World Cup Rosters Projection: Pool One




This is Baseball America's take on what the starting lineups will look like for the 16 teams expected to be involved in the World Baseball Classic next spring, and how each of the teams can be expected to perform. Teams will be divided into four pools, with two teams advancing from round-robin play out of each pool. The eight remaining teams will play another set of round-robin competition, with four teams advancing to a winner-take-all semifinal and final. Rosters were determined by the staff of Baseball America with the help of our correspondents. The organizations of players who are in the American major or minor leagues are listed in parentheses.



JAPAN

C—Kenji Jojima
1B—Nobuhiko Matsunaka
2B—Tadahito Iguchi (White Sox)
3B—Michihiro Ogasawara
SS—Kazuo Matsui (Mets)
LF—Kosuke Fukudome
CF—Hideki Matsui (Yankees)
RF—Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners)
DH—Norihiro Nakamura
SP—Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP—Koji Uehara
SP—Hideo Nomo (Devil Rays)
SP—Tomo Ohka (Nationals)
RP—Shingo Takatsu
Manager: Sadaharu Oh

Skinny: Players like Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui have shown everyone the talent in Japan, and Japanese teams have generally played well in international competition, playing in all four Olympic baseball competitions and winning medal three times. They also won gold in 1984, when baseball was a demonstration sport. They'll be the favorite in this pool and a legitimate threat to make it to the final.

KOREA

C—Seung-heun Hong
1B—Seung-yeop Lee
2B—Kyung-hwan Ahn
3B—Dong-soo Kim
SS—Sae-wan Hong
LF—Joon-hyuk Yang
CF—Jeong-bum Lee
RF—Jong-soo Shim
DH—Hee-seop Choi (Dodgers)
SP—Jae-weong Seo (Mets)
SP—Chan-ho Park (Rangers)
SP—Myung-hwan Park
SP—Min-tae Chong
RP—Byung-yung Kim (Rockies)
Manager: Jae-park Kim

Skinny: Team Korea will be not be as well known to Westerners but could be a threat to Japan—their biggest rival--in this pool, though their talent is probably a notch below the Japanese. Korea has been made great strides internationally in the last 20 years, highlighted by a bronze-medal victory against Japan in the 2000 Olympics.

TAIWAN

C—Chun-chang Ye
1B—Chia-hsien Hsieh
2B—Chung-yi Huang
3B—Tai-shan Chang
SS—Ching-lung Hu (Dodgers)
LF—Chin-feng Chen (Dodgers)
CF—Chih-yuan Chen
RF—Kan-lin Huang
DH—Cheng-min Peng
SP—Chien-ming Wang (Yankees)
SP—Chi-Hung Cheng (Blue Jays)
SP—Chih-chia Chang
SP—Ming-chieh Hsu
RP— Chin-hui Tsao (Rockies)
Manager: Sheng-ming Hsu

Skinny: Taiwan would come to a standstill to watch its team, and interest would easily eclipse the fever pitch from when Taiwan played host to the 2001 World Cup. Still, most fans would recognize their squad will be overmatched because of the relatively small pool of talent to draw from. The goal would be to score a win or two against its big brother, China.

CHINA
C—Wang Wei
1B—Chen Qi
2B—Feng Fei
3B—Zhang Wei
SS—Zheng Yu Feng
LF—Lin Xiao Fan
CF—Sun Ling-feng
RF—Yang Guo Gang
DH—Liu Guang Biao
SP—Wang Chao
SP—Wang Nan
SP—Zhang Jian Wang
SP—Su Chang-long
RP—Li Wei Liang
Manager: Li Bin

Skinny:China is making a major push in baseball in advance of playing in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and Major League Baseball can't ignore the marketing potential of a nation of more than 1.3 billion people. So even though its team isn’t ready for a competition of this stature, China will send a team of the best players from the China Professional Baseball League and hope it spurs further growth in the game.