Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Transcript: Stephen Fife introduced by the Lions

Stephen Fife introduced with Senior Director Hisanobu "Nabe-Q" Watanabe 
Stephen Fife was introduced by the Saitama Seibu Lions on Tuesday, June 20. He played catch with the NPB sized baseball with the ni-gun team on Monday and is expected to be contributing to the team immediately, according to reports.

The Lions put up a condensed interview video of his press conference on both their Facebook and YouTube pages. Here is a transcript of what he said:

Introduction:

"My name is Stephen Fife, I'm 30 years old from Arizona in the USA. I'm very happy to be here and contribute to this club and their efforts to win the Nippon Series."

On what kind of pitcher he is: 

"I pitch to contact for the most part. I throw a four-seam fastball that has a little cut. I throw a two-seam (fastball) that runs the other way, a curve ball, slider and changeup and try to get as many ground balls as possible."

On being in Japan:

"There's a lot of excitement. A lot of fans, positivity in terms of the atmosphere with the fans. Other than that, I have't really seen a whole lot other than watching like Matt Murton's highlights and Josh Fields' highlights and their experience here so I think it's going to be fun. A lot to learn, but it should be exciting.

Note: Fife was teammates with former Hanshin Tiger Matt Murton in 2016 with the Chicago Cubs AAA affiliate, the Iowa Cubs. He was teammates with former Yomiuri Giant Josh Fields in 2012 with the Los Angeles Dodgers then-AAA affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes. 

On confidence and goals:

"I pitched pretty well in 2013 with the Dodgers and I was pretty consistent all year long. I hope to feel similar to that this year."

On the beard:

"*laughing* I try to groom it as much as possible and keep it in order, The wife doesn't like it when it gets too big."

On why signing with NPB:

"The opportunity was just better here. With the [Miami] Marlins I had a chance to continue to pitch in AAA and maybe get a chance to pitch in the big leagues, but for the opportunity to come here and pitch with the [ichi-gun] and experience a new culture and new style of game is more intriguing for me and I'm excited for it."

On what to look forward to with the Lions:

"I'm just looking forward to getting started, getting going here. Start in the [ni-gun] with the guys here over the next 5-10 days and hopefully get a chance to pitch with the [ichi-gun] and when I do, stay and win some games and enjoy the regular season, the playoffs and the Nippon Series."

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Tsuji loses series in return to Nagoya


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The Sataima Seibu Lions went 2-4 against the Hanshin Tigers and Chunichi Dragons to end interleague play with a road trip in the central part of the country. It was their first losing week since May 7. Despite all of this, they would keep a solid eight game cushion on the Orix Buffaloes and 9.5 on the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the race for A-class. Here is how they got there:

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The opener from Koshien Stadium had Ryoma Nogami against Takumi Akiyama. "Shunsuke" Fujikawa opened the scoring from a two-run gapper off Nogami in the bottom of the 2nd. The Lions responded with solo HRs from Sosuke Genda and Ernesto Mejia in the 3rd and 4th innings, but the Tigers got the lead back with a solo HR from Shunsuke in the bottom of the 4th.

There was a chance on with a runner on third for the Lions against Akiyama, but there would be no damage with three consecutive outs from the top of the order. Nogami would only allow those three runs and go six innings, but couldn't earn a win. The best chance came in the 7th inning with the bases loaded as the Tigers used two relievers in the frame, but Kentaro Kuwahara would escape by getting Hideto Asamura to flyout.
Hanshin would pull away in bottom of the 7th with a two-run gapper by Kento Itohara off Shota Takekuma and added two more runs with a hit by Masahiro Nakatani in the 8th off Frank Garces to put the game away.

While the Lions had their chances, it would be T. Akiyama who would have his day with 6.1 innings and five strikeouts.

Tigers 7, Lions 2

Game notes:

-Takeya "Okawari-kun" returned to the lineup for hte first time since June 7. He would go 0-4.

-With the interleague makeup break coming up, the Lions took Nogami off the roster after the game, calling up P Shoga Noda in his place.

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Game 2 had Yosuke Okamoto up against Atsushi Nomi.  The Lions scored first in the top of the 1st after two 2-out walks to Shogo Akiyama and Asamura. Okawari-kun made Nomi pay with a base hit to draw first blood.

In the top of the third, Akyama and Asamura reached base again with two-out singles. Okawari-kun did damage once again, this time with a three-run opposite field blast for his 14th HR of the year to make it 4-0.

