Tokyo's 2008 Draft Picks

Tokyo's 1st-round draft choice, lefty Katsuki Akagawa.

Tokyo 1st-round pick, lefty Katsuki Akagawa.

The amateur draft took place last night, but the media only picked up the fact that Yomiuri landed a big-hitting kid by the name of Taishi Ota out of Tokaidai Sagami High School as their first pick.

Anyway, while it may come as a surprise to the media that 11 other teams were present at the event, we here at tsubamegun would like to take this opportunity to let you know who Tokyo came away with.

1st pick:

Tokyo opted for a left-handed high school pitcher by the name of Katsuki Akagawa. The 184cm tall 18 year-old has a fastball in the 140’s.

2nd pick:

Ryousuke Yagi, another left-handed pitcher fresh out of high school, was Tokyo’s second pick. He apparently has a decent fastball-slider combo.

3rd pick:

Tokyo used its third pick of the draft to select Ryuuhei Nakamura. Nakamura is a right-handed catcher with a decent arm. Like the two guys picked before him, he is 18 years old.

4th pick:

Ryou Hidaka was the third (and final) 18 year-old, left-handed pitcher that Tokyo selected last night. He is said to have good balance with a fastball that can reach the 140’s.

5th pick:

Tokyo crowded the bullpen just a little more by picking its second catcher of the night. Genki Nitta (yes, you read his first name correctly) is the only guy out of the five that is old enough to drink (in Japan). For the record, he turned 26 in August. Nitta went to Chuo University and then spent time with Panasonic in the Industrial League. Hopefully he’ll be able to kick one of our many useless catchers back down to the farm team by the end of March 2009.

Ikusei (?? – supplementary) Draft

1st pick:

Rafael Miranda Fernandes (22 years old) is a right-handed pitcher with a fastball that is in the high 140’s.

2nd pick:

Kouji Tsukamoto (26 years old) is a right-handed submarine style pitcher.

And there you have it! I can tell you right now that Garrett will not be impressed with these picks. He’s been predicting that this would happen since last season when they decided to combine the two drafts–18 year-olds being picked over everyone else.

Young pitchers tend to get snagged early on; with pitching being so vital to a team’s success, many teams (on both sides of the Pacific) are willing to take their chances on relatively unproven (read: high school) arms.

However, it seems that Takada is trying desperately to find a left-handed version of Yuu Darvish. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why he chose to waste use his first four picks on high school players.

A few teams, namely Yokohama, Hanshin, Hokkaido and Chiba, were smart enough to use their first three picks to claim negotiating rights with university/corporate players.

Which, of course, is not to say that there aren’t at least a few fantastic players at the high school level right now. It would just be nice if people would learn from their own (and other’s) mistakes every once in a while.

Well, for a good rundown of all 12 team’s picks in English, check Deanna’s blog.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • There are gems to be found coming out of high school, and there are 18-year-olds who mature into fine ballplayers, even greats, to be sure. Furthermore, the praise and boost to reputation a scout or manager receives for signing a Darvish is lavish enough to overshadow the numerous bad picks that came before. People don’t talk about your “eye for talent” if you consistently select solid, capable players from corporate teams or out of college – there’s no drama in it in a country that likes, even expects to see stars from Koshien step right over to an NPB All-Star game with no stops in between.

    To point that out, though, is to fire BBs at a target painted on a concrete wall from three feet.

  • Wow, that’s a lot of 18 year old southpaws! Some of them better work out.

  • Hey, is Fernandez the Swallows’ first Brazilian player?

  • Yuuichi Matsumoto (27), one of our pinch hitters outfielders, lists his place of birth as Brazil. That counts, doesn’t it?

    He declared Japanese citizenship in 2004.

  • Wow, that’s a lot of 18 year old southpaws! Some of them better work out.

    I’d be thrilled beyond words if even one of them made a positive contribution to the top team by 2012.

  • …there’s no drama in it in a country that likes, even expects to see stars from Koshien step right over to an NPB All-Star game with no stops in between.

    True true. Yomiuri got lucky with Hayato Sakamoto, the team’s first pick back in 2006, but it takes forever for most high school players to make it anywhere near the first team.

    A quick look at Valentine’s picks are telling. First of all, his team of scouts tried to keep their picks under wraps (Japanese article) before the draft, and Bobby only ended up choosing one high school player (Tetsuya Matsumoto, their fifth pick) in the regular draft.

