Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010 NPB Draft Liveblogging (Saitoh: Fighters, Ohishi: Seibu, Kagami: Yokohama)

Here is where I will be filling out the table of information about this year's NPB draftees as the draft progresses.

This is being done in the same format as previous years' drafts.

EDIT FRIDAY MORNING: I moved all of the "liveblogging" rambling commentary BELOW the grid now, including the first-round draft lottery.

Information for this grid is being taken from a variety of places -- online if possible, draft magazines if not. Unfortunately, they do sometimes disagree by a centimeter or two or a few kilograms, so.

Name Pos HS/Univ/Company T/B DOB Ht/Wt
-------------------- --- --------------- --- ---------- -------
1. Yudai Ohno P Bukkyo Univ L/L 1988.09.26 182/72
2. Daiki Yoshikawa IF PL Gakuen HS R/R 1992.08.21 175/70
3. Yuta Mutoh P Honda R/R 1989.06.14 178/85
4. Yuto Morikoshi IF Meijo Univ R/R 1988.08.11 178/70
5. Keisuke Seki P Komono HS R/R 1993.02.06 177/79

x Tatsuya Ohishi
1. Daiki Enokida P Tokyo Gas L/L 1986.08.06 179/81
2. Shinta Hifumi P Tokaidai Sagami HS R/R 1992.09.29 184/86
3. Masahiro Nakatani C Fukuoka Kodai Joto HS R/R 1993.01.05 184/85
4. Akira Iwamoto P Nanyo Kogyo HS R/L 1992.10.21 180/80
5. Fumiya Araki IF Meiji Univ R/L 1988.04.25 181/75

I1. Tetsuya Sakaguchi IF Wakayama Ichiko HS R/L 1992.08.31 180/78
I2. Hiroya Shimamoto P Fukuchiyama Seibi HS L/L 1993.02.14 176/63
I3. Masaki Anada IF Minoo Higashi HS R/R 1993.02.01 180/78

1. Hirokazu Sawamura P Chuo Univ R/R 1988.04.03 183/90
2. Ryosuke Miyaguni P Itoman HS R/R 1992.04.17 184/73
3. Taichi Tanaka P Oita Kogyo HS R/R 1993.02.27 179/77
4. Yuki Koyama P Tenri Univ R/R 1988.12.05 187/75

I1. Ryota Wada IF Hiroshima Kogyo HS R/S 1992.07.20 180/71
I2. Keisuke Kishi P SIL Ehime L/L 1987.01.16 180/75
I3. Keita Fukuizumi P KIL Kobe 9 Cruise R/R 1988.09.02 184/85
I4. Takayuki Ogino IF Aichi Kogyo Univ R/L 1988.04.15 176/65
I5. Takao Zaizen IF Eiden Blitz R/L 1986.12.02 176/70
I6. Kosuke Naruse P Asahikawa Jitsugyo HS R/R 1992.08.19 182/78
I7. Hiroto Kawaguchi IF Nishi Tama Club R/R 1985.08.07 168/71
I8. Kenichi Marumo OF Osaka Keizai Univ R/R 1988.08.02 183/78

x Yuki Saitoh
x Takahiro Shiomi

1. Tetsuto Yamada IF Riseisha HS R/R 1992.07.16 180/73
2. Yuki Shichijo P Hakuwa Victories R/R 1984.07.10 180/85
3. Akihisa Nishida C Hokusho HS R/R 1992.04.28 178/83
4. Tomoya Matano P Hokusho HS R/R 1992.10.09 187/83
5. Kentaro Kyuko P Nihon Seishi Ishimaki L/L 1986.05.16 182/80
6. Nariaki Kawasaki OF Kumamoto Golden Larks R/R 1986.03.30 181/83

I1. Koki Kitano OF Yokohama Sogakukan HS R/L 1988.04.27 174/69
I2. Keisuke Ueno P SIL Kagawa R/R 1986.03.06 193/90
I3. Takanori Satoh OF Sendai Ikuei HS R/L 1993.01.29 181/78

x Tatsuya Ohishi
1. Yuya Fukui P Waseda Univ R/R 1988.02.08 178/78
2. Kyohei Nakamura P Fuji Univ L/L 1989.03.22 186/74
3. Yuki Iwami P Osaka Gas L/L 1987.01.25 177/77
4. Masaya Kanemaru P Tokai Rika L/L 1987.03.19 187/87
5. Yoshitaka Isomura C Chukyodai Chukyo HS R/R 1992.11.01 178/82
6. Shota Nakazaki P Nichinan Gakuen HS R/R 1992.08.10 186/90
7. Yuki Tsurumoto P SIL Tokushima R/R 1989.06.16 176/76

I1. Kyosuke Yamano P Meiho HS R/R 1992.05.06 180/82
I2. Ryosuke Ikenouchi P Chukyo Gakuin Univ R/R 1988.11.22 175/75

x Tatsuya Ohishi
1. Kota Suda P JFE Higashinihon R/R 1986.07.31 175/76
2. Kisho Kagami P Hosei Univ R/R 1988.09.05 186/88
3. Sho Aranami OF Toyota R/L 1986.01.25 178/77
4. Hiroshi Kobayashi P Osaka Gakuin Univ R/R 1989.01.21 180/83
5. Shinji Ohhara P TDK L/L 1985.06.30 174/66
6. Hiroyuki Fukuyama P Osaka Shogyo Univ R/R 1989.03.27 174/70
7. Junya Ohhara IF SIL Kochi R/R 1984.06.26 174/77
8. Kenjiro Tsuruoka C SIL Ehime R/R 1987.07.07 177/77

I1. Ichiro Matsushita C Kansai Gaidai Univ R/R 1988.07.19 172/78

x Yuki Saitoh
1. Ayatsugu Yamashita C Narashino HS R/L 1992.11.16 180/83
2. Yuki Yanagida P Hiroshima Keizai Univ R/L 1988.10.09 187/89
3. Takaki Minami P Urawa Gakuin HS R/R 1992.10.23 197/85
4. Daichi Hoshino P Okayama Higashi Sho HS R/R 1993.03.13 180/85
5. Masato Sakata P Yusei HS L/L 1993.03.12 174/65

I1. Keisuke Yasuda OF SIL Kochi L/L 1987.10.06 176/75
I2. Daiki Nakahara IF Kagoshima Josai HS R/R 1992.06.06 185/95
I3. Daichiro Itoh P Homare HS R/R 1992.12.29 175/65
I4. Kodai Senga P Gamagori HS R/L 1993.01.30 183/75
I5. Taisei Makihara IF Johoku HS R/L 1992.10.15 173/68
I6. Takuya Kai C Yoshikan HS R/R 1992.11.05 168/74

