|Pitcher||From: Tokyo Gas||Born: 1988/4/11|
|Height/Weight: 186cm/75Kg||Throws/Bats: Right/Right|
Our Marines took industrial league pitcher Ayumu Ishikawa with their first round pick, actually winning a lottery with Yomiuri for the right to sign the righty. You can see some video of Ishikawa pitching last year vs Yomiuri.
Ishikawa’s from Toyama (same as Nishino – actually a few years older) and seems to be a bit of a late bloomer. He’s listed as having a 150 km/h (93 mph) top speed, which is pretty decent given his fairly slight frame. The Draft Repo blog lists him as having 4 pitches – a sinker, slider, curve, and a cut fastball. Itoh-kantoku is planning on using him as a starter in 2014.
He’s pitched for Tokyo Gas for the past 3 years and turns 26 in April. Interestingly, his three best starts for Tokyo Gas came after he was drafted – recording 9, 11, and 10 Ks in three starts to end his “amateur” career.
|Catcher||From: Rissho University||Born: 1991/7/21|
|Height/Weight: 183cm/94Kg||Throws/Bats: Right/Right|
Yoshida – could he be our catcher of the future? You can believe that Lotte management would like that very much. He’s a local kid (grew up just up the road in Kamagaya), highly regarded (listed as a borderline 1st rounder in draft predictions), and is a handsome dude already the subject of a marketing push. The team made him the face of the New Year’s sale1 and his uniform shirt is the only rookie one on sale so far. Here he is smacking a home run as a member of the Rissho University team last summer.
1There was a drawing for the chance to win a signed ball from Yoshida at the New Year sale for those who bought a “lucky bag”. I was actually the first name called and got to go on stage where Yoshida-kun signed the ball in front of me. Pretty cool.
It looks like he’s a power hitter, too. In university competition, he smacked 17 homers in 283 ABs, which is pretty decent indeed.
|Infielder||From: Jobu University||Born: 1991/10/25|
|Height/Weight: 175cm/78Kg||Throws/Bats: Right/Right|
Miki’s a shortstop from Osaka and a former classmate of ultra-intriguing Lotte 2013 rookie Katoh Shohei2. Here he is poking a homer and making a nice play in a game last year.
2You think I talk a lot about T OGINO now? I think I have stronger feelings for young Katoh. Expect much ranting and raving about him in 2014.
I wouldn’t expect to see Miki a ton at Ichi-gun this year unless he’s pinch hitting or filling in as an injury replacement, given the rather loaded nature of the infield this year.
|Pitcher||From: Nippon Seimei||Born: 1989/9/14|
|Height/Weight: 174cm/75Kg||Throws/Bats: Right/Right|
I’d love to say I know a bunch about Yoshihara, but I’d be lying if I did. He’s another righty pitcher arriving via the industrial leagues (Nippon Seimei) and the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Draft Repo says he has 4 pitches (max 151 km/h) – slider, fork, change, curve. Here he is in action.
|Infielder||From: Nippon Seimei||Born: 1989/7/3|
|Height/Weight: 180cm/110Kg||Throws/Bats: Right/Right|
Here’s a guy you’ll be hearing a lot from in the future, one way or another. Just a few months into his pro career he’s already been all over the news – odd for a 5th round pick who has yet to play in a game. Why? Check out that listed weight – 110kg (232 lbs), which makes him the heaviest player in Japan this year. And he’s packed on more pounds this offseason – he’s reputed to be up to 115kg (245 lbs)! And yeah, he’s obviously a power hitter.
Gotta say I like the heck out of Inoue already. He’s already shown a great personality, always smiling. He’s already got a self-made nickname, too – he’s “Aja Inoue”, after famous women’s pro wrestling champ Aja Kong. “Call me Aja!” he’s insisted.
Of course, I am making an Aja Inoue jersey this offseason. How can I resist?
|Pitcher||From: Kagoshima Joho HS||Born: 1995/8/1|
|Height/Weight: 187cm/74Kg||Throws/Bats: Right/Right|
Futaki’s a high school pitcher from Kagoshima. He’s reasonably tall but at this point doesn’t seem to have much velocity (max 143 km/h) for his height. He throws 5 pitches – slider, curve, fork, change, sinker.
No video of him in action – I’ll shoot some at spring camp.
|Catcher||From: Hyogo Hojo HS||Born: 1995/11/13|
|Height/Weight: 182cm/84Kg||Throws/Bats: Right/Left|
Hijii’s a catching prospect from rural Hyogo prefecture. We’re obviously not going to see much of him at ichi-gun for several years given his Ikusei status and the big logjam at catcher. He’s a pretty big, strong guy – he hit 46 homers in his high school career and is known for his arm strength (can throw a ball 110m). No video of him, either.
All in all I think the moves made were pretty good – Ishikawa should be contributing immediately and I would be surprised if Yoshida doesn’t get a good shot at a lot of ichi-gun playing time this year (given the dire state of catching last year, he could be the starter should Satozaki go down!).