All six newcomers to the Hanshin Tigers were in attendance at the official presentation of the club’s draftees in Osaka on the 7th. First round pick, outfielder Shun Takayama (Meiji University), will wear number 9, second round pick, catcher Seishiro Sakamoto (Meiji), gets number 12, third round pick, pitcher Daichi Takeyasu (Kumamoto Golden Larks) dons number 42, fourth rounder, pitcher Atsushi Mochizuki (Yokohama Sogakukan HS) gets number 61, fifth round pick, pitcher Koyo Aoyagi (Teikyo University) takes number 50 and sixth round pick, outfielder Yutaro Itayama (Asia University) will wear number 63.
Takayama, who is expected to be able to make the parent club immediately, looked pleased to don the team’s pinstripes for the first time, saying, “I’ve been looking forward to the day when I could wear this uniform, so I’m extremely happy.” Regarding the choice of number, he said, “I always wore number 9 when I played at Koshien (while a high schooler at Nichidai San) so I’m grateful to be able to wear it again.”
About wearing number 42, Takeyasu solemnly said, “When it comes to Hanshin, (Tsuyoshi) Shimoyanagi comes to mind first. I have been handed a prestigious number.” He continued, “I was told by team scout Shuta Tanaka that ‘your glove is not to be thrown around… treat it well’ so I will follow his orders,” and the audience burst into laughter.
On October 1, 2007, Shuta was the starting shortstop against the Yokohama BayStars. However, a series of miscues by infielders ended with an error by Shuta, which ended up scoring a run. Shimoyanagi then slammed his glove down on the mound in frustration. This play (see video here) has been shown countless times on TV and was even won an award on “Masahiro Nakai’s Pro Baseball Rare Plays and Fine Plays” program – showing it has left a huge mark on the game.
All six athletes are built strongly, and manager Kanemoto smiled as he said, “It’s been 24 years since I started my career (in Hiroshima). Not sure if it’s just a new era, but (compared to my days) they seem really big. For starters I give them all passing grades on the physical side of things.” He gave his new golden hatchlings an encouraging challenge as well, saying, “You’ve entered the big leagues and the playing field is level. I hope you can all become regulars and aces on the first squad.”