1. Tatsuya Ohishi P Waseda Univ R/L 1988.10.10 185/86
2. Kazuhisa Makida P Nihon Express R/S 1984.11.10 178/78
3. Shogo Akiyama OF Hachinohe Univ R/L 1988.04.16 183/83
4. Kyohei Maegawa P Hannandai HS R/R 1992.06.09 187/74
5. Ryo Hayashizaki IF Toyo Univ R/R 1988.06.12 175/75
6. Masato Kumashiro OF Oji Seimei R/R 1989.04.18 175/72

x Yuki Saitoh
1. Shota Ishimine OF Tokai Univ R/R 1988.05.12 179/78
2. Masaki Minami P Rissho Univ R/R 1989.01.18 182/88
3. Atsushi Kobayashi P 77 Bank R/R 1986.02.24 178/85
4. Shota Koike C Aoyama Gakuin Univ R/R 1988.06.24 183/86
5. Naoya Emura C Osaka Toin HS R/R 1992.05.06 176/83
6. Shuhei Fujiya P U of South California R/R 1987.08.12 190/77

I1. Shota Kurosawa P Josai Kokusai Univ R/R 1988.08.05 181/84
I2. Shogo Yamaguchi P Tachibana Gakuen HS L/L 1992.09.11 176/70
I3. Junya Ishida P NOMO Baseball Club R/R 1984.05.21 179/82

1. Yuki Saitoh P Waseda Univ R/R 1988.06.06 175/75
2. Haruki Nishikawa OF Chiben Wakayama HS R/L 1992.04.16 179/73
3. Masahiro Inui P Toyo Univ L/L 1988.12.08 176/74
4. Yodai Enoshita P Kyushu Sangyo Univ R/R 1988.07.21 178/76
5. Yuya Taniguchi OF Aikodai Meiden HS R/L 1992.06.01 182/80
6. Masaru Saitoh P Sega Sammy L/L 1988.01.06 188/86

x Tatsuya Ohishi
x Takahiro Shiomi
x Tetsuto Yamada

1. Shunta Gotoh OF Maebashi Shogyo HS R/L 1993.03.05 180/75
2. Taiki Mitsumata IF Shutoku HS R/R 1992.05.11 177/80
3. Yuki Miyazaki OF Sega Sammy R/R 1986.11.29 177/82
4. Shohei Tsukahara P Tsukuba Shuei R/L 1992.07.08 184/80
5. Masato Fukae OF KIL Akashi Red Soldiers R/L 1987.09.05 177/75

x Tatsuya Ohishi
1. Takahiro Shiomi P Hachinohe Univ L/L 1988.09.06 182/77
2. Manabu Mima P Tokyo Gas R/L 1986.09.19 169/74
3. Toshihito Abe IF Tohoku Fukushi Univ R/L 1988.12.23 180/73
4. Aoi Enomoto OF Kyushu Kokusaidai HS L/L 1992.07.24 179/78
5. Koki Kanno OF PL Gakuen R/R 1992.07.12 181/86

I1. Takahiro Katoh P BCL Toyama R/R 1987.12.13 179/78
I2. Kengo Kimura P Sendai Ikuei HS L/L 1992.04.20 179/88
I3. Hayato Kawaguchi IF Shiga-Takashima Club R/L 1985.08.07 171/70

(High school players are denoted by "HS", college players by "Univ". Players from the indie leagues will have either BCL or SIL or KIL before their team name. Anything else is a club team or industrial league team.)

I'm not actually going to be home until around 5:15, which SUCKS. Alas. I bet the Saitoh/Ohishi/Sawamura sweepstakes will be decided by then... I've been on pins and needles all day.

Okay... I watched the first round picks on the train between work and home, on my cellphone TV with no sound on. I don't think anyone else cared, but as team after team picked Ohishi, I was pumping my fist and trying not to laugh out loud! After all, I was a somewhat obsessive Ohishi fan for a year or two before I became an even more obsessive Kagami fan. :)

First round -- SIX TEAMS TAKE OHISHI AND FOUR TAKE SAITOH. So there. I feel like 3 years of watching Ohishi and talking up how awesome he is has finally been justified. (Infact you know what's CRAZY? Today marks three years to the day EXACTLY since the first time I saw Ohishi, at Soukeisen, October 28, 2007. Even at that time I saw him, only a freshman at the time, and said "Why the hell is everyone making such a big deal about Saitoh when THIS kid is on his team? Holy CRAP." What ELSE is insane is that EVERY pitcher from that game is now a pro -- Saitoh, Ohishi, Kenta Matsushita, Mikinori Katoh, and now Kota Suda as well.)

Baystars - Tatsuya Ohishi
Eagles - Ohishi
Carp - Ohishi
Buffaloes - Ohishi
Swallows - Yuki Saitoh
Fighters - Saitoh
Giants - Hirokazu Sawamura
Marines - Saitoh
Tigers - Ohishi
Lions - Ohishi
Dragons - Yudai Ohno
Hawks - Saitoh

The Giants get Sawamura automatically and the Dragons get Yudai Ohno automatically. Nice job there.

The lottery: Seibu's manager Hisanobu Watanabe is easily the luckiest man in the world as he pulled the Kikuchi card last year and the Ohishi card this year!

So Seibu gets Ohishi, and OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH SAITOH AND SHO NAKATA ON THE SAME TEAM as the Fighters get Yuki Saitoh. Holy shit that was unexpected, I never thought we'd actually go in for him.

Settling the first round, backup picks: (The other teams all get to repeat this process and there will be another lottery-off for doubles.)

Baystars - Kota Suda (yay!)
Rakuten - Takahiro Shiomi :)
Carp - Yuya Fukui
Buffaloes - Shota Ishimine!!
Yakult - Takahiro Shiomi :)
Marines - Shota Ishimine!!
Hanshin - Daiki Enokida
Hawks - Ayatsugu Yamashita

Two lotteries this time. Marines get Ishimine (what is this, quota on Okinawans and Shotas?) and Rakuten gets Shiomi. Hey, they're only an hour from Hachinohe by train.

Buffaloes and Yakult BOTH then go for Tetsuto Yamada, for a THIRD lottery. YIKES.

Crap. Yakult gets Yamada. I was hoping he'd go to Orix so that Yakult would take Kagami maybe.

So, to sum up the first round...

