Tag Archive > Hisayoshi Chono

Kikuchi War Begins

» 06 October 2009 » In amateur baseball, international baseball, mlb prospects, nichibei, npb draft » Comments Off on Kikuchi War Begins

Yusei Kikuchi completed his high school career and decision time is drawing near. He declared for pro turning in his draft application on October 5th, which he may start talking with teams from the following day. It was first believed he will only talk to couple MLB teams, but he changed his mind and has decided to talk with all teams that shows interest. Sponichi states Kikuchi’s side is planning to start talk with teams from the 13th Japan time. Manager Hiroshi Sasaki will be in charge of all talks as Kikuchi’s class schedule will not be able to create equal time availability for all teams. (for more, please see Yakyu Baka’s full article on Kikuchi’s press conference)

As more than 20 teams from NPB and MLB combined are thought to be interested, it is stated that he will start talking with one team at a time beginning with NPB teams. A Nikkan Sports article lists that NPB teams other than the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants (who have decided to go with Hisayoshi Chono) and Baystars, Carp, and Hawks are thought to be using their first-round pick for Yusei Kikuchi.

MLB teams listed in the same article that are believed to be interested are the Dodgers, Yankees, Giants, Cubs, Braves, Twins, Mets, Mariners, Rangers, Indians, Tigers, and the Phillies. The list seems to be growing every minute.

A big decision which could change the structure of amateur baseball in Japan is in Kikuchi’s hands. This is just the first stage of his decision… NPB or the MLB. After following this story for until now, my big decision at the same age to come to the United States for undergraduate studies seems just a little bit lame.

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Japan Advances to Second Round at World Cup

» 12 September 2009 » In amateur baseball, international baseball » 3 Comments

The 2009 Baseball World Cup completed its first round and Japan has advanced to the second round with a 2-1 record:

Game 1: Japan vs. Great Britain, 9-7 win

Game 2: Japan vs. Croatia, 13-3 (7 innings) win

Game 3: Japan vs. Nicaragua, 8-4 loss

The offensive leaders of the first round for Japan were OF Keiji Ikebe (Shinnihon Sekiyu ENEOS) hitting .500 (6-12) with 2 doubles, 4RBI, 5R and two walks and OF Hisayoshi Chono (Honda) who had two hits in all three games batting .429 (6-14) with  2B, 3B, 2RBI and 4R.

With a 70-pitch limit in the first round, the depth of a team’s pitching staff can make or break games. The team ERA for Japan ranked 12th out of 20 teams in the first round with a 6.48ERA (25.0IP, 25H, 18ER, 8BB, 42K). However, Japan leads the tournament with 42 total strikeouts and the offense is tied for first with the least strikeouts with 11.

Japan is placed in Group G for the second round where four teams out of eight will be advancing to the next round. The group includes Mexico, Chinese Taipei, United States of America, Canada, Italy, Australia, and the Netherlands Antilles. Japan will be facing those opponents in order starting from Sunday, September 13th.

The 2009 Baseball World Cup can be viewed online on a pay-per-view basis for the tournament or pay-per-event.

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Looking Ahead to the Draft

» 05 September 2009 » In npb draft » 7 Comments

One of my favorite sites, Draft Reports, has published a rundown of what’s known about each NPB team’s draft plans for this year.

Obviously Yusei Kikuchi is the consensus favorite this year, but there are a couple other names to watch as well. The popularity of Kikuchi as a pick could lead to some interesting strategies for other teams — will teams use the popularity of Kikuchi as a pick to swoop in a grab other top candidates uncontested? To get a sense of how the the NPB draft works, please see our overview of the topic.

On to the projections.


1st pick candidates: Yusei Kikuchi (Hanamaki Higashi HS), Kazuhito Futagami (Hosei University), Masato Nakazawa (Toyota), Masanori Fujiwara (Ritsumeikan University), Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (Yokohama HS), Shota Dobayashi (Chukyo HS)

Other high-round candidates: Takashi Ogino (Toyota), Masato Kiyashiki (Kinki-Dai HS)

Orix appears to be undecided among the 1st-round candidates listed above.


1st pick candidates: Tsutsugo,  Kikuchi, Nakazawa, Fujiwara

Other high-round candidates: Dobayashi, Kiyashiki

The latest reports suggest that Yokohama has narrowed its first pick choices down to Kikuchi and Tsutsugo. I would expect them to default towards local boy Tsutsugo, but he’s a slugging first baseman, and the organizational need is pitching.

