Tuesday, November 13, 2018

2018 Seibu Lions name translations


When watching every 2018 Saitama Seibu Lions game, we have tweeted the lineup when it's out. As a gag, we've also translated the lineup with literal meanings of everyone's surname.

After playing with many kanji reading sites and more, we successfully converted all names into English. While some kanji have multiple meanings, we chose what made sense to put out in this piece. Inspired by our Softbank Hawks English equivalent, here is the Lions literal roster of 2018.

To prevent redundancy, we set 田 to paddy, 野 to field and 原 to meadow. If some guys have the same family name, we've translated their first name as a bonus. When seeing that kanji, the last name is first, first name is last.

For players with the same surname, we also translated their first name.

Italicized names are players who are not returning for 2019.


*Could be gone or outgoing

Pitchers:

Tatsushi Masuda 増田: More paddies

Tatsuya Oishi 大石: Big stone

Yusei Kikuchi 菊池*: Chrysanthemum pond/lake

Kona Takahashi 髙橋 光成: Tall bridge, Light growing

Shinsaburo Tawata 多和田: Many harmonious paddies (Note: 和 is the same harmony character that all businesses, teams and work places uses in needing to have Wa)

Takuya Toyoda 豊田*: Rich paddy

Ken Togame 十亀: Ten turtles

Hayato Takagi 高木 勇人: Tall Tree, Brave Person

Shunta Nakatsuaka 中塚: Center mound

Shogo Noda 野田 昇吾: Field paddy, Rising Self

Katsunori Hirai 平井: Flat well

Seiji Kawagoe 川越: River surpass

Ryohei Fujiwara 藤原: Wisteria meadow

Hirotaka Koishi 小石: Small stone (pebble)

Yasuo Sano 佐野: Assistant field

Tadasuke Minamikawa 南川: South river

Yusuke Tamamura 玉村*: Jewel village

Ichiro Tamura 田村: Paddy village

Makoto Aiuchi 相内: Inside aspect

Tomomi Takahashi 髙橋 朋己*: Tall bridge, Companion self

Keisuke Honda 本田: Book Paddy

Shota Takekuma 武隈: Warrior shadow

Kentaro Fukukura 福倉*: Lucky warehouse

Tsubasa Kokuba 國場: Country place

Naoaki Matsumoto 松本: Pine tree base

Koki Fujita 藤田: Wisteria paddy

Tatsuya Imai 今井: Now well (Well as in the noun, not the adverb/adjective)

Chun-Lin Kuo (Kaku) 郭: Enclosure

Hiromasa Saito 齊藤 大将: Adjusted Wisteria, General

Daiki Enokida 榎田: Mushroom Paddy

Kaito Yoza 與座: Participation Seat

Sho Ito: 伊藤: Italian Wisteria

Ryuya Ogawa 小川: Small River

Kaima Taira 平良: Flat Good

===

Catchers:

Tomoya Mori 森: Forest

Ginjiro Sumitani 炭谷*: Charcoal valley

Masatoshi Okada 岡田: Hill paddy

Hitoto Komazuki 駒月: Horse moon (Interesting note that 駒 [koma] also refers to the knight piece when playing chess or another board game involving a horse)

Shota Nakata 中田: Center paddy

Komei Fujisawa 藤澤*: Wisteria swamp

===

Infielders:

Hideto Asamura 浅村*: Shallow village

Sosuke Genda 源田: Root paddy (源 [gen] can refer to the origin or root of something)

Hotaka Yamakawa 山川: Mountain river

Takeya Nakamura 中村: Center village

Daichi Mizuguchi 水口: Water mouth

Kyohei Nagae 永江: Long bay

Nien Ting Wu 呉: Giver

Haruka Yamada 山田: Mountain paddy

Kazuki Kaneko 金子 一輝: Gold child, One shine

Manaya Nishikawa 西川: West River

Ryusei Tsunashima 綱島: Rope Island

Shuta Tonosaki 外崎: Outside cape (cape as in headland, not the cloak)

===

Outfielders:

Yuji Kaneko 金子 侑司: Gold child, Assistant director

Shogo Akiyama 秋山: Autumn mountain

Takumi Kuriyama 栗山: Chestnut mountain

Fumikazu Kimura 木村: Tree village

Masato Kumashiro 熊代: Bear substitute (Fun fact: Shiro is a homophone for the color white (白). Unfortunately the kanji shows he's not a polar bear.)

