Archive > 13 May 2009

Ikusei (Training) Player System

» 13 May 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 3 Comments

I touched on the ikusei (training) system at the end of my 2009 NPB Team Payroll Ranking piece, but how exactly does that system work?

The number of contracted players each NPB team is allowed to carry on its roster is 70. Previously, if teams wanted to carry more than 70 players, they invited players as practice players (players who could not participate in regular season games, but were allowed to practice with the team). However the system came to an end when teams were using the system to their benefit and inviting as many promising players as possible.

After the the system was discontinued, NPB teams were in need of another development system, with the number of amateur teams and industrial league teams diminishing and players losing opportunities to play.  That is how the ikusei player system was born. So let me touch on how the ikusei player system works…

  • Teams with more than 65 players on the books are allowed to utilize the system
  • Ikusei players are only allowed to participate in a Ni-gun(Minor League) game and only five players per team are allowed to play
  • Ikusei players may change status to a contracted player by end of July, but foreign players over the age of 26 are only allowed to transfer by the end of March
  • Ikusei players will wear a three-digit number and if the status changes, the player also needs to change its number to a one or two-digit number
  • Ikusei players may be included in trades until the end of July

Since the establishment of the ikusei system there have been couple success stories…

  • The first ikusei player to play in a NPB game was Michitaka Nishiyama of the Softbank Hawks
  • Tetsuya Yamaguchi (Pitched for Japan in WBC 2009) of the Yomiuri Giants earned the first victory as a player coming from the ikusei player system
  • Former Major Leaguer Norihiro Nakamura signed with the Chunichi Dragons as a ikusei player in 2007 and finished the season as the MVP of the Japan Championship Series
  • 29 year-old Yuuki Tanaka, who signed as an ikusei player with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows was promoted on May 11. The winner of 23 career NPB games will be attempting his comeback after being released by the Orix Buffaloes in 2008
  • Hayato Doue, who had signed with the Red Sox prior to 2008 but couldn’t get a work visa, is currently with the SoftBank Hawks after being promoted from an ikusei player at the start of the 2009 season. Doue was taken with the last pick of 2008 ikusei draft

Currently there are 49 total ikusei players on the 12 NPB teams, with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants having 12 under contract (As of May 12, 2009).

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