Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Draft 2013 Liveblogging!

Alright, just setting up this post so I have it ready to go when things start in 4 hours (at 1am Pacific time.  Whee.  Yes, I'll be here all night!)

Since I'm not in Japan this year either I'll be hoping to catch a justin.tv broadcast of the TV part, and I'll just be watching the picks come in on various news sources such as Nikkan Sports, Sponichi, Sanspo, etc.

Fortunately this year is not quite as emotionally draining for me as some past years have been, at least.

Name                   Pos  HS/Univ/Company         T/B   DOB          Ht/Wt  
--------------------   ---  ---------------         ---   ----------   -------
Fighters
1 Yuki Matsui
1 Yuta Kakita
1 Yuta Iwasada
1 Ryo Watanabe          IF  Tokaidai Kofu HS        R/R   04/30/1995   178/80
2 Hiroshi Urano         P   Sega Sammy              R/R   07/22/1989   178/70
3 Hiromi Oka            IF  Meiji University        R/R   07/15/1991   185/83
4 Hirotoshi Takanashi   P   Yamanashi Gakuin Univ   R/R   06/05/1991   187/82
5 Masashi Kanehira      P   Tokai Rika              L/L   03/24/1991   180/80
6 Akihiro Hakumura      P   Keio Univ               R/L   12/11/1991   187/84
7 Ryosuke Kishisato     P   Hanamaki Higashi        R/L   04/03/1995   181/75
8 Ryo Ishikawa          C   Teikyo HS               R/R   04/20/1995   180/85

Swallows
1 Daichi Osera
1 Toshihiro Sugiura     P   Kokugakuin Univ         R/R   02/25/1992   188/82
2 Naomichi Nishiura     IF  Hosei Univ              R/R   04/11/1991   178/75
3 Ryo Akiyoshi          P   Panasonic               R/R   03/21/1989   182/76
4 Keiji Iwahashi        P   Kyoto Sangyo Univ       L/L   04/23/1991   185/75
5 Yuto Koyama           P   Kanzei HS               L/L   09/01/1995   183/78
6 Ryota Fujii           C   City Light Okayama      R/L   09/30/1988   177/70

Orix
1 Kazumasa Yoshida      P   JR Higashinihon         R/L   09/24/1989   191/90  
2 Daiki Tomei           P   Fuji Juko               R/R   06/15/1989   178/78
3 Kenya Wakatsuki       C   Hanasaki Tokuharu HS    R/R   10/04/1995   178/80
4 Satoshi Sonobe        IF  Seiko Gakuin HS         R/R   11/30/1995   184/87
5 Yuto Yoshida          OF  Hokusho HS              R/L   04/21/1995   178/73
6 Kyo Okunami           IF  Soshi Gakuen HS         R/R   08/29/1995   176/95
7 Kento Shibata         P   Shinano Grandserows     R/R   02/08/1989   175/83
8 Satoshi Ohyama        P   Sega Sammy              L/L   10/06/1988   168/69

I1. Hiroaki Azuma       IF  Tokushima Indigo Socks  R/R   02/20/1992   180/74

Baystars
1 Yuki Matsui
1 Yuta Kakita           P   Nihon Seimei            R/R   08/27/1992   182/85
2 Shingo Hirata         P   Honda Kumamoto          R/R   08/29/1989   181/72
3 Hiroki Minei          C   Asia University         R/R   06/04/1991   175/75
4 Tomoya Mikami         P   JX-ENEOS                R/R   04/10/1989   190/90
5 Taiki Sekine          OF  Toho HS                 L/L   06/28/1995   174/76
6 Shun Yamashita        P   Matsumoto Univ          L/L   08/19/1991   182/73

I1. Yoshiki Sunada      P   Meioh HS                L/L   07/20/1995   179/78
I2. Kohei Mantani       P   Miki House              R/L   08/28/1987   185/78

Softbank
1 Yuki Matsui
1 Toshihiro Sugiura
1 Ren Kajiya            P   JR Kyushu               R/R   11/25/1991    184/82
2 Yuito Mori            P   MB Kurashiki Oceans     R/R   01/08/1992    173/72
3 Ken Okamoto           P   Kazusa Magic            R/R   10/29/1992    177/80
4 Seiji Uebayashi       OF  Sendai Ikuei HS         R/L   08/01/1995    184/77

I1. Shuta Ishikawa      P   Soka Univ               R/R   12/27/1991    
I2. Shinsuke Toho       P   Hamada Shogyo HS        R/R   09/17/1995
I3. Kaisei Sone         IF  Kyoto Kokusai HS        R/L   04/24/1995
I4. Masahiro Harimoto   C   Bukkyo Univ             R/R   10/13/1990

Dragons
1 Yuki Matsui
1 Shota Suzuki          P   Seirei Christopher HS   R/R   06/16/1995    183/74
2 Katsuki Matayoshi     P   Kagawa Olive Guyners    R/R   11/04/1990    180/74
3 Iori Katsuya          C   Osaka Shodai            R/R   07/09/1991    185/80
4 Takuma Achira         P   JR Higashinihon         R/R   11/20/1992    189/88
5 Daisuke Sobue         P   Toyota                  R/L   08/11/1987    174/71
6 Takuto Fujisawa       IF  Seino Tsuun             R/L   05/27/1990    174/80

I1. Junki Kishimoto     P   Tsuruga Kehi HS         R/R   02/19/1996    181/79
I2. Daisuke Hashizume   IF  Osaka Sangyo Univ       R/S   03/30/1992    174/73

Marines
1 Ayumu Ishikawa        P   Tokyo Gas               R/R   04/11/1988    186/75
2 Yuta Yoshida          C   Rissho Univ             R/R   07/21/1991    182/94
3 Ryo Miki              IF  Jobu Univ               R/R   10/25/1991    174/76
4 Shohei Yoshihara      P   Nihon Seimei            R/R   09/14/1989    173/75
5 Seiya Inoue           IF  Nihon Seimei            R/R   07/03/1989    180/105
6 Kota Futaki           P   Kagoshima Jouhou HS     R/R   08/01/1995    187/73

I1. Ryuzo Hijii         C   Hyogo Hojo HS           R/L   11/13/1995    182/84

Carp
1 Daichi Osera          P   Kyushu Kyoritsu Univ    R/R   06/17/1991    187/82
2 Allen Kuri            P   Asia University         R/R   09/01/1991    186/82
3 Kosuke Tanaka         IF  JR Higashinihon         R/L   07/03/1989    170/80
4 Kenta Nishihara       P   Nichidai                R/R   09/29/1988    178/76
5 Yuta Nakamura         P   Kanto Daiichi HS        R/R   08/31/1995    181/75

Seibu
1 Tomoya Mori           C   Osaka Toin HS           R/L   08/08/1995    170/80
2 Hodaka Yamakawa       IF  Fuji University         R/R   11/23/1991    175/98
3 Takuya Toyoda         P   TDK                     R/R   03/28/1987    176/88
4 Kazuki Kaneko         IF  Nichidai Fujisawa HS    R/R   05/29/1995    182/73
5 Takayuki Yamaguchi    P   Toyota Higashinihon     R/R   07/29/1989    184/83
6 Masatoshi Okada       C   Osaka Gas               R/R   06/30/1989    172/78
7 Kentaro Fukukura      P   Daiichi Tech Univ       R/R   08/03/1991    177/75

Hanshin
1 Daichi Osera
1 Yuta Kakita
1 Yuta Iwasada          P   Yokohama Shokodai       L/L   09/05/1991    182/78
2 Shintaro Yokota       OF  Kagoshima Jitsugyo HS   L/L   06/09/1995    186/85
3 Naomasa Yohkawa       IF  Tokyo Agriculture Univ  R/R   07/17/1991    178/79
4 Ryutaro Umeno         C   Fukuoka Univ            R/R   06/17/1991    173/72
5 Shoya Yamamoto        P   Oji                     L/L   10/12/1988    181/80
6 Suguru Iwazaki        P   Kokushikan Univ         L/L   06/19/1991    184/78

Eagles
1 Yuki Matsui           P   Toko Gakuen HS          L/L   10/30/1995    174/74
2 Yasuhito Uchida       C   Joso Gakuin HS          R/R   05/30/1995    185/87
3 Kodai Hamaya          P   Honda Suzuka            L/L   02/27/1993    185/80
4 Yuri Furukawa         P   Ariga Kogyo HS          R/R   09/08/1995    178/77
5 Yusuke Miyanishi      P   Yokohama Shokadai       L/L   05/01/1991    180/80
6 Takaaki Yokoyama      P   Waseda Univ             R/R   04/10/1991    180/83
7 Kazutomo Aihara       P   77 Bank                 L/L   10/27/1989    186/73
8 Susumu Aizawa         P   Nihon Seimei Ishinomaki R/L   06/03/1987    172/70
9 Ryuta Konno           P   Iwadeyama HS            R/R   05/11/1995    177/70