Shogo Saito 斉藤 彰吾: Adjusted wisteria, Patent self

Ryo Sakata 坂田*: Slope paddy

Shohei Suzuki 鈴木: Bell tree

Daisuke Togawa 戸川: Door river

[Aito] Takeda 武田 愛斗: Military paddy, Love Big Dipper (Takeda has his first name registered)

Kazuo Matsui 松井: Pine Tree Well

===

Ikusei: 

Masato Saito 齊藤 誠人: Adjusted Wisteria, Sincere Person

Wataru Takagi 高木 渉: Tall Tree, Ford (as in fording or crossing a river)

===

Manager and Coaches:

Hatsuhiko Tsuji 辻: Intersection
Hideki Hashigami 橋上: Bridge Up

Shigenobu Shima 嶋: Island

Masahiro Abe 阿部: Corner head of Yamato Group (saw Africa for Abe's name, but too confusing)

Kosaku Akimoto 秋元: Autumn Beginning

Yoshihiro Doi 土肥: Soil fertilizer 

Fumiya Nishiguchi 西口: West Mouth

Toshifumi Baba 馬場: Horse Place

Tomoaki Sato 佐藤: Assistant Wisteria

Shinobu Sakamoto 坂本: Slope Origin

Takafumi Sato 里: Village

Tetsuya Shiozaki 潮崎: Tide Cape

Hiroyuki Takagi 高木 浩之: Tall Tree, This Abundance

Kento Sugiyama 杉山: Cedar Mountain

Ming-Chieh Hsu 许: Permit

Kosuke Noda 野田: Field Paddy, Abundance of help

Satoshi Kuroda 黒田: Black Paddy

Shogo Akada 赤田: Red Paddy

Takanori Hoshi 星: Star

Haruki Kurokawa 黒川: Black river

Kenta Kudo 工藤: Constructed Wisteria

===

Bonus: Foreigners

As a continuous gag, we reverse translate the foreigners to see what their name in Japanese would literally look like, not just katakana sounds. Here is what their names would look like in kanji. (Kuo, Hsu and Wu were already included above given their Chinese names.

Ernesto Mejia メヒア: Kyuseishu [救世主] . Mejia's name means "Messiah" or "Savior" in latin/greek origin.

Brian Wolfe ウルフ: Okami [狼]. Wolfe has an has an easy to understand name with the word wolf in German.

Neil Wagner ワグナー: Nigurumato [荷車人]. Wagner's name has German descent as a wagon driver or wagon person.

Fabio Castillo カスティーヨ: Shiro [城]. Castillo's surname has Latin descent for "Castle".

Deunte Heath ヒース: Arechi [荒地]. Heath's name has English origins and refers to wasteland, or it could be a shrub.

Kyle Martin マーティン: Gunshin [軍神]. Martin is a derivative of the god Mars. Mars is also the god of war, which makes Gunshin. Surprisingly, Bushin [武神] would also be acceptable for god of war.  If we strictly refer to Mars, Marusushin [マルス神] would be the most literal as it gets. Given that Gunshin is already generic for "god of war", it made the most sense.

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Saturday, November 10, 2018

2019 Schedule: Lions will open season in Fukuoka against defending champion Hawks


The 2019 NPB Schedule was released earlier this week. For the Lions, their Opening Day on March 29, will be on the road in Fukuoka against the two-time defending champion Softbank Hawks.

Here is a links to the full schedule (Home teams listed on the left as it goes from Monday-Sunday:

March 2019

April 2019 

May 2019

June 2019

July 2019

August 2019

September 2019

===

Here are also some other quirks that stand out in the Lions 2019 schedule:

-The Home opener will be on 4/2 against the Chiba Lotte Marines. 

-Tokyo Dome will be occupied for a total of four Lions road games, including three in early April against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. They will also see the Hawks on 7/8.

-In addition to seeing the Hawks in Tokyo Dome, they will also play the Hawks in a road game in Kyocera Dome on 8/19. These are both corporate parties for the Hawks as everyone wearing their special uniform is a Softbank employee. They have two Tokyo Dome games scheduled and the Lions will see the Kansai employees in Osaka in August.

