And Now, a Word on Ken Kadokura

» 22 January 2009 » In mlb prospects »

Update, mid-day Jan 22: The Cubs introduced Kadokura today, here’s a pic of him in his new Cubs gear.

So who is Ken Kadokura? 

Prior to signing with the Yomiuri Giants for the 2007 season, Kadokura had been a serviceable swingman type for 11 NPB seasons. He lost the plot a bit in his two years with the Giants, kind of like Terry Mulholland’s mid-90’s stint with the Yankees. I haven’t followed Kadokura closely over the last two years, but I haven’t found any evidence that he’s been injured — if anyone has any let me know. Wikipedia puts his absence from the top team in 2008 down to non-performance: Kadokura failed to break camp with the top team, but was recalled in April ’08 to fill a middle relief role. On May 17 he blew a game in the 10th inning, and afterward was demoted again, never to be recalled. He spent the remainder of the year starting for the Giants farm team, posting a 3.21 era over 75 2/3 innings, with a 72/14 k/bb ratio. Minor league numbers don’t mean much to me, but he did pitch the whole year and didn’t suffer from any publicly-announced injuries.

Kadokura had a decent pre-Giants career. He’s crossed the 100 IP mark six times in his career, and boasts a respectable 1146 K’s in 1276 career innings. He’s also given up 1296 career hits, and given up his share of home runs, so take that with a grain of salt. I’m not sure what he did differently in 2005, which was by far his best season. The last article I have on his stuff is from 2006, and it says he mainly throws a fastball, forkball and slider, and gets his fastball up to about 90 mph. Maybe I’ll dig around my Shukan Baseball collection a little more over the weekend.

Kadokura was teammates with Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome for the 1999 season with Chunichi, and it’s been speculated that providing Fuku a little support over the course of the long season may have played a role in this signing. I obviously don’t know if that’s true or not, but to me this is a sound baseball move.* We’ve seen a solid trend of NPB relievers performing well in MLB, Kadokura might benefit from having a more consistent role, and the Cubs current regime seems to be able to get the most out of their pitchers. Given that this is a minor league deal, there’s very little risk involved, and if it helps Fukudome out somehow, that’s all the better.

I’d like to share a video of his work here, but the only one I could find was this on of him getting nailed in the chin with a line drive off the bat of former Cub Pedro Valdes during the 2001 season, when he was a Kintetsu Buffalo teammate of former Cub Tuffy Rhodes.

*I guess I should re-iterate that Kadokura is on a minor league deal, and certainly a depth guy for the Cubs at this point. I do think we’ll see him in the bigs at some point this year, even if it’s when someone goes down with an injury.

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  1. Patrick
    22/01/2009 at 10:23 am Permalink

    2008 wasn’t such a good year for new Japanese relievers in the Majors. Then again Japanese pitchers are still low risk high reward gambles well worth taking.

  2. Patrick
    22/01/2009 at 11:00 am Permalink

    Yeah, but the three guys that floundered had MLB contracts paying $1-3m / year. I don’t see anything but upside in Kadokura.

  3. Patrick
    23/01/2009 at 7:07 am Permalink

    On August 2, 1996, Kadokura threw a 5 hit shutout against the Giants, facing 33 batters, striking out 8, and walking 2. He was immediately given the “Giants Killer” label, while the TV announcers struggled to explain how this young kid that nobody had ever heard of could blank the Giants.

    Of course, the reality of the situation turned out to be that he wasn’t so much of a Giant Killer after all, losing to the Giants after just 3 1/3rd innings on October 6 when he allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on just 3 hits, but walking 3 and striking out nobody. That was only Kadokura’s 3rd loss of the season (to 7 wins at the time), so the rookie did throw pretty well.

    But I’m afraid that he never really did live up to expectations after that initial Giants game.

  4. Patrick
    23/01/2009 at 12:08 pm Permalink

    He did have a good year in 2005 for your BayStars. I guess he just put it all together that season?


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