Giants
1 Ayumu Ishikawa
1 Seiji Kobayashi       C   Nihon Seimei            R/R   06/07/1989    178/73
2 Ren Wada              IF  Kochi HS                R/R   09/26/1995    180/80
3 Kazuto Taguchi        P   Shinjo HS               L/L   09/14/1995    170/75
4 Nobuyuki Okumura      IF  Nichidai Yamagata       R/L   05/26/1995    177/72
5 Kentaro Taira         P   Kitayama                R/R   07/12/1995    180/70

I1. Makoto Aoyama       OF  Nihon Univ              R/R   11/01/1991    185/81
I2. Shota Nagae         P   Osaka Keizai Univ       R/L   10/08/1991    190/88
I3. Ryusei Kitanosono   IF  Shugakukan HS           R/L   04/12/1995    180/80

It's 1am and it's time to party!  I've got the justin.tv feed up and ready to follow the craziness.  Not much to say except it's super-weird to see Tanishige and Ochiai there together like that!  (Tanishige definitely has a little bit of a "WTF" look on his face).  Hoshino sure looks happy.  Can we get on with the parade and start with the drafting?  :)

Hey, it's Katoh-not-commissioner-anymore!

1:12am Finally round one is starting!  "unmei no shunkan" or moment of fate, heh. Let's see who everyone names for real!

Fighters: Matsui Yuki (Toko Gakuen, P)
Swallows: Osera Daichi (Kyushu Kyoritsu, P)
Orix: Yoshida Kazumasa (JR East, P)
Baystars: Matsui Yuki
Softbank: Matsui Yuki
Dragons: Matsui Yuki
Marines: Ishikawa Ayumu (Tokyo Gas, P)
Carp: Osera Daichi
Seibu: Mori Tomoya (Osaka Toin, C)
Hanshin: Osera Daichi
Eagles: Matsui Yuki
Giants: Ishikawa Ayumu

So that's 5 votes for Matsui, 3 for Osera, 2 for Ishikawa, and Mori is going to Seibu uncontested and Yoshida to Orix uncontested.  That was unexpected!!

1:21 and Matsui goes to RAKUTEN

1:24 and Osera goes to HIROSHIMA!  wow!

And Ishikawa goes to the Marines but I honestly didn't care :)

1:34 Okay so now for the second round of the first round

Fighters: Yuta Kakita (Nihon Seimei, P)
Swallows: Toshihiro Sugiura (Kokugakuin P)
Yokohama: Yuta Kakita
Hawks: Toshihiro Sugiura
Dragons: Shota Suzuki (Seirei Christopher HS, P)
Hanshin: Yuta Kakita
Yomiuri: Seiji Kobayashi (Nihon Seimei, C)

Not too surprising that there's a fight for Kakita too, really.

Kakita to Baystars.  Huh.
Sugiura to Swallows -- that's kinda cool!  I look forward to seeing him again at Jingu!  Plus he's the pride of Obihiro Ohtani :)

1:42 THIRD round of the first round:
Fighters and Hanshin both go for Yokohama Shokodai lefty Yuta Iwasada!
Hawks take Ren Kajiya.

I cannot believe this is going on further but there you have it.  It appears that Iwasada is going to Hanshin because the Fighters opened their ballot faster.  Holy crap!

Well, at least whoever the Fighters take now will be uncontested...

...and it's Ryo Watanabe, IF, Tokaidai Kofu HS.  Huh!  That was not a name I expected to come up in the first round, but there you go!
Time to start filling in the grid...

Okay, so there you have the ACTUAL first round finished:
Fighters: Ryo Watanabe (Tokaidai Kofu, IF)
Swallows: Toshihiro Sugiura (Kokugakuin Univ, P)
Orix: Yoshida Kazumasa (JR East, P)
Baystars: Yuta Kakita (Nihon Seimei, P)
Softbank: Ren Kajiya (JR Kyushu, P)
Dragons: Shota Suzuki (Seirei Christopher HS, P)
Marines: Ayumu Ishikawa (Tokyo Gas, P)
Carp: Daichi Osera (Kyushu Kyoritsu, P)
Seibu: Tomoya Mori (Osaka Toin, C)
Hanshin: Yuta Iwasada (Yokohama Shokadai, P)
Eagles: Yuki Matsui (Toko Gakuin HS, P)
Giants: Seiji Kobayashi (Nihon Seimei, C)

Wow, that was a mouthful.

Honestly this was not terrible as far as I'm concerned.  Also as expected, I don't feel much of any sort of emotion at the outcome this time.  Kinda glad Sugiura went to Yakult, kinda wondering more about this Watanabe kid, kinda amused Mori will be on Seibu, and kinda like OMG CARP because they are really stacking their pitching rotation with these guys aren't they!

Now for the parts of the draft I really care about like OMG THE FIGHTERS TOOK HIROSHI URANO IN THE SECOND ROUND!  I love Urano, I've been a huge fan since he was at Aichi Gakuin and it is SO embarrassing that I don't have many good photos of him.

And the SWALLOWS TOOK NISHIURA FROM HOSEI!  YEAH!

Tomei to Orix!  Oh, this second round is the awesome round, screw the first round :)

Good thing I have my copy of Grand Slam out because I'm beating some of the newspapers to the vitals on these guys, seriously :)

YUTA YOSHIDA TO LOTTE!  OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!  I'm so happy he got drafted and by a team I actually can go cheer for him at!

...I got buried in looking these guys up but MIKAMI TO BAYSTARS HE'LL BE ON THE SAME TEAM AS KAGAMI AND MISHIMA OH MY GOD MY HOSEI FANGIRL BRAIN MAY EXPLODE.

btw it's 2:50am.  I have had to dig for a bunch of details on a bunch of these guys so...

Oh yeah, Hiromi Oka to the Fighters?  Weeeeeeeeird.  I wonder if he'll remember me if I stalk him at Kamagaya or not.

still translating like a storm.  In the middle of the 5th round now at 3:37am despite that the actual draft is well into the 6th.  The Fighters took freaking Hakumura in the 6th and I do NOT know how to feel about that.  But Rakuten took Yokoyama and I'm happier about that one.

Also was glad to see my 2nd-favorite Tohto Big Boy go to Seibu in the 5th round, that is, Chuo now Nihon Seimei's Seiya Inoue.  So there are still some exciting moments but it is getting harder and harder to find some of these guys, to be sure.  Good thing I've got Grand Slam, some Shubes, and a college baseball magazine sitting here.  (I didn't get an actual draft mag this year)

hey look at that we took Ishikawa in the 8th round -- Fighters sure do like Teikyo boys, can I request they take Michiori Okabe next year now, please? :)

OMG how did I not notice Hanshin taking Shoya Yamamoto in the 5th round?!?!?  he was one of my favorite lefties at Hosei too!  wow!

Alright so it's 4:40am here now and I just finished translating the basic draft.  I think I might hold off on ikusei until the morning -- not sure -- going to have a snack first and then reevaluate.

One thing that I really really wonder is, how do all of these other little dudes get taken and not Ohshiro?  He's so awesome, it can't just be the height.

Note at 5:30am as I scour team sites for ikusei info: am I allowed to be... amused? that the "managing scout" for almost every Marines signing is either Kenji Morozumi or Yuta Shimoshikiryo?  Who are both former Hosei grads that played for the Marines that I liked?

next morning as I am checking and entering: I like that the Fighters site says for Oka: "圧倒的な身体能力を持つ大型選手。リーチを生かした打撃は飛距離十分。長打力に加えて50メートル5秒台の俊足と旺盛な闘争心も魅力。東京六大学リーグ戦では、「4番ピッチャー」を経験した二刀流選手だが、プロでは野手として勝負する。磨けばまだまだ光るダイヤの原石。" which is, roughly, "yeah he was a yon-ban pitcher/batter before but as a pro he's going to focus on being a fielder".  Yay.

2013 Draft Photopost!

Hi everyone. It's about 16 hours to the draft as I write this, having spent last night searching through photos for it. Yeah, I went dark all summer, but for those who know me on other outlets like Twitter and Facebook and Google+, you know that I was doing plenty of Japanese-baseball-related things all year, including some crazy trips like going to the east coast to see Darvish against Kuroda at Yankee Stadium (which, btw, I am completely never ever ever again allowed to diss the Yankees since they let me sit in Legends seats for that game and see the new stadium from an amazing perspective), seeing Uehara close a game at Fenway in my first game there, and trips to Sacramento to try to find Hiroyuki Nakajima (sitting in the dugout and not playing) and Fresno to find Kensuke Tanaka (who I got to meet, which was awesome!)