-Omiya will host its usual three Lions home games in 2019, where they host the Eagles on 4/9, Marines on 5/9 and Eagles again on 8/8. 

-For the fourth straight year, the Lions will be hosting another game in Maebashi, Gunma on 5/8. It will be against the Marines.

-On 5/14, the Lions are scheduled to play a road game against the Softbank Hawks in Kitakyushu. Barring no rain, this will be the third straight year playing a game there.

-For the second time in three years, the Lions will host the two annual NPB games in Naha, Okinawa. They will be playing the Softbank Hawks on 5/21 and 5/22. In 2017, only one game was played due to the rain. 

-The Lions are scheduled to be the road team for two games against the Eagles on 5/28 and 5/29. On 5/28, they will be in Morioka, Iwate, which is the same prefecture Yusei Kikuchi is from. It is also the prefecture where Fuji University is located. For 5/29, the Lions will be playing in Hirosaki, Aomori, which is the home prefecture of Shuta Tonosaki. His family also runs an apple farm directly in Hirosaki. 

-Interleague play begins on June 4 against the Hiroshima Carp. It will end on 6/23 against the Hanshin Tigers in Koshien Stadium barring no rain. The Lions will also visit Nagoya Dome and Yokohama while hosting the Yomiuri Giants and Yakult Swallows. 

-From 8/27-8/29, the Lions are scheduled for three special road games against the Fighters. On 8/27 and 8/28, the Lions will be playing in Kushiro (4.5 hour drive away from Sapporo), which is on the eastern side of Hokkaido. They will play in Obihiro on 8/29, which is about 2+ hours east of Sapporo. 

-From 9/3-9/5, the Lions will be playing their only three games in Kobe against the Orix Buffaloes. These will be the last scheduled games in Kansai for the 2019 season.

-The Final scheduled game is on 9/24 in Chiba against the Marines. This indicates there is more cramming into this coming year with 143 games being played in less time. With the Lions being a team under a roof, their regular season could end before October.

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Asamura exercises FA option; Matsui named farm manager


On a day where things became big, the Saitama Seibu Lions announced their staff changes when Hideto Asamura declared himself a domestic free agent using his option. 

Asamura, 27, has been the Lions captain since 2017 and was viewed initially as a successor to Hiroyuki Nakajima at SS. He established himself as the everyday 2B and had a career-high 32 home runs/

It's possible he's only testing the market and seeing how much he's worth, but we really don't know what he wants as no one does. Media reports he has a good relationship with the team, but told officials he wanted to make himself a free agent.

Track record indicates he's likely gone if he purely wants the money as the Lions often lose bidding wars. Previously, the team lost Takayuki Kishi and Ryoma Nogami in back-to-back years to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Yomiuri Giants. The last position player who walked with compensation was Yasuyuki Kataoka, who signed with the Giants after the 2013 season.

It was reported the Lions offered a multi-year deal and we can only hope it's not a hard offer. Presumably, other teams will beat it and make a better one financially. The Lions braced for a possible loss of Asamura when drafting IF Kakeru Yamanobe last month. 

===

The 2018 Seibu Lions staff was also announced on Sunday with Kazuo Matsui being named the team's farm manager. Here are some of the notable changes:

-Besides being the third base coach, Toshifumi Baba is now the strategy coach and likely takes head coach responsibilities at the ichi-gun level.

-Kazuyoshi Ono will be taking Yoshihiro Doi's spot as ichi-gun pitching coach, serving alongside Fumiya Nishiguchi. This will be Ono's first time coaching with the Lions since 2011. He previously worked in the front office and was a trainer who traveled with players to Australia during the winter offseason. Ono last coached at the ichi-gun level with the Lions in 2008.

-Satoshi Kuroda has been promoted to the ichi-gun as an infield defense and base running coach.

-Hitting coach Shigenobu Shima will work down in ni-gun after being the team's ichi-gun hitting coach.

-Ni-gun coach Shogo Akada moves up to the ichi-gun as a hitting coach, was previously a ni-gun defense and first base coach.

-Eiji Kiyokawa was a trainer for the team and will be a patrol or roving pitching coach. He returns for the first time in two years.

-Hiroshi Hirao, the hero from the 2008 Japan Series, will serve with Shima as a ni-gun hitting coach. 

