), Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Nobuhiro Matsuda (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)

Outfielders

Kensuke Kondo (Nippon Ham Fighters), Ukyo Shuto (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Masataka Yoshida (Orix Buffaloes), Seiya Suzuki (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Shogo Akiyama (Seibu Lions)

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