Tag Archive > Kazuhito Futagami

2010 At The Half

» 27 July 2010 » In npb » 5 Comments

This post is a little late — we’re officially in the second half of the season as the first post-All-Star games were played on Monday. The All-Star game is only a symbolic marker anyway though, as all the NPB teams have played at least 87 games out of the 144-game schedule. Still it’s a good time to take stock of the season that’s been played so far. Here are some thoughts conveniently split up into three categories.

A few general observations:

  • The Central League is again a three-team race between Yomiuri, Hanshin, and Chunichi. This makes the playoff race somewhat uninteresting but the playoffs themselves should be good.
  • The Pacific League is much more balanced, with SoftBank, Seibu, and Lotte nine or more games over .500, Orix even and Nippon Ham one game under. Rakuten is in the cellar at 40-49, but they have the second best pitching results in the league and could get into contention for a playoff spot if they start to hit.
  • We’re seeing a strong performances from a number of starting pitchers.

Follow up from previous posts:

  • The answers to my six storylines so far: no, yes, unfortunately not, maybe, yes/not yet, probably none.
  • Yokohama is again a doormat. I thought they’d be a little more competitive this year.
  • My rookies to watch are either injured (Yusei, Kazuhito Futagami, Takashi Ogino), fat (Ryoji Nakata) or Hisayoshi Chono (Chono).
  • A couple of the imports I put on my watch list, Matt Murton and Kim Tae-Gyun, have taken off in Japan. Gio Alvarado is getting it together as well.
  • The veterans I picked to watch have mostly been duds, which isn’t a surprise as I deliberately listed a bunch of guys with question marks. That said, Yoshinobu Takahashi is having a nice bounce back season, Aarom Baldiris has contributed some a performance to Orix, and Sho Nakata is showing some signs of life.

NPB Tracker mid-season awards:

  • My first half MVPs: Central League – Kazuhiro Wada (Chunichi), Pacific League - Hiroyuki Nakajima (Seibu)
  • First half Sawamura Award winner: Kenta Maeda (Hiroshima)
  • First half RoYs: Central League – Chono (Yomiuri), Pacific League – Ogino (Lotte) despite missing significant time on the injured list
  • Breakout players: Central League – Shun Tohno (Yomiuri), Pacific League – T-Okada (Orix)

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Rookies to Watch in 2010

» 23 March 2010 » In npb » 6 Comments

In the last of my “things to watch” in 2010 series, today will look at this year’s crop of rookies.

  • Yusei (P, Seibu Lions): The Pitcher Formerly Known as Yusei Kikuchi is kind of a no-brainer for this list. Yusei starts the year at ni-gun but if all goes well I would expect him to spend some time with the top team this year.
  • Ryoji Nakata (1B, Chunichi Dragons): Nakata is fat to the tune of 118kg. He insists his weight is an asset, but I think it’s reasonable to question how it will play over the course of a season.
  • Hisayoshi Chono (OF, Yomiuri Giants): Chono’s old school insistence of playing for the Giants finally paid off when they drafted him last year. I’ve been skeptical of Chono since seeing video of him struggle with Industrial League breaking pitches, but he’s had a good spring. The Giants’ aging outfield could use an injection of youth, so he’ll get his at bats.
  • Kazuhito Futagami (P, Hanshin Tigers): Hanshin’s rotation woes should open up some innings for Futagami, if he were not injured himself
  • Takashi Ogino (OF, Chiba Lotte Marines): Ogino has started Lotte’s first three games and is a robust 5/11 so far. At 24 and with Industrial League experience, like Chono he’s a little more ready to contribute at the top level than some of the younger players.

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New Pitches

» 04 March 2010 » In mlb, npb » Comments Off

It’s spring training, and that means pitchers are refining their arsenals. Here are some of the guys that are working on new pitches this spring:

We’ll have to wait and see what from this list survives to see game action.

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2009 Draft: What’s in a Name?

» 21 October 2009 » In npb draft » 4 Comments

My draft coverage outside of Yusei Kikuchi has been pretty weak this year, but I have a week to catch up. I’ll start by pointing out how awesome Kazuhito Futagami’s and Masato Kiyashiki’s names are in Japanese.

二神一人 (Futagami Kazuhiro):  “two gods, one person”

鬼屋敷正人 (Kiyashiki Masato):  “demon estate, correct person”

Futagami is a top college pitcher and should be drafted in the first round after the Kikuchi fallout takes place. Kiyashiki is a high school catcher who appears on some teams’ high pick list, and could sneak in to the first round as well.

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213 Draft Candidates

» 16 October 2009 » In amateur baseball, npb draft » Comments Off

A total of 113 high school graduates and 100 college players have declared eligible for this year’s NPB draft. The total of 213 players declaring for the pros out of academic institutions is the highest since the application process has been in place. This figure does not include independent or industrial league players.