Full staff announced here (numbers worn in parentheses):

Ichi-gun:

Manager: Hatsuhiko Tsuji (85)

Strategy/Fielding/Base running: Toshifumi Baba (83)

Pitching: Kazuyoshi Ono (88)

Pitching: Fumiya Nishiguchi (74)

Battery: Kosaku Akimoto (84)

Hitting: Masahiro Abe (76)

Hitting: Shogo Akada (86)

Infield/Base running: Satoshi Kuroda (87)

Outfield/Base running: Tomoaki Sato (70)

===
'
Ni-gun

Manager: Kazuo Matsui (77)

Position Player/Head Coach: Hiroyuki Takagi (75)

Pitching: Kento Sugiyama (90)

Pitching: Ming-Chieh Hsu (91)

Battery: Kosuke Noda (82)

Hitting/Infield/Base running: Hiroshi Hirao (no number mentioned)

Hitting/Outfield/Base running: Shigenobu Shima (80)

Ikusei: Takanori Hoshi (81)

Patrol/Roving pitching coach: Eiji Kiyokawa (92)

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Saito and Takagi to work in Australia with the Melbourne Aces


The Saitama Seibu Lions and Melbourne Aces partnership will be continuing for another season. On Tuesday, the Aces announced that Hiromasa Saito and Hayato Takagi would be joining the team for the 2018-2019 season.

Saito, 23, was the team's first round draft pick in 2017 and appeared mostly out of the bullpen with one spot start at the end of the regular season. At the ichi-gun level, he went 1-3 in 16 games with 16.2 innings of work and a 7.02 ERA. He had his share of inconsistency, but was a spark in middle relief for the short term.

The Lions are hoping he can contribute next year as he competes with Shota Takekuma and Shogo Noda among left handed relievers. He is a 3/4 arm slot pitcher who is athletic and can field well, but his control was up and down.

Takagi, 29, was the compensation selection from the Yomiuri Giants when the Lions lost Ryoma Nogami in free agency. Despite having a decent track record in the Central League, he struggled in 2018 for the first time playing in the Pacific League. Takagi didn't do well out of the bullpen and had only one quality start, which was good for his only win of the season. In eight games, he went 1-2 in 19.2 innings of work in 16 games with a 8.69 ERA.

With the Giants, he was a rotation starter, but injured his throwing hand when trying to execute a sacrifice bunt in 2017. He finished that year out of the bullpen and hasn't recovered. The Lions hope he can crack the ichi-gun in some way, shape or form as he was as disappointment for the team and fans alike.

The Lions will also send an interpreter and undisclosed coaches who will work with the players while they're in Australia. The first game for the Aces will be on November 16 and they'll leave the team when the calendar year of 2018 ends after the All-Star break.

In Australia, the ownership of all teams has changed and the Aces are under a new regime. The ABL League has also expanded with Geelong-Korea, which will feature several KBO players out of Korea's top league. Across the ditch is another expansion team in the Auckland Tuatara. 

The Lions are not the only team to partner with an ABL team this year. The Canberra Calvary are linked with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars which features Shota Imanaga among the group. In Auckland, there will be three Chiba Lotte Marines players including Tomohito Sakai and Taiga Hirasawa participating.

This is the eighth consecutive year the Lions have partnered with the Aces. Previous players who have spent time down under include Yusei Kikuchi, Fumikazu Kimura (as a pitcher), Shogo Noda, Yasuo Sano, Makoto Aiuchi, Hirotaka Koishi, Shota Nakata, Keisuke Honda, Hitoto Komazuki, Tomoya Mori, Shunta Nakatsuka and Kona Takahashi. 

===

Other transaction note: 

-The Lions have designated P Kaito Yoza, C Komei Fujisawa and P Tomomi Takahashi as senryokugai players. Yoza was a 5th round draft pick in 2017 while Fujisawa was a former ikusei. T. Takahashi was an all-star in 2014 and 2015, but failed to make an impact at the ichi-gun and didn't do well after having Tommy John surgery in 2017-2018. 

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Sunday, October 28, 2018

2018 NPB Draft: A summary of each Lions pick


===

The Saitama Seibu Lions drafted a total of seven players and three in the ikusei round, making a total overall of 10. They were the only team to take a player in the first round unopposed while all 11 over teams wanted a high school player. Hatsuhiko Tsuji would have taken the draw since Hisanobu "Nabe-Q" Watanabe chose to retire from doing this.

