Archive > 14 September 2009

Kikuchi Rocks the Draft

» 14 September 2009 » In amateur baseball, nichibei, npb draft » 1 Comment

Yusei Kikuchi’s impending decision is something that the baseball world in not only Japan, but also in the United States is keeping an eye on. Kikuchi is scheduled to meet with his high school coach on the 15th (JST) regarding his decision, and has hinted in the media that his final decision will come once the Niigata Kokutai wraps up at the end of the month.

Kikuchi has been going back and forth with his choice,  and we’re reading in interviews that his decision between NPB and MLB still remains to be 50/50. However it’s not a secret that he eventually would like to challenge the MLB and the question is a matter of now or later. He stated in a television interview that his dream is to become a Major Leaguer, which is a big statement to make on public.

His recent comments directed to a baseball magazine were quoted in gossip rag Yukan Fuji, “there has not been a high school player who directly went to the MLB without going through the NPB, so there is a part of me that wants to be the pioneer.” He also states that if he waits to be a free agent when he is 27 years old after joining a NPB team, that might be a little too late.

Until he comes to a decision, Kikuchi will be the center of attention and many scouts and media should be at the Niigata Kokutai, where he is scheduled to pitch for the first time since sustaining back pain at the Koshien Tournament. Not only will be the baseball world keeping an eye on the decision, but the outcome will be crucial for media giant TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) as well.

The 2009 draft will be open to public and televised live for the first time and teams participating in a lottery draw to obtain the future ace is supposed to be the biggest catch of the event. Losing the big fish of this years draft will not only hurt now, but TBS could take a hit for the future as the live draft broadcast is a three-year project. NPB losing an amateur prospect for two years in a row to the MLB might consider restructuring the draft and the return of kibouwaku (players agreeing to terms with teams before the draft) will be a possibility if that’s the case.

All we can do is wait and see what Kikuchi decides. We’ll keep you posted on NPB Tracker.

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NPB Bullet Points: Sugiuchi v Darvish, Irabu Done in Kochi

» 14 September 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

As the end of the season approaches, we learn who will be released and who is in contention for postseason awards. Japanese links only today.

Japanese Articles:

  • Jose Fernandez left Orix’s 10-8 loss to Seibu in the 7th inning after taking a batted ball to the face. He’s out for the remainder of the season, and may be done with Orix. Literally adding insult to injury, the Orix front office commented that “his results don’t match his salary.” Fernandez hit .261 with 15 HR and 61 RBI, and is getting paid 100m yen ($1m) this year.
  • Toshiya Sugiuchi is making a play for some Sawamura Award consideration. He K’ed 11 Rakuten Eagles on the 13th, his fourth straight game with double-digit punchouts, becoming the first lefty to ever accomplish the feat in the Pacific League. He now is tied for the lead league with 15 wins and has the lead in strikeouts all to himself.
  • But then Yu Darvish said “not so fast” as he returned from injured reserve and shut down the Marines, allowing one run on six hits over eight innings. According to Nikkan Sports, however, the hardest he threw was 148 km/h (91 mph). Not his hardest fastball, but then again he never really needed to extend himself.
  • SoftBank has passed the 2,000,000 mark for attendance again this season, reaching the milestone in their 65 home game.
  • Hideki Irabu has been granted his release from the independent Kochi Fighting Dogs. He has tendinitis in his right thumb, and won’t be able to return in time to play again this season, so he bit the bullet and is heading home to America to recover. He intends to continue his comeback.
  • In place of the loss-making Asia Series, this autumn the Japan and Korea league champions will face off in the Nikan Club Championship. The game will be held on November 14 in Nagasaki.
  • Veteran infielder Toshihisa Nishi is done with Yokohama at the end of the year, but wants to continue playing and will search for a new team this offseason.
  • Hiroshima is looking to import pitching next year, notably of the lefthanded variety, and has mobilized US scout Eric Schullstrom to find some.
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