Tag Archive > Tomoyuki Sugano

Spring Training Story Lines

» 03 February 2013 » In npb » 2 Comments

Spring has arrived in Okinawa, and NPB camps are underway. As with every new season, there are a number of stories developing. Here are a few to look out for:

  • How long before Nippon Ham settles on a position for Shohei Ohtani?

Part of Nippon Ham’s pitch to Ohtani was letting him pitch and hit. Ohtani has the physique and high school track record to make this a very interesting idea, but I suspect that reality will eventually settle in and he’ll wind up sticking to his best role. That said, here’s hoping he pulls it off. I’d love to see him come in from right field to close a game.

  • How will top draftee Shintaro Fujinami adapt to life as a pro?

There is no such positional debate about the other high school prize of last year’s draft, Hanshin pitcher Fujinami. The sentiment echoed throughout the Japanese media following the draft was the question of whether Hanshin has the ability to develop a pitcher with the potential of “Mount Fuji”; now we begin to find out.

  • How will Yomiuri draftee Tomoyuki Sugano perform after a year away from competition?

Sugano took a year off in 2012, after his rights were won by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the 2011 draft. Undeterred, the Giants grabbed him uncontested in the first round of the 2012 draft, and he immediately signed. If he’s some approximation of this, the Giants will be quite happy he was insistent on playing for them.

  • Which of the bari bari Major Leaguers will sink and which will swim?

Andruw Jones, Bryan LaHair, Casey McGehee, Jose Lopez, Vincente Padilla and Nyjer Morgan are among this year’s NPB imports. It’s always hard to predict who will do well in Japan, but I’m particularly pessimistic about Padilla and Morgan.

  • Who will step in to Hiroyuki Nakajima’s shoes for Seibu?

History repeats itself. 10 years ago, Nakajima stepped forward as the replacement for star shortstop Kazuo Matsui, who had departed for the Majors. Now Seibu finds itself needing a replacement for Nakajima. It looked like Hideto Asamura could emerge as a successor, but he failed to impress last season. A return to form from speedster Yasuyuki Kataoka would be welcome, and perhaps Esteban German could see time at shortstop.

  • Who is Eddy Rivera?

Billed a “mystery” player, Rivera is in camp with the Chunichi Dragons on a trial basis (“testo sei“). Rivera has Dominican Summer League experience with academy affiliates of the Cardinals and Padres, but hasn’t appeared in a game since 2010.

Rivera stepped off his flight from the Dominican and immediately impressed with his velocity. Chunichi has found Latin American bargains such as Tony Blanco and Enyelbert Soto in recent years, we’ll see if lightning strikes again.

  • Has Orix improved?

Orix recently grabbed headlines for acquiring star outfielder Yoshio Itoi in a trade with Nippon Ham, but has made a couple other interesting moves this offseason. The Buffaloes signed 2B Keiichi Hirano, picked up starter Shun Tono in a trade with Yomiuri, and snagged closer Takahiro Mahara as compensation for losing free agent starter Hayato Terahara. On the negative side of the ledger, the B’s parted ways with talented, but health-challenged starters Terahara Hiroshi Kisanuki, as well as Alfredo Figaro. Orix is still on the outside looking in at a top-3 finish, but if everything goes absolutely right for them, they could make things interesting.

  • Has Yokohama DeNA improved?

DeNA’s offseason largely consisted of poaching Tony Blanco, Jorge Sosa and Enyelbert Soto from Chunichi, getting OF Hitoshi Tamura back from Softbank, and signing Nyjer Morgan. All of these moves, with the probable exception of Morgan, improve the Baystars, but none really addresses the team’s main weaknesses of the starting rotation and middle infield. The real step forward will have to be lead by the ‘Stars young players: 3B Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, C Shuto Takajo, pitchers Yuki Kuniyoshi and Kisho Kagami, and 2012 draftees IF Hiroyuki Shirasaki and pitcher Kazuki Mishima.

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Report: Nippon Ham Intends to Draft Otani

» 24 October 2012 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb draft » 22 Comments

Update: Nippon Ham did indeed draft Otani, and Ben Badler has confirmed that that won’t legally stop him from signing with an MLB team. I had implied that it would, at least until the negotiation period ends, and I was incorrect about that.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand we have our first bit of drama in Shohei Otani‘s journey to MLB. Quoted in Sanspo, Nippon Ham Fighters GM Masao Yamada has declared his intent to select Otani with his first pick in today’s (JST time) draft.

“Regarding Otani-kun, he’s made comments saying like to go to a Major League team, but as a ball club we will follow through with our intent to select the strongest player with our first pick. We plan to select Otani-kun.”