Here is a profile on each draft pick:

P Wataru Matsumoto (松本 航)




College: Nihon Taiiku [Nittai] (Tokyo)

High School: Akashi Shiritsu (Hyogo)

Date of Birth: November 28, 1996

Height: 176 cm (5' 9")

Weight: 84 kg (185 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Matsumoto is a 3/4 arm slot pitcher who can reach 155 kph on the gun. His fastball is his biggest strength, but can pitch a slider, curve ball, cutter and splitter. He was able to begin his college career as a freshman by playing immediately, where he was able to rack up the seventh most amount of strikeouts in University baseball history at 343 total.

The Lions were impressed with his precision on his pitches and think he can play right away.

===

P Yutaro Watanabe (渡邉 勇太朗)


High School: Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)

Date of Birth: September 21, 2000

Height: 190 cm (6' 2")

Weight: 90 kg (198 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Watanabe, a Saitama native, tops out at 149 kph with the ability to throw a two-seam fast ball, slider, curve and splitter. He gained attention for a decent outing in the second game of the 2018 Summer Koshien Tournament, where he struck out 10 batters in a complete game win. His team was eventually eliminated in the third round against the champions, Osaka Toin.

Due to his tall stature out of high school, he has drawn comparisons to Shohei Ohtani. The Lions liked his physical abilities and felt this upside could translate towards the long term. It's possible that he was a top 10 player on the Lions draft board as Nabe-Q said he was surprised to see Watanabe still available.

===

IF Kakeru Yamanobe (山野辺 翔) 




Industrial League Team: Mitsubishi Motors Okazaki (Aichi)

College: J.F. Oberlin University (Tokyo)

High School: Toin Gakuen (Kanagawa)

Date of Birth: May 24, 1994

Height: 170 cm (5' 7")

Weight: 74 kg (163 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Yamanobe was mostly a defensive wizard in college, but improved his bat while as a shakaijin. He has decent speed while also being able to hit some occasional pop. Yamanobe was the starting second baseman in his first year out of the corporate leagues. One scouting site compared him to a right-handed version of Eigoro Mogi.

His range appears to be his biggest strength and at worst could be a defensive replacement. This is also insurance for the Lions assuming Hideto Asamura leaves in free agency.

===

P Kaito Awatsu (粟津 凱士)


College: Higashi Nihon Kokusai (Fukushima)

High School: Yamamoto Gakuen (Yamagata)

Date of Birth: March 1, 1997

Height: 180 cm (5' 11")

Weight: 80 kg (176 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Awatsu can throw a sinker, curve, two-seam fast ball, slider and cutter while topping out at 145 kph. In his senior year of college, he went undefeated with a 9-0 record and an ERA below 0.50 in 62 innings of work. During his third year in college, he switched from being a side arm pitcher to 3/4 arm slot. He tries to resemble for Lions player Tetsuya Shiozaki when it comes to his sinker.

The Lions liked his sinker as a whole and felt his control was Awatsu's best strength.

===

C Shoya Makino (牧野 翔矢)



High School: Yugakkankoto (Ishikawa)

Date of Birth: March 4, 2001

Height: 178 cm (5' 10")

Weight: 77 kg (169 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Left

Makino had no Koshien experience, but hit well in his short time during the Ishikawa prefecture qualifiers for the tournament in the past. A lefty hitter, he's capable of having pop when registering 15 home runs. He converted from being a shortstop in his first year of high school.

Scouts liked his pop speed at 1.8 seconds throwing to second base and the Lions liked his physical traits. His shoulder is reported to be really strong.

===

P Ryosuke Moriwaki (森脇 亮介)


Industrial League team: Sega Sammy (Tokyo)

College: Nihon University (Tokyo)

High School: Tonan (Kyoto)

Date of Birth: July 13, 1992

Height: 175 cm (5' 8")

Weight: 70 kg (154 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Moriwaki can throw up to 152 kph and has a fastball, curve, slider, fork and changeup in his arsenal. His fastball has decent control and the Lions liked his versatility to mix it up. They think he can be a reliever right away and at age 26, he's capable of doing so like Katsunori Hirai did among former shakaijin.

