Since the Tsubamegun announced the pursuit and signing of infielder Jamie D’Antona almost three weeks ago, interest in the 26-year-old slugger has apparently helped to keep people in the US interested in the Swallows and brought a fair number of new folks by. (If you’re one of them, stick with us to follow D’Antona’s progress in Tokyo.)
While we’re well-equipped to let people following the new guy know about the club, we’re joining the rest of the fans on this side of the Pacific in getting to know him. To that end, here’s a bit of background on Jamie D’Antona.
Born: May 12, 1982; Trumbull, CT
Ht.: 6’2″ (188 cm) Wt.: 215 lbs. (97.7 kg)
Bats/Throws: Right/ Right
Pos.: IF (Mostly 3B in minors, 1B for D-backs)
College: Wake Forest (3 seasons)
Minors: 6 seasons MLB: 18 games in 2008
Strengths: His bat and his arm Weaknesses: His glove & and apparent free-swinging approach at the plate
Why the Diamondbacks Released him: Apparently, they have enough utility infielders who can put up numbers equal to or better than what could be reasonably expected of him based on his minor league stats. Despite being lauded for his arm in college, his glove has been a concern in scouting reports and precludes his playing 3B in the Majors. He also draws surprisingly few walks.
What he could do for Tokyo: First and foremost, the Swallows need power. Like many suketto before him, that’s presumably the main reason he was signed. While starting at 1B would be the likely option, don’t put it past Takada to try him at 3B given his minor league time at the position and Takada’s inability to settle on a regular there. Keizo Kawashima fields well and is fleet of foot, which fits in with the small ball approach favored by Takada and means D’Antona might be competing more directly with Hatakeyama for 1B. Assuming that Hatake is in no hurry to return to the farm now that he’s finally gotten a taste of the big leagues and has been working on developing some power in the off-season, such a competition could be very good for the team even if it leaves Hatake, who has certainly earned a shot, worried. Furthermore, if D’Antona hits often and hard, he could be a powerful protector for Aoki by following him in the batting order (or vice versa.) It all comes down to how quickly D’Antona can adjust to NPB. Demeanor will be a big issue. If he’s easy-going enough to go with the flow and accept Takada’s frequent imbecilic decisions without butting heads, he’s halfway there.