Background on New Tokyo IF Jamie D'Antona

DAntona in his Minor League Days

D'Antona in his Minor League Days

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

Stats

GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB HBP SO SB Avg. OBP Slg.
Minors 646 2389 371 724 172 11 88 403 221 11 388 13 .303 .361 .495
D-backs 18 17 2 3 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 0 .176 .263 .176

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.

Here’s what was said about in him in Arizona before he was called up.

  • Shumai Bento

    I sense a new Bob Horner in the horizons without the booze and injuries. 🙂

  • Shumai, my friend, I hope you’re amazingly wrong. Most foreign players do go the way of Horner, though.

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  • Aaron Guiel’s staying on after all eh, with a reasonable $500k salary. I reckon most of his woes this past season were due to his elbow (I think) injury, which he has already received a surgery for and should be ready for spring training. It’s gonna be a crowded situation in the outfield depending on how D’Antonia adjusts and Guiel recovers.

  • Here’s the Guiel re-signing. Personally I’m glad to see him back and hope he can return (mostly) to his 2007 form (though there’ll probably be some age regression).
    http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/baseball/npb/headlines/20081218-00000028-kyodo_sp-spo.html

  • Rob

    Oh, that is happy. But, wow, as Simon mentioned, it will make it even more of a puzzle to put guys in the field and in the lineup. (Or maybe they’ll just pull names out of a hat again like last year!)

  • I like the feeling of being spoiled for choice. If D’Antona adjusts, if Guiel returns to form, if Hatakeyama can develop some power – those ifs still make me a little nervous.

    D’Antona in the OF? That could be tough as he’s apparently spent his career at third and first. It wouldn’t shock me to see Takada send him out there, though.

    Will D’Antona, Guiel, Lim, and Lee all be able to stay up?

    What I fear is that a healthy Guiel will displace either Fukuchi or, more likely, Iihara and that Takada will continue to play small ball even after signing and regaining some power. I haven’t seen D’Antona run the bases, but he looks like a power hitter – I wouldn’t bet on him outrunning Iihara and I’d be amazed if he outran stealing champ Fukuchi.

    That’d be our luck (and a quintessentially Takadian move) – to have power hitters being urged to sac bunt and steal.

  • I see you are all wrapped up in the Swallows and this is interesting as I thought you were not too interested in sports. Good to hear your comments and now I know why you are so busy. Any chance of more IPods comments-its been a month, or is all quiet in Japan. Surely not quiet here! Every thing is Browns and Cavs.-Indians on hold yet.

  • Chuck

    You will love D’antona. He is a very likeable, easy-going kid. His glove is definitely better than he is given credit for and he hits the heck out of the ball. One of the nicest and most popular players at Tucson.

  • We certainly hope so, Chuck. We’ve been getting a lot of traffic from AZ, so clearly there’s some interest in him, and no one has had a negative word to say about him, so we’re excited.

    With all of this interest in D’Antona, if anyone from Tucson should find themselves around Tokyo, we here at the Tsubamegun do hope you’ll get in touch.

  • flick

    Yeah, he seemed very likeable when he showed up at Narita with a huge-ass pillow. I have high hopes for this guy, but this article kind of makes me anxious.

    Apparently he is not totally healed from his surgery from last year….

  • Rick Casler

    Jamie has an excellent work ethic and I agree that he has a better glove than he was given credit for. I’ve told many people that he would be up for trade, knowing that the D-Backs are overloaded at his positions. As an Astros fan at heart, I hoped they’d pick him up. I guess I have to learn more abour Japanese baseball now so I can keep an eye on him. Good Luck Jamie! Arizona will miss you.

  • I was hoping to get a chance to see him in MLB after reading the book, The Last Best League. Very good book about the Cape Cod League, final stage of amateur baseball in America before the kids sign their first contracts. I would suggest it to any baseball fan. I wish Jamie and the Swallows the best of luck this season.

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  • Cherokeetwo

    I have searched everywhere for where Jamie went and glad to find him. While playing for the Tennesssee Smokies he had a great fan following and did a?lot to help the team. On a personal note, Jamie is one of the nicest yong men you can ever meet. I know this isn’t the most important thing about being a good ballplayer but it is a big asset for his new team.
    I think with enough support and work Jamie can and will make people in Japan take notice.