===

IF Ryusei Sato (佐藤 龍世) 



College: Fuji (Iwate)

High School: Hokkai (Hokkaido)

Date of Birth: January 15, 1997

Height: 174 cm (5' 8")

Weight: 80 kg (176 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Sato was the cleanup hitter at Fuji University and is capable of playing third base. He has power and can hit for average, but it's possible only his pop can translate into NPB. Defensively, he is adequate and play third base. If anything, the Lions could see him as a successor to Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura.

Fuji University is a pipeline that Lions fans are very familiar with having Hotaka Yamakawa, Shuta Tonosaki and Shinsaburo Tawata already taken from this school. Sato was a freshman when Tawata was a senior among the group. On another trivial note, he is cousins with 2018 Speed Skating Olympic gold medalist Ayano Sato.

===

Ikusei

P Aoi Tono (東野 葵)


College: Nikkei (Fukuoka)

High School: Fukuoka Daichi (Fukuoka)

Date of Birth: November 30, 1996

Height: 183 cm (6' 0")
\
Weight: 75 kg (165 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Left/Left

Tono can hit 146 kph while throwing a fastball. He can also throw a slider, cutter and curve ball. Control has been his biggest issue with a strikeout rate of 8.64, walk rate at 4.68 and hit rate at 5.76.  It's clear the Lions wanted a a left handed pitcher for depth, but weren't willing to take him in the regular draft given his control issues. They felt his fastball was sharp.


P Jiyu Okubo (大窪 士夢)



High School: Hokkai (Hokkaido)

Date of Birth: August 2, 2000

Height: 198 cm (6' 8")

Weight: 88 kg (194 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Right

Okubo has extreme size for a high school pitcher. There is very little information about him besides that he can max at 140 kph. The Lions view him as an unfinished project, indicating why he became an ikusei pick.

===

C Daichi Nakaguma (中熊 大智)



College: Tokuyama (Yamaguchi)

High School: Kyushu Gakuin (Kumamoto)

Date of Birth: August 27, 1996

Height: 176 cm (5' 9")

Weight: 84 kg (185 lbs)

Throws/Bats: Right/Left

Very little information was given for Nakaguma other than the fact he is a catcher. He had some Best 8 honors while in high school and college. Nakaguma will likely compete with Masato Saito as both are ikusei catchers working with coach Takanori Hoshi.

===

Reaction:

In the end, the Lions did the right call in my book by not going for the high school hyped Akira Neo. It's easy to go for the talent, but there was no guarantee that they'd land Matsumoto as a fall back option. The Lions lack hard throwers, but if the Climax Series didn't show already, the pitching needs help in all departments.

The team is also expecting Hideto Asamura to leave in free agency and I wonder if he gets a lowball offer. With Yamanobe being taken, the Lions expect to reload at the 2B position as they also took Sato, a college infielder. Time will tell what this class could be, but it's good to know three pitchers and an infielder could potentially contribute in 2019, where we won't need to wait seven years to determine this class.

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Seibu Lions take Matsumoto in first round of 2018 NPB Draft


In a draft where several teams had targets in the first round, the Saitama Seibu Lions avoided a drawing and selected P Wataru Matsumoto in the first round out of Nippon Taiiku University.

Matsumoto, who will turn 22 in November, is a hard thrower and can hit a max velocity of 155 kilometers per hour (96 mph).

His college career has the 7th most amount of strikeouts in University baseball history, right behind Tomoyuki Sugano, who is currently with the Yomiuri Giants. He is capable of using a splitter, cutter, curve and slider.

He bills in at 176 cm and 85 kilograms and has a 3/4 arm slot style of pitch. 

Matsumoto might have been viewed as the best college pitcher in the 2018 NPB Draft and the Lions were able to nab him before anyone could fall back after losing. Senior Director Hisanobu "Nabe-Q" Watanabe mentioned how the team was debating between pitcher and infielder Akira Neo. They chose to take the safe path of pitcher after seeing their staff show vulnerability all season last year.

In his college career, he has a combined 1.63 ERA with a 30-18 record in 375.2 innings of work. He reached 343 career strikeouts. Matsumoto won MVP honors in the Spring 2016 season.

It's possible that Matsumoto can make an immediate impact if his control is decent and impresses the coaches early. There are holes in both the rotation and bullpen for 2019.

