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1997 World Junior Championship
The 1997 World Junior Championship was held in Moncton, NB from August 8 through August 16, 1997. The event featured several future major league regulars. All statistics listed below are for the round-robin phase of the tournament.
Cuba won its 9th Gold in a World Junior Championship and its second in a row. The team featured numerous players who would go on to the senior national team and Cuban league stardom. Catcher Yosvany Peraza (.500, .875 SLG, 3 HR, 10 R), 1B Joan Carlos Pedroso (.391, .913 SLG, 4 HR, 11 R, 12 RBI) and SS Michel Enriquez (.381, .810 SLG, 3 HR) all made the tourney All-Star team on route to fine careers. Also performing well were Josue Cabrera (.533, 10 R), All-Star OF Serguey Perez (.522, 5 2B, 12 R, 1.043 SLG), Eliacer Valera (.375, .917 SLG, 4 HR, 13 RBI) and Norberto Gonzalez (1-1, 3.24). Cuba outscored their opponents 86-21 in the round-robin phase and were 4-1 in that round.
Taiwan was the only unbeaten team in the round-robin (4-0, 35 R, 17 RA) and won Silver, losing the Gold Medal game 7-3 to Cuba. The only All-Star for Taiwan was OF Long-Yi Huang. Chun-Ting Chu hit .600, Yuan-Chia Chen .455 and Wei-Lin Huang .385. Chien-Ming Wang (1-0, 0.00, 1 H in 7 IP, 9 K) and Chih-Cheng Chen (1-0, 0.00) led the staff.
Host Canada split Bronze. They were 4-1 in the round-robin with a 69-24 run differential. They had two All-Stars, 3B Mike Eskildsen (.429, 2 HR, 9 R, 9 RBI) and RHP Jason Mandryk (1-0, 2.00). Dave Detienne (.429), Lee Delfino (.444, 1.056 SLG, 10 R, 10 RBI) and Trent Kitsch (.409, .909 SLG, 3 HR, 16 RBI) led the attack alongside Eskildsen. Reggie LaPlante (1-0, 0.00) pitched well.
The USA eked out a split of the Bronze for their 17th straight Medal in the event. Their only All-Star was LHP Rick Ankiel, who did not finish among the ERA leaders in the round-robin but was among the batting average leaders at .385. Austin Kearns and Michael Cuddyer went on to fine careers; Kearns led the tourney with a .615 average in the round-robin. The US was 3-1 in the round-robin with a 39-23 run differential. They lost 8-4 to Cuba in the semifinals.
South Korea was 4-1 in the round-robin with a 69-35 run differential. Joong-keun Bong (.560, 1.25 SLG, 13 HR, 11 RBI, 4 HR) led the offense. Hyun-gon Lee (.480, .960 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBI), Hee-seop Choi (.450, .900 SLG, 9 R) and Jin-young Lee (.409, 3 SB) all hit well. Bong was named the tourney MVP yet would be used as a pitcher when he began his minor league career in the USA.
Venezuela (1-3, 14 R, 20 RA) was 8th. Manuel Alvarez (1-0, 1.23) led the staff.
Russia (1-4, 13, 80) placed 9th with only a win over the Czech Republic. Alex Toporov (1-0, 2.16) walked 11 in 8 innings while Roman Bessonov (0-1, 3.27) walked 8 and fanned 12 in 11 frames of work.
The Netherlands (0-4, 16, 39) were 10th.
The Czech Republic (0-5, 9, 68) was last. Jan Stehlik hit .429.
Source: 1998 Baseball Almanac
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