Tag Archive > Rafael Fernandez

2009 Draft: International Influence

» 29 October 2009 » In npb draft » Comments Off

My post on foreign players in the draft last year went over well, and I had meant to publish an update for 2009 prior to this year’s draft, but the gods of time weren’t on my side. In any case it’s not too late, so here’s a look at some players who brought a multicultural air to this year’s draft.

Pedro Okuda: Okuda is a third-generation Japanese Brazilian who came to Japan to play baseball. He made a name for himself in the 2007 Koshien tournament with a walk-off home run, but still didn’t get picked in yesterday’s draft.

Maike Magario: Magario is another Brazilian, though one who has grown up for most of his life in Japan. I haven’t seen much of Magario, but his build reminds me a little bit of Shawn Green. Yakult took Magario with their first ikusei pick. Note that Yakult also took Brazilian Rafael Fernandez in the ikusei draft last year, and operates an academy in Brazil.

Juanyoni Allan: Yet another Brazilian, I know even less about Allan than the previous two players – I don’t even know if I have the Romanization of his name correct. Draft reports indicates that he’s a big kid (196 cm, 100km; 6’5, 220lbs) who came to Japan with the goal of becoming a pro ballplayer. The report also says that he’s a power hitter who has seen time on the mound, but struggled with his command. Allan was not selected in the draft.

John Clayton Unten: clearly the best prospect of this bunch, Clayton was born to an American father and Japanese mother and attended high school in Okinawa. Shukan Baseball compares him to Seibu starter Takayuki Kishi, which I take a real compliment. Nippon Ham has become known for acquiring half-Japanese players (Yu Darvish, Romash Tasuku Dass, previously Micheal Nakamura as well), and indeed the Fighters drafted Unten in the fourth round.

Deanna has a full breakdown of who went where that goes into far more detail than I’ll get to. You’ll see more from me on the draft, though.

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Switch-pitchers

» 18 January 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

With much of the NPB player movement done and spring training yet to start, news has been a little slow lately, which means we’ll see more stories like these for a few weeks.

It’s not often you see a switch-pitcher come along, but we have two such ambidextrous prospects to watch in NPB. Both pitchers were  selected in the 2008 draft and will make their debuts this season. Natural lefty Kazuki Miyata was selected in the 4th round by the Seibu Lions. Miyata started throwing right handed in high school as an exercise in balance, and kept it up in junior college as it helped him alleviate back pain. He hasn’t thrown right handed in an official game, but is still working on his right handed pitching and has learned to throw a curve.

Yakult instructional draftee Rafael Fernandez is also a natural lefty, but throws right handed all the time. Sponichi explains that when Fernandez started playing baseball in Brazil when he was 10, he thought that the ball must be thrown with the right hand. Fernandez threw lefty in Yakult’s autumn camp when he was having some arm pain, and hit about 75 mph on the gun. 

There’s been one switch-pitcher in recent NPB memory, Toyotoshi Chikada, who made one appearance as a lefty for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks back in 1988. He retired in 1991, but in 2001 he threw both righty and lefty to a couple of Hawks farm players in an exhibition game.

And no post of this nature would be complete without a mention of Yankee’s switch-pitching minor leaguer Pat Venditte.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/11/09)

» 09 November 2008 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

The Japan Series has just ended, but the off-season is already in full swing. Here are some highlights for today.

Japanese Articles:

