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11/23/2003 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball News: Giants Get What They Want in Draft; Arias Out, Kinkade In?"

Yomiuri Wins Nishimura Battle in Unremarkable Draft

The 12 Japanese pro teams held their annual draft Wedenesday at a Tokyo area hotel. Unlike last November, however, nobody got what could be construed as a true star this time out, but Daiei may have shored up its wanting pen. Anyway, Here are the selections by name, most recent team, age, position and bats/throws:


1. Takehiro Mahara, Kyushu Kyoritsu University, 21 (P) B:R T: R
2. Ryuma Kidokoro, Chukyo High School, 18 (OF) B: L T: R
4. Kenji Akashi, Yamanashi Gakuindai Fuzoku High School, 17 (IF) B: L T: R
5. Toshitaka Enomoto, Nishi Yodogawa High School, 17 (IF) B: L T: R
6. Keisuke Kaneko, Shigakukan High School, 18 (IF) B: R T: R
7. Koji Mise, NTT Nishi Nihon Chugoku Baseball Club, 27 (P) B: L T: L


1. Satoshi Yamazaki, Heisei Kokusai University, 22, (P), B: L T: L
2. Haruki Kurose, Gifu Prefectural High School, 18, (IF), B: R T: R
4. Takahiro Matsukawa, Minato High School, 18, (P), B: L T: L
5. Kenta Matsuzaka, Tokaidai Gyosei High School, 18 (OF), B: R T: R
6. Atsushi Okamoto, Meiji University, 22 (P), B: R T: R
7. Takahiko Sato, Phillies Class A Team, 25 (C), B: R T: R
8. Haruki Sugiyama, Senshu University, 23 (P), B: R T: R


1. Ryota Katsuki, Toshiba, 21 (P) B: R T: R
2. Toshinori Kira, Yanagaura High School, 17 (OF), B: L T: L
4. Katsuhiko Saka, Joso Gakuin High School, 18 (IF), B: L T: R
5. Ken Shinzato, Hosei University, 22 (C), B: R T: R
6. Kazuki Nakamoto, Kinki University, 22 (IF), B: L T: R
7. Yusuke Kurita, Chiba Kogyo University, 23 (P), B: L T: L


1. Tatsuya Uchi, Kawasaki Kogyo High School, 18 (P), B: R T: R
3. Yo Sugihara, Kaisei High School, 18, (P), B: L T: R
4. Masahiko Tanaka, Kinki University, 21 (C), B: R T: R
5. Terufumi Mishima, Osaka Toin High School 18 (P), B: R T: R
6. Yoshihisa Naruse, Yokohama High School, 18 (P), B: L T: L
7. Hiromi Fujii, Fukui High School, 17 (P), B: R: T: R

Nippon Ham

1. Yoshio Itoi, Kinki University, 22 (P), B: L T: R
2. Hideki Sunaga, Urawa Gakuin High School, 18 (P) B: L T: L
4. Takehiko Oshimoto, Nissan Motors, 21 (P) B: R T: R
5. Naoto Inada, JFE Nishi Nihon, 24 (IF) B: L T: R
6. Takayuki Kanamori, Tokaidai Sugao, 18 (P), B: R T: R
7. Ryuichi Watabe, Sapporo Number One High School, 18 (C), B: R T: R


1. Tatsuo Kato, Yamaha, 23 (P), B: L T: L
2. Masaya Shibata, Hokkaido Naoshi Gakuen High School, 18 (P), B: R T: R
4. Ikki Shimamura, Kyushu Kokusai University, 22 (IF), B: R T: R
5. Hiroyuki Nomura, Kinki University, 22 (P), B: L T: L
6. Toyoji Matsumura, Ritsumeikan University, 22 (P), B: R T: R
7. Masaya Kojima, Jiyugaoka High School, 18 (OF), B: R T: R
8. Shintaro Yoshida, Waseda University, 22 (OF), B: L T: L


1. Takashi Toritani, Waseda University, 22 (IF), B: L T: R
2. Kazuya Tsutsui, Aichi Gakuin University, 22 (P), B: R T: L
4. Masashi Sajikihara, Shin Nittetsu Hirohata, 21 (P), B: R T: R
5. Shinji Komiyama, Yokohama Hayato High School, 17 (C), B: R T: R
6. Takahiro Shoda, Shidax, 24 (OF), B: L T: L


