Tag Archive > Hirotoshi Ishii

Changes for 2012: Yakult Swallows

» 11 February 2012 » In npb » 1 Comment

Coming: Lastings Milledge, Orlando Roman, Kenta Abe, Tatsuo Kinoshita, Itsuki Shoda

Going: Norichika Aoki, Aaron Guiel, Hirotoshi Ishii, Osamu Hamanaka, Ryo Kawashima, Josh Whitesell

Staying: Wladimir Balentien, Tony Barnette, Chang Yong Lim

First a admission: whatever I write here won’t be as good as what you’ll find at TokyoSwallows.com. That site’s entirely in English, so click the link without fear. It was tempting to not write this at all and just stop with that link, but onward I shall press.

Yakult’s offseason boils down to this: Norichika Aoki out, Lastings Milledge in.

In fulfilling Norichika Aoki’s long held wish and sending him to MLB via the posting system, Yakult waved good by to one of the statistically best hitters in team history, but a guy who’s OPS fell from .944 to .718 with the introduction of the new ball. Milledge might not take over center, but he’ll step in to an outfield spot left open by Aoki and should bring a bit more power, a bit less contact, and a bit less defensive prowess.

And that’s pretty much it for offseason moves for Yakult. I thought they could have used another starter, but there weren’t too many on the market. Orlando Roman provides some interesting pitching depth, but he’ll have to beat out Tony Barnette for roster time, as foreigners Milledge, Wladimir Balentien and Chang Yong Lim have secure roster spots. Perhaps that other starter is already on the roster, in the from of improvement from sophomore Yuki Shichijyo, a return to health from Yoshinori, or a return to form from Kyohei Muranaka.

Will the Swallows compete in 2012? They finished second in 2011, but it seemed like they got there by getting off to a hot start, and then playing enough games to hang around for the rest of the year. Instinctively an Aoki-less 2012 Yakult feels similar to Hiroshima, though with more power. Like the Carp, Yakult has front-rotation strength (Yakult has Shohei Tateyama and Masanori Ishikawa), a strong foreign closer (Lim), and some mid-rotation and middle relief question marks. Only the presence of Yakult’s power bats of Balentien, Kazuhiro Hatakeyma and probably Milledge seem to differentiate. So, yeah, it’s a cop-out, but this feels like a middle-of-the-pack roster that could compete with regression from the rest of the league or break-out performances, or could suffer from the inverse.

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NPB Bullet Points: Offseason Leftovers

» 09 February 2012 » In npb » 7 Comments

Please excuse the randomness of these links — I accumulated them over the offseason but never found the time to post them.

  • Yakult commemorated the retirement of Hirotoshi Ishii with this decorative mobile phone strap. Ishii was once Japan’s top power lefty, but hadn’t pitched above ni-gun for several years due to injuries.
  • In contrast, Softbank power righty (and NPB Tracker favorite) Nagisa Arakaki is on his way back. Arakaki pitched in November’s Asia Series, his first “ichi-gun level” game action in three years.
  • A number of NPB prospects participated in the Australian Baseball League this offseason, and the ABL’s official Twitter stream was kind enough to tweet me with updates on Yusei Kikuchi, Kenta Imamiya, and Takumi Akiyama.
  • I discovered a new blog recently: NPB Prospect Watch. This blog fills a much-needed niche for me and has a very good chance of making it into my regular rotation.

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NPB Bullet Points: WBC Participation, All-Star Notes, Hiroshima Pitchers

» 25 July 2011 » In international baseball, mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » Comments Off

I don’t usually pay too much attention to All-Star games, but there were a few interesting items that came up over the weekend.

  • Japan’s participation in the next World Baseball Classic is up in the air, over (you guessed it) revenue sharing issues. There’s more to this story than I want to cover in a bullet point, so I’ll come back to this one in a later post.
  • Yu Darvish’s last win before the All-Star break came at the expense of fellow ace Masahiro Tanaka and the Rakuten Eagles. 44,826 spectators were in attendance, among them scouts from the Rays, Yankees, Angels, Mets, Pirates, Indians, and Diamondbacks.
  • Yakult ace Shohei Tateyama supposedly threw a total of seven gyroballs in the second All-Star game this year, though I have yet to find video of this.
  • Softbank prospect Hiroyuki Kawahara hit 155 kmph (96.3 mph) on the gun in the fourth inning of the Fresh All-Star game, tying Hirotoshi Ishii’s record for fastest pitch thrown by a Japanese lefty.
  • Alex Ramirez used a green glove in the first All-Star game.
  • Looks like All-Stars Bryan Bullington and Dennis Sarfate will both be back in Hiroshima next season. The Carp hold options on both pitchers, and they’re making it an easy choice.
And to close things out, here’s Jason Coskrey’s article on Yomiuri international scout Nate Minchey.

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Injury Updates: Saito, Otsuka, Ishii, Williams

» 31 January 2010 » In npb » 3 Comments

A few updates on the guys who have been rehabbing for years, plus Williams.

  • Kazumi Saito is headed for the operating table yet again, this time to have his rotator cuff repaired. Saito last saw game action in 2007, and we can probably rule him out for this season too. In Saito’s three healthy seasons, he is a combined 54-9.
  • Like Saito, Akinori Otsuka hasn’t pitched since 2007, but he isn’t hanging up his cleats either. Otsuka had his third elbow surgery on January 20th, with the intent of  returning as an active pitcher. Like Saito, if he’s just had surgery, he’s probably looking at a 2011 return at best, at which time he’ll be 39.
  • Hirotoshi Ishii has been on the shelf since 2006, following a shoulder injury suffered during the ’06 WBC. Unlike Saito an Otsuka, Ishii actually pitched in games in 2008 and 2009, though for Yakult’s farm team. Ishii was one of the hardest throwing lefthanders ever in Japan, and he and former teammate Ryota Igarashi were known as the “Rocket Boys”. Ishii said early in the winter that he didn’t want to “lose to Igarashi”.
  • I don’t have much news on Jeff Williams, but according to Sanspo, Hanshin’s management is considering the situation a “blank page” and willing to give him a look when he’s ready. Jeff is not under contract with Hanshin, but has made it known that he wants to return to the team.

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