Baystars - Kota Suda, JFE Higashinihon, RHP (formerly Waseda)
Eagles - Takahiro Shiomi, Hachinohe Univ, LHP
Carp - Yuya Fukui, Waseda, RHP
Buffaloes - Shunta Gotoh, Maebashi Shogyo HS, OF
Swallows - Tetsuto Yamada, Riseisha, IF
Fighters - Yuki Saitoh, Waseda University, RHP
Giants - Hirokazu Sawamura, Chuo University, RHP
Marines - Shota Ishimine, Tokai University, OF
Tigers - Daiki Enokida, Tokyo Gas, LHP (formerly Fukuoka Univ)
Lions - Tatsuya Ohishi, Waseda University, RHP
Dragons - Yudai Ohno, Bukkyo Univ, LHP
Hawks - Ayatsugu Yamashita, Narashino HS, C

AND KISHO KAGAMI GOES TO YOKOHAMA WITH THE VERY NEXT PICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Second round! YES!!!

I am going to Yokohama ASAP to get a uniform and putting his name and number on it (well, once he has a number). My god, if only I was going to still be in Japan next year, THIS is what it would take for me to get to Baystars games again. Seriously. I'll still have to plan to make it down there for a few games when I come to visit!! And this is even better for Kagami himself, who is from Kanagawa Prefecture and grew up fairly near Yokohama; he played for Zushi Senior little league and then for Toin Gakuen HS, before going to Hosei. And Hosei is ALSO like 15-20 minutes from Yokohama Stadium by train -- so he can even be near his family and friends! How wonderful for him! I'm really happy :)

Okay, the rest of the draft is mostly irrelevant to me now :)
No, just kidding, I'm still following it, though it's off TV until 7pm at this point, so I'm just looking at the web.


How cool is that, I specifically stalked him this summer because one of my JHS students is trying to go to Shutoku next year and talked up this Mitsumata kid to me, and then I saw him in person like "...dang, 15 home runs in high school, bats cleanup, AND throws 149 km/h? I'll take that!" They have him listed as a pitcher but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets converted early on.

Hifumi to... Hanshin?!!? Hahaha.

I'm liking the Haruki Nishikawa pick (Fighters) -- I saw him at Koshien and he was easily one of the best pure batters there. And unlike certain other high school dudes we've drafted, I'm betting this one can actually play defense too.

FIGHTERS TOOK MASAHIRO INUI?! Oh dear. Well... I like him, certainly, but I hope that doesn't mean we've used up the karma it'll take to get Takahiro Fujioka instead :) (To be fair -- I knew that the Fighters had their eye on Inui for ages, to the point that there was once an article about tons of teams scouting some other player, maybe Sawamura, and the Fighters scout was quoted as saying "Oh... yeah, he's good, but I dunno, I was sent here to watch Masahiro Inui, sorry.")

Glad to see I was right about outfielder Shogo Akiyama from Hachinohe -- he's going to Seibu.

And Softbank takes a flier on the GIGANTIC (197cm) half-Japanese pitcher Takaki Minami from Urawa Gakuin. Not a bad call, though I seriously thought he'd end up with the Fighters just due to how WE tend to be the ones taking guys like that, he'd make a nice set with Dass and Darvish and Unten.

ARANAMI SHO FINALLY GETS DRAFTED and by his hometown Yokohama at that. GOOD FOR HIM. PLEASE help Yokohama out of the cellar so I can come back to Japan and see my Kagami get some wins. :)

The TV comes back on at 7pm... I'm still catching up on typing in names.
They have KAZUHIRO FREAKING KIYOHARA on the draft TV show though. Which would be interesting if the entire thing wasn't THE YUKI SAITOH SHOW. Sigh.

Ryo Hayashizaki actually gets drafted by the Lions! Wow!

And oh my GOD but Hanshin actually took Meiji's Fumiya Araki!
(Good thing I caught him after the game and got his autograph last week! I've been watching him for years too, wasn't sure whether he'd get picked or not, so good for him :)

Oh, GOOD for Hiroshima for getting Chukyodai's catcher Isomura. He's young but a solid player and I have high hopes for him.

HEY LOOK AT THAT, CHIBA LOTTE TOOK THE FLIER ON SHUHEI FUJIYA FROM USC. That is pretty cool too! I wonder if he'll sign and how he'll do here? I also wonder if he may be the first guy to be drafted in BOTH countries?

7:45pm: I have just entered all of the NAMES of the main draft. Other information will come later tonight. I need to eat something and stop freaking out -- my throat hurts from the several times I screamed when I saw a particular player's name come up :)

Ikusei will come when I get Ikusei data which I haven't yet (EDIT: it's coming along slowly now...).

Also, I know they mean well, but this TV "coverage" is getting retarded -- now they have a dramatization of various players' family histories -- do we really need to watch 15 minutes of a TV drama version of Shogo Akiyama's father dying of cancer and him vowing to become a pro to make his dad happy from heaven?

At least they had a funny part towards the end where they had a conference call between Yoshinori Satoh and his brother Takanori, who also just got drafted by Yakult in the 3rd round of ikusei. Yoshinori's like "You didn't react nearly as surprised as I did in my draft," and Takanori's like "Whatever, hey, you never really played baseball with me before, now can we play together?"

(I exaggerate, but it was kind of awkward in general, these two brothers talking to each other over national TV.)

Speaking of brothers, did you know that the Eagles' ikusei #1 pick, Takahiro Katoh, is Mikinori Katoh's little brother? How cool is THAT? Mikinori is one of my favorite Yakult players, and a LHP, but his brother is an RHP.

Oh, now THIS is happy: Kagami a "Kanagawa Boy" draft pick. Whatever, the photo of him wearing a Baystars cap and sitting on his Hosei teammates' shoulders laughing/crying is wonderful.

And here is a blog entry from Kagami himself on the Hosei blog. In his typical style, he says "Thank you so much for your support over 4 years. I'm so happy to finally realize my childhood dream..." and later "...though there is only one sad thing -- my teammates Kameda and Miyagaki were not drafted." What he means, of course, is that he'll miss all of his teammates at Hosei and wishes he could still play baseball with them... since nobody else actually ENTERED the draft. But that's Kagami, the nicest superstar you'll ever meet in your life. (His shikishi in the final picture says "Hama no Superstar", which is kinda funny, I hope he can live up to that!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Draft Notes Photopost, Part N

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.

Later at-bat.

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.

Draft Notes Photopost: Tohto's "Big 3 Catchers"

Draftable collegiate catchers seem to be a vague rarity for whatever reason; many solid collegiate catchers decide to go into the industrial leagues instead, probably to play for a few years until their knees give out and then have a guaranteed nice office job to work at for the rest of their career.

