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MLB, MLBPA announce first wave of players for November's Japan All-Star Series with NPB

Acuna, Hoskins, Merrifield, Molina, Santana, Suarez, Taylor and Yelich slated to represent MLB in Japan; Mattingly to manage squad

TOKYO - Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) jointly announced today the first wave of players who are expected to represent the MLB team in the 2018 Japan All-Star Series with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). The event will feature seven games (including one exhibition) across Japan from November 8th-15th.

The MLB squad includes a trio of 2018 All-Stars: catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, third baseman Eugenio Suárez of the Cincinnati Reds and outfielder Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers; standout rookie outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves; Philadelphia Phillies teammates Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana; Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield; and Los Angeles Dodgers infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor, who shared Most Valuable Player honors in the 2017 National League Championship Series.

TOKYO - Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) jointly announced today the first wave of players who are expected to represent the MLB team in the 2018 Japan All-Star Series with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). The event will feature seven games (including one exhibition) across Japan from November 8th-15th.

The MLB squad includes a trio of 2018 All-Stars: catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, third baseman Eugenio Suárez of the Cincinnati Reds and outfielder Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers; standout rookie outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves; Philadelphia Phillies teammates Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana; Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield; and Los Angeles Dodgers infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor, who shared Most Valuable Player honors in the 2017 National League Championship Series.

• Yadier Molina, 36, was selected to his ninth NL All-Star team in 2018, all of which have come in the last 10 years. The eight-time Gold Glove backstop has helped lift the Cardinals to four World Series during his 15-year Major League career, including their World Championship seasons of 2006 and 2011. Molina has been a force for Team Puerto Rico in all four editions of the World Baseball Classic.

• Eugenio Suárez is in the midst of the finest season of his five-year Major League career, already with career highs in home runs, RBI, batting average, slugging and on-base percentage. The Venezuela native recently recorded his 100th RBI of the season. The 27-year-old made his first career All-Star Game this season.

• In his first year with the Brewers, Christian Yelich became an All-Star for the first time in his six-year Major League career and has been central to Milwaukee's bid to reach the 2018 Postseason. A highlight of the season for the well-rounded 26-year-old standout was in an August 29th win at Cincinnati, when he went 6-for-6, became the eighth Brewer ever to hit for the cycle and threw a runner out at home plate. Yelich played for victorious Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

• Twenty-year-old phenom Ronald Acuña Jr. has 25 home runs this season, including a Braves record eight leadoff homers, which is one shy of the MLB rookie record of nine (Chris Young for Arizona in 2007). The Venezuela native finished August with 39 hits, becoming the first NL rookie over the last 110 seasons to collect at least 39 hits and 11 home runs in a calendar month. In August, Acuña Jr. became the youngest player ever to homer in five straight games, tying a club record.

• In his second year with Philadelphia, Rhys Hoskins leads the Phillies in home runs, RBI, doubles and slugging this season. The Sacramento native has 48 career home runs in just 183 Major League games. Hoskins competed in the 2018 T-Mobile Home Run Derby during All-Star Week in Washington, DC.

• Whit Merrifield, 29, is in his third season as a member of the Royals. He currently ranks among the American League's leaders in batting average, hits, stolen bases, doubles and triples. In 2017, he led the AL with 34 steals. In 2010, Merrifield stroked the walk-off hit of the 2010 NCAA Men's College World Series for the University of South Carolina.

• Carlos Santana is in his first season as a member of the Phillies and his ninth season in the Majors, following eight years with the Cleveland Indians. The first baseman leads Philadelphia with 95 walks. The selective slugger from the Dominican Republic helped the Indians reach the 2016 World Series, when he set career highs with 34 home runs and 87 RBI.

• In his third season as a Dodger, the versatile Chris Taylor currently leads the team in doubles and triples and ranks second in runs scored. In 2017, Taylor was a part of the Club's first NL pennant in 29 years, batting .288 with 21 home runs, 72 RBI and 17 stolen bases. The University of Virginia product was co-MVP of the 2017 NLCS with teammate Justin Turner and led off Game One of the 2017 World Series with a home run against Houston's Dallas Keuchel.

Other members of MLB's roster will be announced in the coming weeks. The MLB team will be led by Don Mattingly, who has managed the Miami Marlins since 2016. From 2011-2015, Mattingly helmed the Los Angeles Dodgers, who earned three consecutive National League West titles in the final three years of his tenure with the Club. In his 14-year playing career with the New York Yankees, "Donnie Baseball" was a six-time All-Star first baseman, the 1985 American League Most Valuable Player, a nine-time Gold Glover and the captain of the team.

November's All-Star Series will resume a longtime baseball tradition that dates back to 1908, marking the 37th time overall that Major Leaguers have toured Japan for exhibition games. The All-Star Series will be played in Tokyo (Tokyo Dome), Hiroshima (Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium) and Nagoya (Nagoya Dome). The events will begin with an exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo on November 8th, followed by three games in Tokyo from November 9th-11th, one game in Hiroshima on November 13th and two games in Nagoya on November 14th-15th. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage of the 2018 All-Star Series, including live telecasts of the games from November 9th-15th.

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