Breaking down a few of Team Japan's players 

March, 12, 2009
The Japanese club in the World Baseball Classic is full of award winners, including the runners-up in both Japanese leagues' MVP voting this past year, both 2008 Rookies of the Year, and the past two winners of the Sawamura Award, given to the top pitcher in Japan.

Team Japan's starting pitcher Wednesday in an exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants was 2007 Nippon Professional Baseball Rookie of the Year Masahiro Tanaka, who pitches for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka, who turned 20 in November, showed a three-pitch mix, with a fastball from 91-94 mph, a change (or split-change) in the low 80s, and a slider that he really struggled to command.

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer