Tag Archive > Hayato Doue

Answering Google’s Questions

» 19 June 2010 » In Uncategorized » 4 Comments

Some of the search engine queries that wind up on this site are phrased as questions. Not all of the questions are answered directly by the content on the site, so I thought I’d answer a few of the more interesting ones here.

- Who is the shortest person in the npb?

This one has shown up multiple times. My best guess is Rakuten infielder Kensuke Uchimura, who is 163 cm or 5’4.

- Where does Hayato Doue play?

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

- Who is the best hitter in Japan today?

Today, I would say it’s Kazuhiro Wada, who is tearing up the Central League to the tune of .356/.454/.662 with 17 hr and 44 rbi.

- What pitches does Ryota Igarashi throw?

Mostly a fastball and a splitter. I wrote a profile of him last year, haven’t seen enough of him with the Mets to know if it’s still accurate.

- What is a 4 shake ball?

A knuckleball thrown with a forkball grip. See here for more.

Who does Tadahito Iguchi play baseball for in 2010?

Chiba Lotte Marines.

Who did the SoftBank Hawks trade for Roberto Petagine?

No one, Petagine was signed as a free agent.

Who is Dioni Soriano?

The latest graduate of the Hiroshima Carp’s Dominican Academy to reach NPB. I wrote a little bit about him over at FanGraphs.

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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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Player Profile: Norichika Aoki

» 30 January 2009 » In npb » 4 Comments

From 1994-2000, Ichiro was the undisputed best hitter in Japan. After he left for Seattle, Hideki Matsui took over as Japan’s consensus batting king. After Matsui’s reign, you’d have to go with Nobuhiko Matsunaka, until 2005 when Norichika Aoki emerged. It’s hard to argue who was better in ’05, but in 2006 Aoki took over the title and has held it ever since.

I mainly focus on pitching with this site, just because I think pitching is the more interesting part of the game (baseball is the only game where the defense controls the ball). So this will be my first of comparatively few articles devoted to hitting, and why not start at the top?

Looking Back
Not too long ago, I was thumbing through Shukan Baseball’s 2003 draft guide, and I happened across Aoki’s profile toward the back of the section for college players. Shukan Baseball graded him an ‘A’ overall, noting that he had hit .400 in two consecutive seasons, but compared him to Tatsuya Ozeki
, a servicable contact-hitting outfielder with zero power. Aoki’s Waseda University teammate Takashi Toritani really viewed as the prize of the draft, and got a cover spot on that issue. Back then, the top college and industrial league players could choose which team to sign with, and Toritani chose to sign with Hanshin, while Aoki was selected in the fourth round of the draft by Yakult. By the end of 2005, it was obvious which team had the better draft. I didn’t see Aoki in college so I can’t explain why he was so underrated, but it does speak to the difficulty of drafing top amateurs. Perhaps teams were scared off by his small frame (5’8 or so).

While we’re here, other notables available in the 2003 draft included SoftBank closer Takahiro Mahara,  former-almost Red Sox farmhand Hayato Doue, Yomiuri starter Tetsuya Utsumi, Dodgers farmhand Robert Boothe, and Lotte ace Yoshihisa Naruse. Aoki’s “comparable” Ozeki is currently out of NPB work and looking to catch on with a US minor league team

Hitting
The lefty-hitting, center-fielding Aoki is the closest thing Japan has to another Ichiro
, and WBC viewers will probably get to hear the compared quite a bit. The comparisons aren’t really off-base, as the two have pretty similar games. Comparing Aoki to a Japan-era Ichiro, both players have a long stride in their swings, but Aoki gets into more of a crouch and appears to have a more stable lower body. But judge for yourself with some obligatory YouTube footage: here’s a clip chronicling the evolution of Aoki’s swing from 2005-2007, and a homerun Ichiro hit off of a rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka in 1999. Both clips are in Japanese, but the video should speak for itself.

Aoki is a bit of a free-swinger, but he’s reduced his strikeouts and increased his slugging percentage in each year of his career. He’s also improved on his batting eye, walking about as much as he strikes out (his walk total actually surpassed his strikeouts in 2007). Another telling stat is that in 2008, 31.2% of his hits went for extra bases, up from 16.4% in his historic rookie year. Note also this improvement came while Yakult moved the fences back in their home, Jingu Stadium.

Let’s take a look at how he got his job done in 2008, courtesy of some analysis borrowed from the outstanding Data League site:

PA GB / FB Ratio GB Rate FB Rate Line Drive Rate GB BA FB BA Line Drive BA Hits to Left Hits to Center Hits to Right Hits on GB %
500 1.4 52.40% 37.50% 10.10% 0.288 0.423 0.775 28.50% 35.40% 36.10% 13.60%

So it’s pretty clear that Aoki uses the whole field, and does well when he gets the ball into the air. I’d suggest that he can improve further as his batting eye continues to develop and he can get pitches to drive. 

And More…
Aoki was a bright spot for Japan’s disappointing 2008 Olympic team, and will take to the international stage again in this year’s WBC, where he’ll start in center alongside Ichiro. Along with Yu Darvish, he’ll probably attract the most attention of any non-MLB player on Japan’s team.

Aoki just signed for 2009 with Yakult for 260m yen ($2.86m) after four rounds of negotiations. There had been some rumblings of Yakult wanting to sign him to a 10-year deal, but so far nothing’s come of it. I wish they’d make more than a nominal attempt to do it. Aoki asked to be posted a couple years ago, and Yakult of course said “no way”, so it would be nice to see them back that up with a little commitment. Yakult basically knows they have a guy that they’ll eventually lose to MLB, but they have a nine-year headstart on his services. Let’s see how creative they can be in retaining him and building a competitive team around him.

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Draft Storylines: Results

» 30 October 2008 » In npb draft » 4 Comments

The draft has come and gone, and thanks to a late night in the office I got to follow it live a little bit. I’m not going to write up the whole thing, because Deanna has already done an excellent job of that. Instead, let’s take a quick look at where the guys I’ve written about landed:

Hisayoshi Chono: Backed off his demand to be selected by the Giants at the last minute; was subsequently selected by the Chiba Lotte Marines. We’ll see if he signs.

Yi-Jie Hsiao: Selected by Hanshin with their first round pick. Hsiao was actually Hanshin’s third “first” choice, but they lost out on their first two.

Krissada Shirakura: Not selected. It’s on to the industrial leagues, or perhaps a pro league outside of Japan for Shirakura.

Son-Hyon Shin: Taken by Hiroshima in the fourth round.

Rafael Fernandez: As expected, snagged by Yakult with an instructional player pick.

Yoshinori Yamarin: Not selected, even as an instructional player. Will he sign a minor league deal with the Braves?

Hayato Doue: Drafted with Softbank’s final instructional round pick.

Junichi Tazawa: NPB teams respected his wishes not to be drafted. I thought someone might take a flier on him with a late-round pick, but it didn’t happen.

One unfortunate result of the draft is that the excellent Draft de Anbo site is down. The site slowed down to a crawl during the draft, so I guess they violated their host’s traffic policies. The site is still down, but I hope to see it back soon.

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Draft Storylines: Yamarin, Doue

» 27 October 2008 » In npb draft » 1 Comment

A couple of notes on the upcoming draft to pass along…

  • Yoshinori Yamarin is an 18-year old pitcher who wants to go pro in Japan, but has a move across the Pacific in his sites should he not be drafted. And if he isn’t drafted, the Braves are said to be ready to move to sign him. Yamarin is a lanky 6’1, 176 lbs, and has done well in pre-draft workouts. He’s reportedly hit 91 mph with his fastball, and also throws a slider. It doesn’t seem like he’s among the elite group of pitching prospects in this year’s draft, but given the potential of losing him to an MLB organization I wonder if an NPB team will select him just based on potential. 
  • Remember Hayato Doue? He was the Shikoku Island League catcher who nearly signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox last off-season, only to have his visa application denied. He wound up going back to the Island League and having a decent season for the Kagawa Olive Guynors. SoftBank has him shortlisted for a pick as an instructional player. It seems like it would be a good move; the Hawks have been weak behind the plate since Kenji Johjima left.

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