    They used their supplementary picks (of which they had eight) to select high school kids (Japanese website). Five of their picks were for high schools.

    How much do you want to bet that Bobby gets more out of his top four picks than we get out of ours?

  • I won’t take that bet.

    I will be fair, though, and say that Yoshinori started to look really good near the end of this season. Thing is, we could have him on the payroll and take gambles on him until he hits his stride or we could have had him get that training, experience, and maturation in college.

  • Yeah, I have to take back what I said about all the hype surrounding his selection in the 2007 Draft. While I was correct in predicting that he would quickly find himself on the farm team after a quick pre-season stint with the first team, I never envisioned him pitching as well as he did during the second half.

    But with a manager so hell-bent on finding another boy-wonder pitcher (even though he wasn’t responsible for Yoshinori’s selection, if the kid continues where he left off next season, Takada will get the credit for that), it stands to reason that Yoshinori was offered several extra helpings of playing time on our absurdly crowded farm team because the management knew he’d never make his way up if he had to wait in line like everyone else.

    Maybe I’m completely wrong about what causes young kids to wallow in mediocrity for years after being selected straight out of high school. Maybe the real culprit is the farm system itself–holding talented young kids back while veterans hog ni-gun playing time to work through injuries and/or drops in form (this logic, however, doesn’t work so well when applied to MLB).

  • Over at his blog, Bobby’s Way, Mr. Valentine shares his perspective on the team’s first two draft choices.

    On the team’s #1 pick:

    Kimura-toshu is a young man who regretfully was suspended for a year because of the Seibu Lions.

    And their #2:

    When I went out to see him after our draft, at the meeting today, he refused to see me, or at least his coach refused.

    Read the entire piece here.

  • I hear there was a scout who said Ryousuke Yagi was the best of all the left-handed pitcher in 2008 Draft, even if we take all the university/corporate players into account.
    I hope his comment will prove to be right.

  • Me too.

    He was one of our scouts, right? I’m actually kind of hoping that it was a scout from another team that said that, and that we managed to snag Yagi before they did.

    But the question needs to be asked: if he was the best lefty in the draft, then how were we able to get him in the second round?

  • Chris, thanks for your reply.
    I think there is another question: why did the Swallows picked Yagi up as the second(not the first) pick?

    Anyway, the scout that made the comment belongs to the Carp.
    As you know, their first pick was an outfielder.

    They say the Tigers and the Orix were considering picking Yagi up, but after all the Orix picked up a right-handed pitcher and the Tigers picked up a corporate pitcher as their first pick, and the Swallows picked Yagi up as the second pick before them.

    I guess they lowered his rank because he lost in the local baseball tournament and couldn’t go to Summer Koshien.
    The point is that the Carp’s scout made the comment before that.

  • I always refer to the ??? as the “Educational Roster.” I’ve toyed with “Development Roster,” but that kind of describes the farm team’s purpose overall. Since those on the ??? are receiving an education rather than furthering their development, the teams can get away with paying them peanuts.

    Did you come up with “Supplementary” on your own or did you get it from a more official looking site?

  • At first I called it the “Training Draft”, but then I started looking around for a consensus on what to call it and couldn’t find one.

    I’m pretty sure that I picked up supplementary from somewhere else, but I can’t seem to remember where. Anyway, I settled on supplementary because training doesn’t really differentiate from “development” (or something similar to that) as you mentioned in your comment.

    I still don’t know which term is the best to use.

  • John Lewis

    Seems kind of strange that a 22 year old and a 26 year old get chosen via the “ikusei” draft and that 18 year olds get chosen in the earlier rounds.

    Perhaps someone needs to define “ikusei” to the club?

    We’ll see what the club has in mind for 2009 by the way they play the FA card…

  • We’ll see what the club has in mind for 2009 by the way they play the FA card…

    I keep my hopes up, but I’m sure I’ll be bitching once the deals are done.

  • 39-year-old Tyrone Woods is now available (Japan Times article).

  • I don’t see Tokyo making a serious move to get him, if any attempt at all. Can’t say I’d really disagree.

  • He needs to play for a Pacific League team so that he can just be the DH.

  • Yeah, good point there. Fielding was never his strong suit and that aspect is not improving a whole lot with age.