I then spent all of August and September in Japan, and while I had a vague focus on train-related things (I went all the way from Wakkanai to Makurazaki, if you know what that means) I also went to around 60 games, including a day at Koshien where I saw the Best 8 play (and sadly got myself out of the sun right before Kona Takahashi came into the game) and some awesome rural baseball adventures, a Big6 All-Star game at Kusanagi Stadium putting me up to 5 stadiums I've seen games at that Babe Ruth played at, a few WOMEN'S baseball games (including getting to meet Shingo Kawabata's sister Yuki AND also meeting the entire Kawabata family randomly), and of course re-connecting with some of my old college ballplayer buddies who are now in the pros or industrial league, and making some new college ballplayer buddies as well.

As usual, I'd love to sanitize and put some of the stories up here, but who knows if I'll have time -- I also started a new job right when I came back, at a very large search company that is taking up a LOT of my brain right now. I already warned them that I'll be staying up all night for the Japanese baseball draft tonight and will be in late tomorrow.

So, now that you've gotten a 2-paragraph summary of my year, why don't I go on to do a BIG WHOPPING PRE-DRAFT PHOTO POST! I didn't do one last year and I am a little bit sad about that. I also may not actually finish writing in descriptions for everyone before the draft starts (I'm going to just fill it in between stuff at work today). Apologies in advance.


Tokyo Big 6



Hosei University, Takuya Kinoshita, C

Kinoshita's a really great catcher (a lot of the pitchers at Hosei have said that) but he's not a really great batter.  I don't expect him to get drafted, but you never know.


He's built like a catcher, though, which is why the scouts have liked him for a while.


Throw to 2B


I don't know what was up with this exactly but I took a photo anyway :)

Hosei University, Naomichi Nishiura, SS

My only regret about Nishiura is that I didn't get to know him at all during his college career and is making me realize I need to be better about that.  He's a pretty solid shortstop and came from Tenri HS, where he played at Koshien in his 3rd year. I think he's been scouted since HS and even if he may not be a top-level prospect or super hotshot type, he's a fairly solid ballplayer, and I think he partially decided to file because he had a pretty great spring semester and hoped to repeat it in the fall. (Hosei's really had bad luck with hitters the last few years, it's really been all about the pitchers, and Funamoto decided to go to ENEOS next year instead of entering the draft.)





Meiji University, Hiromi Oka, RHP/1B/OF

Oh man, where to start with Oka. I remember him showing up as this big freshman kid at the Rookie Tournament who could throw like 150 km/h, and he went on to pitch for a few semesters before it became pretty clear he was a guy who was all speed and no control. However, he could HIT. I mean, really hit. He's had a .330 BA in his college career with power and has been a regular batter for most of that (I joked for a while that Meiji was lucky to not only have two of the best pitchers in the league in Oka and Yamasaki but to also have two of the best HITTERS in the league in Oka and Yamasaki). I would really expect some team to take him just because he's a big guy with a hell of an arm and he's got a lot of raw power that could be turned into something, if nothing else, sort of like Takumi Kohbe was a project for the Marines.


I swear I have better photos of him pitching but this was the best I could find.



Waseda University, Takaaki Yokoyama, RHP

I actually have no idea where Yokoyama-kun fits into the grand scheme of things. I really liked him when he was in high school (he was actually considered a decent prospect for the 2009 draft out of Seiko Gakuin up in Fukushima and I remember seeing him interviewed on TV during some Koshien) and then he went to Waseda, so I stopped liking him as much.  He's been injured a bunch, but when he's been healthy he's been a pretty good pitcher. I've heard rumors that Rakuten plans to take him for the local boy factor, but who knows.



Keio University, Akihiro Hakumura, RHP
Hakumura was kind of a big deal coming out of high school because he could throw 148 km/h even back then.  He went on to Keio University where he started out fairly strong, but then kind of ran into a roadblock halfway and went on to be somewhat mediocre (IMO, at least compared to what people were expecting of him).  His control actually seemed to get worse through his college career.  I think some teams see him as a tall dude who can throw really fast and may draft him anyway, hoping a good pitching coach can work out his problems.

I have a few friends who were classmates of his at Keio in both HS and university and they uniformly have said he's a jerk, but I've never met him so I don't really know.  (The fact that I never met him despite knowing a lot of his teammates may say something in itself.)





Tohto League



Asia University, Allen Kuri, RHP

Probably one of the more interesting people in this draft as far as I'm concerned. He's half-Japanese, his father was a minor-league shortstop in the US, and he actually started playing baseball with a Tampa Bay Rays little league when he was in 3rd grade. It sounds like he came back to Japan in 6th grade and was in Tottori, so some places report his hometown as Tottori and some report it as Florida. He is extremely lucky to look mostly Japanese -- I've seen him pitch for several years and never actually realized he was half until I saw his first name (亜蓮, which is "aren", but it's weird enough that I investigated to see for sure if it was kanji for the English name) It honestly shouldn't surprise me given how many other talented half-Japanese guys have come out of Asia University in recent years -- Robert Boothe, Krissada Shirakura, Bruno Hirata, etc.

Anyway, Asia University has won the Tohto League for 5 consecutive semesters, and Kuri has been in the rotation and has a W-L record of 18-4 in those semesters. It's possible he's getting helped by being surrounded by a decent team and all, but he's also got an ERA of like 1.60 in that time, so... yeah. I wonder if he'll be courted by an MLB team (like Boothe was by the Dodgers) if he doesn't get drafted? He's a pretty big kid at 6'3" 200ish and can throw 90mph.





Asia University, Hiroki Minei, C

I would be really surprised if Minei doesn't get drafted. Not only was he a regular catcher at Asia pretty much from his freshman year, but he's also from Okinawa Shogaku (Koshien stronghouse and highschool of current pro players Ishimine, Hiyane, and Higashihama). He caught Higashihama when they went to Koshien and then again in college, and then Minei became team captain this year, and just like some other guys who suddenly get it into their head that being captain means being a superstar, he exploded into batting .361/.439/.528 this spring and is currently at a .357/.437/.571 clip for the fall.




Toyo University, Takaaki Nohma, LHP

I dunno what to say about Nohma. He's kinda like Fujioka or Inui but not as good. On the other hand he came from a legendary Toin Gakuen high school team -- legendary in that almost everyone on their team went on to have fantastic college careers and SEVERAL became team captains at their respective schools, including Nohma. He's kind of Toyo's post-Fujioka lefty ace -- when he isn't being injured, anyway.




Rissho University, Yuta Yoshida, C

I've been a Yoshida fan for a really really long time even if I haven't been all that vocal about it. He was Nichidai Sanko captain back in 2009 when I first saw them at Koshien, and then he went to Rissho, where he pretty much became the team's regular catcher from his freshman year on. He came to the US as a sophomore for the US-Japan tourney, which is where I met him as the bullpen catcher and fangirled on him about Sanko. I caught up with him a semester or two later and gave him some photos from the US tourney and had him sign one, and he already looked kind of different -- like I asked a teammate where he was, and the guy basically said "oh, Yoshida's over there", I went to talk to him, and momentarily honestly wasn't sure it was the right guy because he was... bigger. He was listed as 182/84 in the summer of 2011 and as 182/94 by the fall of 2012. 10kg or 22 pounds really does make a big difference in a guy's physique.


In July 2011.

In September 2013.




Other College (US-Japan)



I'm trying to mostly put up photos that I didn't put up in 2011 when I photoposted the US-Japan games.

Kyushu Kyoritsu University, Daichi Ohsera, RHP

It was incredibly embarrassing remembering seeing Ohsera at the US-Japan game and realizing I'd not posted any photos of him -- because he didn't appear in any of the games I saw! But I did have a few of him, since he's a really tall guy and I did watch him throw in the bullpen a little so I did notice him. Alas, I've not seen him pitch for real pretty much since Koshien 2009, but he's a top top top top top pick in this year's draft, so it's only a matter of who wins the lottery, not whether he gets drafted.





Fukuoka Universty, Ryutaro Umeno, C

I really liked Umeno and even as a sophomore he was the starting catcher for the national team in 2011. Seems he has also only gotten better since then.



With Takahiro Fujioka. I'd love to see this battery together again someday :)

Fuji University, Hodaka Yamakawa, 3B

One of my friends who is a scout was at the 2011 US-Japan games and we saw Yamakawa hit a grand slam home run straight out of Durham Park. That was impressive. Yamakawa also turned out to be a really goofy kid when I talked to him. I'd really hoped to see him again sometime in Japan, but it just was never convenient since he doesn't play in Tokyo and I'm not around for the summer tourneys. He has been SOLID in college though, with a .304/.431/.460 line, 9 homers, in 9 semesters as he's been a regular pretty much since his first semester. My friend every now and then has asked me where Yamakawa is in the pros now -- not sure he realized that he was only a sophomore that year! I guess we'll see what happens today.