Chiba Lotte

1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Futagami, Toshiya Okada (Chiben Wakayama HS), Ikuhiro Kiyota (NTT East), Takayuki Makka (Tokai Boyo HS)

Other high-round candidates: Ogino, Kenta Imamiya (Meiho HS), Masato Mashiro (Nissan), Shota Ohmine (Yae Sho HS)

Latest word is that Lotte is set on Kikuchi with Okada and Imamiya to fall back on.


1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Nakazawa, Futagami, Fujiwara, Ogino, Makka, Okada, Nobuaki Nakabayashi (Keio University), Hisayoshi Chono (Honda), Hisashi Takeuchi (Hosei University),Tetsu Anan (Nittsu), Hiroyuki Kawahara (Fukuoka University Ohori HS),

Other high-round candidates: Dobayashi, Kiyota, Kiyashiki, Takahiro Araki (Kinki University), Yutaka Ohtsuka (Soka University), Yusuke Matsui (Tokyo University of Agriculture), Masato Matsui (Jobu University)

Now it gets interesting. Hanshin has Kikuchi in their sights as well, but is actively planning a contingency in case they don’t get him. Hanshin has been floating the idea of Chono with their first pick if they miss out on Kikuchi. My guess is that this is a bluff to get the Giants to spend they’re first pick on a guy who isn’t really first round talent.


1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Tsutsugo

Other high-round candidates: Ogino, Dobayashi, Imamiya

Things have been quiet on the Rakuten draft front. On the surface Tsutsugo would appear to better address the organization’s main need, which is offense.


1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Dobayashi, Imamiya, Futagami

Other high-round candidates: Takeuchi, Kenta Matsushita (Waseda University), Nobuyoshi Yamada (Tsuruga Kehi HS), Yutaro Sakurada (Hachinohe University)

Pretty familiar looking names on Hiroshima’s first pick list; but some new ones on their secondary list.


1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Tsutsugo, Futagami

Other high-round candidates: Ryoji Nakata (Asia University)

First mention of Nakata, the short, round college first baseman. On paper, I have my doubts about that guy’s ability to succeed at the pro level, but to see him bookended in the infield with the pudgy Okawari-kun would be interesting to say the least. Reportedly looking at Futagami as their top pick, and they could probably get him easily in the first round.


1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Tsutsugo, Nakazawa

Other high-round candidates: Imamiya, Makka, Katsu Nakamura (Kasukabe Kyoei HS)

Pretty vanilla list, with the exception of Nakamura, who draws comparisons to Yu Darvish. His delivery is clearly Darvish-inspired. Yakult is currently between Tsutsugo and Kikuchi for their top pick.


1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Kawahara, Takeru Imamura (Seiho HS)

Other high-round candidates: Imamiya

Another unexciting pool, SoftBank is looking at Kikuchi or Imamura with their top pick according to the latest issue of Shukan Baseball.


1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Imamiya, Fujiwara, Makka

Other high-round candidates: Futagami,Takahiro Suwabe (Honda), Yohei Oshima (Nihon Seimei)

Same players, different team for Chunichi. Chunichi has quietly drafted consistently well over the last few years, so we’ll see how they do with this group.

Nippon Ham

1st pick candidates: Kikuchi, Makka, Tsutsugo, Imamura, Futagami, Okada, Fujiwara

Other high-round candidates: Imamiya, Masayoshi Kato (Kyushu International University)

Kikuchi would give Ham a golden boy to go with Darvish; while Tsutsugo would be a contemporary for Sho Nakata.


1st pick candidates: Chono

Other high-round candidates: unknown

The Kyojin-gun hasn’t deviated publicly from their intent to select Chono, but there has been some speculation that they’re interested in Kikuchi like everyone else. Not too long ago, however, I read an article that quoted a member of the Giants’ front office as saying to the other Central League teams “go ahead and pick Kikuchi”.

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NPB Bullet Points: Imaoka Released, Williams Too?

» 02 September 2009 » In amateur baseball, npb » 2 Comments

In Japanese:

  • Amid rumors of his retirement, Hanshin has released infielder Makoto Imaoka. Reportedly no other teams are interested in picking him up. Imaoka was a big time contributor to Hanshin’s Central League championships in 2003 and 2005, so if this is really the end of the road for him it’s a shame for him to go out this way.
  • Jeff Williams has headed back to the States for arm surgery, but wants to return to Hanshin for next season: “the decision was made about a week ago. Of course I want to avoid surgery and it’s not something I want to do, but I think surgery is the direction we’re going in. My goal is take the mound in a Tigers uniform again next season.” Despite Williams’ productive seven-season run with the Tigers, rumors persist that the team will not exercise their option on his services for next season.
  • Sho Nakata set a ni-gun record by hitting his 28th homer of the year for Nippon Ham’s farm team.
  • Bobby Valentine’s replacement in Chiba: Marines head coach Norifumi Nishimura.
  • Honda won this year’s Industrial League Intercity Championship. Hisayoshi Chono was the top batter.