An early chance came for the Tigers in the bottom of the 4th with two runners on, but Kosuke Fukudome grounded into a 3-6-3 double play. Okamoto ran into another jam for the 5th inning with second and third with nobody out, but both runners would score on an RBI groundout and sacrifice fly to clear the bases. The inning was still going as two more runners would reach base, but Yamato Maeda grounded out to end the threat.

Okamoto had to ask his defense to do the job, with only two strikeouts on the night. He left the game after getting one out in the 6th and Takekuma took over with inherited runners. Takashi Toritani would hit an infield fly while this time around, Shunsuke would groundout.

Kazuhisa Makita pitched a clean 7th, while Brian Schlitter gave up one hit in the 8th, but no runs allowed. Tatsushi Masuda, a Hyogo prefecture native, came in for the 9th and initially allowed a leadoff hit to Toritani, Shunsuke hit a loud flyout to RF caught by Fumikazu Kimura, Hiroki Uemoto would strikeout, pinch hitting for the catcher while Yoshio Itoi, an old Pacific League foe, came in to pinch hit the pitcher's spot. Itoi would be caught looking and Masuda earned the save as the Lions evened up the series.

Lions 4, Tigers 2

Game note:

-With Okawari-kun's HR, he officially hit a home run in all 12 main NPB stadiums for his career.

-Like Nogami, Okamoto was taken off the roster after the game. The Lions would call up Aito Takeda (formerly Otaki) to the ichi-gun.

===

The rubber match would have Randy Messenger facing Ken Togame. Hanshin struck first in the bottom of the 1st inning thanks to a timely single from Fukudome. Seibu responded with a two-run HR by Ernesto Mejia in the top of the 4th, but the game would be tied in the bottom of the 6th with an unlikely RBI single by pinch-hitter Hayata Ito.

Messenger's control wasn't the greatest on the night, but Togame would also Houdini his way through six innings. It would be a battle of bullpens starting in the 7th inning and both sides looked even until the 9th inning. Kazuhisa Makita pitched the 7th and 8th with no problem, but the Tigers pen shut the Lions bats down with plenty of strikeouts from Marcos Mateo and Rafael Dolis.

Brian Schlitter took the 9th inning and escaped with a runner on second, but the breaks wouldn't come in the 10th. Ginjiro Sumitani walked to leadoff the top of the frame, but the Lions couldn't get him home as Shogo Akiyama struck out as the runner was in scoring position. The Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th and Fumihito Haraguchi would get a sayonara hit, giving the Tigers the series.

Tigers 3, Lions 2 (10 innings)

Game notes:

-The Lions couldn't figure out Nakatani in this one, as he went 5-5 having all singles.

-Shuta Tonosaki started in LF in place of Takumi Kuriyama and went 0-4.

===

The week shifted West to Nagoya Dome as the Lions faced 2015 Koshien champions Shinnosuke Ogasawara with Yusei Kikuchi. Chunichi scored first with a solo HR by Naomichi Donoue in the bottom of the third.

The lead wouldn't last long as Okawari-kun would hit a deep sacrifice fly to score one run and Ernesto Mejia followed it up with a solo HR in the top of the 5th. Akiyama added on with a two-run opposite field HR in the top of the 5th. Mejia would golf a solo HR in the top of the 6th for a multiple home run game.

Kikuchi didn't need to be dominant, but he still went eight innings with the one HR given up and had 10 strikeouts with one walk. Akiyama put the icing on the cake with a three-run blast in the top of the 9th to make it 9-1. Katsunori Hirai pitched a scoreless 9th inning to put the Lions back in the win column.

Lions 9, Dragons 1

Game notes:

-Akiyama and Ginjiro Sumitani had modashos.

-Dayan Viciedo missed the entire series for the weekend as he went to the USA to file paperwork for U.S. Citizenship.

-Takeda would make his first career plate appearance as a pinch hitter in the top of the 9th. He would be hit by a pitch from Taisuke Maruyama and scored on Akiyama's HR.

-The Lions can say they've beaten every team in NPB with this win, something that couldn't happen last year after being swept in Hiroshima by the Carp.

===

Game 2 from Nagoya Dome had Yasuo Sano up against veteran Raul Valdes. Sano would leave the game in the bottom of the first after feeling pain in his left knee and Frank Garces had to step in as an emergency starter. The Dragons scored first in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Takuya Kinoshita. Garces looked like he would limit the damage by striking out Raul Valdes, but it was a wild pitch which would score a second runner.

Chunichi picked up another run in the bottom of the 4th as Kinoshita picked up a base hit through the ball striking first base for a strange bounce past the infield. The Lions best chance came in the top of the 5th with two runners in scoring position. Sumitani looked like he would have a gapper, but Yohei Oshima ran it down and it resulted in a sacrifice fly. Valdes would dominate the Lions with seven strong innings and only two hits allowed with two walks.

