Tag Archive > Dionys Cesar

Offseason Changes: Chunichi Dragons

» 02 February 2011 » In npb » 6 Comments

Coming: Felix Carrasco, Joel Guzman, Takahiro Saeki, Tatsuo Kinoshita, Keisuke Mizuta

Going: Edward Valdez, Dionys Cesar, Ryota Arai

Staying: Wei-Yin Chen, Maximo Nelson, Kazuhiro Wada

Summary: When something works, stick with it. Though they did capture the Central League flag last season, Chunichi had the weakest offense in the league save for the BayStars. Let’s also remember that their margin over the other league contenders was a single game in the standings. But other than making a few cosmetic changes, the Dragons seem content to continue relying on quality pitching, a solid defense, and their mid-lineup hitters to put them on top again.

First, the pitching. The Dragons pitching staff had by far the lowest ERA in the CL last year, recording a 3.29 for the season. They allowed only 521 runs, nearly 100 better than their closest competitors. Japan’s best closer, Hitoki Iwase, will anchor the Nagoya side’s bullpen for a 13th season. Barring injury, numbers similar to last year’s 42 saves and 2.25 ERA are as close to a sure thing that the Dragons have. Working forward, Takuya Asao will again be an important cog in the bullpen, and expect Masafumi Hirai, Akinobu Shimizu, and Akifumi Takahashi to be leaned on for innings and appearances.

With 210 wins and Kimiyasu Kudoh idle, Masa Yamamoto takes the reigns as NPB’s active wins leader. He added 5 more in 2010, and will likely add a similar amount in 2011. But it was Wei-Ying Chen who led the staff in innings pitched, wins, and ERA last season. Expect him to be at the forefront of a very good corps again this season. Of note, the Dragons will need to find a replacement for starter Kazuki Yoshimi early on, as the righty had off-season elbow surgery and won’t be ready by Opening Day.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Dragons brought in Felix Carrasco and Joel Guzman from the American minor leagues to add offensive depth. Dionys Cesar didn’t get the job done and was let go. Make no mistake, though, it’s still Tony Blanco, Masahiko Morino, and Kazuhiro Wada who make up the core of a team that doesn’t get around the bases too quickly. Masahiro Araki is the only real stolen base threat on the squad. It remains to be seen if that core can perform to their 2010 level, and particularly if age will begin to catch up with Wada. He’ll turn 39 in June.

Manager and newly-minted Hall of Famer Hiromitsu Ochiai has reminded his team that they can be the first Dragons teams to ever win back-to-back pennants. With stiff competition from the Giants and Tigers, it should be another season long dogfight. Even if they don’t repeat as league champs, expect the Dragons to remain in the A Class for 2011 at a minimum.

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Foreign Player Hits & Misses: Central League

» 19 November 2010 » In npb » 6 Comments

Every year sees a new crop of foreign players in Japan. 2010 was no different, and several newcomers to NPB were smashing successes, while others completely missed the mark this past season. Let’s take a look at some in the Central League:

Hits

Matt Murton, outfielder, Hanshin Tigers.

Easily the foreign-born player of the year (and perhaps the story of the year), Murton’s season was a record setter. A career .286 hitter over five seasons in Major League Baseball, Murton put up a stunning .349/.395/.499 batting line in his rookie season with Hanshin. He set a new Japanese single season hits record with 214, while leading his team with 105 runs scored. He also knocked in 91 runs while helping the Tigers to a second place finish. As an example of Murton’s batting prowess, he had seven games with four or more hits, and only went hitless in 28 (he played in all 144). Murton will undoubtedly be back playing for the Tigers in 2011, perhaps as their everyday right fielder, as they have already picked up his option for next season.

Brett Harper, infielder, Yokohama Bay Stars.

Harper was a pretty good mid-season find for a team that crashed to a 95 loss season.

Harper’s final line over his partial 2010 season read .316/.395/.596. That slugging percentage would have easily led the team if Harper had gotten enough playing time to qualify for leader boards. He hit 19 home runs in only 261 plate appearances. Harper looks like a keeper for 2011.

Josh Whitesell, infielder, Yakult Swallows.

Another mid-season pickup, Whitesell was a pretty good find for Yakult. The 28 year-old left handed hitter poked 15 home runs on his way to a .309/.399/.591 line. While he only saw action in 68 games he provides the Swallows with a pretty good first base option going forward. Like many first basemen he struck out at a high clip (71 times), but hit .359 with runners in scoring position. It looks as if Yakult will invite him back to Japan in 2011, though the sample size for his numbers is limited by his late start.

Giancarlo Alvarado, pitcher, Hiroshima Carp.

Alvarado seemed to be the only foreigner on Hiroshima’s staff whose season wasn’t a disappointment. The Puerto Rican right-hander provided a poor Hiroshima club with an 8-8, 4.07 ERA in 119 1/3 innings. The eight wins were good for second-highest on the team (Kenta Maeda earned 15) and his ERA was a full run lower than fellow newcomer Eric Stults’. Slightly concerning were Alvarado’s 4 wild pitches and team high 5 balks.

Misses

Justin Huber, infielder, Hiroshima Carp.

