Tokyo Swallows sign three new players

Tazawa, Shoda, Matsuzaka and Okajima take donations shortly after March 11th.

Yakyu Baka reported back at the beginning of October, and Kozo Ota relayed the same information here, that eight players are not having their contracts extended for the 2012 season.

Well, the Swallows reported on Thursday that they’ve basically filled three of those slots with a pair of out-of-contract players and another from the independent ‘Baseball Challenge League’.

Kenta Abe (RHP) played for Osaka Kintetsu/Orix before moving to the Tigers for the 2008 season. He had his best year in 2008 when he pitched 51.2 innings over 32 appearances and ended the season with a 2.96 ERA.

However, he hasn’t made a single top top appearance for Hanshin over the past two seasons.

Keisuke Mizuta (INF) played with Abe on the Hanshin Tigers before he got released at the end of last season. He was picked up by the Dragons and appeared in 14 games this season for the top team. In his 19 at-bats, Mizuta hit .133/.235/.133.

Mizuta has been traded around quite a bit recently. He was with Saitama until July 11, 2009 when he was traded to Hanshin for pitcher Taiyo Fujita.

After the 2010 season he was traded to the Chunichi Dragons for Ryota Arai. And he was released on Nov. 11th by the Dragons.

He has a little bit of pace and a decent arm and range. From what I’ve gathered he can play both the infield and outfield, so it looks like we’ve picked up an experienced utility player who is unproven at the plate.

Itsuki Shoda (LHP) is an interesting find. He was Pacific League Rookie of the Year back in 2002 (Nippon Ham). He was later traded to Hanshin (wow, all three of these guys played for Hanshin) but spent most of his time on the farm team. He hasn’t played very well since then though save for 2009-10 when he played for Taiwan’s Sinon Bulls.

At the beginning of 2011 he was at the Boston Red Sox spring camp, but was told to go home by the end of it. He has since been keeping busy with the Niigata Albirex Baseball Club. It will be interesting to see how the southpaw curveball-thrower fares under Araki’s care.

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 was a huge goodbye for Mizuta when he left Seibu.  It was kinda strange, he was a really beloved ni-gun guy but I never quite understood why.  He played in the 2008 Asia Series a bit for Seibu, though, I remember.

    Itsuki Shoda definitely is such a bizarre case.  When I first became a Fighters fan, his face was all over their stuff in 2003 (I mean, they had such precious little to market on, besides Ogasawara’s beard, Trey Hillman’s guitar, and… yeah, that prize rookie) but literally, in all the time I was following the team, he never did anything again, which is unfortunately becoming typical for Fighters ROYs.  He was, however, popular enough with fans, that I knew a few women that went to Taiwan to go watch him play a year or two ago.  They said he was doing pretty well.  Really, he may just end up being at ni-gun as another lefty arm to push at people like Mikinori, but it’s not a bad gamble to pick him up and see what he can do.

    Oh, and Kinoshita — yeah, I’m surprised he’s still doing much of anything.  He didn’t get much playing time with the Fighters his last year or two there, but he is still a fairly young guy. 

    Yuji Nakane (5th round pick) looked good at the Jingu Taikai yesterday.  His team lost, but it wasn’t his fault (an error put guys on base and the next pitcher giving up a triple scored them). I am surprisingly looking forward to seeing him next year on the Swallows.