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:
|From: Waseda University
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.
|From: Kyoto University
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.
|From: Seiryo HS
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.
|From: Soka University
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.
|From: Osaka Toin HS
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.
|From: Hiroshima Kokusai Univerity
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.
|From: Kendai Takasaki HS
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.