I've run out of time to write much more about this; remember, I'm trying to talk more about guys who are possibly going to get drafted but that aren't the names you've been reading every day (I've been following the actual paper newspapers -- not sports dailies, to be fair, just regular newspapers, we get those at my school -- and they would like you to believe that nobody in this draft matters besides Saitoh, Ohishi, Sawamura, and Shinta Hifumi).
I will be at home and liveblogging the draft tomorrow night, and undoubtedly freaking out about where some players do or don't go. (I actually had a dream the other day about Kagami getting drafted by the Giants. You could call it a nightmare, I suppose.)
Besides, nobody cares what I have to say about these guys anyway. So, on with the photos!
Takahiro Shiomi (LHP, Hachinohe Univ)
Shiomi is a big skinny left-handed kid -- 181/78, who can hit upwards of 147 km/h on the radar gun. He actually threw an entire semester without giving up an earned run in the spring, going 5-0 in 7 games and 39.1 innings, striking out 45, giving up 13 runs and 4 walks. Yes, that's a WHIP of around 0.43 -- not a joke. In the spring he had a slightly more human WHIP of 0.86, but he also struck out 61 in 40.1 innings, which is also pretty crazy.
I saw him at the national collegiate tourney, where he lost to Toyodai in the semifinals, striking out 8 guys in 7 innings, but also giving up 3 runs, mostly on one inning where Toyo got 4 hits (2 were lucky, 2 were real), and so Hachinohe lost 5-1. But don't get me wrong, I was impressed by Shiomi -- big lefties who can throw 145km/h one pitch and then trip people up the next with a ridiculous 99km/h slow curve are fun to watch no matter what.
Amusingly, this past Sunday, 4 days before the draft, Shiomi went and pitched a no-hitter against Tohoku Fukushi in the qualifiers to play at the Jingu tournament in November. This kid knows how to make a splash, that's for sure.
Shogo Akiyama, OF, Hachinohe University
The first at-bat I saw of Akiyama's, against Toyodai's Masahiro Inui, he launched a home run over the centerfield wall. It left a deep impression in several ways.
Home run trot.
High-fives back at the dugout.
Akiyama played RF and batted cleanup in the game I saw, and I saw him make a few nice plays and take a few good swings, to be sure.
I've only seen him play the one time, as he's never been on any national teams either, but he's been a regular on his college team since his first semester as well, and his overall OPS in college is a respectable .892, with 7 homeruns and 37 stolen bases over those 8 semesters.
For the record, Shukan Baseball calls him a "Shoitsu Ohmatsu type of player", for what that's worth. I'm kind of assuming it means lots of speed and a potentially big lefty outfielder bat someday.
Shota Ishimine, OF, Tokai University
Ishimine is the MAN. I would be SHOCKED if some team does not take him.
He has his pre-batting stance, very Ichiro-esque.
Ishimine gets a hit. (He was 3-for-3 in the game I took these photos in, against Keio; he hit a homerun and also walked once and had a sac bunt too.)
Ishimine at 3rd base after a throw back to the bag.
Ishimine originally hails from Okinawa Shogaku HS, a somewhat elite private school in Okinawa that's been a baseball powerhouse for the last ten years or so (including the Higashihama Senbatsu in 2008). After playing at Koshien once or twice he continued on to Tokai University, and started playing as a regular in his sophomore year.
And I mean, I'm not a scout, obviously, but if there WAS a true "five-tool" guy in this draft, it would probably be Ishimine. I've only seen him play a few times, always in things like the national college championships, or the Japan-US tournament, or the NPB U26 games... I wasn't here for the WUBC but he was the Japan team captain and was absolutely amazing from what my friends told me later, reflected by him getting a Best Nine award there too. Ishimine can run, he can cover a ton of ground in the field, he can throw (draftrepo's file on him says 115m), he can certainly hit for average and he can hit for power. (His college career average is around .320 and his OPS is over .900 for those three years.) He seems to have usually batted in the leadoff spot. Tokai has won the league every year he's been playing, although I'm not sure that's saying much since I don't think the other colleges in his league are that strong. On the other hand, Tokai also does really well in the national tourney, and turns out plenty of fine pro players.
Masahiro Inui, LHP, Toyo University
Keisuke Kanuma, RHP, Toyo University
Ryo Hayashizaki, IF, Toyo University
Hirokazu Sawamura, RHP, Chuo University
I am just including this one because I'm really proud how it came out -- looking at my photos of him, this one amused me because of how he's holding the forkball with the "Chuo" printed on the ball like that.
These guys are not in the draft this year, but I cropped them when going through the others, and I suspect they will be in future drafts, for sure:
Yuto Fukushima, sophomore, Aoyama Gakuin. Championship pitcher at 2008 Koshien with Osaka Toin. Also the "What? Relegated to the 2nd League? Screw THAT, we are going back UP" pitcher who pitched them back to the top league.
Takahiro Fujioka, junior, Toyo University. Pitched them through the national championship this spring. Is awesome. Will be drafted next fall.
Tomoyuki Sugano, junior, Tokai University. Will ALSO be drafted next fall, if for no reason other than that he's Hara's nephew so the Giants probably are required to take him. But no, he also happens to be an amazing awesome pitcher.