Shingo Takeyama would hit a bloop RBI single off Tadasuke Minamikawa in the bottom of the 8th for insurance, but the Lions bats would remain cold on the day and not create any threat. Shinji Tajima closed the game out with no problem and evened up the series.

Dragons 4, Lions 1

Game notes:

-Hirai, Minamikawa and Shogo Noda would all play in this game as low leverage relievers.

-Sano would be deactivated after the game as his condition is unknown.

===

The final game of interleague play would have Brian Wolfe against first round rookie Yuya Yanagi. Seibu scored first with an RBI double by Asamura in the top of the 1st inning. Chunichi took the lead in the bottom of the frame with an error by Sosuke Genda and Masahiko Morino hitting the wall for a double making it 2-1.

It would be 3-1 in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI double from Atsushi Fujii. The Lions would fight back and tie the game in the top of the 6th as Okawari-kun hit an RBI double and scored on a wild pitch from Yanagi.

Yanagi would go seven innings with a walk and three strikeouts depending on weak contact as his best weapon. Wolfe would go only five innings, but keep the Lions in the hunt.

Shota Takekuma pitched a scoreless 6th while Kazuhisa Makita took the 7th giving up a leadoff hit to pinch hitter Takahito Kudo. The Dragons would bunt him over and it would be Kyohei Kamezawa who delievered with a timely hit to give Chunichi the lead for good. Offense for the Lions was minimal against the Dragons' bullpen and they would lose the series.

Dragons 4, Lions 3

===

With interleague play finally over, the Lions for the most part were successful going 10-7-1, unlike the disaster last season of finishing 1-5 and a 9-9 record overall. They were able to gain ground on the Fighters and Buffaloes without having a brutal stretch. Things can always be better though, with the hitting having its ups and downs and the rotation depth in question.

They'll be in Fukuoka for the weekend after what will be a fun test. Can Masuda shake off the recent woes? Will Kaneko's addition make a difference as Pacific League play resumes? How does the pitching depth hold up and what can Stephen Fife do? We'll find out. In the meantime, enjoy the break as the Lions regroup and continue their quest for A-class.

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Stay tuned for a June podcast episode coming soon by the end of the month!

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Report: Seibu Lions reach agreement with Stephen Fife

Fife pitching with the Miami Marlins AAA affiliate, the New Orleans Baby Cakes
With the end of interleague play in NPB about to come, The Saitama Seibu Lions made an unexpected move. The Lions announced on Saturday that they reached an agreement with P Stephen Fife. With this addition, Fife is the 6th foreign player and 6th foreign pitcher on the Lions' roster. Fife will be unveiled in a press conference on June 20.

Fife, 30, most recently signed the the Miami Marlins organization last winter. Frank Garces was also with the Marlins organization briefly before signing with the Lions. With the Marlins' AAA affiliate, the New Orleans Baby Cakes (Yes, that's their name),  Fife had a 3.97 ERA in 12 starts with a 4-3 record to go with 52 strikeouts.

"I am very excited to be a member of Saitama Seibu Lions, who aim to win the Japanese series," Fife said in a statement. "I am honored to have the opportunity to play in NPB. I am looking forward to learning [about] Japanese baseball, Japanese culture and making new discoveries."

Fife was also with the Chicago Cubs organization in 2016, but is most remembered for his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he played ichi-gun baseball from 2012-2014. Fife was a spot starter and later back-end starter for the Dodgers in 2013, where he posted his best ichi-gun year going 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 games. Fife would also undergo Tommy John surgery in 2014 to miss the entire 2015 season.

The Lions' 70-man roster is now full as Shogo Kimura was promoted from ikusei and Fife being signed in the same month. With the foreigner roster rule in effect, Fife will be part of a mix with three other pitchers on the outside.

Ernesto Mejia is already locked with his spot while Brian Wolfe and Brian Schlitter are both worthy to keep at the ichi-gun level. Garces is likely to be the odd man out as the Lions will probably start Fife when he is ready. Other foreign pitchers still on the roster include Chun-Lin Kuo and Alexis Candelario.

The back end of the rotation has been a large question mark by both the media and ourselves here at Graveyard Baseball. While Yusei Kikuchi, Wolfe and Ryoma Nogami have held their ground, there's plenty of uncertainty with Yosuke Okamoto and Ken Togame being there. Most recently, Yasuo Sano left Saturday's game with an injury and it's unsure if there is a timetable on him. By throwing a spot starter each week, it's a sign that the young draft picks still aren't ready.

