|Seibu Lions rookies were revealed on 12/9. Photo via Midori Suzuki.|
They would walk out in uniform with a jersey number, knowing what they will be wearing next year. Most notably, first round draft pick Tatsuya Imai will wear No. 11, shortly after Takayuki Kishi left the team for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
After giving a few speeches and answering some questions from selected individuals, they signed an autograph on a piece of paper which would later be sold. On the right of each card displayed an immediate goal for each player. Like when players sign contracts for the next year, rookies will have short term hopes and dreams, even if some are unrealistic.
Here is what each Lions player wrote on the card as well as their opening statement about themselves on what they can bring to the table:
1. P Tatsuya Imai 今井 達也 (11): "Grow up" (He's only 18)
"It's honor to take over [Takayuki] Kishi's number. I'll start [from working out and building up my body."
2. P Shunta Nakatsuka 中塚 駿太 (22): Opening Day roster
"My [strengths] are my big [strong] body and fastball."
3. IF Sosuke Genda 源田 壮亮 (6): Opening Day starter
"My strengths are a large fielding range and running. I have to contribute to the [first] team [in my] first year."
4. OF Shohei Suzuki 鈴木 将平 (46): Hit .300 with 35 stolen bases
"My [goal is to have a batting average of] .300 and [have] 35 stolen bases in the future. I'll show you [my] aggressive play."
5. Katsunori Hirai 平井 克典 (25): Opening Day roster
"I have to be on the [ichi-gun] roster at the beginning of the season as the oldest rookie [on the] team this year." (Hirai will turn 25 years old at the end of December)
6. Ichiro Tamura 田村 伊知郎 (40): Opening Day roster
"Look [for] my hopping-up fast ball. I never back down from any batters"
We personally have higher short term expectations for Genda and Nakatsuka. It's possible that Hirai and Tamura can be bullpen contributors who can rise up. Imai and Tamura are both long term picks since they're both out of high school.
Personally, I really like it that Imai has 11 not only for how it is lately representing aces, but his name of IMAI works perfectly having two "I" in it with the 11 to bring symmetrical balance. Other numbers replace what recent players who left once wore, including Atsushi Okamoto (22), Anthony Seratelli (6), Yuta Nakazaki (46) and Takanori Hoshi (25).
-All Seibu Lions players are under contract with the exception of Shogo Noda, Keisuke Honda and Hitoto Komazuki, who are all currently in Australia.
-The Lions currently have 66 players on their 70-man roster with Shogo Kimura as an ikusei. They will most likely have 69 players at most by opening day, leaving room for Kimura to earn promotion if he appears to be healthy and impress the Lions coaching staff. They can still sign up to three foreigners.
Special Thanks to @cossy0223 for making this possible with translation help.
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