Sanspo actually sorted their draft list by position! So I can say that there are only 9 catchers on that list, and all are ranked C prospects except the "Big 3". There are two others who have entries on Draft Reports, at least:

Ichiro Matsushita, Kansai Gaidai University. A very INTERESTING player, Matsushita spent 6 years living in London because his father had to move there for work. He came back to Japan for high school, and was the captain of the baseball team at Rokko Island HS -- but they never got further than the 3rd round of their prefectural tournament (not surprising, Hyogo is one of THE toughest prefectures in Japan to crack). Then he went to Kansai Gaidai University, where he apparently is majoring in English... which he is naturally fluent in after living in England for so long. If I were him, if he goes through Draft Day unpicked, I'd totally try for some sort of playing option abroad, although he's awfully small at 172/77, that's barely bigger than I am. But he is the captain of his team this year too, and he had a very good spring season, batting-wise. I dunno.

Kiichi Shirakawa, Kyushu Sangyo University. Also team captain, he was league batting champ in the spring with an ungodly .590 average (23-for-39) and a 1.634 OPS, and got invited to the WUBC camp this summer though he didn't actually make the team. Shirakawa's one big point in his favor could be that he's a lefty-batting catcher, though.

As for the Big 3 themselves, they are, in draft pick probability order:
Shota Koike, Aoyama Gakuin University
Takanori Satoh, Toyo University
Tesshin Sameshima, Chuo University (also team captain)

And having seen all of them in person a few times, I actually have taken photos of them! Hooray!

Shota Koike

The man.

Charging a bunt.

Charging a foul ball.

At bat.

Koike is from Tokyo, and he played baseball at Shutoku Gakuen JHS; as a 3rd-year he batted 8th and caught, and his team made it to the finals of the national JHS baseball tourney and lost. (One of his Shutoku teammates was now-Toyo catcher Takanori Satoh, who batted 7th and played RF.) Rather than go to Shutoku HS, he continued on to Joso Gakuin in Ibaraki for HS, and since they do indeed go to Koshien almost every year, he played at Senbatsu in his 2nd year and summer Koshien in his 3rd year, losing in the first round both times.

He got to Aoyama Gakuin and pretty much was the team's starting catcher from his first semester as a freshman, and he hit a grand slam in his very first game. Had some shoulder trouble as a sophomore and mostly entered games as a (crappy) DH; healed up from that and went right back to kicking ass and taking names. He was on the national team for the Japan-US college tourney last summer and also represented the collegiate team for the U26 NPB game, and was also on the national team for the WUBC this summer.

Unfortunately, shortly after filing his registration for this year's draft, he broke a finger on his right hand and couldn't play in any more games this year. However, I have a hunch that he'll still get drafted; he's just a solid catcher and a solid hitter, comes from a really good baseball pedigree and has succeeded at every level he's played at. He's generally listed as an A/B prospect based on his arm and defense and having a reasonable if not spectacular bat to go with them.

Takanori Satoh (for the record, he is 佐藤貴穂, not to be confused with another Takanori Satoh, 佐藤貴規, who is Yakult's Yoshinori's little brother and an outfielder at Sendai Ikuei)

Satoh catching a pitchout to a bunter and trying to throw out the runner.

Satoh at bat.

The guy on the left is Takahiro Fujioka, and the guy on the right is Satoh, having just finished pitching and catching an 11-inning game against Kokushikan together.

Satoh is also from Tokyo, and like Koike he played baseball at Shutoku Gakuen JHS; as a 3rd-year he batted 7th and played right field, and his team made it to the finals of the national JHS baseball tourney and lost. Also like Koike, he decided not to go to Shutoku HS but instead went to Saitama's Kasukabe Kyoei, which despite being one of the Saitama powerhouse high schools, goes to Koshien a lot less than one would think. Yet they did go in 2005, and Satoh batted 7th and played 3rd base, and went 3-3 in their only game... where they lost to Osaka Toin. It's a little scary looking at that lineup now; Toin featured the bats of Sho Nakata (Fighters), Ryosuke Hirata (Chunichi), and Takanobu Tsujiuchi (Giants) was pitching. Satoh, to his credit, was 3-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice in the game.

Satoh continued on to Toyo University, and in the winter of his freshman year, due to having a strong arm and good baseball sense, was converted into a catcher, learning from Shota Ohno (now Fighters). After Ohno left, Satoh became the starting catcher for Toyo and helped lead his team to several championships; Satoh batted .419 in the spring 2010 semester and Toyo won the national tourney, and at the time of this writing he is batting .333 in the fall 2010 semester, good for 3rd in the league. He was on the Best Nine list in spring 2009 and spring 2010, and also played on the Japan team in the Japan-USA college tourney in 2009.

For whatever reason, Satoh isn't thought of as being as good a prospect as Koike; I think it might be more that Koike has been catching forever and ever and has so much experience at the position and has proven himself at so many levels. On the other hand, Satoh might be more versatile, should a team choose him; the Fighters in particular have a habit of playing their extra catchers at 2nd base and other places in the outfield to get them into more ni-gun games. Honestly, I'm not a scout, and I got a vague sense that Satoh might not be as good at handling pitchers in difficult situations; I noticed I don't really have any pictures of him going out to the mound to talk to pitchers, which may or may not indicate anything.

Tesshin Sameshima

Like many of the others going into this draft, being part of the "Saitoh Generation", Sameshima's high school career also crossed Saitoh's -- in the semifinals at Koshien, where Saitoh struck out 13 people (including Sameshima three times) and beat Kagoshima Kogyo to go on to the finals and face Tomakomai in that historic dramatic finale. Sameshima was, for his team, both the captain, catcher, and cleanup batter.

When he came to Chuo, just like Koike, he became the team's starting catcher from the first semester of his freshman year -- the first guy to do that in 10 years at Chuo (the last one before him was Shinnosuke Abe). He'd still be the captain, catcher, and cleanup (and more alliterative in that Chuo starts with a C too) if not for the fact that they have a 100-kg first baseman named Seiya Inoue who fits the cleanup slot a slight bit better.

Sameshima was on the Japanese national team in high school, but hasn't actually made the cut for any of them in college, probably thanks to the above two guys, so he's slightly less-known to general baseball fans, but on the going-pro front, has undoubtedly been benefitting from all of the scouts coming to watch his team's ace Hirokazu Sawamura.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Draft Notes: Shunsuke Nakamura (aka Game Report: Toyodai vs. Asiadai)

(I started writing this on Oct 21st but got sidetracked. Basically, the inspiration for this post was seeing a pitcher whose name is in the draft and that I thought looked really good, but for some reason is not mentioned in almost ANY draft magazines...)

