On Sunday, struggling young Chunichi Dragons prospect Akira Neo entered a world of truth. There, the myth that players can only exist as either pitchers or hitters but not both, is washed away, and the harsh lies of the baseball world are laid bare.
One of two players who were named as the first-round selection of four teams in NPB’s 2018 draft, Neo has yet to prove he can do anything except throw hard. Drafted as a shortstop, the Dragons have yet to find a regular spot for a guy who in his first three Western League seasons, posted a .275 on base percentage and a .304 slugging average.
Former Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai has said that Neo has developed a reputation as stubborn and un-coachable. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Ichiro Suzuki was considered to be like that by his first manager, Shozo Doi.
Unlike Neo, Suzuki, however, was being treated as a hard-headed youngster doomed to failure while he was posting a .431 OBP and a .540 slugging average over his first two pro seasons in the minors.
Anyway, Neo, used primarily in the outfield in the majors, was deactivated on April 21 to reacquaint himself with playing shortstop in the Western League.
On Sunday, we learned that farm team manager Atsushi Kataoka, after talking the matter over with Tatsunami and big club head coach-pitching coach Eiji Ochiai, was allowed to offer Neo a choice of two pills, a blue one and a red one.Continue reading Neo takes the red pill