Yokohama Shokadai, Yuta Iwasada, LHP





Industrial League



JR Higashinihon, Kazumasa Yoshida, RHP

Yoshida is expected to be a super-high pick in this year's draft too. I only saw him play a little bit at the Industrial-Big6 tourney in April and not very much at that, unfortunately.




JX-ENEOS, Motoshi Ohshiro, LHP

I'd seen Ohshiro pitch a whole bunch of times for ENEOS over the last few years, and he's been on the cover of a whole bunch of Grand Slam magazines and whatnot. My best guess on why he hasn't been drafted is because he's seriously barely taller than I am, because he's GOOD. I don't think I've ever seen him have a bad outing. Anyway, this fall at Kamagaya I went to see the ENEOS team play the Fighters ni-gun, and of course I went to say hi to all the old Big 6 guys like Mikami, Yamasaki, etc, and then I also approached Ohshima to see if he'd sign one of the photos I'd printed out, and not only did he compliment my photography but he even perfectly remembered the game I'd taken it from and was super-sweet and funny! We got a photo together and sure enough, we're about the same height. I don't really expect him to get drafted this time around either, but I'd be overjoyed if he did.





JX-ENEOS, Tomoya Mikami, RHP

I've known Mikami far too long to be objective about him, I think I first met him in the fall of 2009 when he was a sophomore at Hosei and had been converted from an infielder into a pitcher, to take advantage of his arm and his huge height (190cm, he even towers over me). He didn't enter the draft when he graduated in 2011 because he wanted to "explore his options" a bit more, but when I saw him at the same Kamagaya game I asked him what he was up to now and whether he wanted to be drafted and his reply was something to the effect of "Yeah, I wouldn't mind getting drafted this year." So I hope he does :)



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Waseda's Yuhei Takanashi pitches a perfect game

Kinda surprised I haven't seen ANY coverage of this in English, so as usual I guess it's my job to write about the Tokyo Big 6 happenings :)  Of course this had to happen right AFTER I came back to the US!

This past Sunday, in front of a relatively small crowd (reported as 2000), left-handed pitcher Yuhei Takanashi of Waseda University pitched the 3rd perfect game in Tokyo Big 6 history, against Tokyo University (not too surprising).  The game took slightly less than 2 hours and Waseda won 3-0.

What I find hilarious is that Waseda Sports has an article about the game with interviews with the players and all, but the only boxscore they attach is the WASEDA box, which is of course NOT the interesting one.  How annoying. I basically went and found someone's written box score on Twitter and transcribed it (the interesting half):

Waseda 3 - 0 Tokyo
Sunday, April 21, 2013

                      1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9   R  H  E
Tokyo                 0  0  0   0  0  0   0  0  0   0  0  0
Waseda                0  0  2   0  0  1   0  0  x   3  5  0

Tokyo               AB  R  H RB  K BB SH SB  E     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
Shimojima, 3b        3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    G3 .. .. G3 .. .. G3 .. ..
Iida, 2b             3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    f3 .. .. G3 .. .. G1 .. ..
Kurozawa, 1b         3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    G3 .. .. F8 .. .. F9 .. ..
Arii, rf             3  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0    .. KS .. .. F8 .. .. f5 ..
Kasahara, c          3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    .. f5 .. .. L5 .. .. G4 ..
Agata, lf            3  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0    .. F9 .. .. F7 .. .. KC ..
Sawada, cf           3  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0    .. .. KS .. .. KC .. .. G6
Nakasugi, ss         2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    .. .. G5 .. .. G5 .. .. ..
  Iijima, ph         1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. F2
Tatsui, p            1  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0    .. .. KS .. .. .. .. .. ..
  Nagafuji, ph       1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    .. .. .. .. .. F4 .. .. ..
  Shirasago, p       0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0    .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
  Nishiki, ph        1  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0    .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. KS

Waseda              IP   NP  BF   H  HR   K  BBH  RA  ER
Takanashi (win)      9  109  27   0   0   6   0   0   0

There are various articles around with photos and whatnot: sponichi nikkan sports

The last guy to throw a perfect game in Tokyo Big 6 was Satoshi Kamishige, who threw one for Rikkio on October 22, 2000. He's now an announcer for NTV.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Brief Japan Interlude

So, I went to Tokyo for 2 weeks from March 30 to April 16.  Just got back to the US a few hours ago.

I went to a few games:

March 31: Lions vs. Fighters, Seibu Dome
April 3: Marines vs. Fighters, Chiba Marine Stadium
April 4: Waseda Univ vs. Saginomiya, Jingu (Industrial vs Big 6 tourney)
April 4: Meiji Univ vs. JX-ENEOS, Jingu (Industrial vs Big 6 tourney) 
April 4: Marines vs. Fighters, Chiba Marine Stadium
April 5: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu 
April 6: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu
April 7: Fighters vs. Eagles, Kamagaya (minor-league)
April 9: Swallows vs. Niigata Albirex, Toda (minor-league exhibition)
April 9: Fighters vs. Eagles, Tokyo Dome
April 10: Marines vs. Fighters, Lotte Urawa (minor-league) 
April 10: Fighters vs. Eagles, Tokyo Dome 
April 11: Fighters vs. Eagles, Tokyo Dome
April 13: Hosei vs. Todai, Jingu (Tokyo Big 6)
April 13: Rikkio vs. Keio, Jingu (Tokyo Big 6)
April 14: Buffaloes vs. Fighters, Hotto Motto Kobe  

I guess 16 games in 16 days isn't bad, especially given that some days I didn't go to games at all (either they didn't exist, or got rained out, or one day my best friend and I went to see The Sound of Music at the Shiki theater, which was a whole new experience for me)

Anyway, I dunno if I'll get around to posting entries about all of these (Kozo actually used some of my photos from the Swallows-Albirex game here since I also saw the craziness of utility man Masayoshi Miwa getting a ni-gun workout at catcher) but some highlights of things that happened:

- I got a new Fighters uniform made since my Imanari one is out of date thanks to him getting traded to Hanshin last year.  This time I got a home jersey of Yohei Kagiya, who just got drafted this year out of Chuo.  I was a fan of his in college AND high school, he's from Hokkaido, and he's awesome.  The uniform shop did a rush job and I had it ready to wear for the 3 games at Tokyo Dome.  Showed up expecting to be the only person with a custom Kagiya kanji uniform... and there was another person in my group with one.  Go figure.  So now we're BFFs, I made her a photo book of Kagiya photos from Chuo and she's sending me some newspapers from Sapporo.

- I got to see Kagiya's first pro win in Kobe on what was one of the most awesome roadtrips ever.  I went on a whim, took a night bus down, met up with some friends, it was Blue Wave throwback weekend, we took a ton of random photos, I said hi to Brian Wolfe, but even better I got a signed card from Hiroshi Kisanuki, who apparently gives them out at games, he personally signs and numbers each one, that's very cool of him.  Oh yeah, and the Fighters won after hitting like 5 home runs.

- Thanks to the throwback weekend, the Orix fans were doing old chants (like Ichiro's song for Itoi), so we did too.  Among the old songs we did were Yukio Tanaka, Atsushi Kataoka, Tatsuro Hirose, Tatsuya Ide, Yutaka Nakamura (that later was Keizo Kawashima), Jerry Brooks, and Tsutomu Ishimoto.  And those are just the ones I remember.  The stupid thing is that I could tell who the songs were for, but they were just old enough (the 1996-1997 period) that I didn't necessarily know the songs themselves, except maybe Yukio and Ide, since those guys were still around in 2003 for my first Fighters game.

- I also doctored my old Fighters Imanari #62 uniform by buying felt at the 100-yen shop and making a "MOLLEKEN" to put over it, since Dustin Molleken is wearing #62 for the Fighters now.  This amused the crap out of most of my friends.  But even crazier, when I went to the Kamagaya game on the 7th, not only was Molleken there and pitching (he did 1 inning, 3 batters, 3 K) but I ended up sitting with his girlfriend for half the game, she's here from Canada, and of course everyone's like "do you know the other white girl?" so I just went up and started talking to her, and she was like "nice uniform!"  After the game she introduced me to Dustin so I even got to show him the uniform and he thought it was cool too (like "I bet that's the only one out there")

- I got a bunch of the Fighters ni-gun guys to sign my new uniform at Urawa.  Yay.  Also some of my friends got interviewed by Fuji TV about "Ohtani Fever".  I did not.  Probably the TV people figure I can't speak Japanese.  Also Makoto Kaneko was batting 1st and playing 2nd base at ni-gun.  Kinda crazy.

