OTTAWA- The World Baseball Softball Confederation announced today the 12 countries that will participate in the 2015 U18 Baseball World Cup that will take place from August 26th – September 6th in Nishinomiya, Japan.
Canada, along with two time defending gold medalists USA will be joined by Cuba, Mexico and Brazil representing the Americas, while Asia will be represented by host Japan, Chinese Taipei and South Korea. Italy and the Czech Republic will represent Europe, while Australia and South Africa will represent the regions of Oceania and Africa, respectively.
The event will take place at historic Koshien Stadium, a venue built in 1924 that serves as the home of the Koshien Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball along with the famous National High School Baseball Championship known as the equivalent “March-madness”, in terms of popularity, in Japan.
“The biennial U18 world championship showcase has featured some of the biggest names in the sport, such as Canada’s Brett Lawrie, Japan’s Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani, South Korea’s Shin-soo Choo, Cuba’s Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman, and USA’s Justin Upton and Buster Posey, among countless others,” as noted in a press release sent out by WBSC. “The most recent generation of rising stars include Cuba's Jorge Soler, USA's Francisco Lindor and Canada's Dalton Pompey, all of whom played at the 2010 U18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada (which will return as host for the 2017 WBSC U18 Baseball World Cup).”
Canada is coming off a disappointing seventh place finish when the last event was held in 2013 in Taichung, Taiwan - only one year removed from a silver medal victory at the 2012 event held in Seoul, South Korea.
Last September, Canada won bronze at the COPABE 18U Pan Am Championship in La Paz, Mexico to earn a spot in the 2015 World Championship. Players from that team eligible to play in this year’s world tournament include: JF Garon (Terrebonne, QC), Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON), Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, ON), Darren Shred (Brampton, ON) and Michael Soroka (Calgary, AB). Naylor and Orimoloye both played in the 2013 U18 World Championship in Taiwan, while Naylor made his Junior National Team debut as a 15 year-old with the silver medal-winning club in 2012.
The road to Japan begins for the Junior National Team program in March with the annual Spring Training/Alumni Week Camp in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The complete 2015 Junior National Team schedule can be found here.