1. Hiroki Nakagawa, Chukyo High School, 18 (IF), B: R T: R
3. Satoru Ishikawa, Hachinohe University, 22 (P), B: R T: R
4. Mitsuru Sato, Nihon Seimei, 25 (P), B: R T: R
5. Koji Nakamura, Tohoku Fukushi University, 22 (OF), B: R T: R
6. Takehiro Donoue, Aikodai Meiden, 18 (IF), B: L T: R
7. Tsuyoshi Kawagishi, Toyota Motors, 24 (P), B: R T: R
8. Masatoshi Ogawa, Nihon Tsuun, 24 (C), B: R T: R


1. Tetsuya Utsumi, Tokyo Gas, 21 (P), B: L T: L
2. Kentaro Nishimura, Koryo High School, 18 (P), B: R T: R
4. Masaki Hiraoka, Tokushima Shogyo High School, 18 (P), B: L T: R
5. Manabu Iwadate, Toyo University, 22 (IF), B: R T: R
6. Kenju Yamamoto, Teikyo University, 22 (P), B: R T: R
7. Kosuke Sato, Tohoku High School, 17 (C), B: R T: R
8. Kazuaki, Minami, Fukui Kogyo University, 22 (P), B: R T: R


1. Ryo Kawashima, Hachinohe University, 22 (P), B: L T: R
2. Yuji Yamada, Komatsu Municipal High School, 18 (P), B: R T: R
4. Norichika Aoki, Waseda University, 21 (OF), B: L T: R
5. Yukihiro Yoshida, Shirosato High School, 18 (P), B: R T: R
6. Masaru Sato, Meiji University, 21 (P), B: L T: L


1. Yuta Shirahama, Koryo High School, 18 (C), B: R T: R
3. Toshimitsu Higa, Waseda University, 22 (IF), B: R T: R
4. Yoshinori Ogata, Honda, 25 (IF), B: L T: R
5. Satoshi Nibe, TDK, 23 (P), B: L T: L


1. Teruaki Yoshikawa, Nihon Bunri University, 22 (P), B: R T: R
2. Daisuke Mori, Mitsubishi Fuso Kawasaki, 21 (P), B: L T: L
4. Shigeki Ushida, Meiji University, 21 (P), B: R T: R
5. Shigenori Kuremoto, Meiji University, 22 (IF), B: R T: R

Right around the start of 2004, I will evaluate who did themselves the biggest favors in this draft and who didn't fare so well as we prepare to go into spring training.

Team Reports

Hanshin Waseda University shortstop Takashi Toritani will wear his spot in the draft, number one, on his uni next season. Manager Akinobu Okada has told the prize catch of this year's draft to watch leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto's training regimen so that he can play as relatively injury free as the all star outfielder has. Toritani, much like Kanemoto, said that he would like to play until he's 40. He also dreams of becoming the next Kazuo Matsui. Toritani is also pretty strong, being able to bench 260 pounds. He will make about $135,000 his debut campaign with another $450,000 in possible incentives. For signing, he banked $900,000....Reserve outfielder Yutaka Nakamura received a $275,000 raise to about $300,000....Righthanded reclamation project Hiroshi Ishige was boosted by about $36,000 to about $180,000. Ishige, a former Giant, really solidified the righthanded end of the Tigers' pen....In a move that is something of a surprise, the Tigers are negotiating with Dodgers outfielder Mike Kinkade, according to Sankei Sports. The reason for the development is that negotiations with first baseman George Arias are not going well at all due to the former Padre wanting a subtantially big raise, $5 million, over the $1.4 million he made in 2003. Hanshin had reportedly offered $2.5 million. Kinkade, who was rumored to be headed to Kintetsu after last season, batted .216 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 88 games this past season. Tigers scouts project him as a .300 hitter in Japan....Hanshin has, though, signed former Chicago Cubs righthander Ramon Morel, who racked up 23 saves in the Taiwan pro league this past season. Morel is the fifth foreign player on the Tigers roster, so somebody would have to go. More probably, he would be used as a fill in if Trey Moore, Jerrod Riggan, or Jeff Williams comes down with an injury....The Tigers held their fan appreciation day Sunday, with 48,000 turning out for it.... According to Hochi Sports, the Cincinnati Reds are interested in Hideki Irabu....New addition Ikuro Katsuragi hoped that he could get number 31, previously worn by Masayuki Kakefu and Katsumi Hirosawa, but that request was refused and will probably eventually go to Osamu Hamanaka.