===

We will have more analysis on each draft pick later after further research. Stay tuned. 

Follow us on Twitter @GravyardBall

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

2018 NPB Draft: Where do the Lions go from here?


The 2018 NPB Draft will take place on October 25.

As a reminder, the first round is a free for all where everyone selects who they want and if anyone wants the same player, they draw for his rights with a winning ticket out of a box. Teams that miss on their player will go again until all 12 teams have their first round selection. The record for most teams wanting one player is eight. 


Hideo Nomo was one of the two instances where this happened while the other was Hideo Koike in 1990. A video of the first round in 1989 is here below.


 Most recently, the 2017 first round can be seen here.



For the record, the representative for each team is chosen at the team's discretion. Sometimes it's the manager, other times it could be an executive, GM equivalent or even a scout. 

From the second round and on, the draft order is like a traditional one where the worst team of one league goes first, then it reverses to the worst of the opposite league then flops back to the second worst of the original in a snake format. The Pacific League won the regular season head-to-head series once again, so they will select first.

Here is how the draft order will look in the second round, while the odd rounds will be this list in reverse:

1. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (Pacific League, 6th place)
2. Hanshin Tigers (Central League, 6th place)
3. Chiba Lotte Marines (PL, 5th)
4. Chunichi Dragons (CL, 5th)
5. Orix Buffaloes (PL, 4th)
6. Yokohama DeNA Baystars (CL, 4th)
7. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL, 3rd)
8. Yomiuri Giants (CL, 3rd)
9. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (PL, 2nd)
10. Tokyo Yakult Swallows (CL, 2nd)
11. Saitama Seibu Lions (PL, 1st)
12. Hiroshima Carp (PL, 1st)

===

The Lions can obviously go in any direction. Keep in mind that if they go to a drawing, they will likely be taking last from the box unless they like the same player as the Carp. Here's how we'll breakdown each position: 

Pitcher: 

Pitching is still the most obvious hole on the team and with Yusei Kikuchi being posted this offseason, it's going to get even harder. The 2015 class doesn't appear to be providing the depth needed and the team could go anywhere for bullpen or starting pitcher help. There is a trio of pitchers from Toyo University in Hiroshi Kaino, Taigi Kamichatani and Kodai Umetsu.

The team has been linked to Kosei Yoshida, who made himself known through the 2018 Summer Koshien Tournament carrying his school on his back. College pitcher Wataru Matsumoto has also received quite a bit of recognition among the Lions brass. There are several fall back options if the Lions don't hit on their first nomination choice.

===

Catcher: 

The Lions are set for the long term at catcher with Tomoya Mori. However, they will likely let Ginjiro Sumitani walk in free agency. It's possible they take a late flyer on someone or wait until the ikusei round. Behind Masatoshi Okada and Mori, the Lions have three farm catchers and it's possible one of them goes to the ichi-gun. They could promote Masato Saito if they want, but there is no priority to take a catcher this year.

===

Infielder:

Hideto Asamura is a free agent and it's likely the Lions are bracing for him going to another team. Third base has plenty of questions long term when Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura won't be there forever. Akira Neo out of Osaka Toin is the consensus "Best player" among the teams and media, but he will go to a large drawing. If the Lions are feeling lucky, they'll put their name in the box. Infielder Ryo Ota is an interesting fallback option.

===

Outfielder:

The outfield is all but set with Shuta Tonosaki and Shogo Akiyama. They have taken plenty of high school outfielders in recent years hoping someone can emerge in the future. Kyota Fujiwara is the big name out of Osaka Toin, but the Chiba Lotte Marines already announced they're going for him. Koji Chikamoto is a a shakaijin who could be taken later.

===

Outlook: 

With the Lions not announcing their pick in public this year, I don't think they go for Neo. It's likely they go with Wataru Matsumoto or Kosei Yoshida as they are secretive about their plan. The Lions front office was debating Neo by mentioning a future infielder or taking a future pitcher, but I think they're going to stick to the plan on the latter.

The Lions cut five players when announcing their first senryokugai list. It's possible that even more can be dropped after the draft.

Of course anything can happen. Only five teams revealed their pick and it's a question how many teams go with Neo. Stay tuned everyone, this will be interesting.

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall