Tag Archives: Kazuya Katsuki

Giants, Swallows swap

The Yomiuri Giants sent 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Kazuto Taguchi to the Central League rival Yakult Swallows on Monday in exchange for power-hitting 23-year-old infielder Taishi Hirooka in what is looking like a pattern for the Giants.

Taguchi, who has been primarily a fastball, slider pitcher, had big seasons for the Giants in 2016 and 2017. His fastball (average velocity 135.7 kph according to Delta Graphs) was the slowest among ERA-title qualified pitchers in 2016 and second slowest in 2017. In relief the past two seasons, he’s ratcheted that up to 140 kph or so. He began using a split two years ago.

Hirooka strikes out and hasn’t hit for average but does have power, which makes this a kind of bookend to the trade that sent Hirokazu Sawamura to Lotte for slugging infielder Kazuya Katsuki.

That trade sent a right-handed pitcher making $1.5 million for a young left-handed hitting slugging minor league infielder making close to the NPB minimum $60,000. This one sent a left-hander making about $670,000 and brought in a young right-handed slugging infielder making about a quarter of that.

Both of those moves came after we heard the Giants front office justify dumping outfielder Alex Guerrero “to save money,” a phrase the Giants are not well known for using.

As I noted somewhere, Kazuya Katsuki did extremely well for the Giants in the Eastern League after the Sawamura trade. This happens a lot, but if it continues, chalk one up for the Giants’ analytics and pro scouting staff for seeing a player whose ability was under-represented by his performance data.

Steve Martin’s staff

Does anyone remember the Steve Martin line from when he was doing comedy about not getting high but “getting small?” With the addition of the 1.71-meter Taguchi, the Swallows now have three of the 10 first-team pitchers from last season who were under 1.72 meters tall.

The median weighted height of all 12 pitching staffs last season was 181.35 meters. The figures in the table below are based on those published on NPB’s website.

TeamAvg height weighted by IP
Swallows179.01 cm
Marines180.48 cm
Eagles181.09 cm
Dragons181.26 cm
Lions181.47 cm
Buffaloes182.33 cm
Giants182.38 cm
BayStars182.41 cm
Hawks183.16 cm
Carp183.83 cm
Fighters184.33 cm
Tigers185.52 cm

NPB 2020 Sept. 7

Tigers throw one away

The Yomiuri Giants scored twice on bad throws from Hanshin Tigers center fielder Koji Chikamoto and held on to a 3-2 at Koshien Stadium on Monday.

Cristopher Mercedes (3-4) worked six scoreless innings to earn the win and left with a 3-0 lead after allowing two hits and no walks. He fell afoul of Japan’s three-second balk convention that requires pitchers to pause that long before delivering his pitch or be called for a balk.

The Giants opened in the scoring in the third. Takumi Oshiro saw two-straight high 2-2 fastballs from Haruto Takahashi. He fouled off the first one that had more life on it but lined the second to left for an opposite field single. Takahashi left an 0-1 pitch up to Naoki Yoshikawa and he chopped it past first for a single. A bunt and a walk loaded the bases.

Oshiro tagged up on a fly to shallow center but it was just for show. He returned to third, but turned around and scored when Chikamoto’s throw hit the backstop on the fly.

Oshiro delivered a sacrifice fly to the same spot in shallow left center in the fourth, and Kazuma Okamoto hustled home to score. Chikamoto took no chances with this throw, making it so low that it rolled the last 30 feet to the plate and Okamoto easily outran it.

Okamoto doubled in a run in the fifth, and Takahashi (2-2) left after six having allowed three runs, one earned, on nine hits and three walks.

The Tigers didn’t supply all the weirdness, though. Tigers captain Kento Itohara, starting for the first time since July 22 because of a broken hamate bone, singled to open the Tigers seventh, and scored on Justin Bour’s two-out single off the third Giants pitcher in the inning — and the second one he faced in the at-bat.

With two on and two outs, Kan Otake got ahead of him 1-2. But the right-hander was yanked after his third pitch was hit foul into the upper reaches of Koshien Stadium’s right-field stands. Lefty Ryusei Oe took over with a 2-1 count and gave up an RBI infield single but the Tigers settled for a run.

Itohara homered to lead off the ninth against Rubby De La Rosa, but he held on to earn his ninth save.

Giants dump Sawamura in trade

The Giants made news earlier in the day by announcing they had sent former closer Hirokazu Sawamura to the Lotte Marines for unheralded 24-year-old outfielder Kazuya Katsuki in a deal that looks like nothing more than a salary dump.

The 32-year-old Sawamura was reportedly making 154 million yen this year, roughly $1.4 million. He was the Giants’ closer in 2015 and 2016 after failing to make a huge impact in the starting rotation. Katsuki is a minor leaguer whose only apparent skill is some raw power — he hit 12 Eastern League home runs in 2018. His salary is reported as 6.5 million yen, roughly $60,000 which is just barely above the 4.4 million yen minimum for 70-man roster players.

Katsuki’s physique has drawn comparisons to that of fellow Osaka Toin HS graduate and six-time PL home run king Takeya Nakamura. The Seibu Lions slugger is known as “Okawari-kun,” which means literally the kid who goes back for another helping and is kind of Japan’s version of “Country Breakfast.”

Active roster moves 9/7/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/17

Central League




BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama
BayStarsOF1Masayuki Kuwahara
DragonsP21Toshiya Okada
SwallowsP25Gabriel Ynoa

Pacific League




HawksIF8Kenji Akashi
EaglesP31Yuya Fukui
EaglesIF36Yasuhito Uchida

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Wataru Karashima (0-1, 4.73) vs Kodai Senga (5-3, 3.88)

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kona Takahashi (4-6, 4.92) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (4-2, 3.05)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuta Omine (0-1, 12.60) vs Naoyuki Uwasawa (5-2, 2.66)

Central League

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yuya Sakamoto (1-0, 0.00) vs Onelki Garcia (2-5, 3.53)

Dragons vs Giants: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yudai Ono (5-3, 2.34) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (9-0, 1.57)

Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Allen Kuri (2-4, 4.76) vs Masanori Ishikawa (0-2, 4.85)