What Korean coaches always envy when they see the Japanese national team is their pitching ability. It is said that there are always many pitchers who can throw a fast ball that has been caught. In fact, there are more pitchers who entered the major leagues and more successful pitchers in Japan than in Korea.
As for the fielder, Japan also has a lot of troubles, but the reason why Japan is selected as one of the candidates for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) championship is because of its powerful pitching power. Unlike the United States and the Dominican Republic, which failed to properly prepare starting pitchers, it is evaluated that Japan has four major league or major league level starting pitchers. Yu Darvish, Shohei Otani, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Rocky Sasaki, the best pitchers in Japan, will stand up.
It has always been that Japanese mounds are better than Korean mounds. It is an undeniable fact. So, the topic has always been ‘how much Korea can narrow the gap’. However, in recent trends, it is evaluated that the gap is rather widening. It is the logic that while Korea struggled to change the mound generation for a considerable amount of time after the Ryu Hyun-jin, Kim Gwang-hyeon, and Yang Hyeon-jong eras, Japan is steadily producing major league pitchers.
In fact, Japanese pitchers swept the first and second places in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) prospect rankings announced on the 1st (Korean time) by Baseball America, a media specializing in American baseball. Sasaki was first and Yamamoto was second. ‘Baseball America’ listened to their achievements and had skills that could be used in the major leagues, and in particular, Yamamoto, who had a faster time to challenge the major leagues than Sasaki, expected to attract the attention of many teams.
Munetaka Murakami, Japan’s proud giant gun resource, climbed to third place, while Japanese players monopolized the top spot, and three Korean players also made it to the ‘TOP 10’ to save face. Lee Jung-hoo was 4th, Kang Baek-ho was 7th, and Kim Hye-seong was 9th. But none of the pitchers were there. 스포츠토토
Perhaps, if An Woo-jin had participated in this competition, he would have been sure to enter the ‘TOP 10’, but An Woo-jin, who is still haunted by school violence issues, cannot participate in the competition. In other words, it means that among the rest of the players, except for Ahn Woo-jin, there are not many players who are highly evaluated by the US. It can also be a symbolic example of the gap between Japan and Korea’s mound still not narrowing.
However, young pitchers who can throw fast balls have been steadily supplied in the last 3 to 4 years in Korea, and expectations are high. This national team is also evaluated as an ideal combination of veterans and young players. If these players grow further through the WBC and show that the generational change in Korean mounds is progressing well, it can be said that they will achieve great results independently of the results of the tournament. Aside from the An Woo-jin controversy, the league’s generational shift cannot be completed with just one player.