Yomiuri The Giants were able to pick up much sought after Koryo High School righty Kentaro Nishimura as their second draft pick. He would have played in the industrial leagues with Hitachi had anyone but Yomiuri picked him. Nishimura's nickname? "Franken." No, it's not the Al Franken decade in Japan. It's short for "Frankenstein." However, Nishimura only stands about six feet and 170 pounds, so it's not due to his size. Too, he promised to give up his long hair, cell phone and sampling the nightlife during his initial pro campaign...The Giants number one choice, 6'1" 182 pound lefthander Tetsuya Utsumi, finally got his wish. In 2000, he refused to go to Orix as that club's first draft selection since he wanted to go solely to Yomiuri....Ace Koji Uehara is still insisting on usuing an agent to negotiate with his team. At this point, though, short of Uehara attempting to claim that Yomiuri's refusal of agents speaking for players constitutes a violation of pro yakyu rules and thus declares himself a free agent, it would seem that there is little he can do. The MLB players' union would not look kindly on Bud Selig attempting to stop Uehara signing with a stateside team after the righthander was rebuffed by the Giants on something guarenteed to players in Japan. With rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi, who recently revealed that he is at least interested in the possibility of playing in MLB and who has been said to be looking for an agent himself despite public protestations to the contrary, they may be looking at all this as an out to the majors. While a piece today in Sankei Sports seems to indicate that Giants owner Tsuneo Watanabe will back off his anti-agent stance somewhat, we'll have to see how the mercurial bigwig reacts when it actually comes time for the sitdown....And while that was going on, at a Fan Appreciation Day Sunday at Tokyo Dome, manager Tsuneo Horiuchi pulled the curtain off the club's slogan for 2004, "For the Glory."

Yakult Closer Shingo Takatsu met with the New York Yankees Wednesday, according to Sports Nippon. Later in the day, Takatsu's agent, Joe Urbon, had a face to face with GM Brain Cashman. He says that five MLB teams have a "strong" interest in the righthanded sidearmer, with the Padres, despite a denial that they were seriously entertaining adding him, being among that group. Urbon also averred that him and Cashman had a "nice talk." Takatsu ran into Hideki Matsui as well, ironic since Matsui clubbed his first pro homer off of Takatsu as a rookie with Yomiuri. He also had a brief chat with manager Joe Torre before taking in a Knicks-Lakers faceoff later that night. The Newark Star Ledger's Lawrence Rocca ran the following blurb on Takatsu Sunday: "Shingo Takatsu, Japan's all-time saves leader, has something in common with Mariano Rivera. Takatsu recorded the final out in three Japan Series for the Yakult Swallows. in each instance -- 1995, 1997 and 2001 -- he famously threw his hands high in the air in a classic banzai gesture, which looks a little like a football referee's signal for a touchdown" But former Yakult field boss Katsuya Nomura, though, blasted Takatsu while he was watching a tryout by 22 players who had been released by the 12 Japanese pro teams. "If somebody like him can go to the major leagues, that would show that MLB is a declining phenomenon. Yikes! As for what he saw at the tryout, the hall of fame backstop ronomounced the whole thing a waste of time. Bobby Valentine was also there and concurred with Nomura on that score....The Swallows number one draftee, Hachinohe University pitcher Ryo Kawashima, will be given former number two starter Kenjiro Kawasaki's old number, 17. He has a fastball that maxes out at 93mph and mixes in a cutter, a slider, a curve and a forkball. In addition, he is working on a shuuto to make him more effective against righthanded hitters.

Chunichi Contrary to his earlier statements claiming that he wouldn't bring in any new foreign players, manager Hiromitsu Ochiai is having a long look at Samsung Lions first baseman Seung-yeop Lee. With doubts about the quality of play in the KBO hampering Lee's MLB ambitions, signing with the Dragons would give him a chance to prove himself in a higher level circuit that is earning increasing respect from big league clubs. However, it should be noted that Jong-beom Lee, Korea's Ichiro, was a bust in the late 90's in Nagoya. Lee had lunch Saturday with Tommy Lasorda and other Dodgers officials and said that he would like to play for them. No comment, though, from L.A....Domingo Guzman was released by Yokohama and may be Nagoya bound, according to Sankei Sports.

Hiroshima The Carp have already inked number three selection Toshimitsu Higa, a Waseda University third baseman, for around $120,000 in salary and a more than $700,000 signing bonus. He will wear number ten....Hiroshima held a fan appreciation day Sunday at its home park. More than 20,000 came out to take it in.

