Tag Archive > Takeru Imamura

NPB Draft Notes

» 30 October 2009 » In npb draft » 3 Comments

Here are some unorganized, rapid-fire notes about yesterday’s draft. Some of these are my own observations, others are from the media.

  • In the end, ‘only’ six teams went after Yusei Kikuchi in the first round. Still impressive, but not exactly an unprecedented number. It seemed that the other teams used the distraction of Kikuchi to nab the guy they wanted.
  • Despite this being considered a thin draft, the only player that was selected by more than one team in the first round was Kikuchi.
  • Kikuchi’s parents are happy with the outcome of the draft.
  • The one team that should have been in on Kikuchi, but wasn’t, was Yokohama, who took slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo with their first pick. This looks like a case where the team allowed the appeal of taking the local kid outweigh the choice that really best fit their needs (pitching).
  • I think Hiroshima made a great first round pick in Takeru Imamura, and then followed it up with strong picks with Shota Dobayashi, Hisashi Takeuchi, and Hayato Shoji. I could just be biased towards fame though; Takeuchi is a well-known college pitchers and the other guys were noted Koshien performers. Shoji put a lot of mileage on his arm at this year’s Koshien.
  • Hisayoshi Chono finally wound up with the Giants.
  • Fat, short first baseman Ryoji Nakata got taken in the third round by Chunichi. He’ll need to get into shape as a pro, and even then I still think he looks more like a pinch hitter than a starter.
  • Honda hurler Takao Suwabe was annoyed at not being picked until the sixth round, and might not sign because of that.
  • In another bittersweet result, high school righty Takumi Akiyama cried at lasting until Hanshin drafted him in the fourth round, but vowed to do his best at Koshien.
  • In more tear news, Kenta Imamiya wept for joy at being selected by his local SoftBank Hawks in the first round.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing how Shuichi Furukawa, Yutaka Ohtsuka, and Yosuke Okamoto do as pros.
  • I was wondering why Akihiro Hakumura wasn’t drafted, but it turns out he’s going to college rather than the pros.
  • Former Braves farmhand Masayoshi Tokuda was not taken by the Carp, despite ‘passing’ their tryout.
  • A couple other non-picks I was slightly disappointed with were Michiya Minato and Shogo Akiyama. Admittedly I haven’t seen much of either of these guys, but they both seem to have good pitchers’ frames, decent velocity and command issues (particularly Akiyama on the last point). I was hoping to see if they’d develop as pros.

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Seibu Gets Kikuchi

» 29 October 2009 » In npb draft » 4 Comments

Despite the projections and comments in the media, ‘only’ six teams selected Yusei Kikuchi in the first round of this year’s draft, with the Seibu Lions winning the drawing and the rights to his NPB services. Hanshin, Yakult, Chunichi, Nippon Ham and Rakuten were the other teams that selected Kikuchi.

With half the league going after Kikuchi, the other six teams all got their picks uncontested. Orix (Shuichi Furukawa) and Hiroshima (Takeru Imamura) made pretty good picks in my opinion.

That’ll be all for me tonight, Gwynar is live-tweeting the draft and some nutbar is broadcasting it on justin.tv, though he has a bad habit of shouting into the mic and displaying an Excel sheet rather than the draft coverage.

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2009 Draft: First Round Preview

» 28 October 2009 » In NPB Tracker » 4 Comments

The NPB draft is tomorrow, and no shock here, but Yusei Kikuchi will be the story of the first round. So far seven teams have announced an intent to select Kikuchi in the first round. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Yokohama: Yoshitomo Tsutsugo
  • Hiroshima: Takeru Imamura
  • Hanshin: Kikuchi
  • Yakult: Kikuchi
  • Chunichi: Kikuchi
  • Yomiuri: Hisayoshi Chono
  • Orix: unannounced (Kikuchi)
  • Chiba Lotte: Kikuchi
  • Seibu: Kikuchi
  • SoftBank: unannounced (Kikuchi)
  • Rakuten: Kikuchi
  • Nippon Ham: Kikuchi

SoftBank has been very quiet on Kikuchi, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sneak up on Hiroshima and pick Imamura instead of trying their luck on Kikuchi. Orix has talked quite a bit about Kikuchi and I do think they’ll pick him. In any event Kikuchi has a realistic shot at breaking Hideo Nomo’s record of being selected by eight teams in the draft. But when he’s selected, there will still be a number of good prospects on the table, so we should see multiple drawings.

