Chiba Lotte Marines outfielder Katsuya Kakunaka was named as a Pacific League special final entrant Wednesday to play in the upcoming three-game All-Star series, while Hiroshima Carp third baseman Shota Dobayashi was selected for the Central League.
Both Kakunaka and Dobayashi will make their first appearances in the All-Star Series. The final entries were chosen by fan ballot via the Internet.
The sixth-year Kakunaka received 14,268 votes, over 10,000 more votes than runner-up Yoshinao Kamata, a rookie right-hander with the Rakuten Eagles.
“I never thought I would be selected to play in such great games among a group of star players,” said Kakunaka. “I want to show how much I’ve grown as a player. I won’t be going for the big hit, but want to just hit steadily like usual.”
The 20-year-old Dobayashi, in his third year, garnered 18,155 votes, nearly 15,000 votes more than Carp outfielder Tomonori Maeda who finished second.
“I am incredibly happy,” said Dobayashi. “There’ll be nothing but the cream of the crop of players there, so I want to learn a lot. I am the youngest, so I want to make a dynamic appearance.”
A total of 32 players were named in each league, including those chosen by managers.
Game 1 is scheduled for July 20 at Kyocera Dome, followed by Game 2 on July 21 at Matsuyama Botchan Stadium and Game 3 two days later at Iwate Prefectural Stadium in Morioka.