Right smack dab in the middle of the run up to the Nippon Series is the 2010 Draft. I’m of course quite interested in seeing the young players get distributed to the teams (and the best to ours, naturally!) but quite honestly I know next to nothing about the high school and university players (other than the big name players) except what I read online. A good resource for this sort of info (especially the university players) is Deanna’s site.
This year Lotte went after a front line starter, specifically the very famous Yuki Saitoh, who even has an extensive Wikipedia page in English. The first Koshien High School Tournament I ever watched was the 2006 tournament where he skyrocketed to national fame.
Anyway, we didn’t get him (he went to the Fighters instead), and instead Lotte drafted university outfielder Shota Ishimine. I’ve tried to find video of him in action but the best I can do is Deanna’s draft preview. The Lotte scouting report (on the Marines website) does say they think he’s ready to be a first team player in a very short time, which I take to mean he’s going to be competing for a job with Saburo, Ohmatsu, and Ogino (Ta-Ka-Shi!) next spring, assuming he gets signed, that is. Other reports I’ve seen on the web have him listed as the #1 university position player.
Ishimine is from Okinawa, so along with the Ohmine brothers there’s quite an island connection now. The Shota (Oh)mine and Shota (Ishi)mine thing will be potentially confusing (though they play different positions); Ohmine is registered as Shota so perhaps I won’t yell the wrong name after a few beers at the stadium.
Lotte drafted Rissho University pitcher Masaki Minami with the second round pick. I know even less about Minami, but some nice pitching depth is always good. I know way way way less about our third round pick, Atsushi Kobayashi. He’s a right-handed pitcher from 77 Bank’s team, which I assume is an industrial league team.
The Marines picked a new backup for Satozaki in the 4th round – Aoyama Gakuin catcher Shota Koike (another Shota!). Again, I will refer you Deanna’s site – she has many pictures of Koike in action. Two months without Satozaki this year showed we need a nice backup catcher, so hopefully Koike fits in well.
The 5th round brought another catcher, Osaka Toin High School’s Naoya Emura. Obviously a high school catcher will be a much longer term project.
Our last pick went on a total random choice, USC senior pitcher Shuhei Fujiya. Strangely, there’s no video I can find of Fujiya even though he spent the last year at a major university. He was drafter in the mid rounds of the MLB draft last year so obviously he’s a decent prospect, but as he’s living in America and not Japan who knows if he even wants to come back to the home country.
The Ikusei draft brought yet another Shota – Shota Kurosawa, right handed pitcher from Josai International University. So many Shotas!
Tomorrow – a preview of the Japan series!