Shinsaburo Tawata is working through a shoulder injury while Kona Takahashi has also been in ni-gun. It's possible that the Lions management wants a stop gap with Fife being added to the roster.

Fife's biggest strength is being a ground ball pitcher, which is something the Lions likely covet as they listened to their foreign scouts. His 7.13 K/9 ratio might not seem intimidating on paper, but let's also not forget that Brian Wolfe also has few strikeouts and remains productive for the team.

With Sosuke Genda at SS and Hideto Asamura at 2B, the Lions expect Fife to keep the ball in play and have the infield take care of the pitcher. We've seen how the team does with Wolfe on the mound and the Lions are hoping for the similar results.

For any Lions fans who use Twitter, Fife can be followed here

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Sweeping of the Giants sets opposing franchise record


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The Saitama Seibu Lions had another successful week, going 5-1 against the Yomiuri Giants and Yokohama DeNA Baystars for a six-game homestand in MetLife Dome. June 11 was the last game for Lions fans to see their team in Tokorozawa until June 30th, as they go on a road trip, followed by the makeup week for interleague games and ending with more road games, with a home series in Okinawa.

As of June 11, the Lions have a 6.5 game lead on the Orix Buffaloes as they hope to remain in A-class. Quietly, the Lions are only three games behind the Softbank Hawks and 4.5 behind the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Here's how they got there:

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In the opener against the Kyojin, Ryoma Nogami was on the bump against ace Tomoyuki Sugano. The Giants struck first with a two-RBI base hit from Daikan Yoh in the top of the 3rd, who was making his debut as a Yomiuri Giants player. Shinnosuke Abe would drop an RBI single in the top of the 4th to make it 3-0.

The Lions responded in the bottom of the frame with a two out rally. Ernesto Mejia and Shuta Tonosaki would get timely RBI singles to bring the team within one run. Yomiuri looked like they were going to break it open with the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the 6th, but Nogami struck out Shingo Ishikawa and Luis Cruz would hit a sac fly to reduce the damage. Seiji Kobayashi added an RBI single to make it a 5-2 lead and Nogami's day was done. Nogami had seven strikeouts going 5.2 innings with only one walk, but the third time through the order penalty struck him late.

This lead wouldn't last for long as it would be the third time through the order for Sugano in the bottom of the 6th. Takumi Kuriyama hit a solo HR while Mejia doubled to begin the inning. Ginjiro Sumitani would get a two-out hit and it was followed up by an RBI groundout by Yuji Kaneko to tie the game at 5-5.

Kazuhisa Makita would have a jam with runners on first and second and it looked like the bases would be loaded as Abe got an infield single, but Itaru Hashimoto was tagged out at the plate trying to score from second.

Momentum would stay on the Lions side in the bottom of the 7th. With Toshiki Sakurai pitching, he would load the bases with three walks. Kentaro Nishimura would come in and walk Mejia to give the team a lead. Tonosaki would add a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5. After Schlitter had minimal issues in the 8th, Hideto Asamura sent one to the stands to give the Lions a 3-run lead, which would be insurmountable.

As a result of this Lions win, the Giants would tie a franchise record 11-straight losses.

Lions 8, Giants 5

Game notes:

-Ernesto Mejia had a modasho and reached base in all plate appearances with the walk. His son Alonso would make an appearance during the hero interview.

-The top of the order would go 0-12, but a key walk to Shogo Akiyama would help a rally.

===

Game 2 against the Giants would have Yosuke Okamoto making his first start for the ichi-gun since the final game of 2015 against an old foe, Mitsuo Yoshikawa, who was traded to the Kyojin from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Okamoto escaped an early jam in the top of the 4th with two runners on, but some good defense by Asamura kept the Giants off the board with two ground balls. Mejia would keep momentum on the Lions side with a two-run HR with two outs in the bottom of the frame. It would be his 8th HR of the year.

The top of the 5th had a clean shutdown inning for Okamoto, but he ran into trouble in the 6th. With Yoh on third, he got Hayato Sakamoto to groundout and no runner advancing, but walked Casey McGehee to end his night. Manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji would bring in Shota Takekuma to face Shinnosuke Abe with two outs and runners on the corners and it worked to perfection. On the first pitch, Abe would flyout to LF.

Nishimura would pitch in the bottom of the 6th for the Kyojin and it would be Okawari-kun to do some damage. He hit a solo HR to left-center field on what looked like a line drive, giving the Lions a 3-0 lead. Takekuma would have Yoshiyuki Kamei flyout with a lefty vs lefty matchup, then Makita gave up two hits to Ishikawa and Cruz. However, Makita forced a ground ball on Hisayoshi Chono and the Lions picked up a double play to keep the Kyojin with a goose egg through seven.

