Category > kbo

NPB in English: Policy Shifts, Player Movements, KBO

» 26 February 2012 » In kbo, mlb prospects, npb » 7 Comments

There’s plenty of excellent English-language content being authored on Japanese and Asian baseball. Here are links to a few examples.

I’m always on the lookout for new blogs and sources of content on Japanese baseball. If you know of any that I don’t link to, let me know.


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NPB Bullet Points: Catching Up

» 17 September 2011 » In kbo, mlb, mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 3 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. So long, in fact, that the draft post had some links from July in it. Between when I started this and now, some interesting random things have happened. Here are a few of them.

  • The Orix Buffaloes promoted Freddy Ballestas to their shihaika roster back in July.
  • Also in July, Softbank lefty Tsuyoshi Wada took home his 100th career win. He achieved the feat in his 200th career game, the eight fastest pace of all time and the fastest for a lefty, ahead of teammate Toshiya Sugiuchi.
  • In other Wada news, Tsuyoshi reached the service time requirements for free agency on September 16 and is widely expected to make a run at an MLB contract this offseason. Said Wada: “I’m honestly happy [about reaching free agency]. I haven’t had a chance to think about it yet. [The team and] I haven’t had a detailed discussion yet, but I’ve been told I’m needed.” He looked pretty happy about the achievement.
  • Hiroshima is holding a tryout on September 24th, for men aged 17 to 24 and over 175 cm tall. This is aimed at Japanese, NPB draft-eligible players.
  • Sport Hochi speculates that Yokohama could release all eight of their foreign players this offseason. I suspect they’ll hold on to their Taiwanese prospects but move on from the rest.
  • Whomever runs the official Orix Buffaloes Twitter feed wants to attend UEFA Champion League matches.
  • A fan fell on the field during the September 16th Swallows-Carp game in Hiroshima, after climbing the outfield fence trying to retrieve a ball thrown into the stands by Yakult outfielder Norichika Aoki. Aoki commented, “he seemed pretty drunk. I’m glad that he seemed to not get hurt.”
  • Journalist Misako Hida recently did an interesting interview with Kei Igawa for the Japanese version of the Wall Street Journal. Among the insights: Igawa wants to sign with an MLB organization that will give him a chance to reach the majors, he doesn’t get recognized much when he goes out, and he realized the Yankees didn’t know him when the GM and manager asked what his best pitch at a meeting during his first year.
  • @mykbo had a Tweet this morning saying that Lotte pitcher Lee Yong-hoon has thrown the first minor league perfect game in the history of the KBO.

English language bonus link:

  • Twins blog Over the Baggy has some interesting analysis of Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s defense in his first year with the Twins. The author makes some excellent observations. Better, I would say, than anything I’ve done in this area.

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The English NPB Blogosphere, 2010 Edition

» 08 March 2010 » In kbo, npb » 15 Comments

When I started this site in 2008, there were some good English language sources of information on Japanese baseball, but I (obviously) didn’t feel there were enough. Thankfully, there are a few more now. So here’s my guide to the English NPB Blogosphere for 2010.

General Japanese Baseball

  •, the first there ever was, hosts blogs as well as discussion boards.
  • By know we know what to expect from Deanna’s Marinerds: baseball otaku-ism, lots of detail, and great photos.
  • Similarly, if you’re reading this you’ve probably seen Yakyu Baka, Gwynar’s insanely thorough news site.
  • Gary Garland no longer posts news to Japan Baseball Daily, but stats and archived content are still available.
  • Simon appears to be on a little bit of a hiatus, but he occasionally covers baseball at jhockey. His hockey content gets a thumbs up from me too.
  • Japan Baseball News is a new site that got going last season.
  • Japanese Baseball Cards makes me miss Calbee Potato Chips.
  • Kokoyakyu is an invaluable resource during the Koshien tournaments. I haven’t found it’s equal in Japanese (not that I’m looking).
  • Janblurr’s blog includes the occasional post on Japanese baseball. Jan also contributed this post about German baseball to NPB Tracker last year.
  • Yakyu All-Stars is a site written by NPB Tracker reader Matt, and knowing his team allegiance I almost put him in this next category…

Team Specific Blogs

Historical Sites

  • Rob Fitts chronicled the famed 1934 MLB All-Star tour of Japan, which is really what gave professional baseball its start in the country. Rob isn’t maintaining that particular story line any more, but its still a great read.
  • A Noboru Aota Fan’s Notes is only an occasional read for me, but it’s really a remarkable site. The very anonymous author goes into a tremendous amount of detail on each topic he covers, and includes scans of old photos and painted baseball cards. Really enjoying this site requires a decent investment of time, though which runs counter to the Internet culture. Still, this is a hidden gem.

