2016 Post-Draft Report


The obvious top choice for the draft appeared to be pitcher Seigi Tanaka (from Soka University). Five of the 12 clubs entered the draw: the Fighters, Hawks, Marines, Carp and Giants. In other words, the five teams that finished above .500 this season. Whether the other teams chickened out or had other obvious needs is debatable, but one thing is undeniable: the Hanshin Tigers first pick surprised everyone. All indications were that the Tigers would select pitcher Chihaya Sasaki (of Oberlin University), and since no team initial bid on him, they could have gotten him outright. Instead, Tomoaki Kanemoto and the Tigers elected to choose…

Round 1: Yusuke Ohyama (大山 悠輔)

ohyamaFrom: Ibaraki Prefecture

Date of Birth: December 19, 1994

Drafted Out of: Hakuoh University

High School: Tsukuba Shuei High

Position: Infield (Third Base)

Height: 181 cm (5’11”)

Weight: 84 kg (185 lb)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

About Ohyama: As a high schooler, he hit cleanup and hit 30 home runs over the course of his three years. He was also a pitcher who could throw over 88 mph (140 km/h).

He was the starting third baseman at Hakuoh right from the spring of his first year. Known for his good arm and powerful hitting, this third baseman set a new federation record in the spring of his fourth year with 8 home runs in a single (short) season. He was named to the all-Japan team and batted cleanup (4-slot). He was also named to the “best nine” team in his first year and led the league in RBIs in the fall of his second year.

See video of Ohyama’s hitting here

Round 2: Taiki Ono (小野泰己)

onoFrom: Fukuoka Prefecture

Date of Birth: May 30, 1994

Drafted Out of: Fuji University

High School: Orio Aishin High School (Fukuoka)

Position: Pitcher

Height: 183 cm (6’0″)

Weight: 76 kg (168 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

About Ono: Throws up to 152 km/h (94.5 mph) and also possesses a slider, fork and curve. He has been compared to Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners) when throwing from the stretch. Won league MVP in the fall of his 4th year, throwing 40 innings, striking out 49 and giving up just 3 runs.

See video of Ono’s pitching here

Round 3: Hiroto Saiki (才木 浩人)

saikiFrom: Hyogo Prefecture

Date of Birth: November 7, 1998

Drafted Out of: Sumashofu High School (Kobe)

Position: Pitcher

Height: 187 cm (6’2″)

Weight: 79 kg (174 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

About Saiki: Fastball tops out at 148 km/h (92 mph) and goes along with his slider, curve and forkball. He was scouted by all 12 NPB clubs, and drew a lot of attention for his play in the Hyogo Prefecture tournament. Resembling Shintaro Fujinami in that he has long limbs (though 10 cm shorter in height), he is said to have good control of all his pitches.

See video of Saiki’s pitching here

Round 4: Masumi Hamachi (濱地 真澄)

hamachiFrom: Fukuoka Prefecture

Date of Birth: May 25, 1998

Drafted Out of: Fukuoka Ohhori High School

Position: Pitcher

Height: 183 cm (6’0″)

Weight: 88 kg (194 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

About Hamachi: His fastball (150 km/h = 93 mph) is complemented by a slider, cutter, curve and changeup. During the spring of his senior year, he led his high school to the Kyushu tournament championship – its first in 25 years. He was highly esteemed enough to garner attention from scouts of 10 NPB teams.

See video of Hamachi’s pitching here

Round 5: Kento Itohara (糸原 健斗)

itoharaFrom: Shimane Prefecture

Date of Birth: November 11, 1992

Drafted Out of: JX-ENEOS

High School: Kaisei High School (Shimane)

Position: Infielder

Height: 175 cm (5’9″)

Weight: 80 kg (176 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Left

About Itohara: As a high schooler, once hit in 9 straight at bats in the Chugoku Regional tournament, including a perfect 4-for-4 in the quarterfinals. Reached base safely in 3 of 4 plate appearances against future Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher Hakumura during his high school days. Possesses a decent mix of power and speed.

See video of Itohara’s hitting here

Round 6: Shungo Fukunaga (福永 春吾)

fukunagaFrom: Osaka Prefecture

Date of Birth: May 14, 1994

Drafted Out of: Tokushima Indigo Socks (Independent League)

High School: Clark Memorial International High School (via correspondence)

Position: Pitcher

Height: 185 cm (6’1″)

Weight: 90 kg (198 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Left

About Fukunaga: Fastball reaches up to 152 km/h (94.5 mph) and also throws a slider, curve and changeup. Power pitcher. Whiffed 16 SoftBank third squad hitters in a shutout.

See video of Fukunaga’s pitching here

Round 7: Kenya Nagasaka (長坂 挙弥)

nagasakaFrom: Gunma Prefecture

Date of Birth: April 28, 1994

Drafted Out of: Tohoku Fukushi University

High School: Takasaki Kenko Dai High School

Position: Catcher

Height: 173 cm (5’8″)

Weight: 78 kg (172 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

About Nagasaka: Has confidence in his ability to call games for his pitchers and his throwing arm (he can get the ball to second in under 2 seconds). He also supposedly packs decent punch with the bat. Was captain for his university team.

See video of Nagasaka’s throws to second here

Round 8: Kosuke Fujitani (藤谷 洸介)

fujitaniFrom: Yamaguchi Prefecture

Date of Birth: February 12, 1996

Drafted Out of: Panasonic

High School: Suo-Ohshima High School (Yamaguchi)

Position: Pitcher

Height: 194 cm (6’4″)

Weight: 95 kg (209 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

About Fujitani: Fastball tops out around 140 km/h (88 mph) (more recent reports say 146 km/h = 92 mph). Also throws a curve (under 100 km/h), slider and changeup. Faced Yuki Yanagita during one of SoftBank’s second squad games and induced a grounder to short.

See video of Fujitani’s pitching here


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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.