Tag Archive > Sho Nakata

Prediction: Pacific League

» 29 March 2009 » In npb » 3 Comments

It’s much harder to predict the standings for the Pacific League as the teams are so evenly matched. But I’ll give it a shot.

1. Seibu Lions: I think we’ll see a little regression from Okawari Nakamura and Kazuyuki Hoashi, but a better performance from Hideaki Wakui. Overall it looks like the Lions have enough to repeat.
Key Players: Wakui, Hoashi, whoever gets the most at-bats at 1st base

2. Nippon Ham Fighters: Nippon Ham was actually outscored by their opponents last year. I’m putting them here because I believe that they have the pitching and defense to win close games, and that Sho Nakata will turn up at some point during the season and provide a little offense.The new additions to the bullpen have the task of replacing Michael Nakamura as well.
Key Players: Nakata, Ryan Wing, Masanori Hayashi

3. Chiba Lotte Marines: I didn’t think I’d have the Marines making the playoffs, but I’m putting them in third because they have a solid front four in their rotation, and no real holes in their lineup. Hopefully Bobby V can find a way to keep Tadahito Iguchi and Shunichi Nemoto both in the lineup, as Nemoto broke out last year with a .296/.369/.430 line.
Key Players: Bobby V, Yoshihisa Naruse, Yuuki Karakawa

4. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles: The Eagles have two WBC heroes at the top of their rotation (Hisashi Iwakuma, Masahiro Tanaka), a couple of solid mid-rotation guys (Darrell Rasner, Hideaki Asai), and some power in the middle of their lineup (Norihiro Nakamura, Fernando Seguignol, Takeshi Yamasaki). But on the other hand they have some holes in their lineup and bullpen.
Key Players: the bullpen

5. Orix Buffaloes: Manager Daijiro Ohishi took over in May of last year and lead the Buffaloes to a seemingly improbable playoff run. Looking back, the Buffaloes pitched better than I realized, with a 3.93 team era and four starters with sub-4:00 eras and at least 10 wins. If the pitching staff can repeat that performance, and the aging lineup of foreign sluggers holds up, they’ll be competitive. If not, look for a B-class finish.
Key Players: Tuffy Rhodes, Alex Cabrera, Jose Fernandez, Greg LaRocca

6. Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks: It’s hard to pick the Hawks to finish this low with the amazing rotation depth they have — Tsuyoshi Wada, Toshiya Sugiuchi, Nagisa Arakaki, Shota Ohba, Kenji Ohtonari, Kameron Loe, Kazumi Saito (if he can come back from his injuries) and rookie Shingo Tatsumi. But on the flipside, their lineup just isn’t what it used to be. The Hawks hit just 99 home runs last year and haven’t added any significant bats. They’re hoping for a return to form from aging sluggers Hiroki Kokubo and Hitoshi Tamura, who have been shells of their former selves in recent years.
Key Players: Kokubo, Tamura

It was tough to pick any of these teams to finish last, because the league is so balanced and all the teams have strengths. It seems likely that Seibu will finish in the top 3 and SoftBank will finish in the bottom 3, but everything else is up for grabs. What are your thoughts?

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Offseason Changes: Nippon Ham Fighters

» 05 February 2009 » In npb » 4 Comments

Coming: Ryan Wing, Tomohiro Nioka, Masanori Hayashi, Luis Jimenez (in camp but not signed)

Going: Michael Nakamura, Takahito Kudoh, Ryan Glynn

Staying: Jason Botts, Termel Sledge, Brian Sweeney, Atsunori Inaba

Trending: a bit to the negative side

Synopsis: I think I’d rather have Nakamura than Nioka, but if Nioka bounces back and Hayashi gives the Fighters 75% of what they had with Nakamura, it will be a net gain. Those are two big “ifs” though. Yu Darvish remains the key to this though; as he goes so will the Fighters. Sho Nakata waiting in the wings doesn’t hurt either.

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Not Exactly a New Phenomenon…

» 04 November 2008 » In mlb prospects » 2 Comments

Though Junichi Tazawa might be the first consensus NPB first round draft pick-caliber player to jump directly to MLB, he’s not the first to have considered it. And even when he signs, he won’t be the first amateur out of Japan to sign with an MLB organization.

The guys listed below have all either negotiated or signed with MLB teams before playing pro ball in Japan. None of the players listed elicited the kind of reaction Tazawa got, but none of them pursued an MLB deal with the same level of fanfare that Tazawa has now. 

Koji Uehara: came close to signing with the Angels out of college, but backed off because of language challenges and having to start in the minors. Went on to have immediate success in NPB, and subsequently make numerous requests to be posted. Finally coming to MLB this off-season. 

Hayato Terahara: taken directly from Gary Garland’s excellent site:

Dodgers V.P. Tommy Lasorda personally tried to sign the 18 year old high school phenom with a 98mph fastball, Hayato Terehara, laying on the blather very thick as only Lasorda can. Terahara ultimately decided to remain in Japan and was drafted by the Daiei Hawks after a lottery drawing between the Hawks and three other Japanese teams.

I was in Japan when this happened and while it was reported in the media,  Terahara didn’t really seem interested in signing with the Dodgers. Terahara spent several ineffective years with the Hawks, then got traded to Yokohama where he immediately blossomed into a frontline pitcher.

GG Sato: signed with the Phillies after college and played a couple of years in their system. Drafted by Seibu afterward with a late round pick and eventually became a pretty good player. Kind of a late bloomer.

Kazuhito Tadano: went undrafted in NPB because of his appearance in an adult film while he was in college, but the Indians were willing to give him a contract. Tadano pitched briefly in the show but never really did well enough in AAA to get an extended shot in the majors. Nippon Ham drafted him with their first pick in 2007, and he’s back in Japan now. 

Sho Nakata: drew interest from the Twins, and the Mariners reportedly had a $3M offer ready for him (can’t find the link now). Chose to enter into the NPB draft and was selected by Nippon Ham. Just wrapped up his first year with the Fighters’ farm team.

Robert Boothe: Grew up in Japan with an American father and Japanese mother. Boothe pitched in college but didn’t have must statistical success. Still, the five NPB teams that were said to be interested in drafting him backed off when he decided to sign with the Dodgers.

There’s a number of other lesser-known Japanese-born players playing affiliated ball in the US. JapaneseBallPlayers.com has a pretty comprehensive list of guys that are currenlty on US minor league rosters, as well as some notable former players.

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