2010 Draft Recap

The 2010 NPB draft took place on October 28th, as planned. Unfortunately not a lot else went as planned for the Swallows.

As expected the Swallows threw their hat into the Yuki Saito sweepstakes. They were joined by the Nippon Ham Fighters, the Chiba Lotte Marines, and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. Our manager Ogawa, armed with a blue handkerchief, could not manage to draw the winning envelope and Saito’s negotiation rights went to the Fighters. While Yuki Saito was the headliner of the draft, Tatsuya Oishi got more interest, with 6 teams vying for his services. After drawing the winning envelope for Yusei Kikuchi last year, the Seibu Lions won big again this year, getting their man for the second straight year. Only the Chunichi Dragons and the Yomiuri Giants managed to avoid the Waseda rush, being the only team to pick Yudai Ono, and Hirokazu Sawamura, respectively.

Reeling from the loss of Saito, the Swallows again targeted a university pitcher that could contribute immediately. With their alternate first pick the Swallows named Takahiro Shiomi from Hachinohe University. Unfortunately the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles, reeling from the loss of Oishi, also had the same idea. Forced to draw envelopes again, the Swallows came away losers for the second time that night. While the Swallows were losing out on Shiomi, the Orix Buffaloes were experiencing a similar run of bad luck. After losing out on Oishi, the Buffaloes lost a draw against the Marines for Shota Ishimine, the Tokai University outfielder. With only the Swallows and Buffaloes left to choose, many of the elite NPB-ready picks were already off the board.

To cap off the first round hi jinks, the Swallows and Buffaloes both named Tetsuto Yamada, shortstop from Riseisha High School in Osaka, with their second alternate pick. Yamada, sometimes referred to in the press as T-Yamada because of fellow Riseisha alum T-Okada of the Buffaloes, is seen as a potential 5-tool player. The Swallows finally managed to grab a winning envelope, and won the right to negotiate with Yamada. What had began as a night in which the Swallows were hoping to draft a high impact player for next season, quickly turned into a night in which the team drafted for high impact players 2-5 years down the line.

With the second pick in the draft the Swallows chose right-handed pitcher Yuki Shichijo from the Hakuwa Victories of the industrial league. Shichijo, who was not on anybody’s radar screen as far as I can tell, is a breaking ball pitcher that throws from a three-quarter arm slot. Despite many sources focusing on Shichijo’s max fastball speed at 148 km/h, it seems that his fastball is usually thrown in the 138-144 km/h range. According to the email sent by the team to its fans the team expects Shichijo to compete for a rotation or bullpen spot.

With their third and fourth pick, the Swallows drafted the Hokusho High School battery of Akihisa Nishida (catcher) and Tomoya Matano (pitcher). Nishida, drafted in the third round, is noted for his strong throw to second and his ability to pull the ball. Matano, drafted in the fourth round, will be asked to convert to third base or the outfield and his being seen as a potential power hitter. Both players hit from the right side and recorded 30+ homeruns over their high school careers at Hokusho.

Akihisa Nishida and Tomoya Matano get to work shilling the company product.

After going young in the third and fourth rounds, the Swallows decided to go to the industrial leagues for their fifth round pick. With their fifth pick, the Swallows chose left-handed pitcher Kentaro Kyuko from Nippon Paper. Kyuko pitched for Aoyama Gakuin University before moving to the industrial leagues. As with most players out of the industrial leagues, Kyuko possesses an underwhelming fastball (topping out at 142 km/h) but has a wide array of breaking balls that he can locate accurately. He will be expected to compete for a bullpen spot, and will most like be treated as a left-handed specialist.

The Swallows rounded out the main draft by choosing Nariaki Kawasaki from the Kumamoto Golden Larks of the industrial leagues. The right-handed outfielder has a fast time to first base, a strong arm, and some pop. It seems the Swallows see him as a potential bench outfielder as players like Fukuchi age.

The Swallows also picked up some players in the ensuing ikusei draft. The ikusei draft allows teams to sign drafted players at a lower cost, and not count against the team’s total roster. Ikusei players can appear in Ni-gun games, but cannot be called up to the first team without first signing a standard players’ contract. Ikusei players are a big crap shoot, and whether you’ll ever see these players with the top team is anybody’s guess. The Swallows drafted Koki Kitano a speedy outfielder out of Kanagawa University with their first ikusei pick. With their second pick the Swallows chose Keisuke Ueno, a relief pitcher out of the independent Island League. Finally with their final pick, the Swallows picked Takanori Sato, also known as Yoshinori’s little brother, a left-hitting outfielder out of Sendai Ikuei High School.

While there is no reason to believe that these players won’t sign contracts with the Swallows, it is important to remember that until/unless they sign, they are not the Swallows’ players. Overall, not the draft haul many were expecting and hoping for but as with all drafts, especially baseball drafts, it’s important to evaluate the draft a few years down the road. Not getting Saito or any of the other highly rated players was a disappointment, but hopefully some, if not all, of these men will develop into strong contributors for the team.

2010 Swallows' Draftees

RdNamePositionLast TeamT/BDate of Birth (Age)
1Tetsuto YamadaSSRiseisha HSR/RJuly 16, 1992 (18)
2Yuki ShichijoPHakuwa VictoriesR/RJuly 10, 1984 (26)
3Akihisa NishidaCHokusho HSR/RApril 28, 1992 (18)
4Tomoya MatanoPHokusho HSR/ROctober 9, 1992 (18)
5Kentaro KyukoPNippon Paper IshimakiL/LMay 16, 1986 (24)
6Nariaki KawasakiOFKumamoto Golden LarksR/RMarch 30, 1986 (24)
I1Koki KitanoOFKanagawa UniversityR/LApril 27, 1988 (22)
I2Keisuke UenoPKagawa Olive GuynersR/RMarch 6, 1986 (24)
I3Takanori SatoOFSendai Ikuei HSR/LJanuary 29, 1993 (17)
About Kozo Ota

Kozo Ota is a third-generation Swallows fan that grew up on Montreal Expos baseball. (You can read more about that here.) When he's not at Jingu, he works as a freelance translator/interpreter to make enough money to go to Jingu. You can find random posts by Kozo on Google+ and Twitter.