Yokohama Ken Kadokura, who came over from Kintetsu earlier this offseason, will make the same $450,000 this season that he did in 2003....The Stars are hoping that Dodgers farmhand Scott Mullen will be the answer for them in the starting rotation next season. Mullen, who was born in Okinawa and moved to the U.S. when he was three and who has four MLB victories, will make $400,000 plus incentives in his one year pact. He tossed a no hitter this offseason in a winter league. Yokohama is also working on acquiring Korean pitcher Ping-joon Jin (I hope I transliterated that correctly), who toiled for the Kia Tigers of the KBO this past season....Team management is saying that even with their second consecutive last place finish, almost all of the starting position players' numbers improved this past season, so instead of what may expected to be a scaling down of salaries, they will actually be upped in most cases....An earlier trade to Orix involving infielder Hirofumi Ogawa was canceled and Ogawa will stay with the Stars. Apparently, Orix manager Haruki Ihara objected to adding Ogawa to the roster, so back east he went.

Daiei Former Atlanta Braves minor league righthander and eighth round draft choice Kazuhiro Takeoka has signed with the Hawks, according to Sankei Sports. He will make about $55,000 next season and didn't receive any signing bonus money....The team is picking up veteran outfielder Kazuhiko Miyaji, who was released recently by Seibu. Why, though, is tough to say. He's a pretty good defensive player, but has a weak stick.

Seibu The Lions drafted shortstop Haruki Kurose on the second round and believe that he is their actual future at that position. About mr. right now, Hiroyuki Nakajima, who, for now, goes into spring training as Kazuo Matsui's replacement, will probably be moved to second once Kurose, who hammered 43 homers in high school, is fully ready. Nakajima is no slouch in the tools department either and if he can hit consistently, the Lions may have themselves the finest middle infield combo in Japan in a couple of years....Seibu also drafted Daisuke Matsuzaka's brother Kenta, a 6'1" 180 pound outfielder. The elder Matsuzaka, by the way, says he wants $2 million next season...As for the aforementioned Matsui, he will have an autobiography hitting the stores in the coming days, according to Hochi Sports. Matsui also revealed that he doesn't care if his Seibu number, seven, isn't available at his new ballclub....Number seven choice Takahiko Sato, a 6'0" 215 pound catcher who played A ball with Philadelphia, has signed with the Lions. He will make around $65,000 in salary next season and garnered a $180,000 signing bonus....Matsui took part in a baseball clinic for elementary school age kids at Seibu Dome Sunday, passing along batting tips to the youngsters. He also told reporters that he will ramp up his training regimen significantly in preparation for the longer MLB schedule.

Kintetsu Manager Masataka Nashida visited with number one draft choice Ryota Katsuki, who he plans to use in middle relief his rookie season. Katsuki was selected out of Toshiba of Japan's industrial leagues. He will deposit a $900,000 check for pressing his hanko on a contract to accompany a $135,000 salary and another $450,000 in incentives....The Buffs have signed Dodgers minor leaguer Larry Burns. In 82 games at Las Vegas, Burns hit .275 with 15 homers and 57 RBIs. He can reportedly play both the infield and outfield, but billing him as the replacement for the probably gone Tuffy Rhodes doesn't do him any favors. The Buffs would like to pickup one more foreigner to close games out.

Lotte Bobby Valentine will have a chance to guide the team's number one draftee, Tatsuya Uchi, as the Kawasaki Kogyo High School hurler agreed to a $65,000 salary for next season and a signing bonus of around $650,000....Is Valentine really serious about singing the Japanese national anthem sometime this season?

Nippon Ham The Fighters successfully added centerfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo, but they then went out and ended up with a wasted number two draft choice, as Urawa Gakuin High School southpaw Hideki Sunaga turned them down flatly. Sunaga had hoped to be selected by Yomiuri and they would have as their number four choice had Nippon Ham not tried to force their way in to obtaining Sunaga. Sunaga was so disappointed that he felt like crying. Manager Trey Hillman will try to arrange a meeting with Sunaga and will promise him that he will have an opportunity to train with the Diamondbacks, who the Fighters have a working relationship with. If Sunaga remains steadfast in rebuffing Nippon Ham, though, he will play in the industrial leagues for a mandatory three years with Tokyo Gas....Getting back to Shinjo, though, he was invited to a preview screening of Bad Boys II at the Budokan Arena in Tokyo and went up on stage with Bob Sapp, each man dressed in black with t shirts reading "POLICE" on them and clowned around with toy guns. Shinjo then announced to the crowd that he would be joining the Fighters and wear the number one on his uniform in 2004. That was news to infielder Kokichi Akune, who is the current holder of that digit. Akune, though, refused any further comment. In any event, Shinjo will make somewhere around $700,000 plus incentives for each season of a two year deal.