If the player does not submit an application, he will not be eligible for the draft on October 29th. Yusei Kikuchi will not be among that group as he turned in his application on time, despite all the scheduled meetings with NPB and MLB teams. Other well known high school names that will be in this year’s draft are Takeru Imamura (Seiho HS), Yoshitomo Tsutsugou (Yokohama HS), Shota Dobayashi (Chukyoudai Chukyou), and Masato Kiyashiki (Kindai Kousen). Some of the big college names entering the draft are Hosei University pitchers Kazuhito Futagami and Hisashi Takeuchi.

Even though all eyes are on Kikuchi whether he declares for the MLB or not, there are number of quality players in the upcoming draft and some teams might be better off focusing on other talents rather than taking their chances on drawing Kikuchi from the box, if he even stays in the NPB draft.

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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.

Orix

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.

Yokohama

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.

Hanshin

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.

Rakuten

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.

Hiroshima

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.

Seibu

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.

Yakult

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.

SoftBank

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.

Chunichi

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.

Yomiuri

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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USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series

» 05 July 2009 » In international baseball, mlb prospects » 6 Comments

The 37th Annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series will take place in Japan from July 12-16.

July 12th: Botchan Stadium (Matsuyama),12pm
July 13th: Tokyo Dome (Tokyo), 6pm
July 14th: Kleenex Miyagi Stadium (Sendai), 6 pm
July 15th: Tsuruoka Dream Stadium (Tsuruoka), 6pm
July 16th: Meiji Jinguu Stadium (Tokyo), 6pm

※All dates and times are in Japan Standard Time

The US National Team was selected after ten days of trials that included intersquad games and practices. The team consists top non-draft-eligible college players in the United States including 1 junior, 14 sophomores, and 7 freshman players including Trevor Bauer (UCLA) and Kolton Wong (University of Hawaii), who were on the Freshman All-America Team.

The stars of the Japan national team is junior right hander Yuuki Saito (Waseda University) and senior Kazuhito Futagami (Hosei University) who was the MVP in the recent All Japan University Tournament. Seven seniors, who will be eligible for the upcoming draft, will be included in the squad.

Tickets still remain and details will be listed on the All Japan University Baseball Federation website.  Notable past MVPs from this five game series include current Colorado Rockies Todd Helton (1993) and Huston Street (2003), current Yomiuri Giant Yuya Kubo (2001) and current Chiba Lotte Marine Shouitsu Oomatsu (2004). Japan won the last series, 3-2, in the 36th Annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series, played in the United States in 2007.

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Futagami Not Interested in MLB

» 19 June 2009 » In npb draft » 5 Comments

While Hosei University righthander Kazuhito Futagami has gotten some attention from MLB scouts, apparently the pitcher isn’t reciprocating the interest. Futagami addressed the issue in a brief Q&A wite Livedoor.

-It seems like Hanshin is very keen on you.

“I’m from Kochi, and I go to Hanshin’s camp (in Aki, Kochi), so that’s a team that’s near to my heart.”

-Major League teams have interest in you.

“I don’t have much intrest in the Major Leagues. You know, I like Japan (laughter). I think it’s off to go to America without succeeding in Japan.”

-Do you have a team that you would like to go to?

“There isn’t any team that I especially want to go to. But I’m paying attention to the Pacific League teams. Pitchers in my age group like Yu Darvish (Nippon Ham), who is one year older than me, and Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten), who is one year younger, are competing and maturing there.”

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The Next Tazawa?

» 23 February 2009 » In npb draft » 9 Comments

It may be a little early to start this kind of talk, but here’s a new story to watch: Hosei University pitchers Kazuhito Futagami and Hisashi Takeuchi are attracting attention from MLB scouts, fueling speculation that this could turn into another MLB/NPB arms race. Futagami and Takeuchi are candidates to go in the first round of this year’s NPB draft.

Nikkan Sports reports that Rangers Pacific Rim scout Jim Colborn is planning on taking in a Hosei exhibition game, and SF Giants scout John Cox is planning a visit in March.The Dodgers and Mariners have already seen the pair. On the NPB side, Hiroshima, Orix, Lotte, and Rakuten are reportedly interested.

According to the wonderful Draft Report site, Takeuchi and Futagami both have power arsenals with fastballs that top out at about 150 kmph (93mph). Takeuchi can reach 153 kmph (95mph) and also has a slider and forkball. Futagami maxes out at about 150 kmph, and sits in the mid-140’s (90-ish) as a starter, but dials it up in relief. His featured breaking pitch is his slider. Here is some very low-quality video of Futagami and Takeuchi.

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