Tag Archive > Ryota Igarashi

Grains of Salt

» 03 December 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 11 Comments

So unsurprisingly, I’m getting questions this offseason about how guys like Tsuyoshi Wada, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Wei Yin Chen project as MLB prospects. Truth be told, trying project established guys from NPB to MLB always makes me a little nervous. I don’t feel like I’m that great at it, so I decided to go back and look at my public track record, to give you the chance to decide if I’m worth listening to.

Here’s what I found:

  • Koji Uehara — I was bullish on him when he moved across the Pacific; injury history had me questioning whether he could start; he was one of my favorite guys to watch in Japan and I’m glad he’s done well.
  • Kenshin Kawakami – My synopsis was “mid-rotation guy you can win with“. In retrospect that was a little aggressive; he was more like a competent #4 guy before the Braves decided to bury him.
  • Hitoki Iwase – I thought his stuff would translate to MLB, particularly after watching Scott Downs pitch; he obviously never moved to MLB.
  • Junichi Tazawa — I really liked his stuff, but also expected him to hit a wall somewhere. He reached the majors before hitting a wall, which really impressed me.
  • Ken Takahashi – I predicted “a little bit of an uphill battle” for Tak1, but also thought he could be a useful pitcher. He basically was for his year in the Mets organization, though his career ended immediately after returning to Hiroshima.
  • Ken Kadokura – Remember when he signed with the Cubs? I felt like he had something left in the tank, but he wound up getting dropped by the Cubs at the end of spring training and went on to have a few good years in Korea.
  • Hisanori Takahashi – I liked Tak2 a lot better as a reliever than a starter; that one turned out to be true.
  • Ryota Igarashi — I don’t think I made an explicit prediction for Igarashi, but I thought he would do okay. He didn’t seem to trust his stuff in his first year, and though he did better in year two, he went from “effectively wild” in NPB to just “wild” with the Mets.
  • Chang-Yong Lim – Like Igarashi I don’t know that I really made an explicit prediction for him, though I really liked his stuff. I still do. Lim is still with Yakult and not a free agent, and I doubt we’ll ever see him in MLB.
  • Colby Lewis – I found reasons to be optimistic about Lewis in his return to the Rangers, but he certainly has exceeded my expectations.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka – Over at Fangraphs, I called Nishioka a “Chone Figgins/Ryan Theriot type”. What I meant by that was that he could be an infielder who would get on base but have minimal power, and play decent defense. I didn’t see him flaming out in year one the way he did.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma — Also at Fangraphs, I put Iwakuma’s upside at mid-rotation, noting he has to keep his forkball and he will probably regress some in innings pitched. I still mostly think this is the case, assuming he’s healthy. We’ll find out next year.
  • Yoshinori Tateyama – I never published much of anything about Tateyama, though I have an unfinished draft still sitting on Fangraphs, where I intended to make the case that he could be an MLB ROOGY/righty specialist. There was little original thought there, as he was dominant against righties in 2010 for Nippon Ham. In 2011 he exhibited a similar split for the Rangers, with a 2.04 against righties, versus 7.71 against lefties.

I kind of set out to prove that I’m not that great at these predictions, so I was surprised that the results here actually weren’t too bad. I seemed to do all right with Uehara, Tak1 and Tak2, while I probably underestimated Lewis and over-predicted Nishioka. The Nishioka flop makes me worry that I don’t know how to project position players. I think overall though, it’s pretty clear that I tend to see the glass as half-full with these guys as prospects. I also noticed here was that I seem to look at specific skills and how they might translate, rather than trying to project specific stats. Maybe I’m more of a scout than a numbers guy at heart.

That said, there are plenty of things I’ve been wrong about, I just haven’t always had a platform like this to assert my wrongness. If NPB Tracker had been around, however, I would have told you that…

  • …of the two Matsuis, Kazuo was the far better MLB prospect. I was a huge fan of Kazuo’s; I saw him as a five-tool player.
  • Kei Igawa’s changeup was going to be a good MLB pitch.
  • Nagisa Arakaki was Japan’s next great pitcher.
  • So Taguchi wouldn’t have anything to offer to and MLB club.

…and so on.

So you might see me make a few statements on how I think the 2012 NPB imports may perform after they cross the Pacific. I’ll let you decide the appropriate measure of salt to take them with.

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NPB Bullet Points: Terahara’s An All-Star, Iwakuma’s Coming Back

» 08 July 2011 » In nichibei, npb » 1 Comment

While I think about my next lengthy analytical piece, here’s a set of links to recent news items.

  • A fan ran on the field at Hanshin’s remote home in Fukui on June 30. I can’t remember ever seeing this in an NPB game before.
  • The Ishikawa Million Stars of the independent BC League have picked up Dominican infielder Antoni Lugo. Lugo played four years in the Dominican Summer League.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma started his rehab assignment with a three-inning ni-gun outing on July 5. Kuma threw all his pitches and maxed out at 145 kmph on the gun.
  • Hayato Terahara has very deservingly been selected for the Pacific League’s All-Star team, his first selection since 2008. Nikkan Sports is speculating that Terahara could challenge the All-Star Game velocity record of 157 kmph, currently held by Ryota Igarashi.
  • Here’s a funny one: Chunichi demoted mascot Doala to ni-gun on July 1 to “make adjustments”.  Upon returning, Doala initially failed to perform a back flip, but then “barely” pulled on off on the 7th.
  • Brent Leach has returned to Japan, after a long post-earthquake absence. Leach had been on the restricted list, but is scheduled to practice at ni-gun started on the 9th.
  • Lotte shortstop Masato Watanabe hit an inside-the-park home run against Yu Darvish and the Nippon Ham Fighters on Thursday. Here’s a link to the video.
  • Speaking of Darvish, scouts from six or seven (depending on what you read), including the Mets, Yankees and Giants, were in attendance for his Thursday start.