In English:

  • Gen has set up a new blog at yakyubaka.com.
  • Yesterday on my morning commute, I happened to tune to NPR, where Michael Krasny was discussing Japan’s recent elections with a panel of experts. My commute is 30 minutes so I only caught half of the program, but it can be listened to online.
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Kikuchi’s Future

» 25 August 2009 » In amateur baseball, mlb prospects » 1 Comment

Koshien is over, and inevitably the media has turned the spotlight back to the injured Yusei Kikuchi, overshadowing the fantastic finale of the tournament.

Kikuchi has already commented on his future, but before we get to that, let’s take a glimpse into the world of the Japanese media. Check out the contrast between these two headlines, both featured prominently on Yahoo! Japan Sports:

Sports Hochi: “Hanamaki Higashi’s Yu Kikuchi Will First be a Star in Japan! ‘There Are Things Left to Do’.” (花巻東・菊池雄、まず日本の星になる!「やり残したものある」)

Sanspo: “A Japan-US Battle! Hanamaki Higashi’s Kikuchi Wants to go to The Majors” (日米争奪戦!花巻東・菊池、メジャー行きたい)

These two publications have distilled out very different headlines from roughly the same content. Sports Hochi is owned by the Yomiuri media conglomerate, the same corporation that operates the Yomiuri Giants, one of the NPB teams that has been after Kikuchi’s services. So they have a vested interest in a headline like that. Sanspo, on the other hand, is somewhat prone to sensationalism.

With that, let’s look at what Kikuchi actually said.

As quoted in Hochi: “if possible, I feel like I want to go (to the Majors) soon. But to go right away is a big risk. I could build a solid foundation in Japan. But it’s something I’ll consult with my manager and parents on and decide…”

Sanspo has the same statement, but followed by “I kind of think I’d like to become a poster boy for high school baseball. Tazawa-san’s self-belief is amazing.” Sanspo also adds, “I know that I’ve been regarded (by big league teams). I want to study the draft system. If I go to the US (now), it will be a problem when I come back to Japan. I want to study that area.”

And the last quote I’ll translate is this one from Hochi: “I finished high school baseball with an injury. It feels like I have unfinished business in in Japan.”

Both articles agree that Kikuchi will decide what to do in about a week’s time.

Meanwhile, Draft Reports compiled some data indicated that Kikuchi appears as a first-round pick candidate for every NPB team except the Giants, who remain locked in on Hisayoshi Chono. I’m not sure I buy that, Kikuchi is clearly a better prospect than Chono. Kikuchi has gotten attention from reportedly more than eight MLB teams, including the Cubs, Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Braves, and Mets, with reports calling the Dodgers and the Mets the most interested.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/11/01)

» 01 November 2008 » In npb » 2 Comments

Time for another edition of NPB Bullet Points. Randomness abounds, as usual.

Japanese Articles:

English Articles:

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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: For the Love of the Giants

» 29 October 2008 » In npb draft » 9 Comments

Every so often, an amateur player comes along who refuses to play for any team other than the Yomiuri Giants. This year, that guy is Honda outfielder Hisayoshi Chono. Chono has been willing to put his money where his mouth is in the past: Nippon Ham took him out of college with a mid-round pick, but he refused to sign and instead moved on to the amateur Industrial League. This time around, he’s said he’ll remain with Honda unless the Giants select him.

Chono has reportedly been on as many as 10 teams’ short list for draft candidates, but some fluxuation is starting to be reported. Nippon Ham unsurprisingly took him off their list. Yakult pulled him off their list, but then put him back on. And Hanshin is said to have narrowed down their choice for their top pick to Chono and Waseda University outfielder Keijiro Matsumoto

Having said all that, I don’t quite understand what the hype around this guy is. I haven’t seen him live, or even in a full game on TV, but I did find this 10 minute game footage reel of him via Draft Reports. And I’m not impressed. He is very clearly vulnerable to breaking pitches; check out the sequence at about 6:00 where Junichi Tazawa feeds him nothing but curves and sliders, resulting in a strikeout and a booted grounder. He does seem to run and throw reasonably well in the video.

Still, it seems like there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll get selected by someone with a reasonably high draft pick. It’ll remain to be seen whether it’s the Giants or someone else, and if he sticks to his guns this time.

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