- I MET SHINGO KAWABATA before the Swallows-Albirex game. My only vague regret is not having my jersey with me to get him to sign. I got to the game over an hour early, saw Shingo there talking to a coach and someone else, and I did a double-take, and walked by, and then did another double-take (he actually was looking at me kinda funny anyway), and realized I might not ever get another chance at this, so I got my courage up and went over like (in super-polite Japanese) "Mr. Kawabata, I know it might be rude of me, but I'm a huge huge huge fan, can I get a photo with you?" He smiled like "...sure?" and the coach took the picture and afterwards I talked to him a little, I asked if he was going to play in the game and he said no, but when I told him I was so worried when he got injured he said not to worry and that he's doing his best to heal up, and I told him I'll be waiting to see him play at ichi-gun again and he smiled and I thanked him again and went away. He's so tall and he really is as adorable and sweet as I thought he'd be in person. I wonder how he would have reacted if I *did* have my crazy custom Kawabata jersey with me :)  Either way, it was the highlight of my trip.

- I saw my Niigata Albirex buddies but didn't have time to talk to them since I had to bolt for the Fighters Tokyo Dome games. Alas. I did say hi to Tomoshi Aoki at least.

- The Baystars have keychains for Mishima and Kagami so now I have those. I didn't get to see either of them in person this trip though :(

- "My" Hosei pitcher this year is Kazuki Funamoto. I mean, I'd already told him last year that he was "the next Kagami" for me, but Mishima was still "mine" last year. Anyway, Funamoto pitched a good game against Todai and I talked to him after the game and gave him Easter candy and stuff, said I'll be cheering for him from afar this year. He's very sweet personality-wise and I also think his skin has cleared up a lot in the last year or two because I didn't remember him being quite as cute as he is now. Good for him :)

- Oh yeah, and I got a Hosei Fall 2012 championship towel. It came indirectly from Mishima, even, he gave it to my friend last fall and she gave it to me at the industrial league game this time. It's big and orange and awesome.

- Speaking of the industrial league games, so we got to see all our favorite recent grads play for ENEOS, like Ren Yamasaki and Masato Komuro, and Tomoya Mikami pitched too. Good times. Sachiya Yamasaki pitched 3 great innings for Meiji, too. He's getting better and better and better. As for the Waseda-Saginomiya game, the highlights for me were a freshman Waseda submarine pitcher named Kazuya Yoshino, and a goofball catcher for Saginomiya named Tomoya Okada.

- While I'm not part of "Ohtani Fever", I will note that I saw him make a few good plays in the outfield, and that thanks to him I had to pay 800 yen for the Fighters Rookie Edition card set. Grr :)

- OH! How can I forget that I saw Alex Ramirez's 2000th hit? That was super-exciting. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon at Jingu, we figured the game would get called after Rami's at-bat in the 6th, but then he lined a HR into the left-field stands and the game went on to have the Baystars win. Oops. Anyway, there was a bit of a to-do, they put up a thingy on the scoreboard about the 2000th hit, Miyamoto gave Rami-chan a bouquet, there was a plaque, lots of photo-taking, and then the game continued.

(and that evening we had a bloggers meetup which Westbay took a video interview during which was kind of embarrassing but whatever)

I think that's it for now.  I'll add to this if I think of anything more.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nichidai Sanko, One Year Later

I've had this post sitting in the "draft" state for almost a year. How silly.

Anyway, I was a huge fan of the Nichidai San HS team that managed to win the Jingu Taikai in fall 2010 and the entirety of Koshien in the summer of 2011, as can be seen in back posts under the Sanko 畔上組 label on here. I first saw them play at said Jingu Taikai and fell in love, then went to Senbatsu in Spring 2011 and sat behind their dugout, and then cheered for them all the way through Koshien, from afar, while working in San Francisco.

So when I went back to Japan in the spring of 2012, of course I had to go hunt down as many of the Sanko boys as possible in their new college digs. Fortunately, most of them were at easily accessible colleges, so here's some photos/details about the Sanko Nine.  (Technically, this post should be called Two Years Later in terms of details, but the photos are all One Year Later, so...)

#1: Pitcher Kentaro Yoshinaga.  College: Waseda.



I was totally in love with Yoshinaga when he was pitching for Sanko, and it was pretty painful for me to watch him go to my least favorite college team, almost like watching a player I love get drafted by the Giants.  Even worse, they gave him Saitoh's old #16 and basically started calling him "the new Golden Boy".  And EVEN worse, he's living up to it -- his freshman year line is a gorgeous 7-2, 1.79 with 71 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. (And batting .385 while doing so -- you'd think he was trying to outdo Sachiya Yamasaki at being the next Sanko Double Threat.) He was the front cover of Shube's 大学野球 magazine for the Fall 2012 semester, and there was a 15-page article on "Sanko Boys: The Amazing Freshmen", with 8 pages on Yoshinaga alone, comparing him to Saitoh, among other things.

Anyway, his fans are nowhere near as annoying as Saitoh's fans were, and I think I'm finally feeling slightly less heartbroken about him being at Waseda.  Except when he pitches against Hosei, of course.

#2: Catcher Takahiro Suzuki.  College: Rikkio.



Suzuki's crowning moment in the Senbatsu 2011 was when he actually split his lip while making an amazing play at the plate, had a towel to his mouth to catch the blood... and was back in the game catching and kicking ass again a few minutes later.

Unfortunately, he hasn't had much of an impact at college yet, only appearing in 3 official games, and not even getting an at-bat in any of them.  I was even at one of the games, on October 7... of course, I was sitting in the Hosei cheering section.  Rikkio hasn't had a lot of luck with catchers in recent years since Yuki Maeda left, so hopefully Suzuki-kun will catch on soon enough.

#3 First Baseman Ryoya Kaneko.  College: Hosei.

Actually, so Kaneko was a year behind the rest of the Sanko Nine, and so he spent 2012 still in high school, as captain of this year's Sanko team, which didn't go to Senbatsu, did go to summer Koshien, and lost their first game to Seiko Gakuin (though Kaneko himself hit a solo homer in the 9th to bring a 2-0 game to a 2-1 game).  It will be super-interesting to have two consecutive Sanko captains at Hosei this year (with Azegami there as well), along with the fact that Hosei's captain this year is Kanji Kawai, who was on the 2009 champion Chukyodai Chukyo team.

#4: Second Baseman Kenichi Suganuma.  College: Asia... except he dropped out and is actually entering Nittaidai (Japan Sport Science) college in the fall.




I still have absolutely no idea what the hell happened here.  He made it onto the bench for Asia's team as a freshman, probly on his Sanko credentials, I saw him at a game and took this photo (he didn't play but was on the sidelines) and then never heard of him entering any of their games at all throughout the year, and in the fall he wasn't even listed as being in Asia's baseball club roster at all.  I asked Azegami about it when I had a chance to talk to him in the fall and he was like "I'm not sure, but I think he might have dropped out?"

Anyway, rumor is he's joining the Nittaidai team which has several of his former Sanko teammates, including Taniguchi, so maybe that will be good for him.

#5 Third Baseman Toshitake Yokoo.  College: Keio.



Yokoo was the cleanup batter for that Sanko team, and he did hit a pretty scary number of home runs in high school, and he idolized Seibu's Okawari-kun.

He hasn't been smashing the snot out of the ball quite as much in college -- to the tune of a .196/.316/.393 line for the year with only 2 homers -- but Keio's manager Etoh has been basically letting Yokoo go out there and bat 5th in the lineup for every game.  I guess we'll see how he fills out in college.  I didn't really see him play much, but his swing looked just like it did in high school, so I'm not sure what's up.

#6 Shortstop Koki Shimizu.  College: Nichidai.



Bizarrely the only one of the main 9 Nichidai Sanko boys to actually go to Nichidai (Nihon University).  Unfortunately for Shimizu, first Nichidai fell from the top Tohto League to 2nd League in the fall, and he didn't get enough playing time to end up on the league's stats site, so I'm not entirely sure how he did (though I should probably do more webstalking to figure it out sometime).

#7 Left Fielder Yuta Taniguchi.  College: Nittaidai.

Unfortunately, Nittai is in a league I just don't go to see, so I didn't stalk Taniguchi.  Maybe some other time.

#8 Center Fielder and Captain, Sho Azegami.  College: Hosei.



The great thing for Azegami going to Hosei is that he got to experience them winning the Big 6 League in the fall.  The bad thing is that he was going to a team that was fairly strong and so he barely got any playing time in the spring at all, though a decent amount in the fall.  Still, his attitude seemed to be pretty much "I'm a freshman, I know that if I work hard I'll get playing time and to contribute to the team later."

