Humphreys Blackhawks2018 Far East Tournament finish — Third in Division II.Coach — Dean Florio, second season.Key performer — Kierden Blessing, Sr., P-SS (All-Far East D-II selection).Outlook — Rebuilding. Only two players return and the other besides Blessing is an underclassman. Despite the increase in school size, only 20 players tried out.
Kadena Panthers2018 Far East Tournament finish — Fifth.Coach — Steven Ferch, first season (coached at Yokota for six seasons, won three Far East Division II titles).Key performers — Jared Duenas, Jr., P-SS; Logan Ferch, Sr., OF (transferred from Yokota with his coach-father); Logan Howell, Sr., P-2B (transferred from Seoul American; played for Kadena as a freshman); Matthew Steele, Fr., P-CF-1B; Cyan Buck, So., 1B (transferred from Kaiserslautern); J.J Jensen, Jr., OF.Outlook — Contending. A veteran team that also features some new blood, starting at the top with the new coach. The Panthers have been the hard-luck Far East D-I team; six times, they’ve reached the tournament finals, six times denied. And American School In Japan has been the chief beneficiary. But Ferch’s Yokota team beat ASIJ twice last year. Who knows what might happen?
Kubasaki Dragons2018 Far East Tournament finish — Runner-up.Coach — Randy Toor, 13th season.Key performers — Shannon Hyde, Jr., SS; Samuel Williamson, Jr., OF.Outlook — Reloading. Team has 10 returners, but only one senior and one junior in the lineup. Dragons won’t score many runs, “so we’ll need to try to keep the opponent from scoring as much as possible,” Toor said.
Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils2018 Far East Tournament finish — Fourth.Coach — Brandon Donat, second season (head coach in 2017, assisted the last several seasons).Key performers — Patrick Kelly, Jr., P-2B-3B-OF; Zach Kornegay, Sr., P-OF; Sebastian Hineman, So.; Arnel Maglay, Sr.; Siamack Porter, So.Outlook — Rebuilding. A mostly senior squad has graduated and one of the main stars from last year, Terrence Berg, transferred. With Kadena and ASIJ still loaded, “we have our work cut out for us,” Donat said.
Daegu Warriors2018 Far East Tournament finish — Fifth.Coach — Ryan Rodgers, first season.Key performers — Elijah Bembishew, Sr., P-1B; Ethan Rodriguez, Sr., LF; Muhammad Melendez, Sr., 3B; Ethan Gamez, So., P-C-2B; Jack Zimmer, So., C.Outlook — Rebuilding. Six players with less than a year’s experience and five freshmen dressing out.
E.J. King Cobras2018 Far East Tournament performance — Eighth.Coach — Joseph Schinker, second season.Key performers — Leo Schinker, So., P (All-Far East D-II selection); Matthew Gagnon, Jr., P-C; Mika-el Bengson, So., P; Ethan Ransberger, Jr.; Edrick Cummings, So. (transferred from Jacksonville, Fla.); Marcus Schrader, Jr.; Kobe Coleman, So.; Anthony Moore, Fr.Outlook — Still building after not fielding a team two seasons ago. Schinker says he’s hopeful that a baseball culture is taking hold at Sasebo, and that the Cobras can be competitive if they stay healthy and focused. Beating Kinnick for the first time in school history 3-1 last Friday at Iwakuni is not a bad start.
Matthew C. Perry Samurai2018 Far East Tournament performance — Fourth.Coach — Frank Macias, seventh season.Key performers — Gabriel Ratcliffe, Jr., 3B; Robert Rogers, So., P-C; Roy Clayton III, Fr., SS-P; Shawn Miranda, Jr., SS-P (transferred from Las Vegas).Outlook — Rebuilding. Very young team, with eight freshmen and four sophomores, though Macias says the team across the board starts with a higher baseball IQ than previous years. Rogers has the unenviable task of replacing the team’s four-year ace, Garrett Macias, though he said all off-season that he’s ready for the challenge. Clayton is a Japanese off-base club veteran of three seasons.
Osan Cougars2018 Far East Tournament finish — Sixth.Coach — Robert Penry, second season.Key performers — Louis Kim, Jr., P-SS (All-Far East D-II selection); Carson Nugent, Jr., P-C-3B; Aaron Gley, Jr., 1B; Andre Gutierrez, Fr., 2B-OF (played youth ball at Osan).Outlook — Rebuilding. Younger team than last year. Most likely in contention for the middle of the pack in D-II.
Robert D. Edgren Eagles2018 Far East Tournament finish — Seventh.Coach — Brett Lehner, 12th season.Key performers — Bradleigh McCollum, Sr., C-OF; Nathan Barth, Sr., 1B-OF; Doug Tackney, Fr., SS-P-C; Christian Singer, So., SS-P.Outlook — Rebuilding, with only two returners. As always, the northern climate hinders the Eagles; they have to dodge snowdrifts until late March or early April. Despite that, Lehner says he hopes the team can be competitive by season’s end.
Seoul American Falcons2018 Far East Tournament finish — Sixth in Division I.Coach — Eddie Rozzi, second season.Key performers — Zakai Bufkin, Sr., IF-OF; Cameron Johnson, So., IF-OF; Karsten Brown, So., OF; Justin Taft, Fr., P-IF-OF.Outlook — Rebuilding. A small core of returners who can provide some bats and some depth at pitcher and catcher. Most of the rotation and lineup either graduated or transferred to other schools.
Yokota Panthers2018 Far East Tournament finish — Defending champion, three titles in last four years.Coach — LeSean Thomas, first season (assisted last few seasons). Key performers — Glen Willingham, Jr., SS-CF (.465 BA, 1.175 OPS); Jeff Mullarkey, So., 2B-SS-OF (20 RBI, .889 FA); Nicholas Yingling, Sr., C-3B; Riley DeMarco, Sr., P-CF-1B; Nicholas Yates, Fr., 3B-P-C (transferred from Houston); Cody Choate, Jr., 1B (transferred from Tabernacle, N.J.); Ethan Smith, Jr., UT (transferred from Abilene, Texas); Madison Derber, Jr., SS (moves over from softball).Outlook — Reloading-contending. Three key members (Sean Caffrey, Jack Winkler and Troy Barnes) of the 2018 title team have graduated, but Thomas feels the new crop will fill those vacated shoes “and do it quite well.” Yates is a freshman, but not new to the game. The other new players also saw time on the diamonds in the States. Derber is looking to play college softball and is playing baseball to get used to a faster game pace.
Zama Trojans2018 Far East Tournament finish — Second.Coach — Dirk Schmiedel, first season.Key performers — James Sturn, Sr., P-C-SS; De’Andre McNeal, Sr., P-C-1B-3B; Jarred Green, Jr., P-SS; Jaxon Jones, Fr.; Dominic Peruccio, Fr.; Korbin Jackson, Fr.Outlook — Rebuilding. Can surprise people if they can pull it together, but did lose some key players along with standouts from last season who chose not to play this year.