Thanks to all of the craziness in Tokyo Big 6 this semester, and a bunch of rainouts in both Big 6 and Tohto, the Tohto University Baseball League decided to switch their schedule from the normal 8-week format with Asia and Toyo playing each other in the 8th week to a 7-week format with 3 games per day in the 7th week, with the Asia-Toyo series happening as the 3rd game of the day each time.

(The 8th week will, instead, be used to finish the Week 4 games, as Toyo-Aogaku and Chuo-Kokushi have only played one game each; right now they have the 2nd day of games scheduled for Oct 26th, and it's likely there'll be at least one game on the 27th, and I think they want to be finished up by Oct 28th for Draft Day.)

I noticed that Tuesday's games, while scheduled to be played at 10, 12:30, and 3pm respectively, ACTUALLY started at 10, 1:15pm, and 5pm, so I thought there was a chance something similar may happen on Wednesday, and I could catch the final game of the day and see some Asia and Toyo players for their last time as amateurs.

I knew that the following players from both universities were registered for the draft:
Keisuke Kanuma, RHP. Team captain, very solid but not particularly exciting pitcher. Kinda like Kazuhito Futagami.
Masahiro Inui, LHP. Had a brilliant semester in F08, has been average since. Left-handed but not particularly huge or overpowering.
Ryo Hayashizaki, SS. Hit a homerun off Ma-kun at Koshien 2006, has been a prospect since. Reminds me of Eishin Soyogi.
Takanori Satoh, C. One of the "Big 3 Catchers" of Tohto this year. Not as good as his predecessor, Shota Ohno, nor as good as Aogaku's Shota Koike, who unfortunately broke his hand this semester, but certainly not bad.
Kazunori Tanaka, OF
Shunsuke Nakamura, RHP

While I've seen all of those Toyo players many times, this was my first time to see both of the Asia players; the last time I caught an Asia game in person was several semesters ago, and neither of them were on the national team. I follow the league and have a general idea what's up with players, certainly, but it's just been a while since I saw that particular team in person. (I don't have a Tohto team the way I have a Big 6 team, but if I did, it would be Toyo.)

Anyway, the games did run late, but not quite late enough, so when I arrived at Jingu, it was the bottom of the 2nd inning. Fortunately, I was able to piece together the first inning and a half using the sparse game comments on the Tohto site as well as the batting lines; I knew that Masahiro Inui got knocked out after 7 batters in the top of the 1st, and that Asia captain Kenshiro Kashima hit a triple to bring in 3 runs and scored himself on a wild pitch to Bruno Hirata, so when I arrived it was 4-0.

At that point, starter Shunsuke Nakamura was pitching for Asia University, and captain Keisuke Kanuma had replaced Inui on the mound for Toyo.

So, certainly, I was interested in seeing Nakamura. If nothing else, he has an interesting name collision in that there's also a famous soccer player in Japan with that name (though different kanji). I noticed that he was pretty tall; he wears #19 and so I thought maybe I was just guessing him as being near Kagami's height because they have similar builds and deliveries.  (But he is actually listed as 186cm/81kg, which is really close to Kagami.)

And my first impression was that he's a big kid who throws a big forkball. The first thing I saw him do was strike out Takanori Satoh and Takumi Horikoshi in succession. But he was also hitting 152-153 on the Jingu gun, mixing in a few change-ups as well.

Asia added another run in the top of the 4th when Hiroaki Ono walked and then Tomoki Takada hit a triple to right to bring in Ono, making it 5-0.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the 4th Nakamura allowed his second RUNNER of the game, when he plunked Atsushi Kimura in the back. After 5 innings, Nakamura had faced 17 batters and struck out 9 of them.

Asia added two more runs in the top of the 6th; Shota Tashiro was hit by a pitch and Hiroaki Ono hit one out to center that Toyo CF Yuya Oda dove for and missed, so it went for a double and Tashiro scored, 6-0. Takada followed that with his SECOND triple of the day to bring Ono home, 7-0.

That was it for Keisuke Kanuma. Not the greatest day for the two Toyo draft hopefuls, between him and Inui they gave up 7 runs in less than 6 innings.

But the rest of the Toyo bullpen performed admirably and the rest of the game was scoreless for Asia. Junki Fujita pitched 1.1 innings and walked one and struck out 2; freshman lefty Takaaki Nohma pitched another 1.1 innings and struck out another 2, and Takuya Uchiyama finished it out by hitting one batter and striking out another.

It didn't matter as Shunsuke Nakamura pitched the entire game for Asia, throwing 130 pitches, striking out 11, giving up 5 hits, one walk, and hitting one batter. The highest I saw the radar gun catch him at was 154 km/h (about 96.7 mph). The Toyo batters seemed to have no idea what to do against him.

The game went until around 7pm, so not as late as the other game, and Asia won 7-0. (Box score here in Japanese.) I decided to wait around by the players' buses outside, even though I don't know any of the players, I see Tohto League all of like 2-3 times per year usually so haven't gotten to get my face familiar with them. I didn't have anything to get signed but thought a photo or something might be nice...

Instead, though, I ended up talking to a friend of a friend from my Big 6 bleacher bum group, an older woman who's a huge Yusuke Nomura fan; turns out she likes Toyodai too. (She jokes that Nomura is her grandson; I think she's like 78 so it wouldn't be that far out there!) She suggested that I wouldn't want to talk to Inui or Hayashizaki or Satoh anyway since Toyo got totally beaten down; Inui particularly would likely be in a bad mood. I guess that's probably true.

So, I got nothing. Which is okay. I went to this game on a whim anyway. Also ran into one of my Kamagaya friends, who had managed to get Nao Higashihama's autograph. We walked back to the train station together and I grilled him about Shunsuke Nakamura, like "Why is this kid not listed in any of the draft magazines? And what HAPPENED to Inui today?"

Well, at least part of the puzzle, I understand now; even this year, though he is a senior, and freaking HUGE, with a REALLY FAST fastball, Nakamura is actually Asia's #2 pitcher, not #1. The #1 pitcher is Higashihama, and has been pretty much since Higashihama burst onto the scene last year as a freshman. So Nakamura kind of has been in the shadows for most of his time. Last year, most of the pitching was shared by Higashihama and then 4th-year Keisuke Kuramata (now a pitcher for ENEOS).

