Archive > 30 March 2010

Ichinoseki Lands in Belgium

» 30 March 2010 » In international baseball » 6 Comments

Remember Shota Ichinoseki, the Aomori University pitcher who looked overseas as a fallback plan to not being drafted? He’s re-emerged after landing a deal to play in Belgium for the Namur Angels.

According to Sports Hochi, Ichinoseki had an MLB tryout last Autumn, but failed. He wound up in Belgium in a Web 2.0 kind of way: an agent his college manager knew posted video of him throwing to a website, and Namur saw it and asked for more video. The team liked what it saw and signed him.

I know very little about Belgium’s baseball league, but its level of play is reputedly lower than the leagues in Italy and the Netherlands. Another fun fact is that Leon Boyd played there prior to getting his Dutch passport and joining the Honkbal Hoofdklasse. Mister Baseball has a brief recap of Namur’s 2009 season here.

Ichinoseki says his goal is to return to Japan and play in NPB. He’s well off the beaten Industrial League / Independent League path, so whatever he winds up he’ll have taken a unique route.

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Opening Weekend Notes

» 30 March 2010 » In npb » 2 Comments

Alright, so NPB is officially in season… here are some observations from the games this weekend:

  • Yu Darvish looked better this weekend against the Marines than he did last weekend, at least in the parts of the game I was able to see. He definitely had his good slider. Darvish also came up with a new pitch called the “one-seam”, but I have no idea if he used it in the Marines game.
  • Shunsuke Watanabe’s pitching seems to have gotten slower, unbelievably.
  • The game I spent the most time with was Sunday’s matchup of Rakuten vs Seibu. Seibu’s Kazuyuki Hoashi doesn’t have great velocity, but was sharp with all his pitches, and commanded the strike zone well. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he got to face Todd Linden three times. Masahiro Tanaka went home with the win, though he was a little less impressive than usual. It was freezing cold (it started snowing at one point) and the ball wasn’t carrying, so a couple of long fly balls he gave up turned into outs and not home runs. Dee Brown has looked terrible every time I’ve seen him this year.
  • Hanshin’s two import bats are off to hot starts. Through Tuesday’s action, Matt Murton is hitting .500 (8/16) and Kenji Johjima is at .389 with 5 rbi.
  • Orix is a surprising 6-1 so far this season.
  • Hayato Doue made his ichi-gun debut last weekend (thanks to Yakyu Baka; I wouldn’t have noticed this otherwise). You might remember Doue as the catcher the Red Sox signed but couldn’t get a visa for. After his Red Sox flirtation, he played another year in Indy ball, got drafted as an ikusei player, spent a year in the minors, and finally earned a promotion to the NPB show.

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