Schlitter gave up a hit in the 8th, but allowed nothing else. Masuda would have a clean 9th inning to secure the series and a second straight Lions win.

Lions 3, Giants 0

Game notes:

-With this loss, the Giants secured a franchise record 12 consecutive losses, beating their previous record of 11 from 1975. It was also the longest recent losing streak in NPB since the Lions lost 13 in 2015.

-Okawari-kun once again became the team leader in HRs with 13.

-To make room for Okamoto on the ichi-gun, Ichiro Tamura would be deactivated as the corresponding move.

-Kuriyama would sit out for this one as Naoto Watanabe filled in at DH. Watanabe had a double with a sacrifice hit.

-This was Okamoto's first win since 2015, where he barely hung on against Rakuten in allowing multiple HRs last time around.

===

Game 3 between the Lions and the old enemy would feature Ken Togame making the start for the Lions and industrial league rookie, Shun Ikeda for the Giants.

The Lions would strike first early in the bottom of the 1st, thanks to three consecutive singles from Akiyama, Asamura and Kuriyama to give the Lions an early 1-0 lead.

In the third, the Lions would declare this game a blowout with a six-run inning capped off by some poor command from Ikeda, bad defense, and even a fortunate infield hit for the Lions. With that said, the bases were loaded and an likely source provided the big hit to break it open. Shuta Tonosaki hit a grand slam to make it 7-0 Lions which was his 4th on the year. Ikeda would be lifted from the game after giving up the grand slam.

The Lions would continue the theme of unlikely sources of power in the fourth with Sosuke Genda hitting his first career NPB home run into the Giants Ōendan for a two-run home run that extended the lead to 9-0. In the fifth, the theme would continue, with the Lions igniting a two-out rally behind singles from Masatoshi Okada and Shogo Kimura that would set up another unlikely power source in the form of Yuji Kaneko who hit a three-run home run that curled inside the right field foul pole and just like that the Lions were up 12-0 in the fifth after Kaneko's first home run of the season.

The Giants would pull two runs back off Togame in the top of the sixth thanks to the middle of the order bats of Hayato Sakamoto, Casey McGehee, and Shinnosuke Abe. Up to that point, Togame had been in cruise control against the Giants the first two times through the order. He'd finish with six innings of two runs given up with seven scattered hits and two strikeouts.

The Lions would get one of those runs right back and complete the scoring in the sixth, after singles from Akiyama and Asamura would set up a sacrifice fly from Ernesto Mejia thus making a 13-2 Lions lead.

Frank Garces would toss two innings of relief for the Lions with Tadasuke Minamikawa finishing the game and completing the Lions sweep of Kyojin.

Lions 13, Giants 2

Game notes:

-The victory for the Lions gives them a seven game unbeaten streak dating back to last Wednesday's victory over the Carp.

-The loss for the Giants extends their losing streak to 13 games and the 2015 Lions know all about losing 13 in a row. The Giants fell to 3.5 games back of the Baystars for A-Class and was in 5th place after this game.

-Shogo Kimura was added to the 70-man roster as well was being promoted to the ichi-gun as he started at third base with Okawari-kun's back injury that is apparently day to day. Shotaro Tashiro was taken off the roster to make room for Kimura.

===

The homestand would bring in the most southern team in Kanto with the Baystars bringing Shoichi Ino against Yusei Kikuchi. Yokohama struck first on a two-run HR by Hiroyasu Tanaka in the top of the second.

Ino looked like he was in control through six innings as he didn't allow a run. Things would change in the bottom of the 7th where Kaneko would hit one over Takayuki Kajitani's head and tied the game as pinch-hitter Daichi Miguguchi scored. Relief pitcher Yoshiki Sunada would be called for a balk when trying to pick off Kaneko, moving the runner to third base. Genda would plate Kaneko on an RBI groundout to give the Lions a lead.

Kikuchi settled in, going eight innings with eight strikeouts and a combined six hits. With the top of the 9th, Tatsushi Masuda would walk Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and face Toshiro Miyazaki. Miyazaki would pull one into the Lions Oendan and give the Baystars the lead again. Yasuaki Yamasaki would close the game with no drama and the Lions three-game win streak ended in ugly fashion.

Baystars 4, Lions 3

Game notes:

-Shogo Kimura started at 3B again in place of an injured Okawari-kun.

