The West

Perth Heat have been invited to play against professional league champions from baseball powerhouses Japan, Korea and Taiwan in the recently revived Asian Series.

This year's Australian Baseball League champions have already secured the services of US-based Australians Luke Hughes, who plays for Minnesota Twins in the Major Leagues, for the November event in Taiwan.

Other Heat players likely to be available include Daniel Schmidt, Mitch Graham, Dean White, Minnesota's Liam Hendricks, and Brendan Wise, who plays for the Detroit Tigers.

China will be the only major regional force not participating in the series after recently advising that they had issues with the composition of their team but would participate in future.

The $1.2 million series was launched in 2005 as a premier regional event bringing together the best Asian professionals in a round-robin tournament. Japan hosted the tournament from 2005 to 2008 on the strength of its finances and the availability of the region's only indoor baseball stadium, the Tokyo Dome.

The event was suspended when the global financial crisis hit, but scaled-down events were contested between Japan and South Korea in 2009 and Taiwan and South Korea in 2010.

By reviving the series it is hoped baseball may improve its chances of having the sport re-admitted to the Olympic Games for 2020.

Baseball featured on the Olympic program from 1992 to 2008.

In 2005 the International Olympic Committee voted to exclude baseball from the 2012 and 2016 Games.

Perth Heat general manager Alex Pellerano said the invitation to take part in the Asian Series was proof of the ABL's reputation as a world-class competition.

"This will be a real test for the Heat players because baseball is the No. 1 sport in the countries we are playing," he said. "An estimated 200,000 people will watch the games live with another five million watching on television."

The West Australian

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