For a refresher on how it works, please see our primer on the NPB draft.

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Kikuchi Meetings: Day Two

» 18 October 2009 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb draft » 2 Comments

On Day Two, Yusei Kikuchi met with the eight remaining NPB teams, thus concluding the NPB portion of his schedule. Word is that he’s still 50-50 on which league he chooses, and that should he choose NPB, he doesn’t have a preference on which team he plays for.

Here’s what Kikuchi had to say about the meetings: “I like baseball talk, so it was easy to have the talks. There are a lot of fans in Japan, and solid player development systems. In the case I play in Japan and am drafted, I would give my best effort to any of the 12 teams.”

And his manage, the omnipresent Hiroshi Sasaki: “Each team has it’s own system for maturing individuals. To wait until the last moment before the draft to answer would be an annoyance to the teams, so we should give a decision as quickly as possible after the MLB meetings end.”

Here’s what each of the teams had to say about the situation, again summarized and paraphrased by me:

Chunichi: “Even if there’s only a 1% chance, we’re still going to take the plunge on that arm. We’ll go every day (to see him) until the end of March (when the signing period ends).” Chunichi Chief Scout Hayakawa quoted in Sponichi.

Nippon Ham: “He had extreme interest in things like ‘would Darvish coach me technically?” GM Yamada quoted in Sponichi. Nippon Ham also told Kikuchi “they will select him with their first pick” to which Kikuchi replied “thank you very much”.

Rakuten: “He’s a franchise player. By all means, we want him to play in Tohoku. We’re still a young team, so let’s make team history.” Rakuten team representive Yoneda quoted in Daily Sports.

Yokohama: Yokohama’s first pick was thought to be slugger Yoshitomo Tsutusgo, but chief scout Horii has revealed that Kikuchi is still in the picture. Quoted in Nikkan Sports, Horii told Kikuchi “we haven’t decided on Tsutsugo as our first pick.”

Yakult: “By all means we want this treasure of the baseball world to perform in Japan.” Unattributed quote from the Daily Yomiuri.

Chiba Lotte: “He’s better than our own Yuuki Karakawa.” Senior Scout Matsumoto, quoted in Sponichi.

Hiroshima: The Carp are reportedly out on Kikuchi and will take Seiho HS righty Takeru Imamura, the pitcher who beat Kikuchi’s Hanamaki Higashi at Koshien, with their first pick.

SoftBank: Like the Carp, the Hawks are looking at Imamura as an option for their first pick, and have mostly been quiet on Kikuchi. SoftBank has plenty of pitching, so Tsutsugo probably makes the most sense for them.

Conventional American logic would dictate that Yokohama BayStars, who finished last yet again this year, should have the first overall pick in the draft. That’s not how it works in NPB. For an explanation, please see Ryo’s draft primer.

It’s being reported that as many as ten teams could choose Kikuchi in the first round, which break the previous record of eight set in 1989 by Hideo Nomo. I’d be little surprised if that happens, but if he stays in Japan he’ll have plenty of suitors. There’s really no downside to selecting Kikuchi in the first round (unless you really want Hisayoshi Chono); even if a majority of teams choose him, only one will get to his rights, and most of the other good players will still be on the table.

After a one-day breather, Kikuchi will begin meeting with MLB teams on the 20th. It’ll be interesting to see if the teams come armed with financial offers in hand. We already know what the NPB teams are restricted to a max bonus of about $1m, incentives of about $500k, and first year salary about $150k. We can reasonably expect MLB clubs to outbid NPB here, but by how much and under what terms remains to be seen. This is where the saga really starts, and we’ll learn more over the next few days.

edit – corrected number of teams that drafted Nomo.

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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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