 

「大谷君に関しましてはメジャー球団に行きたいというコメントがありましたが、球団としましては一番力のある選手を1位指名するという方針を貫きます。大谷君を1位指名するつもりです」

note: the “kun”  suffix is a name identifier; kind of like “san” for young men.

If Nippon Ham (or any other NPB team) drafts Otani, they will have the right to sign him until the end of March 2013. The MLB and NPB working agreement prohibits one league from signing players who are under contract with a team from the other league, so at a minimum being selected in the draft would delay Otani signing with an MLB club for several months.

Why would Yamada pick Otani, despite his intent to sign with an MLB club? Well, he’s within his rights to do so, since Otani announced his MLB plans after declaring eligible for the NPB draft. Yamada must feel that Otani’s upside is worth the signability risk. Maybe he thinks he can talk him into signing. This move is not unprecedented; last year Yamada selected Tomoyuki Sugano, the consensus top college arm in the draft, who had let it be known that he would not sign with anyone other than the Yomiuri Giants. Sugano didn’t even negotiate with Nippon Ham and is back in the draft this year.

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NPB Bullet Points: Mulhern, MLB Scouts, Rakuten Fireworks

» 13 July 2011 » In nichibei, npb » 6 Comments

Today’s news and notes from around Japan, with a focus on scouting and player personnel.

  • Daily Sports reports that Seibu is working on signing Ryan Mulhern out of the Mexican League. I had never heard of Mulhern before yesterday, but he’s spent the last two seasons in indy ball and Mexico, and prior to that it looks like he’d mostly been an organizational player. It’s great to see this kind of player get a shot and I wish him the best of luck.
  • Chunichi Sports points out that Ryan Vogelsong is the third non-Japanese player with NPB experience to make an MLB All-Star team. The other two? Cecil Fielder and Alfonso Soriano.
  • Wladimir Balentien’s contract with Yakult includes language that prevents him from moving to another NPB team after the season. Said someone familiar with the situation: “Discussion about foreign players leaving the team or not ended with Chang-Yong Lim last offseason. New players acquired since then have contractual provisions against moving domestically.”
  • Sponichi reports that the Rays, Indians, Astros and Angels had scouts at Hisashi Iwakuma’s most recent rehab start.
  • Hanshin is reportedly looking to acquire Korean slugger Dae-Ho Lee this offseason.
  • The “Big 3″ college pitchers – Tomoyuki Sugano, Takahiro Fujioka and Yusuke Nomura – have all disavowed interest in skipping NPB in favor of MLB. The trio had been attracting attention from MLB scouts.
  • MLB scouts from three un-named teams watched Shoji Yoshimoto, who Nikkan Sports called “the Darvish of Shimomachi Shitamachi.”
  • Rakuten will feature fireworks displays after all 13 of it’s home games in August. As an added promotion, 20 families will get to watch the fireworks from the field.
  • In more Rakuten news, the Eagles ni-gun team has it’s own ustream.tv channel. Unfortunately the angle they shoot the games from is almost unwatchable.
  • And now for something completely different: Lotte has stadium and uniform advertising for Nexon this season. I never know what Nexon does, but I happened to find out from this English-language article on Techcrunch.

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NPB Bullet Points: Scales, Melian, Arakaki, Sugano

» 28 June 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

Updates on some NPB Tracker favorites and a name that long-time Baseball America readers will find familiar.
  • Bobby Scales is on his way to Japan to play for Nippon Ham. I had Scales on my list last offseason, and again a couple weeks ago, so it’s safe to say he’s an NPB Tracker favorite. According to Nikkan Sports, Ham intends to use him to fill the gap left by the currently injured Kensuke Tanaka.
  • Another NPB Tracker favorite, Nagisa Arakaki, is rehabbing a ni-gun with an eye toward his first ichi-gun appearance in over two years. Arakaki is scrapping his once-feared slider.
  • The other day I happened across a news item saying that former Yankees prospect Jackson Melian is active in Japan with the independent Kobe Suns, who are managed by former Major Leaguer Mac Suzuki. He’s only hitting .175 though.
  • Here’s a pic of the scouting contingent at Tokai University pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano’s last game. The group included scouting representation from at least one MLB team. Sugano is high on Yomiuri’s radar for this season’s draft.
  • Yet another NPB Tracker favorite, Junichi Tazawa, failed to last a full inning in his first appearance off the DL. Tazawa gave up six runs in 2/3 of an inning.
  • Shame on me for not finding the English-language Hanshin Tigers Page and including it in this year’s blogosphere post.

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