And I looked a little into his high school background; he was also a pitcher at Shiga Gakuen HS... and it seems that even then he was their #2. Shiga Gakuen has made it to Koshien all of once ever, at Senbatsu 2009. When Nakamura was a senior, in 2006, they made it all the way to the Shiga prefecture finals before losing 6-3 to Hachiman Shogyo. Hachiman went on to lose to Shizuoka Kogyo in the first round of Koshien 2006, which is now known as the Yuki Saitoh Koshien. The best account of that final Shiga tournament game that I could find is on a Shiga Gakuen blog. I believe that his teammate Takahiro Isa actually lost the game, though Nakamura was wearing #10 during the tourney, a number which generally designates "#2 pitcher" for most schools.

Also, when researching that Shiga Gakuen 2006 team, I came across a bunch of interesting pages, including this scouting review of a whole bunch of players from the Kansai area that year. I'm not going to go into too much detail, though I will say that the page ALSO raves about this excellent left-handed pitcher named Yudai Ohno, who is now a top guy in the 2010 college draft pick. But the thing is that their comment about pitchers from Shiga Gakuen for that year is that they considered a guy named Junkou Kawaguchi to be the best of the 3, that Takahiro Isa was considered their #2, and their comment on Nakamura is limited to, basically, "he's not really there yet as a pitcher, but the kid is HUGE and has a 144km/h fastball and a decent forkball in his arsenal."

Since then, Isa and Kawaguchi have gone on to Aomori University, in the middle of nowhere, where Isa has pitched a bunch and I'm not sure Kawaguchi ever appeared in a league game. And Nakamura is at Asia-dai, pitching games at Jingu in the top tier of the best or second-best college league in the country, depending on who you ask. So go figure.

(And looking at the 2006 HS draft registrees also pulls up some interesting names of guys who are now 4th-years in college and going into the draft again, like Ryo Hayashizaki, and Rissho's Masaki Minami.)

Here are Nakamura's starts this semester at Asia-dai:

9/15 Kokushikan 9 33 112 6 1 2 1 1
9/22 Chuo 5 22 74 4 2 2 4 1
10/7 Aoyama 8 29 108 6 1 7 2 2
10/15 Kokugakuin 9 34 150 6 3 7 3 3
10/20 Toyo 9 33 130 5 2 11 0 0

40 151 574 27 9 29 10 7 1.575 0.90

It's clear that the Toyo game was better than average for him, and that I probably witnessed his best pitching performance ever and got a little hyper about him. On the other hand, overall his numbers aren't bad, and he CAN throw fast and he IS a huge kid. You can't blame me for seeing a 6'2" Japanese kid with a 96-mph fastball pitch a complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts against a top-notch college team (Toyo won the national college championship in the spring, after all, and I watched them beat down both Hachinohe's Takahiro Shiomi and Tokaidai's Tomoyuki Sugano) and thinking he might be something special.

Anyway, to sum up: this kid may end up being a sleeper in the draft and go in a later round to some team, and with good coaching become a very good pro pitcher. There have definitely been "perennial #2 guys" who get drafted and turn out just fine; even this past year saw Kenta Matsushita and Hisashi Takeuchi get drafted out of Big 6, and Takeuchi was well-known to have very little on his side besides a blazing fastball and a huge frame. But he's already appeared at ichi-gun for Hiroshima.

Or Nakamura may just end up in the industrial leagues or somewhere else, who knows. Unlike the Big 6 kids, I don't know much about him personally, so he may already have an entire backup plan in place for not getting drafted. (I personally talked to a Big 6 guy who has a really interesting draft backup plan including trying to play in the US... but I'm not going to say anything more about that until after draft day... and no, it's not who you think it is.)

Still, I personally hope he gets drafted just because it'd be funny to be talking about "Shunsuke Nakamura... no, the BASEBALL player!" Kind of like "Yuki Saitoh... no, the left-handed HIROSHIMA CARP pitcher!"

These photos suck because I only had my little camera with me at Jingu, but here are a few from that game on Oct 20th:

What it looked like when I arrived at Jingu. Dark and 4-0 Asia.

Shunsuke Nakamura.

Nakamura again.

Nakamura pitching. His frame really reminds me a lot of Kagami's.

Bruno Hirata. I first saw him a few years back too, he's a 3rd-generation Brazilian-Japanese who was on the Brazil national youth baseball team, then came to Japan as an exchange student in high school at Hachioji because he hoped to play at Koshien, and stayed for college. I'm not sure what he's doing next year, though he's not entered in the draft.

Kazunori Tanaka at bat. Like I said, he's also entered in the draft, but he didn't impress me in particular.

Toyo's Takaaki Nohma.

As you can see, unlike a Big 6 game, the stands are really sparse for Tohto games -- this is the entirety of the Toyo cheering section, including the cheer girls and the brass band and the alumni and fans.

Game over, the players line up and bow to each other.

Final score.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tokyo Big 6, Week 7 Part 1 (and congrats to the Chunichi Dragons!)

It's gonna be a Dragons-Marines Japan Series! Hooray! That is interesting! Though if I do get to go to any games, I'm not sure what I'll do. Probly will wear like, a Marines t-shirt and a Dragons jersey together, or vice versa.

I only saw the last few innings of the final playoff game, though. It was 2-1 when I came in, then Chunichi went up 3-1 on a walked-in run after an intentional walk. Ouch. But then the Giants tied it up off Asao... and then finally, in the bottom of the 9th, a pinch-hitting Ryoji Nakata walked. Morino was up after him, so I was hoping for a Morino MVP Moment where he'd hit a home run. But no, he also walked. So instead, Kazuhiro Wada, Gifu's Giant-Killer (not really), came up and lined a single into left field. "RUN HOME, FAT BOY!" I yelled at my TV as Ryoji Nakata came in and was immediately pounced by the rest of his team as the Dragons won the game. HOORAY.

The reason I didn't see the game, of course, was because I was busy with college ball. Week 7 doesn't actually matter for the standings, so there's a lot of interesting stuff that happens. For example, I saw Yuugo Satoh make his league debut, pitching one inning for Rikkio. He's a lefty pitcher from Seibo Gakuen, in Saitama... and I saw him pitch last summer during the prefectural tournament. So that was exciting. Games like this involve an interesting combo of "let's give some new kids a chance to get out there" with "...let's give our 4th-years a chance to play in one final game", so there were definitely a few pinch-hitters or relief pitchers who were largely "Who?" to me, despite that I've been going to these games for several years now.

The game results were predictable though. Meiji beat Rikkio, and Hosei beat Todai. Though Todai captain Maeda was really giving it his all -- he pitched very well for a few innings until he ran out of steam, even striking out a few guys. Kagami pitched for Hosei and threw 8 innings in what should be his last college game ever; in the "give the 4th-years a chance" vein, Shoya Yamamoto pitched the 9th.