===

Game 2 would have Yasuo Sano up against Kentaro Taira, the pitcher the Baystars acquired as compensation for the loss of Shun Yamaguchi. Shogo Akiyama opened the scoring with a two-run HR in the bottom of the 1st. The Lions benefited from an error by Tanaka on what should have been a double play. The ball would go to left field and a run would score to make it 3-0. Kaneko would hit a sacrifice fly and Akiyama slapped a timely single to bring two more runs and end Taira's day after two innings.

Sano would cruise through two innings, but allowed timely hits to Tanaka and Jose Lopez which made it 5-2. He would run into a jam for the top of the 4th and reached the 80-pitch count. Hatsuhiko Tsuji would take Sano out and have Frank Garces enter getting Kajitani to flyout and end the frame.

Garces ran into another two out jam in the top of the 5th with two runners in scoring position, However, he would get Audy Ciraco to strikeout to end the threat. Garces had a much cleaner 6th inning and was in line for a victory after not allowing a run.

Makita and Schlitter both gave up a hit in the 7th and 8th, but no damage was done with the latter getting a double play. Tonosaki would hit a solo HR in the bottom of the 8th and Shota Takekuma closed it out with a four run lead to even up the series.

Lions 6, Baystars 2

Game notes:

-Naoto Watanabe would play at 3B and bat 8th in the lineup. He would pickup two walks.

-The Lions Oendan paid tribute to legendary Nishitetsu Lion P Kazuhisa Inao, as 6/10 would be his 80th birthday.

===

The rubber match for Sunday had Brian Wolfe taking the mound against Shota Imanaga, who came off a solid 2016 rookie season. Both sides wouldn't have much chance as this game lived up to the hype as being a pitcher's duel.

Yuji Kaneko would leadoff the 4th inning with a double. Genda would bunt Kaneko over to third with Shogo Akiyama up having less than two outs. He would hit a chopper to 2B Elian Herrera, but the fielder attacked home plate and Kaneko beat out the throw to score. The play would go to review, but there was no dispute that Kaneko's hand touched home plate before any tag by Yasutaka Tobashira.

Imanaga would have a dominant outing, going eight innings with six strikeouts scattering five hits and two walks. The best chance for the Lions came with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th, but Imanaga struck out Akiyama as the latter was caught looking to end the threat.

Wolfe would dominate with the ground ball, allowing only two hits through seven innings and his pitch count was well-below 100. Tsuji would have Schlitter take the 8th where he allowed several base runners, but a double play prevented any damage.

Tsuji would stick to the plan in the 9th as Masuda would take over. He had two quick outs on Kajitani and Jose Lopez, but Tsutsugo forced a walk and like Friday's game, Miyazaki was up again. Tsuji ran out to the mound to discuss a plan for Masuda and it worked. Miyazaki would foul out and the Lions took the series.

Lions 1, Baystars 0

Game notes:

-Watanabe started at 3B and went 2 for 3.

-This would be the 5th consecutive winning week for the Lions dating back to their sweeping of Orix on May 14.

===

The Lions successfully went 5-1, but it's easy to feel greedy with how Masuda blew a save in the 9th. Based on the last month of play, an argument can be made that Masuda is the worst closing option among the Pacific League closers. He was able to fight off the last game which is a good sign, but he still isn't striking anyone out.

An 8-3-1 interleague record is always good, but it's crazy to think they should be 10-2 if it weren't for Masuda blowing two 9th inning leads. The bats have been up and down depending on the opposing pitcher, which is understandable. Last year, the Lions were 8-4 through 12 interleague games. Hopefully there won't be any major letdown, but we're expected a winning record at minimum. It will be interesting to see what happens with Okawari-kun's injury and how the 3B position is utilized. It's likely with no DH, Okawari-kun is just a pinch hitter.

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Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Friday, June 9, 2017

Shogo Kimura promoted from ikusei, added to ichi-gun roster

Kimura (right) poses with Haruhiko Suzuki
On Thursday, the Saitama Seibu Lions promoted Shogo Kimura from ikusei and gave him a spot on the 70-man roster. He was then immediately given the No. 0 and put on the 28-man ichi-gun roster for Thursday's game against the Yomiuri Giants.

Kimura, 37, came off a torn ACL after interleague play ended in 2016. He was originally signed by the Lions during the 2016 training camp after passing his tryout contract. Kimura previously played with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars and Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

"I am happy with the [promotion] and new contract," Kimura said in an interview. "I would like to thank [everyone who had supported me so far. I'd like to contribute to [help the team win]." 

Kimura played his first ichi-gun game in a 13-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Thursday and got a base hit, which he later scored on from a HR by Yuji Kaneko as the starting 3B.

