Introducing Your 2014 Chiba Lotte Draft Picks

draft-logo My three favorite days of the NPB calendar are:

1) Spring Camp Opening Day
2) Regular Season Opening Day
3) Draft Day

Happy Draft Day everyone!

This year’s draft is notable for a lack of sure-fire NPB stars, no Otanis or Fujinamis on offer. That puts a premium on scouting, and if there’s one thing Our Marines do very well it’s digging diamonds out of the rough.

I mentioned last year that the 6 regular players and 1 Ikusei player were the most taken since 2010. This year Chiba matched that number with 7 regular players and no Ikusei players, and for the first time in some while several High School players were drafted as regular players. Let’s take a look at who we added:
 

1 Shogo Nakamura
Infielder From: Waseda University Born: 1992/05/28
Height/Weight: 180cm/75Kg Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Basically everyone (including yours truly) thought that Lotte would go after a premium arm to bolster the troubling rotation with the first pick – perhaps a Yamasaki or a Yamasaki, some even suggested a high school star such as Matsumoto. But no, the team zigged when we expected a zag, drafting the consensus all-around number one infielder in the draft, 4th year Waseda star Shogo Nakamura.

Nakamura is described by the team as a “future Iguchi type” of player, a triple threat at the plate, in the field, and on the basepaths. He played all 4 years at powerhouse Waseda and is captain for this year. It’s a good plan to shore up the middle of the infield for the very long term to have a player like Nakamura next to Daichi, though I wonder what will be the planned usage for him this year as the plan is to bring Cruz back, with promising Takahama, Shota Ohmine, and Miki waiting for playing time as well.

Honestly the reaction on Lotte Twitter to this pick seemed a bit mixed, to be generous.

I’ve attached some scans from the Weekly Baseball 2014 Draft Player Guide – click on the link below to expand.

Scans from 2014 Draft Preview (Warning - Large Images)

Here’s video of him in action last year.


 

2 Eisuke Tanaka
Pitcher From: Kyoto University Born: 1992/04/02
Height/Weight: 180cm/75Kg Throws/Bats: Right/Right

A very interesting pick, and seeming the best value pick for Chiba as they select Kyoto University righty Eisuke Tanaka with the second pick. Many observers had Lotte picking Tanaka in the first round, even.

Why is he an interesting pick? If you aren’t familiar with Japanese universities you may not know Kyoto University. It’s one of the very top universities in Japan, world-renowned for its science curriculum and absolutely, positively NOT for sports. Think University of Chicago yielding a high draft pick in the MLB draft and you’ll have a good idea. Tanaka’s going to be the first player from Kyoto University in NPB – once he finishes his engineering curriculum, that is!

He features a 149 km/h fastball (93 mph) in addition to a splitter, curve, and slider. I’m really looking forward to seeing him pitch next year – he should be the most likely candidate to see a lot of playing time next year.

Scans from 2014 Draft Preview (Warning - Large Images)

Here he is in action.


 

3 Daiki Iwashita
Pitcher From: Seiryo HS Born: 1996/10/02
Height/Weight: 181cm/83Kg Throws/Bats: Right/Right

And here’s our first high school player, Daiki Iwashita from Seiryo HS in Ishikawa prefecture. He seems to be reasonably well regarded though I would expect him to not see much/any ichi-gun action for a bit.

A very recent video post of Iwashita at Koshien this summer.


 

4 Kandai Terashima
Catcher From: Soka University Born: 1992/10/12
Height/Weight: 183cm/82Kg Throws/Bats: Right/Right
from the Soka U website

from the Soka U website

Here’s the real head scratcher of the day, Soka University catcher Kandai Terashima. You may be asking, “Why is Chiba spending a draft pick on a catcher when there are already 6 on the roster and one Ikusei catcher? And didn’t the team draft a university catcher in Yuta Yoshida last year, and wasn’t he pretty good? And didn’t Tamura show a lot of promise in his extended playing time last year?”

Are you asking those things? Because I sure as heck am. Anyway, Terashima is now our 8th catcher.
 
 
 
Some video of him warming up two years ago.
 
 

 

5 Kazuya Katsuki
Infielder From: Osaka Toin HS Born: 1996/04/16
Height/Weight: 175cm/82Kg Throws/Bats: Right/Left
From the draft guide - click to expand

From the draft guide – click to expand

Katsuki’s a well-regarded infielder from perennial high school powerhouse Osaka Toin. He plays third and bats left. Obviously someone we can expect to see more from in the future rather than right now.