Fun fact: Azegami was 6-for-16 (.375) with 1 strikeout while I was in Japan for the first 3 series of the fall.  Then he was 0-for-8 with 4 strikeouts for the remainder of the semester after I went home.  Conclusion: for Azegami's sake, I should consider moving back to Tokyo.

#9 Right Fielder Shun Takayama.  College: Meiji.



I'm going to say something that might sound ridiculous, but I feel like Takayama could easily be the next version of Hayata Itoh (wrong HS/college, but whatever).  He's tall and built extremely well, can hit for power AND speed from the left side, is a decent outfielder, etc.  His first semester in Big 6 he hit .417 and the only reason he didn't get the batting title is because Keio's Agata went on a tear and hit .447.  His batting average went down a little bit in the fall but he hit his first college homer and also walked a bit more.

Seriously, I think Takayama might be the second-most likely to go pro after college out of these nine as of right now (Yoshinaga seems to be the most likely).  Though, Sanko doesn't usually produce that many pro players, oddly enough, so who knows.

Bonus pictures: I actually met some of these guys!



This was after an exhibition game of Keio vs. Sega Sammy.  Yokoo seemed sort of very WTF when I was like "can I get a photo with you please please please I'm a huge fan" but Daisuke Takeuchi (who, BTW, had been kinda picking on Yokoo in the dugout during the game -- bet it's some form of freshman hazing) was like "Sure, no problem, we can take a photo". And being a freshman, Yokoo had to listen to his senior. Ha! I am figuring that later on Daisuke explained to him "don't worry, the gaijin is harmless, she goes to a ton of our games". I gotta say, he won a bazillion "good guy" points with me that day.



Shun Takayama. This was after Opening Day vs. Todai.  I'd actually briefly met Takayama when he was still in high school, actually, when I recognized him outside Jingu and talked to him a little.  I asked for a photo then but he said "sorry, I'm not really supposed to".  This time he really had no excuse, especially after one of my Meiji superfan friends said "You have no idea how much this girl loved your Koshien team, she's going back to the US tomorrow" and so he was like "ok, fine, I guess". Hence the kind of grumpy look, but I was really happy to meet him.



So yeah, being as Hosei is my favorite college team and I have the most context and fan cred there, it was only a matter of time before I'd meet Sho Azegami.  While I was introduced to him briefly in the spring with several other Hosei freshmen, this picture was actually taken during the fall semester.  I told him what a huge fan I was and how happy I was he came to Hosei.  The other guy with his eyes closed is Akihiro Wakabayashi from Toin Gakuen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Picture Is Worth 2012 Words

I forgot to do this last year, didn't I. But you can go back and see 2010 and before...



Anyway, I was finally going through some stuff in my room and found my collection of tickets from last year (while the picture includes hockey games -- the San Francisco Bulls ECHL team that started up in town this year and has been distracting me this fall -- they are not in this list) and actually wasn't sure how many baseball games I went to, so I spent a while looking back through photos and other things and made a list.  It was both more and less than I thought:

April 2: Chuo vs. Toyo, Jingu, Tohto University League
April 2: Komazawa vs. Asia, Jingu, Tohto University League
April 4: Fighters vs. Swallows ni-gun, Kamagaya Stadium
April 4: Swallows vs. Tigers, Jingu
April 5: Swallows vs. Tigers, Jingu
April 6: Marines vs. Fighters, QVC Marine Stadium
April 7: Marines vs. Fighters, QVC Marine Stadium
April 8: Hosei Univ vs. JR Higashinihon, Jingu, Big6 vs Industrial Exhibitions
April 8: Keio Univ vs. Sega Sammy, Jingu, Big6 vs Industrial Exhibitions
April 9: Rikkio Univ vs. Honda, Jingu, Big6 vs Industrial Exhibitions
April 9: Waseda Univ vs. Subaru, Jingu, Big6 vs Industrial Exhibitions
April 10: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu
April 11: Giants vs. Dragons, Tokyo Dome
April 12: Chuo Univ vs. Nihon Univ, Jingu, Tohto University League
April 12: Komazawa vs. Aoyama Gakuin, Jingu, Tohto University League
April 12: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu
April 13: Marines vs. Baystars ni-gun, Lotte Urawa Stadium
April 16: Todai vs. Meiji, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
April 16: Lions vs. Fighters, Seibu Dome
April 29: Frederick Keys vs. Lynchburg Hillcats, Harry Grove Stadium (single-A)
June 7: Oakland A's vs. Texas Rangers, Oakland Coliseum
June 23: San Rafael Pacifics vs. Hawaii Stars, Albert Park (NABL)
July 4: Oakland A's vs. Boston Red Sox, Oakland Coliseum
July 6: San Rafael Pacifics vs. Maui Na Koa Ikaika (NABL)
July 15: Tacoma Rainiers vs. Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Cheney Stadium (triple-A)
July 31: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, Dodger Stadium
August 26: San Rafael Pacifics vs. Maui Na Koa Ikaika (NABL)
Sept 7: Hosei vs. Meisei, Hosei ground (preseason game)
Sept 7: Swallows vs. Giants, Jingu
Sept 8: Buffaloes vs. Fighters, Osaka Dome
Sept 9: Buffaloes vs. Fighters, Osaka Dome
Sept 11: Marines vs. Fighters, QVC Marine Field
Sept 12: Giants vs. Carp, Tokyo Dome
Sept 13: Fighters vs. JX-ENEOS, Kamagaya (exhibition game)
Sept 13: Marines vs. Fighters, QVC Marine Field
Sept 14: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu
Sept 16: Hosei vs. Todai, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
Sept 16: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu
Sept 17: Niigata Albirex vs. Gunma Diamond Pegasus, Hokushinetsu League
Sept 18: Aoyama Gakuin vs. Chuo, Jingu, Tohto University League
Sept 19: Marines vs. Eagles, Tokyo Dome
Sept 20: Marines vs. Swallows ni-gun, Lotte Urawa Stadium
Sept 21: Lions vs. Fighters, Seibu Dome
Sept 22: Meiji vs. Waseda, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
Sept 22: Hosei vs. Keio, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
Sept 23: Lions vs. Fighters, Seibu Dome
Sept 24: Meiji vs. Waseda, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
Sept 24: Marines vs. Buffaloes, QVC Marine Field
Sept 25: Swallows vs. Tigers, Jingu
sept 26: Fighters vs. Baystars ni-gun, Kamagaya
Sept 26: Swallows vs. Tigers, Jingu
Sept 28: Yamato Samurai Reds vs. Kishu Rangers, Sato Yakuhin Stadium (KANDOK League)
Sept 30: Hawks vs. Fighters, Fukuoka Yahoo Dome
Oct 2: Baystars vs. Swallows, Yokohama
Oct 3: Fighters vs. Hawks, Sapporo Dome
Oct 6: Hosei vs. Rikkio, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
Oct 6: Meiji vs. Todai, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
Oct 6: Swallows vs. Carp, Jingu
Oct 7: Hosei vs. Rikkio, Jingu, Tokyo Big 6 University League
Oct 7: Swallows vs. Carp, Jingu

I guess it's not too surprising that I was in Japan for 6 weeks of the year and went to 52 games there, and only 8 in the US for the other entire part of the year, huh?

Though who knows, this year I may have to go try to stalk Kensuke Tanaka in the Giants' minors, or go cheer for Hiroyuki Nakajima over in Oakland now that he's not my mortal enemy anymore.

Also, let's see..
14 Fighters-related games
14 Swallows-related games
8 Marines-related games
6 Hosei-related games (technically 8 if you count that I went to watch Kagami pitch with the Baystars and Mikami pitch for ENEOS)

And uh... 28 games at Jingu.  There's a reason I call it "home", you know.

Also, if anyone would like me to maybe make some mini-posts about some of these games, I could probably do that.  I had some really epic stories in there, especially involving meeting Shingo Takatsu up in Niigata, or meeting most of the Kishu Rangers team when I was in Nara...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Draft 2012 Liveblogging!

Moving the "liveblog" to the bottom though I didn't comment THAT much -- just very tired from 1am-4am here, you know :)

I'll add in the ikusei players tomorrow morning.

Name                   Pos  HS/Univ/Company         T/B   DOB          Ht/Wt  
--------------------   ---  ---------------         ---   ----------   -------

Giants
1 Tomoyuki Sugano       P   Tokai University        R/R   10/11/1989   185/86
2 Susumi Ohrui          IF  Dohto Univ              R/R   08/31/1990   176/70
3 Harutomo Tsuji        IF  Komono HS               R/L   08/11/1994   180/80
4 Katsuhiko Kumon       P   Osaka Gas               L/L   03/04/1992   173/75
5 Masaki Sakaguchi      IF  Tokai Univ              R/R   09/29/1990   187/95

I1 Keigo Tahara         P   Yokohama HS             L/L   06/12/1994   182/88
I2 Rin Matsutomi        IF  Beppu Univ              R/R   04/26/1990   172/70

Dragons
1 Koji Fukutani         P   Keio University         R/R   01/09/1991   183/92
2 Tatsuro Hamada        P   Aikodai Meiden HS       L/L   08/04/1994   183/88
3 Takeru Furumoto       OF  Ryukoku Univ            R/L   12/04/1990   175/77
4 Shota Sugiyama        IF  Waseda Univ             R/R   02/10/1991   172/78
5 Hayato Mizowaki       IF  Kyushu Gakuin HS        R/L   05/17/1994   178/63
6 Koshi Inoue           P   City Light Okayama      R/R   08/21/1988   180/78
7 Shunta Wakamatsu      P   Yusei HS                R/R   02/28/1995   180/75      

Swallows
x Shintaro Fujinami 
1 Taichi Ishiyama       P   Yamaha                  R/R   09/01/1988   182/75
2 Yasuhiro Ogawa        P   Soka Univ               R/R   05/16/1990   170/74
3 Kengo Tagawa          P   Kochi Chuo HS           R/L   05/22/1994   187/77
4 Masaya Emura          P   Y-Tec                   L/L   07/05/1987   179/70
5 Yudai Hoshino         C   Kagawa Olive Guyners    R/R   10/19/1988   177/80
6 Ryota Yachi           IF  Kokugakuin Univ         R/R   02/03/1991   178/78
7 Tatsuya Ohba          P   Hitachi Seisakusho      R/R   03/10/1989   183/85

Carp
x Yudai Mori
x Tatsushi Masuda
1 Hiroki Takahashi      OF  Ryuukokudai Heian HS    R/R   05/11/1994   181/77
2 Seiya Suzuki          P   Nishogakusha HS         R/R   08/18/1994   180/80
3 Takashi Uemoto        IF  Meiji Univ              R/R   08/22/1990   170/70
4 Ko Shimozuru          OF  Honda                   R/R   04/23/1988   175/83
5 Yuuki Mima            P   Naruto Uzushio HS       R/R   05/26/1994   176/77

I1 Sora Tsuji           P   Gifu Johoku HS          R/R   04/24/1994   184/77
I2 Tsukasa Morishita    OF  Aikodai (Univ)          L/L   02/23/1991   176/76

Tigers
1 Shintaro Fujinami     P   Osaka Toin HS           R/R   04/12/1994   197/87
2 Fumiya Hojo           IF  Kosei Gakuin HS         R/R   07/29/1994   177/75
3 Kojiro Tanabo         P   JFE Higashinihon        R/R   12/09/1990   177/82
4 Shinya Azuhata        C   Seino Unyu              R/R   07/22/1988   181/85
5 Kazuyuki Kaneda       P   Osaka Gakuin Univ       R/R   09/18/1990   183/77
6 Ryosuke Ogata         OF  Toyo Univ               R/L   08/25/1990   176/75

Baystars
x Nao Higashihama 
1 Hiroyuki Shirasaki    IF  Komazawa University     R/R   08/20/1990   183/87
2 Kazuki Mishima        P   Hosei University        R/S   05/07/1990   176/75
3 Shoichi Inoh          P   NTT Higashinihon        R/R   05/01/1986   188/84
4 Daichi Akahori        OF  Sega Sammy              R/R   04/13/1987   188/90
5 Tateki Abe            P   NTT Nishinihon          R/R   09/03/1986   180/81
6 Toshiro Miyazaki      IF  Sega Sammy              R/R   12/12/1988   175/80

I1 Kinta Imai           P   Hiroshima Kokusai HS    R/R   06/19/1994   178/78

Fighters
1 Shohei Ohtani         P   Hanamaki Higashi HS     R/L   07/05/1994   193/85
2 Tatsuya Morimoto      IF  Takaoka Daiichi HS      R/R   06/12/1994   185/90
3 Yohei Kagiya          P   Chuo University         R/R   09/23/1990   177/80
4 Ruita Usami           IF  Hiroshima Kogyo HS      R/R   10/24/1994   177/82
5 Hayato Aragaki        P   Toshiba                 R/R   10/21/1985   183/84
6 Shogo Yagi            P   JX-ENEOS                R/L   03/29/1989   179/80
7 Hidekazu Kawano       P   Sumikin Hirohata        R/R   12/14/1987   173/75

Lions
x Nao Higashihama 
1 Tatsushi Masuda       P   NTT Nishinihon          R/R   04/23/1988   180/78
2 Makoto Aiuchi         P   Chiba Kokusai HS        R/R   07/23/1994   184/75
3 Yuji Kaneko           IF  Ritsumeikan University  R/S   04/24/1990   178/67
4 Tomomi Takahashi      P   Seino Unyu              L/L   11/16/1988   174/75
5 Isamu Satoh           P   Kohnan HS               L/L   09/18/1994   181/77

I1 Daichi Mizuguchi     IF  Kagawa Olive Guyners    R/L   06/28/1989   168/68

Hawks
1 Nao Higashihama       P   Asia University         R/R   06/20/1990   181/76 
2 Yusuke Itoh           P   Tohoku Gakuin Univ      L/L   10/20/1990   175/70
3 Tomoki Takata         IF  Asia University         R/L   05/06/1990   175/65
4 Yusuke Masago         OF  Nishijojo HS            R/R   05/04/1994   184/78
5 Taiga Kasahara        P   Fukuoka Kodai Joto HS   L/R   01/20/1995   185/77
6 Hirofumi Yamanaka     P   Honda Kumamoto          R/R   09/09/1985   175/78

I1 Takeshi Yagi         C   Gunma Diamond Pegasus   R/R   01/13/1990   184/81
I2 Yusuke Ohtaki        OF  Earth Environmental HS  R/R   04/05/1994   182/75
I3 Yuya Iida            P   Nodai Univ Okhotsk      L/L   11/27/1990   185/86
I4 Hayao Miyazaki       OF  Mie Chukyo Univ         R/L   11/27/1990   176/70

 
Eagles
1 Yudai Mori            P   Higashi Fukuoka HS      L/L   08/19/1994   184/76
2 Takahiro Norimoto     P   Mie Chukyo University   R/L   12/17/1990   178/80
3 Takahito Ohtsuka      P   Kyushu Gakuin HS        L/L   10/13/1994   174/70
4 Takahiro Shimotsuma   C   Sakata Minami HS        R/R   04/15/1994   186/85
5 Hirohito Shimai       OF  Kumamoto Golden Larks   R/R   06/19/1990   174/70
6 Takahiro Kakizawa     P   Kamimura Gakuen HS      R/L   07/30/1994   178/80

I1 Sho Miyagawa         P   Osaka Taiiku Univ       R/R   10/19/1990   184/87

Marines
x Shintaro Fujinami 
1 Takahiro Matsunaga    P   Osaka Gas               L/L   04/16/1988   175/76
2 Hiroya Kawamitsu      P   Kyushu Kyoritsu Univ    L/L   03/04/1991   186/80
3 Tatsuhiro Tamura      C   Kosei HS                R/R   05/13/1994   173/77
4 Shohei Katoh          OF  Jobu Univ               R/S   03/28/1991   183/83

Buffaloes
x Shintaro Fujinami
x Takahiro Matsunaga
1 Takahiro Matsuba      P   Osaka Taiiku Univ       L/L   08/14/1990   180/75 
2 Shunichi Satoh        P   Dohto Univ              R/R   01/08/1991   179/71
3 Torai Fushimi         C   Tokai Univ              R/R   05/12/1990   182/83
4 Kengo Takeda          OF  Jiyuugaoka HS           R/R   04/18/1994   183/73
5 Shota Morimoto        P   Fukui Miracle Elephants R/R   05/25/1992   174/70
6 Ryo Toda              P   JR Higashinihon         R/R   09/04/1988   181/75

I1 Daiki Hara           C   Shinano Grandserows     R/R   06/02/1988   174/76
I2 Hiroki Nishikawa     OF  Fukui Miracle Elephants R/L   08/15/1987   171/68


One more hour until the draft! OMG!

Since I'm not in Japan this year I'll be hoping to catch a justin.tv broadcast of the TV part, and I'll just be watching the picks come in on various news sources such as Nikkan Sports, Sponichi, Sanspo, etc.

Anyway... can't wait to see where everyone ends up!!