In 2016 prior to his injury, he appeared in 38 ichi-gun games with a slashline of .221/.262/.263. He was signed to an ikusei contract to rehab from his torn ACL and appeared in 37 ni-gun games with a slashline of .211/.315/.284.

General Manager Haruhiko Suzuki brought up the injury to 3B Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura and felt it was the right time to add Kimura to the 70-man roster. Okawari-kun hurt himself after hitting a home run in Wednesday's 3-0 win over the Giants.

Kimura will make about ¥7.5 million with this promotion and the Lions currently have 69 players on a roster with a limit of 70. This will be his 15th season in NPB and 14th that he's appeared in at least one ichi-gun game. 

Overall, Kimura is another addition to the Lions infield and brings a different option off the bench. He can play any infield position as well as the OF for an emergency. His bat is slightly better than replacement player Kyohei Nagae, but defense is worse when comparing the two. 

The Lions can still sign someone until the July 31 deadline. They were most recently interested in pitcher Edison Barrios, who was a setup man for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2015. Barrios, 28, is currently playing in Japan in an independent league known as the Baseball Challenge League for the Toyama Thunderbirds.  

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Masuda blows a four-run lead in tie game vs Swallows



===

The Saitama Seibu Lions went 3-2-1 against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Tokyo Yakult Swallows in what was an awkward way to secure a winning week for their fourth in a row. With the Orix Buffaloes on a red hot streak, they are only 4.5 games behind the Lions in the race for A-class. Here is how the team got there:

===

The Interleague opener against the Carp would feature Kazuki Yabuta against Ryoma Nogami. Hiroshima scored first in the top of the 4th as Yoshihiro Maru would get a timely single. For the night, Yabuta, a relief pitcher, would get six scoreless innings with four strikeouts and one walk.

The best chance for the Lions came in the bottom of the 6th where Takumi Kuriyama and Ernesto Mejia were in scoring position. However, Fumikazu Kimura flew out and ended the chance. Ryosuke Kikuchi would pick up some late RBIs and the Carp pulled away in the top of the 8th wtih Nogami staying in. Shota Takekuma also struggled in the 9th, giving up several runs and the Lions were out of reach. Nogami went 7.2 innings with four strikeouts, five hits and two earned runs before he was pulled.

Carp 5, Lions 0

Game notes:

-The Lions deactivated Makoto Aiuchi on Sunday and called up Tadasuke Minamikawa. Minamikawa was a 5th round pick of the Lions in 2015.

-Yuji Kaneko returned to the ichi-gun for the first time since the end of 2016 and pinch-hit for Kuriyama in the 9th inning. The Lions deactivated Kyohei Nagae as the corresponding move.

===

Game 2 against the Carp would have Frank Garces making his first career start in NPB against Daichi Osera. Kaneko made his first start of 2017 in LF and reached base with an infield single in the bottom of the third. He would later score on a throwing error from Kosuke Tanaka.

The wheels fell off for the Lions once it would be the top of the 4th, as Tsubasa Aizawa would hit a two-run HR off Garces. Momentum turned for worse in the 5th when Garces looked like he picked off Tnaaka, but a throwing error by Ernesto Mejia put the runner on third base. Ichiro Tamura couldn't clean up the mess and gave up a timely hit to Takahiro Arai and allowed more base runners. It would be Shota Dobayashi who cleaned up the inning with a three-run home run off Hirotaka Koishi to put the game away, giving the Carp an 8-1 lead.

The Lions would score three runs in the 9th inning, including a HR from Shogo Akiyama, but it was too late as the team lost their fourth straight game.

Carp 9, Lions 4

Game notes:

-Minamikawa made his 2017 debut in the 7th inning and gave up a solo HR to Seiya Suzuki.

===

Going for a salvage in the series, the Lions had Ken Togame up against Akitake Okada. Togame allowed a two run home run to Ryuhei Matsuyama in the top of the third, making the Lions trail for all three games at one point.

Okada's control would have issues in the 4th inning as both Akiyama and Sosuke Genda would get on base with walks to begin the frame. Asamura would be hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded. Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura would ground into a double play to score the first run for the home side. With Asamura on third, Takumi Kuriyama would tie the game with a timely single at 2-2.

Masatoshi Okada would lead off the 5th with a single. After Yuji Kaneko bunted him to second, Akiyama advanced him to third on a ground ball. With two outs, Genda hit a single up the middle of A. Okada to give the Lions a lead. After Genda stole second without a throw, Asamura's softly hit liner would score him and double the team's lead.

Togame would recover from the third and have only one scare in the top of the 6th inning. Runners would be on the corners with one out, but Togame struck out Tomohiro Abe and Brad Eldred to escape.