The exciting thing for me was that I got to meet not one but TWO boys who played on Koshien championship teams!

One was 2009 champion Chukyodai Chukyo's Kanji Kawai, now a freshman at Hosei. I was at the Koshien game last summer where he hit a sayonara homer in the 10th inning. So it's only fitting that in this game he also hit a 2-run homer. I didn't really get to talk to him, but after the game I gave him a stack of photos I'd printed of him in the spring, and I did get an autograph and a photo with him:

(That ball he's holding is his home run ball!)

The other was a lot more interesting. In the second game, I was sitting next to a random drunk Hosei alumni guy who wouldn't shut up, so that was kind of annoying, but next to him was a Hosei baseball club guy, and next to that guy was Mishima's girlfriend. An interesting mix, to be sure.

I finally asked the Hosei baseball guy who he was, since I had seen his face but couldn't remember, and it turned out he was Eiji Egashira! From the Saga Kita 2007 Miracle Kids team! He's now a sophomore at Hosei.

I only talked to him a little during the game itself, but afterwards he was outside by himself when I was waiting for players to come out, so I chatted with him for a while then.

I explained that I moved to Japan in 2007 and that his team's Koshien was my first ever, and that I'd actually been cheering for them. And so we got to talking. I asked if he wanted to face Yusuke Nomura again and he said that of course he did -- maybe next year. (Nomura was the losing pitcher when Egashira's school won Koshien.) We talked about his teammates -- I said that I'd seen Ichimaru-kun play for Waseda a bunch, and he said "Dude! How did he do? Were you at the Waseda-Meiji game?" and we looked at my scorebook (to which he was like "SUGOI!") and we saw that Ichimaru did get a hit off Nomura, and he said "I bet he was really happy. Shohei Habu was also on that Koryo team, now those two are teammates." And then he told me about where a bunch of the other kids are from that Saga Kita Miracle Squad. Almost all of the basic 9 are in college -- places like Chuo, Asia, Fukuoka-dai, various others. Egashira himself, he said he came to Hosei because he got a recommendation from his coach, and being in Big 6 was, in his mind, the top of the top, for playing in college.

And he also said "You've only been living here for 3 years? How do you speak Japanese so well?" and I said "...but I don't! I can talk about baseball very well but everything else is so difficult!"

I asked if he'd be playing in the rookie tournament this time around and he said "I injured my shoulder... I can't throw. I've started rehabbing it but the muscles are still messed up." I was like "OMG that sucks I'm so sorry to hear it. I wanted to see you play again!" He said "Thank you so much. Maybe next year?"

Anyway, he was really nice and I really enjoyed talking to him. It was very surreal to be talking to a guy who I watched on TV 3 years ago when he was in high school. He seemed very humble and very down-to-earth, like, sure, he was part of a team that achieved what every baseball-playing kid in Japan aspires to, but, whatever, he was just another random non-active Hosei baseball club member, for the time being.

Aside from that... I got a few other Hosei guys to be in photos with me...

Kazuki Mishima, who said he'll be pitching on Sunday...

Kota Imamura, who is a really nice guy. I gave him some photos too and talked for a while. I have this hunch he'll be the captain next year but can't really explain why.

I also found Ryo Imai and talked to him for a bit about his plans next year; he's not doing anything baseball-related at all but instead is going to try to get into the business of running a live music house, or a bar with open mic, or something. He's always seemed kind of unique so I think it's great he's trying to follow his own dream, and I told him so.

Some of the other guys have companies to play baseball for next year; captain Ohyagi is going to Oji Seishi, I think, and Kento Kameda is going to Mitsubishi, things like that. I also got autographs from Shoya Yamamoto and Fumiya Kitayama and gave them some photos I had of them from earlier on too.

Oh, and of course, I had to go talk to this guy for the last time... and give him some Halloween candies and wish him luck...

I asked him, "Are you nervous about the draft this week?"
He said "Honestly? Yeah, I am."
I said "Ganbatte. No matter where you end up, I will cheer for you."
He said thanks.

I'm really nervous for Kagami too, of course.


Between the first two games of the day I also was on a rampage for signatures, so picked up a bunch of Meiji guys; Ikenaga, Araki, Kawabe, and Shashiki. Only got one Rikkio guy, but it was a good one, Keisuke Okazaki.

And I got a photo with Shogo Shashiki! I was very happy about that. He's very nice in person, I'd never really talked to him much before beyond simply aisatsu, but always had this image of him being a tough-guy type since he was a year ahead of Sho Nakata at Osaka Toin. Instead, he turned out to be very sweet.

So, that was very cool. And I still have tomorrow to stalk more Meiji and Rikkio guys. Hooray!

I should add that the funniest of the Meiji guys was Shuhei Ikenaga -- I noticed him a year or two ago, he wears glasses and is a catcher, so of course my image is of him being cool like Furuta. And every time I've seen Ikenaga, even just as a bullpen catcher, he's always got a big smile on his face and is being cheerful and encouraging to the guys he's catching for. But trying to tell people that my favorite player on the team is a bullpen catcher is always kind of embarrassing. I'd never approached him before, so when I asked him for a signature he was like "...WTF? You want MY autograph?" and I said "YES! I think catchers who wear glasses are really cool!" He laughed. I told him I had two photos, please sign one and I'll give you the other, and he was like "seriously? you're awesome! thanks so much!" I'm glad to know that my perception of him was pretty close to the reality. Wish I'd gotten a photo with him, but the time between games is a little more frantic for the players trying to get to the team bus.

And for the record, Kazuki Nishijima was giving off a total "Do NOT come near me" aura as he RAN for the bus. So I didn't. Grr. Yusuke Nomura, on the other hand, bothered to say "My arm hurts, I'll sign stuff tomorrow, I promise."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Liveblog: Pacific League Playoffs, Second Stage Final Game - Marines vs. Hawks

Last game. Here we go.


Nishioka ss Kawasaki ss
Kiyota cf Honda 2b
Iguchi 2b Ortiz dh
Saburo rf Kokubo 1b
Imae 3b Tamura rf
Imaoka?! dh Matsunaka lf
Taekyun 1b Matsuda 3b
Ohmatsu lf Hasegawa cf
Satozaki c Yamasaki c

Naruse Sugiuchi

Top of the first (M 0, H 0)
Nishioka fly out to right field.
Kiyota groundout to short.
Iguchi strikes out swinging.

Bottom of the first (M 0, H 0)
Kawasaki strkes out swinging.
Honda grounds out to short.
Ortiz grounds out to second.

Top of the second (M 0, H 0)
Saburo hits a pop fly out to right.
Imae hits a pop fly out to right as well.
Imaoka grounds out to short.