The Carp didn’t have any foreign hitters with pop in their bat like they have had in previous seasons (Alex Ochoa, Scott McClain, Scott Seabol, and Andy Phillips come to mind). Huber certainly didn’t hit the ball out of the park very often, and didn’t hit it much elsewhere either. In his 80 games Huber batted .220 for a team that didn’t improve their win total very much under new manager Kenjiro Nomura. Huber (like most of the rest of the 2010 Carp foreigners) was a washout.

Casey Fossum, pitcher, Hanshin Tigers.

2010 was not a productive season for the left-handed Fossum. Originally signed to be used as a starter, management changed course with him and tried him out of the bullpen. In 12 games at the ichi-gun level Fossum allowed 36 earned runs over 56 2/3 innings for an unsightly 5.72 ERA and 2-5 record. A demotion to ni-gun helped his numbers, as he posted a 3.10 ERA in 18 games at that level with a single win (1-0). Signed for only one year, the Tigers officially cut ties with Fossum in October.

Dionys Cesar, infielder/outfielder, Chunichi Dragons.

Cesar, a utility infielder who played in the Mexican League prior to coming to Japan, was a disappointment in 2010. Converted to the outfield, the switch-hitter batted a paltry .215 with a single home run (.215/244/.269). He struck out 45 times and walked only 7 times in 194 plate appearances. Chunichi cut ties with the Dominican at the end of the 2010 season.

Tony Barnette, pitcher, Yakult Swallows.

Barnette will not be offered a contract for 2011 after a rather poor 2010 performance. He posted a lackluster 5.99 ERA era at the ichi-gun level over 16 games (79 2/3 IP, 4-5 record). With Yakult’s ni-gun team the results were equally sub-par: 1 win, 3 losses, a 5.03 ERA over 34 innings.

One for debate

Jose Castillo, infielder, Yokohama Bay Stars.

In his first year in Japan, Castillo provided a .273/.309./446 year as Yokohama’s primary second baseman. He led the team with 16 errors and drew only 22 walks, which kept his OBP low. On the plus side, his 19 home runs were good for a third place tie on the team. It appears that despite his power, Yokohama will look for a player to replace Castillo in 2011.

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New Foreign Players to Watch

» 11 March 2010 » In npb » 7 Comments

I’m suffering from something of writer’s block, so here we go with another list. This we’ll look at new foreign players on my watch list for the upcoming season.

  • Dionys Cesar (IF, Chunichi Dragons): Cesar tore up the Mexican League last year, and the Dragons seem to know what they are doing when it comes to Dominican players (nod to Domingo Martinez). So will lightning strike again? Cesar has put in 16 minor league seasons and spent some time in Taiwan, so it’s nice to see a guy like this get a chance to earn a solid paycheck in Japan.
  • Giancarlo Alvarado (P, Hiroshima Carp): The Carp also have a solid track record with foreign players (props for Erik Schullstrom), and like Cesar, Alvarado is a veteran who has bounced around the minors and independent leagues.
  • Matt Murton (OF, Hanshin Tigers): Murton was on my list, so that makes him an easy pick. He also has the unenviable task of taking over center field from retired star Norihiro Akahoshi, as well as following in failed American Tigers outfielders Shane Spencer, Lew Ford and Kevin Mench.
  • Lee Beom-Ho (IF, SoftBank Hawks) and Kim Tae-Gyun (IF, Chiba Lotte Marines): Honestly I’m not sure what to expect from these guys, as I haven’t seen much Korean baseball aside from the WBC and Asia Series, so that’s a reason look forward to seeing Lee and Kim this season. Kim is certain to get at-bats with the Marines, while Lee will have take turns in SoftBank’s 1B/3B/DH rotation with Jose Ortiz, Hiroki Kokubo and Nobuhiko Matsunaka. Lee had been adamant about wanting to stick at 3rd though. It’s too bad that Kim Dong-Ju didn’t make it to NPB for this season, as he had been trying for years.
  • Chris Bootcheck (P, Yokohama BayStars), Eugolio de la Cruz (P, Yakult Swallows), Juan Morillo (P, Rakuten Golden Eagles): All of these guys have the same profile: good velocity, bad control. But who will be this year’s Marc Kroon, and who will be this year’s Chris Resop?

And with that I’ll turn the floor over to the readers. Who are you looking forward to seeing?

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Chunichi Signs Four out of The Dominican

» 11 December 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

Chunichi found a gem last year in the previously unheralded Tony Blanco, and is looking for more of the same. The Dragons have been scouting the Dominican this offseason, and came up with four signings:

  • Dionys Cesar
  • Edward Valdez
  • Candido Jesus (ikusei player)
  • Joaquin Santamaria (ikusei player)

All four players have played for MLB affiliated ball and you can easily look up their stats on baseball-reference.com.

Of these four, Cesar is the interesting one. A 15 year minor league veteran, Cesar has never reached the majors, and has spent the last several seasons in the Mexican League. He’s coming off a phenomenal season in Mexico, having hit .380 with 58 walks and only 36 strikeouts. Chunichi sees him as a utility guy who will play in the infield and outfield, taking over for the retired Tomas de la Rosa.

Chunichi has a growing interest in Dominican baseball. In addition to signing all these players, the Dragons employ former NPB slugger Domingo Martinez as a scout, and having been sending players to take part in the Dominican Winter League. I wonder if they’ll eventually set a full-time academy there, like the Carp have.

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