Before spending a good deal of time on the top team toward the end of the 2011 season, Tsuyoshi Ueda had himself a very strong season on the farm team. Number 50, who turned 23 in October and grew up in Okayama Prefecture, stole 55 bases this year to easily win the Eastern League crown.
He also hit .281/.373/.355 in 349 official at-bats while collecting 98 hits and 37 RBI.
In addition to winning the stolen bases crown, Tokyo’s utility outfielder was selected as one of the two best players in the minors this season. The award in question is the “Doryokushou” which can loosely be compared to a MVP award for players that weren’t good enough (or liked enough) to break into the top team for any extended period of time.
The other recipient of the Doryokushou was Hanshin’s RHP, Kai-wen Chen. Hanshin plays in the Western League in the minors.
For the record, Ueda was able to steal a few bases during his limited time playing on the top team. He only featured in 12 games, but he stole six bases and hit .267/.333/.300 in his 30 at-bats.
Ueda told reporters at the awards ceremony today in Tokyo that he worked hard on his lower body during the off-season and that made a big difference in terms of his explosiveness this season. Ueda figures to be a front-runner for the opening-day job in center if Aoki is posted successfully to MLB during the off-season.
For complete details on the farm team awards handed out today, check this post over at Yakyu Baka.