Archive > October 2008

Site Downtime

» 31 October 2008 » In NPB Tracker » Comments Off

npbtracker.com was down for an hour or two this morning, due to issues my webhost was having. Apologies to anyone who couldn’t access the site during this time.

The outage was during my normal writing time, so there won’t be any real post for today.

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Draft Storylines: Results

» 30 October 2008 » In npb draft » 4 Comments

The draft has come and gone, and thanks to a late night in the office I got to follow it live a little bit. I’m not going to write up the whole thing, because Deanna has already done an excellent job of that. Instead, let’s take a quick look at where the guys I’ve written about landed:

Hisayoshi Chono: Backed off his demand to be selected by the Giants at the last minute; was subsequently selected by the Chiba Lotte Marines. We’ll see if he signs.

Yi-Jie Hsiao: Selected by Hanshin with their first round pick. Hsiao was actually Hanshin’s third “first” choice, but they lost out on their first two.

Krissada Shirakura: Not selected. It’s on to the industrial leagues, or perhaps a pro league outside of Japan for Shirakura.

Son-Hyon Shin: Taken by Hiroshima in the fourth round.

Rafael Fernandez: As expected, snagged by Yakult with an instructional player pick.

Yoshinori Yamarin: Not selected, even as an instructional player. Will he sign a minor league deal with the Braves?

Hayato Doue: Drafted with Softbank’s final instructional round pick.

Junichi Tazawa: NPB teams respected his wishes not to be drafted. I thought someone might take a flier on him with a late-round pick, but it didn’t happen.

One unfortunate result of the draft is that the excellent Draft de Anbo site is down. The site slowed down to a crawl during the draft, so I guess they violated their host’s traffic policies. The site is still down, but I hope to see it back soon.

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Draft Storylines: For the Love of the Giants

» 29 October 2008 » In npb draft » 9 Comments

Every so often, an amateur player comes along who refuses to play for any team other than the Yomiuri Giants. This year, that guy is Honda outfielder Hisayoshi Chono. Chono has been willing to put his money where his mouth is in the past: Nippon Ham took him out of college with a mid-round pick, but he refused to sign and instead moved on to the amateur Industrial League. This time around, he’s said he’ll remain with Honda unless the Giants select him.

Chono has reportedly been on as many as 10 teams’ short list for draft candidates, but some fluxuation is starting to be reported. Nippon Ham unsurprisingly took him off their list. Yakult pulled him off their list, but then put him back on. And Hanshin is said to have narrowed down their choice for their top pick to Chono and Waseda University outfielder Keijiro Matsumoto

Having said all that, I don’t quite understand what the hype around this guy is. I haven’t seen him live, or even in a full game on TV, but I did find this 10 minute game footage reel of him via Draft Reports. And I’m not impressed. He is very clearly vulnerable to breaking pitches; check out the sequence at about 6:00 where Junichi Tazawa feeds him nothing but curves and sliders, resulting in a strikeout and a booted grounder. He does seem to run and throw reasonably well in the video.

Still, it seems like there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll get selected by someone with a reasonably high draft pick. It’ll remain to be seen whether it’s the Giants or someone else, and if he sticks to his guns this time.

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Igarashi to Majors (someday)

» 28 October 2008 » In mlb prospects » 2 Comments

Add Tokyo Yakult Swallows reliever Ryota Igarashi to the list of guys that is looking for a future move to MLB. Igarashi is a domestic free agent this year, but will decline to file so that he can pursue an MLB contract later on. Igarashi is said to be looking to make a “Shinjo class” move, which is to say he wants to come to America for the experience rather than the money. And if he truly follows the Shinjo model, he’ll return to Japan to finish his career.

Igarashi has already begun negotiating his next contract with Yakult, and it appears that he stay in Yoyogi at least for next year. Igarashi spent nearly two years on the shelf due to Tommy John surgery, but came back in July and posted solid numbers for the Swallows. Most notably his 42/6 K/BB ratio indicates that his control, which was never a strong point pre-surgery,  has improved dramatically.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/10/28)

» 28 October 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

A few links to pass along this morning…

Japanese Articles:

English Articles:

 

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Pro Yakyu This Week – October 27, 2008

» 28 October 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

Michael Westbay of JapaneseBaseball.com has published the lastest edition of his podcast, Pro Yakyu This Week. Grab the audio here, or read the transcript here. This week’s edition features the resolution to the Marty Brown saga, a look ahead at the Japan Series, and a retrospective of Sadaharu Oh’s managerial career.

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Kawakami Hires an Agent

» 27 October 2008 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off

Daily Sports is reporting that Kenshin Kawakami has hired American agent Tony Attanasio, with an eye toward MLB. Attanasio is notable in NPB circles for representing Ichiro. 

Kawakami’s move to MLB has been something of a forgone conclusion, but it’s inching closer to becoming a reality. Chunichi sealed the deal for themselves by reportedly offering Kawakami a 4 year deal that included a pay cut. The rationale was apparently that he failed to win in the second half of the season. I find it incredibly hard to believe that the Dragons would do such a thing, unless they are intentionally pushing him away.

The same article I linked to above notes that several MLB teams are interested in Kawakami, with the Red Sox named specifically. The article speculates that Kawakami could fulfill a swingman role for Boston, with Mike Timlin retiring and Justin Masterson taking some turns in the rotation. Kawakami was also scouted by numerous MLB teams during the Olympics and Playoffs.