Orix The Blue Wave were blown off by second round choice Masaya Shibata, a Hokkaido native who had hoped to be selected by Sapporo bound Nippon Ham. No word on what Shibata now plans to do. An Orix spokesman said that they will continue to try to convince him to come to Kobe.

More Draft News Meiji University had four players drafted for the first time in 48 years.... Vietnamese Toyodai Himeji High School lefthander Tran Phuoc Ahn wasn't drafted, saying that he would rather play industrial league ball rather than be chosen on a low round. He vows to do well enough to be a high rounder three years from now....By position, 71 pitchers were picked while 14 infielders and eight outfielders and eight catchers will be newly minted rookies. 28 players came out of high school, 26 out of college and 14 out of the industrial leagues. Three others who weren't part of any of those were also taken.

Miscellaneous Soon to be former Chunichi Dragons closer Akinori Otsuka said that he will accept just about any offer that San Diego makes to him, he wants to pitch on an MLB mound so bad. At $300,000 for his rights, Otsuka will prove to be the bargain of the year. He told Hochi Sports that he wants to pin lots of losses on Hideo Nomo, who is with the Padres rival Dodgers...The Newark Star-Ledger's excellent Dan Graziano asked some scouts about how they project Cuban fireballer Maels Rodriguez. The talent evaluators offered that Rodriguez may need some time on the farm to mature a bit...Kazuo Matsui has formally hired Arn Tellem as his agent.....The respected Dong-A Ilbo newspaper in Korea revealed that slugger Seung-yeop Lee played golf for the first time earlier this month, shooting a 130. He has reportedly vowed to pare that down to double figures by next year. On a more baseball related subject, the Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper stated that Lee looks very favorably upon Camden Yards....Mike Klis at the Denver Post claims that Pete Rose made overtures to Japanese teams about managing there. However, there was nothing in the Japanese press about it that I saw....Due to the intense summer heat in Greece, Japanese National Baseball Team manager Shigeo Nagashima will take along 14 pitchers, thus limiting himself to just 10 position players on the 24 man roster....Hideki Matsui is up for a This Week in Baseball Award for making his first MLB jack a granny....Has this been a bad week for baseball or what. First, Bill Singer, in a mystifying incident, verbally attacks Dodgers Assistant General Manager Kim Ng. Then the irresponsible convicted felon Darryl Strawberry is hired by the Yankees to instruct young players on how to stay away from bad influences. Can that be for real? And, even sadder, both Twins great Earl Battey and former Pirates hurler Ken Brett get promoted to a "higher" league. What a downer of a seven days to be sure. By the way, on the Singer incident, San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami, after referring to it as "the bar scene from hell," seethed, "if I was there, I think I would have punched [Singer], even if he wasn't speaking to me." And for good reason, Tim. You can see Kawakami's full rendering of all this Here

In the News

Here Comes Kazuo!

See story at: Greenwich Time Article

See related article at: Riverside Press-Telegram Article

See another related article at: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Article

And one more related article at: Seattle Times Article

Baltimore Behind the Eight Ball in Wooing Matsui

See story at: Baltimore Sun Article

Padres Win Bidding for Otsuka

See story at: ESPN Article

Yankees May Open Next Season in Japan

See story at: Mainichi Shimbun Article

See related story at: Japan Times Article

Yankees Meet With Takatsu

See story at: NY Times Article

Did Prejudice Play a Role in Rookie of the Year Voting?

See story at: NYY Article

Hawks Owner's Bumbling Hurting Team

Jim Allen dumps some acid over the Hiroki Kokubo controversy at the Hot Corner: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

Singer Pushed for Mets Signing of Little Matsui

See story at: Newark Star-Ledger Article

Orix Locks Up Muramatsu

See story at: Japan Times Article

Hillman: God Gave Me Japan Opportunity

See story at: Baptist Standard Article

Seung-yeop Lee, Mariners May Get Together

See story at: Korea Times Article

See related story at: Dong-A Ilbo Article

See another related piece at Dong-A Ilbo Article

And one more at: Article

Former Carp Brown Managing in Minors

See story at: Our Sports Central Article

People Magazine Calls Godzilla Matsui "Loveable"

See story at: Mainichi Shimbun Article

Today's Pictures

Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Bob Sapp Make Like Action Heroes

Sapp, Shinjo and Snarky Ex-Porn Starlet Ai Iijima

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