New MLB Cup youth event on tap for Japan in 2016

New MLB Cup youth event on tap for Japan in 2016

Major League Baseball has announced the formation of the MLB Cup, a youth competition that will take place in Japan next year.

The announcement came Tuesday in Tokyo with representatives from the Arizona Diamondbacks -- namely president and CEO Derrick Hall, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and Luis Gonzalez and Randy Johnson -- on hand.

MLB partnered with the Japan Little League Baseball Association and AIG Japan on the project. Players in their fourth and fifth years of elementary school in Japan are eligible to compete in the tournament, which begins next May and runs until late August and possibly even early September.

"The MLB Cup presented by AIG will give thousands of Japanese Little Leaguers their first opportunity to play in a national competition," said Jim Small, MLB's vice president for Asia Pacific. "Baseball is fun, and the MLB Cup is going to give these kids memories that will last a lifetime."

Small noted that the event will provide a spotlight for an age group that did not previously have a national competition in Japan. The goal, he said, is to give the kids a chance to showcase their hard work by representing their club, city and prefecture in a national championship.

"This is a natural extension of Commissioner [Rob] Manfred's 'One Baseball' initiative, and we are delighted to have the chance to team with Little League Baseball on this event," Small said.

The final round will be held in Ishinomaki, one of the cities most affected by the tsunami and earthquake that hit the East Coast of Japan in March 2011. The championship will be played at Ishinomaki City Baseball Stadium.

The tournament will also feature seminars by trainers, therapists, translators and nutritionists from the 30 MLB teams. Those seminars will be open to the public.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.