Team USA has been in Japan working out the last week, getting ready for the baseball competition to begin on Tuesday.
The games will start on Tuesday, but Team USA will not play their first game until Friday.
This is the first time baseball has been a part of the Olympics since 2008. Both baseball and softball were not part of the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016 but we’re back on the schedule for 2021. Right now there is no guarantee that baseball will return as an Olympic sport in 2024.
There are only six teams that qualified for the baseball Olympics in Tokyo. There are two divisions with three teams each.
Group A will feature Japan, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Group B will feature the United States, Israel, and South Korea.
There are many countries with a great baseball tradition that did not qualify for the Olympics. Venezuela, The Netherlands, Cuba, Taiwan, and Canada did not make the final cut.
South Korea is the defending Olympic champion and will be one of the favorites to win Gold this year.
As the home country, Japan is the favorite to win the Gold medal, while the United States is the favorite to win Silver.
The United States last medaled in 2008 when they took home the Bronze medal.
Team USA offensively will be led by Todd Frazier, cut by Pittsburgh earlier this season. Frazier hit .400 with two home runs in qualifying games, and manager Mike Scioscia will count on Frazier to lead the offense.
Four Tampa Bay Rays and ex-Rays lead the Team USA pitching staff. Prospect Shane Baz will be one of the starting pitchers along with Joe Ryan.
Ryan was the number 11 prospect in the Rays organization before being traded to the Minnesota Twins in the Nelson Cruz trade.
Scott Kazmir pitched for the Rays from 2005-2009 will also be counted on heavily for Team USA. During his time in Tampa, Kazmir made over 140 starts and was a fan favorite in the early tears of the Rays.
According to the folks at Baseball-Reference, Kazmir is the eighth-best Rays pitcher of all time as Kazmir has the eighth-best WAR in Tampa Bay Rays history.
Kazmir is also fourth in innings pitched, fourth in strikeouts, ninth in win percentage, and has the 10th best ERA in Rays history.
Edwin Jackson, who pitched for the Rays from 2005-2008, is also a member of Team USA.
Miami Marlins prospect Eddy Alvarez is also a member of Team USA. Alvarez will be one of only 11 Americans to compete in both the winter and summer Olympics. Alvarez won a silver medal in the short track speed skating 5000m Relay in Sochi in 2014.
Some top prospects from around baseball will be putting on the uniform for Team USA. The Red Sox’s Triston Casas, the Blue Jays’ Simeon Woods Richardson, and the Rays’ Shane Baz.
Manager Mike Scioscia summed up his team’s feelings on representing the United States on the international stage. “It’s a great privilege to put on the USA jersey. All these guys feel it.”
If you are looking to watch team USA, you will have to watch them online. The games will be available to stream in the United States through NBCOlympics.com, and the gold medal game will air on the USA Network.
Team USA will play their first game on July 30th against Israel. The first pitch will be at 6 AM EST.