The East Windup Chronicle covered Kawakami along with some others a few months ago, and Kawakami’s 2008 stats can be found in English at JapaneseBallPlayers.com.

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Draft Storylines: Yamarin, Doue

» 27 October 2008 » In npb draft » 1 Comment

A couple of notes on the upcoming draft to pass along…

  • Yoshinori Yamarin is an 18-year old pitcher who wants to go pro in Japan, but has a move across the Pacific in his sites should he not be drafted. And if he isn’t drafted, the Braves are said to be ready to move to sign him. Yamarin is a lanky 6’1, 176 lbs, and has done well in pre-draft workouts. He’s reportedly hit 91 mph with his fastball, and also throws a slider. It doesn’t seem like he’s among the elite group of pitching prospects in this year’s draft, but given the potential of losing him to an MLB organization I wonder if an NPB team will select him just based on potential. 
  • Remember Hayato Doue? He was the Shikoku Island League catcher who nearly signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox last off-season, only to have his visa application denied. He wound up going back to the Island League and having a decent season for the Kagawa Olive Guynors. SoftBank has him shortlisted for a pick as an instructional player. It seems like it would be a good move; the Hawks have been weak behind the plate since Kenji Johjima left.

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Draft Storylines: Foreign Citizens

» 26 October 2008 » In npb draft » 6 Comments

We’re a few short days away from NPB entry draft, and while much has been written about Junichi Tazawa (by me in particular), there are plenty of stories to write about. I’m going to try and get to a few of ‘em over the next couple of days.

This year’s draft is unusual in that it features multiple foreign-born draft-eligible players. All of the players listed below have received their education in Japan and wouldn’t qualify as foreign players under the NPB roster rules.

Yi-Jie Hsiao (Pitcher, Nara Sangyo University, Taiwanese citizen): Known as Ikketsu Sho in Japan, Hsiao is the best prospect on this list. Hsaio came to Japan on his own volition as a 16 year-old, after seeing the Koshien High School Baseball Tournament on TV. Hsiao made two appearances in Koushien before moving on to Nara Sangyo University. After spending his first three years as a reliever, Hsaio came into his own as a starter in his senior season, allowing no earned runs in 34 innings pitched. 

Hsaio reaches about 92 mph with his fastball with good command. TTT of Taiwan Baseball has a brief scouting report on Hsiao, in EnglishNippon Ham has expressed an interest in drafting Hsiao. 

Krissada Shirakura (Pitcher, Asia University, Thai citizen): Asia University and Thailand national pitcher Shirakura is one of the more interesting candidates in this year’s draft. Born in Bangkok to a Japanese father and a Thai mother, Shirakura picked up baseball after moving to Japan around the age of 10. Out of admiration for Daisuke Matsuzaka, he chose to pitch in high school.

Shirakura was invited to play for Thailand’s national team in his final year of high school, and has represented his country of birth internationally each year since. He attributes his stamina to playing internationally, and learned a slider and forkball from Cuban opponents. He’s put up pretty good numbers at Asia University, but is considered undersized. I’ve seen him toward the end of projected draft lists for Hanshin and Nippon Ham. 

Shin Son-Hyon (Shortstop, Kyoto International High School, Korean citizen): Like Hsaio, Shin saw the Koshien Tournament on TV, liked what he saw, and decided to go to Japan as an exchange student. It took him about a year to handle daily conversations in Japanese. 

Shin was among 53 players worked out by Hiroshima in September, and the only one that “passed” the tryout, and may take him with a later pick. According to Shukan Baseball, he’s also drawn interest from Korean and American scouts.

Rafael Fernandez (Pitcher, Hakuoh University, Brazillian citizen): Yakult intends to select exchange student Fernandez as an instructional player, which would make him the first Brazillian to be drafted into NPB since Norberto Semanaka in 2003. Fernandez reportedly hits 94 mph on the gun, but has only won two games in his four college seasons. Yakult has a training academy in Brazil, and they might have a diamond in the rough if they can get him to command his stuff.

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Iwase to Remain with Chunichi

» 26 October 2008 » In mlb, npb » 1 Comment

Nothing official has been announced, but it looks like Chunichi Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase will decline to file for free agency and remain the team. Sanspo, Nikkan Sports, Sponichi and several others are all running a nearly identical report in which Iwase comments, “It’s not decided when we’ll talk to the team, but inside there’s practical part of me”.

I wonder if his confidence took a hit after his poor performance in the Olympics. Or maybe he realizes that he’s coming off a sub-par season (by his standards) and doesn’t like what the market will bear for him. Iwase earned a little over $4.3M in 2008, so a move to MLB wouldn’t necessarily have gotten him a big raise. I’d also suggest that Iwase is more valuable to Chunichi than any other team, as the team lost Fukudome last year and is likely to lose Kenshin Kawakami. Keeping Iwase also allows Kazuki Yoshimi to move into the starting rotation full time.

Nothing is official until a contract is signed, but Chunichi is reportedly preparing a multi-year deal for their star closer. Last year they let him choose between a 1-year and 4-year contracts, so it’ll be interesting to see if they show the same flexibility this time around.

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