In this series, we look back on our draft picks from the past six seasons and see how they are faring now. Were the guys all the cracked up to be? Overachievers? Underachievers? Non-achievers? Click here for: 2011 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016
Round 1: Shintaro Fujinami (P) – Osaka Toin High School
Can’t fault the club for picking Fujinami here. He was a highly sought-after thoroughbred who had 4 teams coveting his services. Definitely made his mark in his first few years, piling up 10+ wins in each of his first three seasons before struggling in 2016 and flopping in 2017. Still just 23 and has high potential to be one of the top 3 pitchers in NPB.
Round 2: Fumiya Hojoh (IF) – Kosei Gakuin High School
It took until 2016, his fourth year with the team, to find a place on the top roster. He became just the fourth (?) player in team history to be drafted out of high school and record 100+ hits in a season within his first four years. Though the middle of the infield continues to be clogged with potential candidates, Hojoh quite possibly has the greatest potential among them. Still plenty young enough to become a solid starter, though perhaps his chances at being an all-star are slim.
Round 3: Kojiro Tanabo (P) – JFE Higashi Nippon
Injuries have slowed him down, and he even spent a solid chunk of his time as a development player. Still has yet to get any significant top squad playing time, and will be 28 years old this year. If he doesn’t get cut this offseason, surely 2018 will be his last one if he continues to find himself on the farm all year. October 31 Update: Tanabo was in fact cut by the club.
Round 4: Shinya Azuhata (C) – Seino Unyu
To the best of my knowledge, he has never played on the top squad. If not for the dearth of catchers on this team (and the need for backstops on the farm), he would no longer be wearing the pinstripes. Perhaps new farm manager Akihiro Yano, a former catcher himself, can light a fire under him.
Round 5: Kazuyuki Kaneda (P) – Osaka Gakuin University
Round 6: Ryosuke Ogata (OF) – Toyo University
Hasn’t spent much time on the top squad. Little body, decent punch, but no real stand-out skills. Not particularly fast, strong on defense, or patient at the plate. Won’t last much longer.
DECENT. There were a few good pitchers in this draft, including Tomoyuki Sugano (was only going to play for the Giants), Nao Higashihama (Hawks R1), Yasuhiro Ogawa (Swallows R2) who won Rookie of the Year in 2013 and remains a solid pitcher, and Shohei Ohtani (Fighters R1) is someone that you might have heard of. Still, the fact that the Tigers got two guys that might contribute for years to come, well, it’s a big improvement over the previous year’s bunch.