Bottom of the second (M 0, H 0)
Kokubo grounds out to second.
Tamura strikes out swinging.
Matsunaka hits a pop fly out to left.

(It's 6:30pm and the first two innings are done...)

Top of the third (M 0, H 0)
Taekyun hits a LINER to short and Kawasaki jumps to catch it. Oops.
Ohmatsu walks! First base-runner of the game! OMG! One on, one out.
Satozaki singles through Sugiuchi's legs and up the middle. First HIT of the game! Two on, one out.
Nishioka hits a pop fly to right. Two down, two on.
Kiyota grounds out to second, force on Satozaki for the fielder's choice 6-4. Three down.

Bottom of the third (M 0, H 0)
Matsuda hits a pop fly out to center.
Hasegawa grounds out to short.
Yamasaki strikes out stupid. Three down.

Top of the fourth (M 0, H 0)
Iguchi hits a pop fly out to straight center.
Saburo walks.
Imae hits a fly ball into the gap... and Hasegawa makes the catch at the wall, two down, one on.
Imaoka hits another pop fly out to right. Three down.

Bottom of the fourth (M 0, H 0)
Kawasaki grounds out to first (3-1).
Honda hits a fly ball to center, caught. Two down.
Ortiz singles to left for the first Hawks runner of the game just as I was thinking "Wow, Naruse has a perfect game so far." He points to the sky when he gets to first base, if that matters.
Kokubo hits a pop fly out to second, three down.

4 innings over and it's 7:06pm.

Top of the fifth (M 4, H 0)
Taekyun strikes out swinging.
Ohmatsu hits a pop fly out to left.
Satozaki singles to left! That makes him 2-for-2 today...
Nishioka singles all the way out to the left corner. Two on, two out.
Kiyota walks -- so bases loaded, two out... that was apparently the 84th pitch of the night for Sugiuchi.
Iguchi is apparently hit by a pitch, on his leg (it looked like a wild pitch at first to be honest). Satozaki scores, 1-0.
Saburo ALSO walks. Oshidashi! Nishioka scores. 2-0.
Imae hits a bouncing grounder that bounces over Sugiuchi, and past a diving Kawasaki. Kiyota and Iguchi score on the single. 4-0.

97 pitches and Sugiuchi is switched off the mound to Masahiko Morifuku. (Sugiuchi seriously looks like he's going to cry but he also seems quite aware that there must be tons of cameras on him so instead he's towelling off sweat and getting a drink.)

Imaoka hits a pop fly out to right and that ends the bleeding for now.

Bottom of the fifth (M 4, H 0)
Tamura hits a pop fly out to right.
Matsunaka... ?! grounds out to first but it goes through Taekyun into right field and is called an E3. (I could almost see calling it a single.) One on, one out.
Matsuda hits a pop fly to right. One on, two down.
Hasegawa hits a pop fly out to center. Three down.

Top of the sixth (M 4, H 0)

Morifuku is off the mound and TSUYOSHI WADA HAS ENTERED THE BUILDING. Holy carp. Well, he hasn't pitched in 4 days, but... we'll see. He was untouchable before...

Taekyun strikes out.
Ohmatsu grounds out to second.
Satozaki grounds back to the mound. Three down.

Bottom of the sixth (M 4, H 0)
Tanoue pinch-hits for Yamasaki and grounds out to short.
Kawasaki also grounds out to short.
Honda hits a pop fly to left and it's the 7th inning... at 7:53pm...

Top of the seventh (M 4, H 0)
Nishioka grounds out to short.
Kiyota pops a fly out to right. Two down.
Iguchi singles to right-center. One on, two out.
Saburo hits a pop fly to right-center, caught by the rightfielder. Change.

Bottom of the seventh (M 4, H 0)
Ortiz hits a pop fly to right.
Kokubo strikes out swinging.
Tamura singles to center.
Matsunaka strikes out swinging.

Top of the eighth (M 7, H 0)
Falkenborg on the mound in place of Wada.

Imae singles to short.
Heiuchi pinch-hits for Imaoka comes up bunting and successfully bunts up Imae, 2-4. One down, runner at 2nd.
Taekyun singles back to the right-field wall, driving in Imae. 5-0.
Ohmatsu hits a HOME RUN TO RIGHT which brings in Taekyun as well. 7-0.

Satozaki singles up the middle. That makes him 3-for-4, btw. One on, one out again.
Nishioka grounds into a fielder's choice, 5-4. So still one on, but now two out.
Kiyota strikes out.

Naruse is still in there -- only 89 pitches to this point.
And the camera crew keeps showing very grumpy-looking Hawks players in the dugout.

Bottom of the eighth (M 7, H 0)
Matsuda singles to center. One on, no out.
Hasegawa grounds into a double play, 5-4-3. Two down.
Tanoue singles to right... one on, two out.
Kawasaki strikes out swinging. (I think that's 6 strikeouts for Naruse.)

Settsu in for the Hawks pitching now.

Top of the ninth (M 7, H 0)
Iguchi grounds out to third.
Saburo hits a pop fly out to left.
Imae singles to left. One on, two out.
Fukuura pinch-hits for Heiuchi and strikes out.

Last 3 outs for Softbank... and Naruse is still in there.

Bottom of the ninth (M 7, H 0)
Honda hits a pop fly out to left. (2nd pitch.)
Ortiz hits a pop fly out to right. (First pitch.)
Kokubo swings at the first pitch, strike one. Fouls off the second pitch, strike two. Third pitch is in the dirt, ball one.

Kokubo breaks his bat hitting the ball to short. Nishioka, who started crying as Kokubo was at the plate, MAKES THE CATCH and then collapses on the ground crying.

The Marines are going to the Japan Series!

Um... some screenshots. I don't know, I feel weird about this entire thing. Like, I'm happy for the Marines players that I've been watching the last few years... but at the same time I feel kind of funny to see Bobby's guys up there going to the Japan Series without Bobby. (To be fair, Nishimura did say that "we couldn't have gotten here without the last manager, who I was a coach for in the 2005 Japan Series", but still.)

Heiuchi, because this is my blog and I can put him in here.

Nishioka before the final out.

Naruse before the final out.

Nishioka after the final out, crying.

Helping Nishioka up and off the field.

Grumpy Akiyama-manager in the Hawks dugout.

Doage (not of Nishimura, they only threw him twice. I didn't catch who this was.)

Saburo and Iguchi.

Hayden Penn and Bill Murphy back in the dugout.

Nishimura's speech.

Pennant banner thingy.

Final ceremony starts.