Ryu Joong-il will return to the heart of Japanese baseball, the Tokyo Dome,메이저사이트 fresh off his gold medal at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, to take on another Asian title.
The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) announced today that it has named Ryu Jung-il as the head coach of the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), which will be held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan this November. Ryu will lead the Taeguk Warriors following the Hangzhou Asian Games.
“I was very happy to win the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games, and I am honored to participate in the APBC with the under-24 players,” Ryu told X Sports News by phone. “This APBC will be a test for our baseball team to prepare for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in 2026 and the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028.”
Ryu led South Korean baseball to a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games after the team was considered one of the weakest in history. The KBO imposed its own handicap for the tournament, fielding a team of players under the age of 25 and in their fourth year of professional play. Up to three wildcard selections were available, but only two – Lotte’s Park Se-woong and KIA’s Choi Won-jun – made the final roster (24 players).
From Bangkok 1998, when Korean baseball started sending professional players to the Asian Games, to Busan 2002, Doha 2006, Guangzhou 2010, Incheon 2014, and Jakarta-Palembang 2018, Korean baseball has focused on generational change and gaining international experience for younger players, as opposed to always building a full strength squad. There was also a desire to minimize the noise surrounding the selection of players at Jakarta-Palembang.
Ryu was forced to choose his final roster from a limited pool of players. This was in contrast to Chinese Taipei’s gold medal-winning squad, which featured a number of promising young players from the Japanese professional baseball leagues and the American minor leagues.
South Korea suffered an embarrassing 0-4 loss to Chinese Taipei in the group stage, but bounced back with wins over Japan and China. They advanced to the gold medal match, where they defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the return match to win their fourth consecutive Asian Games gold medal.
Ryu Jung-il’s bold move to start Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha) in the gold medal game proved crucial. The decision to change the starting shortstop from Park Sung-ho (SSG) to Kim Joo-won (NC) after the start of the tournament was also a move of faith. Kim hit a game-winning outfield sacrifice fly in the second inning of the gold medal game.
Ryu’s mound management also shined, especially the bullpen of Choi Ji-min (KIA) and Park Young-hyun (KT), who are expected to be in charge of the Korean national team for the next 10 years.
“Looking back at the Hangzhou Asian Games, our pitching was very good,” said Ryu Jung-il. “The young pitchers, including Moon Dong-ju, pitched outstandingly. If they grow a little more, they can be competitive in major international competitions such as the WBC.”
Ryu is hoping that the bats will show improvement at the APBC. At the Hangzhou Asian Games, South Korea scored a lot of runs against underdogs Hong Kong (10-0), Thailand (17-0), and China (8-1), but the bats struggled against high-level pitchers in Taiwan and Japan.
They were shut out in their first group game against Chinese Taipei and lost 2-0 against Japan in the Super Round. Even in the gold medal game, the only runs came on a sacrifice fly by Kim Joo-won and a wild pitch. Pitching was a big part of Korea’s success at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
As with the inaugural edition in 2017, the final roster for the 2023 APBC will be comprised of players who are 24 years old or younger or in their third year of professional competition. Up to three wild cards can be selected regardless of age or experience.
Due to the rules of the competition, Korea will likely have a number of players who competed at the Hangzhou Asian Games in the 2023 APBC. Ryu Joong-il, ace Moon Dong-ju, Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha), Kang Baek-ho (KT), Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom), Kim Joo-won, Moon Bo-kyung (LG), Choi Ji-min, and Kim Joo-won are expected to make the final roster, barring injury.
“At the Asian Games, our pitchers were good, but our hitters didn’t have much experience playing internationally, so it was difficult for them to attack pitchers they didn’t know,” said Ryu Joong-il. “The younger players need to grow from this APBC. Personally, I think the future of Korean baseball is good,” he said.
“The same goes for the pitchers, but the batters need to continue to grow and improve,” he added, “and the coaching staff will work hard to prepare before the national team convenes early next month.”
The 2023 APBC will be headlined by the Korea-Japan match. Japan sent unemployed baseball players to the Hangzhou Asian Games, but is expected to field its best team in its age group at the APBC.
South Korea finished as runners-up at the inaugural APBC in 2017, losing to Japan in both the group stage and the final. With a clear gap to the Japanese in both events, the key will be how competitive the younger players can be this time around.
“Unlike the Asian Games, Japan selects players who are playing professionally at the APBC, so I think they will be strong,” said Ryu, adding, “The APBC gave our players a chance to gain really valuable experience this year.”