Katsuki was a member of the Samurai Japan U18 team as you can see in the image on the left. Who’s the other guy in that image? Hmm.
 
 
 
 
Here he is at Koshien this year.
 

 

6 Atsushi Miyazaki
Pitcher From: Hiroshima Kokusai Univerity Born: 1992/12/08
Height/Weight: 171cm/72Kg Throws/Bats: Left/Left
Mystery Man Miyazaki?

Mystery Man Miyazaki?

The mystery man! Nobody has any pictures of Atsushi Miyazaki – believe me, I looked. The picture to the right is I believe of him from recent action, it comes from the Daily Sports website and was unlabeled other than being from Hiroshima Kokusai University. But it looks like him.

He’s pretty far off the radar – Yahoo didn’t even have a date of birth for him originally and he’s not in my draft guide at all. Obviously I know nothing about him other than he throws a 146 km/h fastball plus a slider/curve.
 
 
But there is video of him pitching, strangely enough.
 
 

 

7 Naoto Wakimoto
Outfielder From: Kendai Takasaki HS Born: 1996/05/13
Height/Weight: 180cm/80Kg Throws/Bats: Right/Left
from Asahi

from Asahi

Hey, here’s the other guy in the image above – Gunma speedstar Naoto Wakimoto. He’s apparently a base stealing machine and was a teammate of #5 pick Katsuki on the Samurai Japan U18 team. Very cool.

Given my love of speedy outfielders, I bet I am going to enjoy watching Wakimoto play just fine.

 
 
 

Video of Wakimoto from Koshien.
 
 

 

Verdict? Unlike last year, I have no idea. Itoh-kantoku said the goal was drafting balance and that they were satisfied with the balance achieved. I do like that many of the picks were designed for bolstering the future Marines rather than just winning right now – it’s a very reasonable approach, I think. How do these picks affect next year? Outside of Tanaka, not at all, I think. If you want to see this draft class in action in 2015 for the most part you’re probably going to need to visit Urawa.

Yes! Lotte are Your 2014 (Farm) Champions!

farm-champions

Who said there are no championships to be had for Our Marines this season? Sure, we fans wanted to see the Pacific League and NPB championships most of all, but you know what? The NPB Farm Championship is right behind those.

Continue Reading Yes! Lotte are Your 2014 (Farm) Champions!

The Last Hurrah: Seibu @ Lotte, 1 October 2014

Rookie phenom Ayumu Ishikawa completed his season – and Lotte’s – season in style with his best pitching performance of his nascent career. Backed by a ferocious offensive attack and the collective will of a jam packed home outfield cheering section, Ayu went the distance in a complete game, no walk, 10 strikeout masterpiece. It’s the sort of performance that wins a guy a Rookie of the Year award.

Continue Reading The Last Hurrah: Seibu @ Lotte, 1 October 2014

Satozaki Retirement Ceremony – Orix @ Lotte, 28 Sep 2014

ph_satozaki07

Lotte WINS 4-2, Satozaki Retires a Hero

Orix: Kazumasa Yoshida (5-5 3.56) @ Lotte: Hideaki Wakui (7-12 4.31)

Tonight we honored Tomoya Satozaki and his retirement after 16 seasons as catcher for Our Marines. Sato-chan was with Lotte for two Nippon Series Championships, 2005 & 2010, also winning World Baseball Classic Gold in 2006.

Continue Reading Satozaki Retirement Ceremony – Orix @ Lotte, 28 Sep 2014

The Final Stretch: Hamu @ Lotte, 23-26 September 2014

QVC Sunset

If you want to be totally negative, you can say the 2014 Chiba Lotte Marines’ backs are flush against the wall. The margin of error is not slim; it’s non-existent. Our Marines must win every game – 6 of them. Hamu must lose every game – 11 of those. If that happens, if these guys can pull off that miracle, Hamu collapses that badly – Chiba STILL needs help in the form of Rakuten and Seibu losing a game or two. Yes, it’s the unlikeliest of scenarios, indeed, but until all chance is drained from the season we will cheer and cheer with ALL our zeal for Our Marines to move on.

Continue Reading The Final Stretch: Hamu @ Lotte, 23-26 September 2014