Monday, March 21, 2016

Seibu Lions 2016 Preseason: Stock up/down

Okawari-kun isn't going anywhere, but where do the others place?
 The 2016 NPB preseason (open-sen) is officially over. While some players were already guaranteed a roster spot, others had a chance to improve themselves and bring good will the the organization.

Here, we will look at players who were affected by preseason and will most likely play a role (or not) for 2016 at the start due to how they did in practice and Open-sen.

Stock up

1B Hotaka Yamakawa: A second round draft pick from 2013, Yamakawa had an impressive spring training showing some extra pop in the lineup and was hitting above .300.  His defense to be at 1B was adequate and it's possible he could see a handful of starts there.  

SS Shuta Tonosaki: The Lions organization has been high on Tonosaki since he made his way to the ichi-gin last year as a rookie. There may be some growing pains at SS, but they're willing to play him and he earned his spot over Yuji Kaneko and Yuji Onizaki, who are more defensive specialists.  

OF Ryo Sakata: The right field position has been a revolving door. After training camp, it appears that Sakata has emerged as the Opening day starter. If he can bring stability to a position that's been in flux, it could go a long way for the 2016 season. After a promising 2013, he battled an injury that sidelined him for 2014 and some poor batting led to most of last year in ni-gun.  

SP Isamu Sato: Sato was a high school draft pick who has remained in the organization since 2012. He had a better preseason and camp, which could lead to his ichi-gun debut in 2016. It's possible they could have him as a sixth starter or spot starter if needed. 

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Stock down

OF Fumikazu Kimura: A former pitcher, Fumikazu Kimura looks like he'll only come up to the ichi-gun for a handful of matchups. He appeared in 49 games last year and with the emergence of others, he will stay down as a result.  

C/DH/OF Tomoya Mori: The Lions thought they could get Mori to his natural position at catcher, but it ended up not working as he struggled behind the plate. Runners in practice games were stealing on him and there were a share of wild pitches allowed. Norio Tanabe will have to get creative on when to play him in the lineup as a DH or a right fielder. However, he should be playing quite a bit in 2016, even though his stock as a catcher defensively went down.  

 P Makoto Aiuchi: Aiuchi was a high school draft pick of the Lions, but recently suffered an elbow injury setback in camp. He was forced to rehab in ni-gun camp after initially being in ichi-gun camp at the start. He is only 21, but it is a long journey to get back to starting with this recent injury. 

P Esmerling Vasquez: The Lions were playing quite a few games in preseason, treating it like it's simulated for the regular season.  With C.C. Lee receiving more playing time over Vasquez, it's clear the latter will begin the 2016 in ni-gun as organizational depth.  
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