Archive > September 2008

Highlights & Web Gems

» 08 September 2008 » In npb » Comments Off on Highlights & Web Gems

Well, it was an off-day in Japan today and I don’t have any essay type material ready, so here’s my version of NPB Web Gems.

  • An 18 year-old Daisuke Matsuzaka blows away Atsushi Kataoka with a 97 mph heater in his debut game.
  • The 2001 Kintetsu Buffaloes clinched the 2001 Pacific League title in dramatic fashion. Highly recommended viewing.
  • Tsuyoshi Shinyjo homers to send the game into extra innings, moves from the outfield to 2nd base , and then… watch the clip.
  • Masafumi Yamamori scales the outfield fence to save a home run… twice. The first play is in the Major League Hall of Fame.
  • Koji Akiyama used to back flip on to home plate after going deep for Seibu. Here’s one he did in the 1986 Japan Series. Impressive, yes, but definite beanball fodder if it happened in MLB.
  • Sherman Obando once took out a Seibu Dome camera with a home run.
  • The 7th inning stretch is a little different in Japan — rather than sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, fans release balloons. The Hanshin Tigers fans put on the best show.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/09/07)

» 07 September 2008 » In mlb prospects, npb » 4 Comments

First bullet points collection in a couple of days… favoring English articles for this round.

English Articles:

Japanese Articles:

  • Junichi Tazawa continues to impress both Japanese and American scouts, this time with 2 2/3 innings of perfect relief in Eneos’s 1-0 win over JFE in the Industrial League Tokyo Intercity Baseball Tournament. Scouts from the Yokohama BayStars, Yankees, and Pirates as well as Braves GM Frank Wren were in attendance. When asked about Tazawa, Yankees scout Kida commented, “please ask Cashman”.
  • Orix has gone on a tear and gotten themselves all the way into 2nd place in the Pacific League. This has pleased team owner Miyauchi, who commented: “the team is clicking” (note: that’s a very loose translation).
  • However, assuming Orix makes the playoffs they’ll have to compete without retiring slugger Kazuhiro Kiyohara, who intends to stop playing after his October 1 retirement ceremony. I’ve never been a Kiyohara fan, but I’d like to see him go out on a high note.
  • Chunichi super-sub Tomas De La Rosa is making a play to stick with the team for next season. He’s considered a key man in the team’s run up to a playoff spot.

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More on Tazawa

» 02 September 2008 » In mlb prospects » 7 Comments

Okay Red Sox, Braves, and Orix Buffaloes fans — I did a little more digging on Junichi Tazawa and found some pretty good stuff.

  • Deanna attended Tazawa’s most recent game with Simon and treats us to this game report. If you haven’t checked out Deanna’s and Simon’s blogs, I highly recommend doing so.
  • This YouTube video shows an inning’s worth of work in which Tazawa shows off a 90-93 mph fastball, a 12-6 curve, and a shuuto. Note that his fastball has some movement and he can run it in on righthanded batters. I have no idea about the quality of competition in this game.
  • This much worse amateur video is from a pro-am game versus the Chunichi Dragons. He hits 150 km/h (93mph) on the gun and you can get a sense of the movement on his stuff, but other than that you can’t tell much about how he did. The video is more watchable from about 04:00 in.
  • Here’s a great frame-by-frame look at Tazama’s windup.
  • This Japanese scouting report includes Tazawa’s stats for this season. I’m not going to translate the whole thing but I’ll give you the bottom line: 54 IP, 46 hits, 56 K, 4 BB, 6 ER, 1.00 ERA. Fastest recorded pitch speed is 153 km/h (95.625 mph) according to this.

I’m actually rooting for Tazawa to stay in Japan. I’m an NPB fan and I’d like to the league retain it’s best talent at least for some period of time. But at the same time I think this attention is good. The interest of teams like the Red Sox validates the level of talent in Japan. Also if NPB teams have to compete with MLB teams a little more directly to acquire top amateur talent, it may make them adapt their approaches a bit more quickly, and I think that would be a good thing.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/09/02)

» 02 September 2008 » In npb » Comments Off on NPB Bullet Points (2008/09/02)

Back on to current events… here’s today’s collection from around the ‘net.

Japanese Articles

English Articles

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Red Sox (to) Sign Tazawa(?)

» 01 September 2008 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 14 Comments

Update, Sept 3: For more on Tazawa the pitcher, please see this post.

Update: Simon pointed out that minor detail that I glossed over — that the signing hasn’t happened yet, just that Theo Epstein ok’ed it. I guess my inner hot stove got the better of me. The subject matter of the post is still valid, and I’ve made appropriate tense corrections to reflect the actual situation.

Sponichi is reporting that the Boston Red Sox have signed are looking to sign amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa from Eneos Oil of the Industrial Leagues. Tazawa is a 22 year-old righthander with a fastball that reportedly reaches 97 mph, and is widely considered a top amateur going into this year’s NPB draft. All 12 NPB teams, as well as the Braves and Mets had been watching Tazawa in addition to Boston.

Theo Epstein comments in the article on scouting Japanese amateurs (warning: translation of a translation):

“We know how good Japanese pitchers are through Daisuke (Matsuzaka) and Oki (Hideki Okajima). The time has come when all 30 MLB teams have data on Japanese pitchers, but we’re proactive about data on young players.”

At this point I would like to note that terms of the signing were not included in the article, nor have I seen an official announcement. So hopefully there will be more details to come. It’s possible that The signing isn’t final yet.

This potential signing is likely to cause a stir in NPB. According to the article, there are no clear rules prohibiting MLB teams from signing Japanese amateurs prior to being drafting in NPB, but this is would be the first time that a consensus first round talent could potentially join an MLB team before being drafted. The NPB brass has never been nuts about losing veteran talent to MLB, so we’ll see how they would react to losing a coveted amateur.

This isn’t wouldn’t be Boston’s first amateur signing out of Japan. The signed relief pitching prospect Ryo Kumagai out of college a few years ago, and attempted to sign catcher Hayato Doue from the independant Shikoku Island League earlier this year. Kumagai wound up back in Japan pitching in the amateur industrial leagues pretty quickly, while I believe Doue failed to secure a visa and never made it over.

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