With the final roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) in September set to be announced on Monday, much of the attention is focused on who will play the catcher position.

This year’s squad will be different from previous international tournaments. The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) has imposed an age limit for this year’s tournament 메이저놀이터. The final roster will be composed of players who are 25 years old or younger, or in their fourth year of play. This includes three wild cards, which are not related to age or experience.

The national team bullpen is also undergoing a generational change, with Yang Yang-ji (36-Dusan Bears) and Kang Min-ho (38-Samsung Lions), as well as pitchers in their 30s such as Park Dong-won (33-LG Twins), Yoo Kang-nam (31-Lotte Giants) and Jang Jang-woo (33-KT Wiz) ineligible for the tournament. All 19 catchers on the preliminary roster announced in late April are in their teens to 20s.

The problem is a lack of experience. At the international level, it’s important for catchers to have the experience to lead the pitching staff and create a stable defense, but none of the 19 players have any international experience or have been a starter in the league.

Only Han Seung-taek (29-KIA Tigers) and Jang Seung-hyun (29-Dusan) have senior national team experience. Even then, the 2017 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) was an age-restricted event (24 years old or younger), so it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a national team experience.

The inexperience of the catchers is further highlighted by their performance in the league. Not a single one of the 19 players on the roster has gotten a regulation at-bat this season, and most of them are backups.

Players who have been mainstays in previous years have all faltered this season. Last year’s standouts Kim Jae-sung (27-Samsung) and Kim Jun-tae (29-KT) were sidelined with injuries for extended periods of time, while Information Geun (24-Lotte) and Kim Hyung-jun (24-NC), who were considered to be the top candidates for the AG roster, have also played sparingly this season due to backups (Yoo Kang-nam) and injuries, respectively.

Even the players who have been playing in the league consistently have underperformed. Han Seung-taek, the most experienced of the bunch, is batting just 0.143 with a 0.427 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage), while rookie Kim Dong-heon (19-KIUM) is batting just 0.224.

The defense is also disappointing. In Pass/9 (bombs and foils allowed per nine innings), a measure of blocking ability, Kim is the best among the rookies at 0.556, but it’s nothing special. Kim’s stolen base rate (27.3%) has been shaky. Park Sang-un (26-Hanwha Eagles) has the best stolen base rate at 42.1%, but his Pass/9 is high at 0.842. It’s unfortunate that no one player stands out.

Generational change at the back is urgent. For the past decade, the national defense has been dominated by Kang Min-ho and Yang Ji, but they are now in their late 30s and on the verge of retirement from the national team. New faces need to be found quickly. The Hangzhou Asian Games will be the starting point. It will be interesting to see which player will be called up by the AG team and become the next Anbang master.

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