Around Asia

And Finally…

I don’t link to writers in Japan’s mainstream English press very often, but there are some who do excellent work. Three that I think deserve special attention are Jim Allen, Jason Coskrey, and Wayne Graczyk.

If there any sites that are missing from this list that should be included, please leave a comment.

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Sadowski to Korea

» 25 December 2009 » In kbo » 3 Comments

Ryan Sadowski has found his way to Asia. The former SF Giant has signed a deal to pitch for the Lotte Giants in 2010.

You might recall that the Yokohama BayStars tried to get Sadowski during the 2009 season, but San Francisco decided they could use him on the big league roster and held on to his contract. Sadowski had a couple of good games at the MLB level before Jonathan Sanchez returned from bullpen exile to throw a no-hitter. Sadowski had signed with Houston earlier in the offseason, but I guess the Astros let him out of his contract.

Best of luck to Ryan in Korea!

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NPB-KBO Club Championship Notes

» 14 November 2009 » In international baseball, kbo, npb » 3 Comments

If you missed the NPB-KBO Club Championship, you can watched a Korean broadcast archived on here:,November-13-2009.

If you don’t see any video, try tweaking the time and date at the end of the url.

In a nutshell, Yomiuri beat Kia 9-4. It was a decent game until the 7th, when Yomiuri put seven runs on the board. Yakyu Baka has a write-up of the game, so I’ll limit my comments to a few observations. And here they are

  • This game failed to sell out Nagasaki’s rather small stadium. I wonder why they played in Nagasaki rather than the beautiful new stadium in Hiroshima?
  • The game felt like a spring training game spiked with a competitiveness, but the Giants did play all their starters. Last year, Seibu gave their foreign players the series off and let a number of their ni-gun kids play.
  • Kia’s starter, Yang Hyeon-Jong, was pretty good. He seemed to work mostly off of his breaking pitches, but seemed to have a respectable fastball, which I think he could have used more. In any event, I hope to see more.
  • Taishi Ohta pinch-hit at the end of the game, but looked completely fooled by You Dong-Hoon, who was otherwise hittable.
  • Wirfin Obispo is more of a “thrower” than a “pitcher”.
  • Tatsunori Hara took receipt of a huge trophy for his team’s victory.
  • Next year, the organizers are looking at bringing back the four-team format, and hosting the series in Taiwan. Good idea, in my opinion. I don’t think continuing to centralize this on Japan is in the best interest of Asian baseball.

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Japan’s Answer to the Arizona Fall League

» 15 October 2009 » In kbo, npb, sports business » 1 Comment

Japan’s answer to the Arizona Fall League is the Miyazaki Phoenix League, a 17-day long instructional league held in southern Japan. However unlike the AFL, the Phoenix League is not only a place for prospects to gain experience, but an opportunity for the stars to prepare for the playoffs. Hisanori Takahashi recently pitched four innings in a Phoenix brush-up start and Yu Darvish plans to join Nippon Ham’s Phoenix team to rehab from injury.

The Miyazaki Phoenix League consists 12 NPB teams, the Futures team (consisting a mix of NPB farm players), the Hanwha Eagles and Doosan Bears of Korea, and an All-Star team from the Shikoku-Kyushu Island League. The 16 teams will play a total of 112 games. Even though the fall league started out with all games being cancelled due to a typhoon, the fans have had many opportunities to interact with players and it’s been a special time for this sports-deprived region of the country.

Small cities in Arizona and Florida are the mecca of baseball during the spring and it makes sense for the NPB to construct their instructional leagues in different regions during the offseason. 17-days long tournament can bring a financial surplus for rural Miyazaki and even though some of the teams are concentrating on the playoffs, it is the best time of the season for the baseball fans in southern Japan.

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Japan-Korea Club Championship

» 15 September 2009 » In international baseball, kbo, npb » Comments Off on Japan-Korea Club Championship

Starting from 2005, the Asia Series was once thought to be the next big tournament in Asian baseball. However after four years, the tournament was unable to catch sponsor’s interest and with financial difficulties it was decided to rethink the tournament this year.

Now as a replacement plan, the NPB and KBO have agreed to hold a Japan-Korea Club Championship on November 14th at Nagasaki at the Big N Stadium. The champions from the NPB and KBO will play to decide the champion of the two leagues.

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NPB Bullet Points: Brazell Becomes a Dad, KBO Offers for Bobby

» 26 August 2009 » In kbo, npb » 8 Comments

Japanese Stories:

  • Craig Brazell commemorated the birth of his son, Trot, with two home runs in Hanshin’s 9-3 win over Yokohama. Congratulations to the Brazell family!
  • Lotte reportedly has some interest in bringing Julio Zuleta back to Japan. Why? Good question — he wasn’t effective his last few years in Japan, and he got himself released from his Mexican League team early in the season. Lotte team management says he would have to pass a tryout get a contract.
  • Chris Aguila is headed back to the States at the end of the month and is almost certainly done with SoftBank. He only managed to hit .095 and hasn’t played at ichi-gun since May.
  • Yomiuri is considering sending pitcher Norihito Kaneto among others to the Arizona Fall League this year. The team sent a couple of guys to play in the Dominican last winter.
  • “Shaggy” Shugo Fujii has qualified for domestic free agency.
  • It was a “draw”: Hisahi Iwakuma threw 149 pitches over 10 innings on August 25, but Hideaki Wakui threw 162 over nine. Neither pitcher figured in the decision, which Seibu took in a walk-off in the 11th. The winning Lions stormed the field, Taketoshi Gotoh wearing a mask that is supposed to resemble Barrack Obama.
  • Javelin thrower Yukifumi Murakami is reportedly getting a little attention from NPB teams as a pitcher. He supposedly hit 152 kmph (95mph) on the gun in college but maxed out at 142 kmph (87mph) in a recent speed gun competition.

English Stories:

  • Gen passes along a Sponichi report saying that Bobby Valentine is getting offers to manage in Korea.
  • You know those ESPN commercials that make Buster Olney look like an undercover operative or something? It took me two or three times to figure out what he’s supposed to be saying on the phone in Japanese. It’s “Ichiro! My favorite outfielder!” (“Ichiro! Boku no sukina gaiyashu!”).
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NPB Bullet Points: Kiyohara Makes an Appearance, Hanshin Looks to Korea

» 22 August 2009 » In kbo, Koshien, npb, npb draft » 4 Comments


  • Kazuhiro Kiyohara made his first appearance in a Seibu uniform in a while, swinging through the ceremonial first pitch on August 22.I’m not sure what Kiyohara’s been up to since retiring, but it looks like it involves getting a tan.
  • Hanshin is scouting Korea, reportedly looking at Kim Tae-Gyun of Hanwha and Lee Taek-Keun of the Heroes as potential acquisition targets for this offseason. Lee Bum-Ho and Kim Dong-Ju are also drawing interest from NPB teams. Someone who knows better should check my Romanization of these names.
  • Yakult’s Norichika Aoki, in the midst of his worst season as a pro, had his first four-hit game of the year, bringing his average up to .278. Yakult lost the game 7-3 to the Giants.
  • Draft Reports has a list of the hardest-throwing pitchers in this year’s Koshien Tournament.Yusei Kikuchi, Takumi Akiyama, and Kenta Imamiya.


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Kadokura Heading to Korea

» 13 April 2009 » In kbo » Comments Off on Kadokura Heading to Korea

Sponichi is reporting that Ken Kadokura is heading to Korea to sign a deal with the SK Wyverns. The Wyverns were the first team to make Kadokura an offer after he was released by Yomiuri, but he chose to pursue an MiLB contract instead. SK also has former MLB’er and SoftBank Hawk CJ Nitkowski under contract.

For more on Kadokura, please read this earlier post.

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