2016 Draftees Get Their Numbers

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Hanshin formally introduced its 2016 draftees to the media on the 5th at a hotel in Osaka. All 8 players were present.

Their uniform numbers were also announced:

First round pick, infielder Yusuke Ohyama (Hakuoh U), is set to wear #3 (last worn by Kentaro Sekimoto in 2015)

Second rounder, pitcher Taiki Ono (Fuji U), is to wear #28 (Shinobu Fukuhara’s number in 2016).

Third round pick, pitcher Hiroto Saiki (Sumashofu HS), got #35 (Katsuhiko Saka’s number in 2016).

Fourth round choice, pitcher Masumi Hamachi (Fukuoka U Ohhori), will don #36 (worn by Matt Hague in 2016).

Fifth round pickup, infielder Kento Itohara (JX-ENEOS), will get #33 (Naoto Nishida’s number until he became a development player this offseason).

Sixth round pick, pitcher Shungo Fukunaga, inherits #40 from catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka.

The seventh rounder, catcher Kenya Nagasaka (Tohoku Fukushi U), will put on #39 (last worn by catcher Shinji Komiyama, but made famous by Akihiro Yano).

The final pick for Hanshin, pitcher Kosuke Fujitani (Panasonic), will wear #45 (Takashi Shimizu’s number until he got cut in 2016).

Ohyama, who is expected to be able to contribute right away, said, “I feel even more excited to play than I did before. I’m anxious to get out there and play at Koshien. I hope to show off my power hitting ability.” He added that he would like to “build up a strong body like manager Kanemoto has,” promising to hit the weight room hard. As for his goals, he boldly said, “I’ll do my best to follow up (Shun) Takayama‘s rookie of the year season with one of my own.”

Ono, who is also believed to be game-ready, said as he put on his uniform, “Until now (at Fuji U) I wore red pinstripes, but now that I’m wearing black pinstripes, I feel even more like I’m a professional ball player.” Also, knowing that he has inherited the number of recently retired pitcher Fukuhara, the righty added that “I feel some pressure wearing this number, but I hope to become a player who performs well for a long time.”

Manager Tomoaki Kanemoto‘s first comment was, “We chose them based on their looks. All 8 of them are handsome!” When told that first rounder Ohyama looks like him, he replied jokingly, “I’m more manly than he is, though,” inciting laughter from the media gathering. He concluded his remarks by encouraging his new troops: “Those who practice well will last until the end. If you show strength, I’ll keep you in the lineup.”

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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.