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Friday MLB Updates

» 22 April 2011 » In mlb » 4 Comments

An brief update on some Major Leaguers as we head into the weekend.

  • Kenshin Kawakami, who had been assigned to AA to begin the season, will be placed on the DL with right shoulder pain. This comes on the heels of his first 2011 win with the Mississippi Braves.
  • Following the evaluation of x-ray results on Tuesday, the Twins’ Tsuyoshi Nishioka plans to be back on the field “by mid-May, at the earliest.” Nishioka is currently undergoing rehabilitation following an injury suffered in a game versus the Yankees on April 7th.
  • Ryota Igarashi said that the New York Mets  “have no leader” after a frustrating loss against the Astros on Monday.

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Charts of the Week

» 01 July 2010 » In mlb, npb » 7 Comments

A couple of velocity charts have caught my eye this week. Here they are:

  • Ryota Igarashi has had a rough go of things in New York — this follows a rough end to last season with Yakult. Taking a look at the data from last year, his fastball velocity noticeably lower in his last four appearances. He’s averaging about 93.5 mph this season.
  • Another guy who’d seen a noticeable dip in velocity is one of my favorites, Kazuki Yoshimi. He was throwing harder on July 1, and had a decent game until allowing four consecutive singles in the 8th inning. Overall, Yoshimi’s numbers this year have been solid, but more pedestrian than last year: low to mid-3.00’s ERA, 6-ish K/9IP.
  • On the other hand, Kyuji Fujikawa’s fastball velocity seems to have increased this season.Kyuji is having another dominant year, with 47 strikeouts in 31 innings.
  • Chris Bootcheck made his first start in Japan on June 27, going 6.1 IP, with 6K, 0BB, 2ER while getting the win. Here’s what he mixed in.

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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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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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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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Sorting Through the Igarashi News

» 16 December 2009 » In mlb prospects » 9 Comments

Update, Wednesday night: Igarashi has indeed signed with the Mets.

Yesterday, I passed along (via Twitter) a Sponichi report saying that the Red Sox were in the lead for Ryota Igarashi with a two-year deal worth $2-3m. This ran counter to the NY Times report from earlier in the day saying that Igarashi was near a deal with the Mets.

Twitter, being limited to 140 characters per post, doesn’t allow for much detail, so here’s some context from the Sponichi article:

  • Igarashi spent a day training with Daisuke Matsuzaka in Arizona. Sponichi doesn’t mention this, but I’ve read elsewhere that they had planned to train together for two days.
  • Igarashi got to ask Matsuzaka quite a bit about Boston’s camp and training programs. Said Igarashi: “the things we talked about were interesting, and I enjoyed it. I only know a little bit, but it’s totally different [from Japan]. It reduced my stress.”
  • Sponichi also points out that “diving into a new environment on a team that already has three Japanese pitchers, Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa is an appealing point.” This is a quote from the article, not Igarashi.
  • This might be a function of the limitations of Twitter, but the term I translated as “Red Sox in the lead” comes across more directly as “Red Sox one step ahead”.

And a couple of other things to consider…

These are just my observations based on what’s been in the media — I don’t have my own sources on this one. As an observer, I could see this going either way. Both Boston and New York are appealing destinations, every team needs bullpen depth, and the dollar figures being reported are peanuts to either team.

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Multiple Offers for Igarashi

» 14 December 2009 » In mlb prospects » 8 Comments

Ryota Igarashi has departed to Arizona for offseason training. On his way out, he let it slip that he had received an offer from a team he wanted to play for, but didn’t say which team it was. Nikkan Sports speculates that he’s received at least four offers already. Nikkan Sports also says that he wants to close in MLB, which I hadn’t read before.

Igarashi appears to be getting healthy amount of interest, and he’s arguably most attractive free agent reliever still remaining unsigned (he’ll come cheaper than, say, Fernando Rodney). Last week I ran down his current suitors, and haven’t seen anything since to suggest we need to add to this list.

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Yakult Going After De La Cruz

» 11 December 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

When I read on mlbtraderumors.com then other day that the Padres had released Eulogio De La Cruz, I thought to myself “I wonder if an NPB team will go after him.” Turns out the Yakult Swallows are doing exactly that. Sanspo says that the Swallows are “going to acquire” De La Cruz, with an official announcement coming next week.

De La Cruz looked good against the Giants this year (I had De La Cruz mixed up with Edward Mujica), De La Cruz certainly fits the profile of hard throwing relievers that NPB teams seem to be targeting this offseason. You’d think that Yakult would be looking for him to step in to the shoes of the departing Ryota Igarasahi, but according to Sanspo they expect him to start.

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