Tag Archives: Keita Nakagawa

major minor hitters

Every year, I’ll go through the hitters with standout numbers in the minors, looking for guys who should have do well at the top level if given time to adjust. It’s not complex analysis. I look for guys with decent playing time with high offensive winning percentages — a measure of their production in the context of the runs their team scores and allows.

I’m not 100 percent convinced these guys will be stars. I don’t see any can’t-miss prospects at the moment, but they might be very good if given regular playing time.

Taiki Sekine, DeNA BayStars

Sekine’s 25-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder, with discipline, speed, and some pop. Sekine’s minor league numbers began to take off in 2017 when he posted a .596 offensive winning percentage in the Eastern League. It’s gone up since then as his strikeouts have gone down and his walks have increased.

Takumaru Yaoita, Yomiuri Giants

Yaoita is a 24-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder, who has bounced around the developmental and 70-man rosters of first the Eagles and now the Giants, who got him to strike out less and hit for more power last year.

We should keep an eye on the Giants’ minor leaguers this year. Katsuya Katsuki basically did nothing for the Lotte Marines except hit for power. But he became a terror after the Giants acquired him in the Hirokazu Sawamura trade.

Masaru Watanabe, Chunichi Dragons

Watanabe is a 27-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder. He is speedy, hits for average and can steal bases. His numbers make him look like a clone of Teppei Tsuchiya, whom the Dragons gave away so he could be an all-star for the Rakuten Eagles.

Seiya Hosokawa, DeNA BayStars

Hosokawa is a 22-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder. He is a disciplined power hitter who hits for average. Former manager Alex Ramirez had his eye on Hosokawa from Day 1, and time is on his side more than it’s on Sekine’s.

Shogo Sakakura, Hiroshima Carp

Sakakura is a 22-year-old left-handed-hitting catcher. He’s a disciplined hitter who doesn’t strike out, which means he may draw 70 or 80 walks a year if he bats eighth in front of the CL pitcher’s spot. His 2020 slash line .287/.346/.411 looks about what can be expected from him with the first team.

Note: Two PL players would have been on this list, but both found their feet with the first team in 2020, SoftBank’s Ryoya Kurihara and Orix’s Keita Nakagawa.


Thursday’s announced starting pitchers in NPB

Suzuki has career night against Lions

For most of the first five years of his pro baseball career, Yu Suzuki has been a reliever. But going 6-3 as a starter in the Western League last season with a 2.81 ERA must have caught someone’s attention.

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old right-hander who was Orix’s ninth draft pick in 2014, was handed the ball for his first top-team start and threw five hitless innings, nearly doubling his career output with the Pacific League club. The result was his first career win as Orix snapped a seven-game losing streak in a 6-0 win over the Seibu Lions.

For five innings, he and Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (0-2) traded hitless innings, until in the sixth, the jig was up for the Seibu starter. After issuing a leadoff walk, Imai left a slider up a little too much to diminutive power hitter Masataka Yoshida, and the left-handed-hitter launched it over MetLife Dome’s right field fence.

An Adam Jones double and an Aderlin Rodriguez RBI single made it 3-0, when Seibu self-destructed. An error and three-straight bases-loaded walks completed the six-run sixth inning.

Four Orix relievers came in, and the Lions, who haven’t been no-hit in 20 years, didn’t get a hit until veteran slugger Takeya Nakamura’s hard grounder found a hole to lead off the eighth off new import Tyler Higgins.

Asamura punishes Marines some more

Hideto Asamura homered for the second-straight night in Sendai, while Hideaki Wakui (2-0) allowed two runs over five innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-3 to pull into a tie for first place in the Pacific League.

Pitching against the club that sold him over the winter, Wakui sturck out seven, while allowing five hits and a walk.

Leonys Martin homered for the Marines, while JT Chargois and Alan Busenitz each worked an inning of relief for the Eagles. Busenitz allowed a run on three hits.

Ishikawa strikes out 10 in Sapporo

Shuta Ishikawa (1-0) of the SoftBank Hawks struck out 10, while walking one and allowing five hits in a 4-0 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Nick Martinez (0-2) started for the Fighters. He gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out five.

Austin, Patton turn on power against Giants

Tyler Austin’s three-run eighth-inning double off the wall at Tokyo Dome helped lift the DeNA BayStars to a 5-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

Reliever Spencer Patton (2-0), who entered in the seventh to face Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto and struck him out, got the win in relief. He provided an encore in the eighth by striking out the side, starting with cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto and finishing with Gerardo Parra.

Giants starter Cristopher Mercedes allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings but it could have been worse without a good catch from newly acquired utility man Zelous Wheeler, who denied the BayStars a leadoff single in the sixth with a sliding catch in left.

Escobar treats Swallows to ice cream cone

Naomichi Nishiura hit his second game-changing home run of the week with a fourth-inning two-run shot that put the Yakult Swallows in front in a 4-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

On Thursday, Nishiura hit a pinch-hit, three-run sayonara shot off Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa. On Wednesday, he went deep off Sawamura Award-winning lefty Kris Johnson (0-2).

Right-hander Albert Suarez (2-0) started for Yakult and allowed three runs, one earned, over five innings, while Scott McGough worked a scoreless eighth. The Carp mounted a rally against closer Taishi Ikeyama, and the lead looked blown on a two-out liner, only for new Swallow Alcides Escobar to save the game.

Yamamoto stops Tigers

Twenty-year-old Takumi Yamamoto (1-1) allowed two runs over five innings, while Zoilo Almonte doubled, walked and scored twice, and Dayan Viciedo singled in a couple of runs as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Hanshin Tigers 6-3.

Jerry Sands singled in a run for the Tigers, while Justin Bour hit his first home run in Japan, a ninth-inning consolation shot.

Dragons add catcher Martinez to roster

The Chunichi Dragons inked 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez to a standard contract on Wednesday. Martinez, signed to a non-roster developmental contract in 2018, hurt his right knee playing in Cuba’s Series Nacional prior to camp the Chunichi Sports reported.

He rejoined the Dragons for practice games from June 2 after completing his rehab.

Marines’ Futaki, Buffaloes’ Nakagawa dropped

Because Japanese baseball has no options and players can be activated or dropped from the active roster an unlimited number of times. So it’s common for a player, ostensibly on the active roster because the manager believes in him, to get sent down for a couple of bad plays.

Two heads rolled on Wednesday after poor performances the night before. The Lotte Marines deactivated right-handed starting pitcher Kota Futaki after the Rakuten Eagles teed off on too many first-pitches in Lotte’s 15-4 loss. The defeat snapped the Marines’ eight-game winning streak.

The Orix Buffaloes pulled the plug on 24-year-old utility infielder Keita Nakagawa, who finished fourth in the rookie of the year voting last year, for not hitting and for making a throwing error that led to the Seibu Lions’ third run in a 3-2 loss. The Buffaloes have lost seven straight.