  • Kenshin Kawakami is having a hard time making up his mind whether he wants to move to MLB or another team in Japan. My money would be on MLB, but it’s worth noting that after becoming a free agent, Hiroki Kuroda signed a 4-year deal with an opt-out clause that allowed him to move to MLB, which he later exercised. 
  • Hiroshima Carp owner Hajime Matsuda has pitcher Ken Takahashi that there will be a place for him with the Carp after he retires. The 39 year-old Takahashi is eligible for free agency and eyeing a move to the majors. He’s coming off a solid year and could be a bullpen lefty for someone.
  • Yakult is looking to bring in Twins AAA reliever Ricky Barrett. Barrett has never made it to the show and is a minor league free agent.
  • More Yakult news: Brazilian instruction draft pick Rafael Fernandez commented on his selection: “I was encouraged to ‘stay in Japan and do my best’. I want to perform well for my friends”. 
  • Mark Kelly earned an invite to Orix’s autumn training camp.
  • Chiba Lotte worked out Marlins AAA infielder Chase Lambin for a spot on next year’s team, and is also bringing in Gary Burnham of Taiwan’s La New Bears for a try out.
  • No rest for the weary: Yu Darvish has already begun training for next year.

English Articles:

  • News from Taiwan: Yokohama is working out China Trust Whales lefty Yu-Chieh Shen. La New also played an exhibition series against the Yomiuri Giants farm team. Game 2 featured the Giants’ shockingly young Taiwanese farmhands.
  • Tommy Lasorda is being awarded the Order of the Rising Sun for his contributions to Japanese baseball.
Question for readers: a lot of my content is sourced from Sanspo, Sponichi, and Nikkan Sports, though I keep an eye on a number of other outlets. Are there any other resources, English or Japanese, that I should have my eye on?

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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: Foreign Citizens

» 26 October 2008 » In npb draft » 6 Comments

We’re a few short days away from NPB entry draft, and while much has been written about Junichi Tazawa (by me in particular), there are plenty of stories to write about. I’m going to try and get to a few of ‘em over the next couple of days.

This year’s draft is unusual in that it features multiple foreign-born draft-eligible players. All of the players listed below have received their education in Japan and wouldn’t qualify as foreign players under the NPB roster rules.

Yi-Jie Hsiao (Pitcher, Nara Sangyo University, Taiwanese citizen): Known as Ikketsu Sho in Japan, Hsiao is the best prospect on this list. Hsaio came to Japan on his own volition as a 16 year-old, after seeing the Koshien High School Baseball Tournament on TV. Hsiao made two appearances in Koushien before moving on to Nara Sangyo University. After spending his first three years as a reliever, Hsaio came into his own as a starter in his senior season, allowing no earned runs in 34 innings pitched. 

Hsaio reaches about 92 mph with his fastball with good command. TTT of Taiwan Baseball has a brief scouting report on Hsiao, in EnglishNippon Ham has expressed an interest in drafting Hsiao. 

Krissada Shirakura (Pitcher, Asia University, Thai citizen): Asia University and Thailand national pitcher Shirakura is one of the more interesting candidates in this year’s draft. Born in Bangkok to a Japanese father and a Thai mother, Shirakura picked up baseball after moving to Japan around the age of 10. Out of admiration for Daisuke Matsuzaka, he chose to pitch in high school.

Shirakura was invited to play for Thailand’s national team in his final year of high school, and has represented his country of birth internationally each year since. He attributes his stamina to playing internationally, and learned a slider and forkball from Cuban opponents. He’s put up pretty good numbers at Asia University, but is considered undersized. I’ve seen him toward the end of projected draft lists for Hanshin and Nippon Ham. 

Shin Son-Hyon (Shortstop, Kyoto International High School, Korean citizen): Like Hsaio, Shin saw the Koshien Tournament on TV, liked what he saw, and decided to go to Japan as an exchange student. It took him about a year to handle daily conversations in Japanese. 

Shin was among 53 players worked out by Hiroshima in September, and the only one that “passed” the tryout, and may take him with a later pick. According to Shukan Baseball, he’s also drawn interest from Korean and American scouts.

Rafael Fernandez (Pitcher, Hakuoh University, Brazillian citizen): Yakult intends to select exchange student Fernandez as an instructional player, which would make him the first Brazillian to be drafted into NPB since Norberto Semanaka in 2003. Fernandez reportedly hits 94 mph on the gun, but has only won two games in his four college seasons. Yakult has a training academy in Brazil, and they might have a diamond in the rough if they can get him to command his stuff.

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