1am for me: It's on TV!  Why the hell is Tomoaki Kanemoto there??!  :)

Ok, stuff getting underway.   Seems like the order is CL first and by ranking, after the first round of course, so that's Yokohama -> Orix -> Hanshin -> Lotte -> Hiroshima -> Rakuten -> Yakult -> Softbank -> Chunichi -> Seibu -> Giants -> Fighters.

I'm betting 5 teams go for Fujinami...

AND THE FIRST ROUND PICKS ARE:
Yokohama: Nao Higashihama, Asia University
Orix: Shintaro Fujinami, Osaka Toin HS
Hanshin: Shintaro Fujinami
Lotte: Shintaro Fujinami
Hiroshima: Yudai Mori, Higashi Fukuoka HS
Rakuten: Yudai Mori
Yakult: Shintaro Fujinami
Softbank: Nao Higashihama
Chunichi: Koji Fukutani, Keio University
Seibu: Nao Higashihama
Giants: Tomoyuki Sugano, Tokai University (really a ronin this year)
Fighters: Shohei Ohtani, Hanamaki Higashi HS (sigh)

I'm so happy that Fukutani-kun went in the first round. I doubt I'll see him much with Chunichi but he has a great opportunity there, he's from Aichi, and he's just an awesome smart nice guy and I'm so happy for him!!

Not sure what I think of the Ohtani thing, before anyone asks me. The Fighters do some pretty crazy things in the drafts recently. If they can get him to stay, great, if not, oh well, we do a pretty great job of developing our pitchers anyway. Picking Ohtani and losing him to the MLB is not significantly different than picking Fujinami and losing the lottery for him.

So yeah, 4 for Fujinami, 3 for Higashihama, 2 for Mori... lotteries now:

1:21am: Looks like Nao Higashihama is going to the Softbank Hawks... Sadaharu Oh did the lottery pick for them and actually beat the super-lucky Nabe-Q from Seibu.  wow.

1:25am: and Shintaro Fujinami is going to the Hanshin Tigers?!  WTF :P

1:28am: Yudai Mori, who has the Marinerds Cute Seal of Approval, is going to...  Rakuten apparently.  Wheeee.

Okay, so what are the rest of you guys doing in the first round since you didn't get your first pick?

Yokohama:Hiroyuki Shirasaki, Komazawa University
Orix:Takahiro Matsunaga, Osaka Gas
Lotte:Takahiro Matsunaga
Hiroshima:Tatsushi Masuda, NTT Nishinihon
Yakult: Taichi Ishiyama, Yamaha
Seibu:Tatsushi Masuda

Wow so ANOTHER lottery...

1:36am: Lotte gets Matsunaga.
1:38am:Seibu gets Masuda.

So now it's just down to Orix and Hiroshima to settle out their first round... will someone freaking draft Mishima already?  :)

Orix: Takahiro Matsuba, Osaka Taiiku Univ
Hiroshima: Hiroki Takahashi, Ryuukokudai Heian HS

I guess that's it for the first round, whee.

Okay, here are the ACTUAL first round results:

Yokohama: Hiroyuki Shirasaki, IF, Komazawa University
Orix: Takahiro Matsuba, LHP, Osaka Taiiku Univ
Hanshin: Shintaro Fujinami, RHP, Osaka Toin HS
Lotte: Takahiro Matsunaga, LHP, Osaka Gas
Hiroshima: Hiroki Takahashi, OF, Ryuukokudai Heian HS
Rakuten: Yudai Mori, LHP, Higashi Fukuoka
Yakult: Taichi Ishiyama, RHP, Yamaha
Softbank: Nao Higashihama, RHP, Asia University
Chunichi: Koji Fukutani, RHP, Keio University
Seibu: Tatsushi Masuda, RHP, NTT Nishinihon
Giants: Tomoyuki Sugano, RHP, Tokai University
Fighters: Shohei Ohtani, RHP, Hanamaki Higashi HS

It's now 1:46am so I guess it's time for the next round soon?

OH YAY KAZUKI MISHIMA GOT PICKED BY THE BAYSTARS AS THE FIRST PICK OF THE 2ND ROUND!!!  JUST LIKE KAGAMI 2 YEARS AGO.  Also they can play together again, that'll be so funny if I go to visit both of them!! :)


I think I'm mostly giving up on liveblogging and just going to fill in names as they come in because I'm already getting tired... :(

OH but hey, Yohei Kagiya to the Fighters! AWESOME! That means I will meet him next year for sure :)

Takashi Uemoto to Hiroshima, thank god for that :)

I kinda want to note that I think this is the first NPB draft that has both players born after I graduated high school AND players I have actually been out drinking with. Pretty crazy, huh?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Draft!

Hi everyone.  I AM planning to liveblog the draft this year, just as I have every year since 2006 or so. Yeah, I'm back in the US, but I'm planning to be up until at least 3am my time, which means I can catch the 5pm start of the draft in Japan which is 1am here, and hopefully most of it will be done by the time I crash.

I don't think I'm going to get out a pre-draft photo post this time around, since I've been completely swamped at work since coming back here.

Here are the lists of HS and College boys who are entering the draft:

High School Candidates
College Candidates


There are also several industrial league guys who are expected to go fairly high, like pitchers Motoshi Ohshiro from JX-ENEOS (I don't get this one as he's a little lefty, but at Kamagaya the rumors were high), Tatsushi Masuda from NTT Nishinihon, Takahiro Matsunaga from Osaka Gas, catcher Shinya Azuhata from Seino (which is totally fine with me as he'll open playing time for my Shuhei Ikenaga, heh heh).

I don't have a ton of insight into a lot of the high school players beyond things other sites have already said.  The giant 197-cm Shintaro Fujinami from Osaka Toin will certainly be a contested commodity, and it's unclear whether Shohei Ohtani from Hanamaki Higashi will really go to the MLB or not.  LHP Tatsuro Hamada from Aikodai Meiden seems to be high on several lists, infielder Fumiya Hojo from Kosei has been a big deal these last two years.

The college list is, of course, hard for me to be completely unbiased when talking about.  I could write an entire post about how Kazuki Mishima has grown over these last 4 years at Hosei and how he is the undisputed MVP for them winning the Big 6 championship this semester, but since he's also been my "birthday buddy" these last few years and we always chat and joke together outside Jingu after games, I really, really, really want him to get drafted and have a great and successful career.  I could also talk about how Hiroshi Taki decided NOT to enter the draft this year and go to Toyota instead, and how he managed to finish college with 106 career hits, but... yeah.

And of course I'm also biased when talking about the Keio boys; I knew Koji Fukutani was something special when I first saw him in the rookie tournament his freshman year, and I was lucky enough to talk to him several times during the run where Keio was just crushing everyone.  He's tall, built well, throws fast, throws hard, strikes out a ton of guys, and even better, he got into Keio on the actual entrance exam and THEN excelled in sports (AND is an engineering major, the only active baseball club member to do so).  I doubt Daisuke or Agata will get drafted, but they have still had respectable careers as well.

I doubt any of the Rikkio boys will get drafted. Shota Sugiyama from Waseda will probly get taken but I see his upside as Shinichi Takeuchi and his downside as out of baseball in 3-4 years. I guess we'll see. And Meiji's Takashi Uemoto better get drafted, I'm not sure he'll graduate :) He's a really fun guy and his brother plays for Hanshin, but he's never really had a spectacular season at bat during college so it's a little bit worrisome.

In the Tohto league I've become a Chuo fan over the last year or two, and I've grown increasingly fond of Yohei Kagiya.  He may not blow anyone away with his height or power, since he is neither tall nor overpowering, but he throws strikes consistently enough and attacks batters in the zone, which is more than I can say for a lot of other pitchers; I charted him a few times over the last year and he throws a lot more first-pitch strikes than many other college pitchers in Japan.  Nao Higashihama from Asia-dai has been a #1 draft pick since he entered college, pretty much, so it won't be too surprising to see him go somewhere fast.  Hiroyuki Shirasaki from Komazawa, I was surprised to see him on so many lists but watching him in Japan this year, he's a tall boy and he really has filled out a lot as a cleanup batter.  Tomoki Takata from Asia-dai is also a solid shortstop (and he threw me a ball at the US-Japan games, so he gets my vote).

Players in other leagues that I have some interest in include Torai Fushimi, the adorable catcher from Tokai University, who is also pretty solid and was chosen to Japan's national team as a sophomore (though he ducked out on going to North Carolina last summer because he had a bad spring semester).  And Ritsumeikan's switch-hitting shortstop Yuji Kaneko should hopefully get drafted as well, I was pretty impressed with him last summer as well.

Anyway, I'll see you all back here in about 24 hours!  Exciting!  God help me if any of the boys I've fallen for these last 4 years end up with teams I hate, by which I mostly mean Yomiuri...