Brian Schlitter had a small jam of his own in the top of the 8th after Kazuhisa Makita steam rolled through the 7th. With runners on 1st and second and two outs, Eldred was up with a chance to do damage. It would take a diving Asamura to stop the ground ball and not only save a run, but get the out. Tatsushi Masuda would shut the door much easier than in the past, ending the four-game skid.

Lions 4, Carp 2

Game notes:

-Fumikazu Kimura was benched in favor of Yuji Kaneko in LF and Shuta Tonosaki in RF.

===

The week would shift to Jingu Stadium as the Lions remained in Kanto with Yusei Kikuchi facing Juri Hara, another 2015 first round draft pick after they saw A. Okada the night before. Akiyama would steal second base and score on a gapper by Asamura in the first inning to draw first blood.

Tetsuto Yamada would get a hit of Kikuchi and score on a base hit by Tomotaka Sakaguchi in the bottom of the third. Keiji Obiki would later take on deep for a solo HR in the bottom of the 4th.

The best chance came for the Lions in the top of the 7th, where Kuriyama and Mejia singled to get on base. After Ginjiro Sumitani would bunt both runners over, Fumikazu Kimura and Daichi Mizuguchi would pinch run for both players. Shuta Tonosaki was up and a passed ball tied the game in improbable fashion. Tonosaki would later be hit by a pitch and he stole second shortly after to eliminate a double play. An RBI groundout by Yuji Kaneko would give the Lions a lead as Mizuguchi would score as the ball took a bounce forcing only one play.

Makita had a jam with two on and one out, but Yamada would hit an infield fly while Sakaguchi fouled out. Masuda would wakl a batter in the 9th, but pinch hitter Atsushi Ugumori flew out and ended the game. Kikuchi's six innings were just enough to give the Lions a chance to come back and eventually take the lead.

Lions 3, Swallows 2

Game notes:

-Kaneko would be the leadoff hitter while Akiyama was third in the lineup. Takeui Kuriyama would be in LF with no DH in the lineup. Yusei Kikuchi also recorded a base hit.

===

Game 2 from Jingu had Yasuo Sano against veteran Shohei Tateyama, who was coming off an injury and playing his second game of the season. The Lions jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a solo HR by Okawari-kun in the top of the 2nd. Akiyama would hit a two-run HR in the top of the 3rd and Asamura followed up with a solo HR of his own for back-to-back homers.

The long ball would end Tateyama's day at three innings pitched, with all four runs coming from three HRs. Yakult would get two runs back from a two-run HR by Tetsuto Yamada in the bottom of the third. Preston Guilmet came in for the 4th and couldn't get a shutdown inning as Genda delievered a two-RBI single up the middle to make it 6-2.

This would be a laugher beginning in the 5th as Sano would get a two-out single and extend a chance, which loaded the bases. Guilmet walked Yuji Kaneko with the bases loaded to add insult and make it 7-2. Sano would go six innings with the home run by Yamada as his only blemish scattering eight hits and one walk to go with two strikeouts.

Shuta Tonosaki would add three more runs coming off the bench and the Lions padded three runs in the 8th inning alone to break it all open. Katsunori Hirai, Tadasuke Minamikawa and Ichiro Tamura would get one inning each to close the game as the Lions won their third straight.

Lions 11, Swallows 2

Game notes:

-Akiyama and Okawari-kun would hit their 11th HRs of the season, tying for the team lead up to this point.

-Genda would be hit by a pitch, but he remained in the game.

===

For the final game of the series, Brian Wolfe would return as he faced rookie pitcher Tomoya Hoshi. The Lions scored first on a base hit by Akiyama in the top of the third. Mejia appeared to have broken the game open with a grand slam later in the inning to make it 5-0.

In Wolfe's first start in two weeks, he would go five innings with one earned run through a HR by Wladimir Balentien and another through an error. With the score 6-2, the game looked like it would be out of reach when Okawari-kun hit a two-run HR in the top of the 6th. Shota Takekuma and Hirai took an inning a piece, but the wheels would fall off in the bottom of the 8th with Minamikawa in.

Dean Green would hit a two-run gapper making it 8-4. Taking no chances, Hatsuhiko Tsuji put in Masuda with a four run lead in the 9th inning, eliminating any chance of a save. He would give up a two-run HR to Yamada and Green would strike again with a base hit to make it a one-run game. With Obiki up, Genda would rush a throw to first base and the game would be tied at 8-8.

With the Lions putting in a bunch of defensive subs thinking the game was already won, the bats would be dead in extra innings. Makita took the 10th and 11th innings with no damage while Schlitter battled a jam with two runners on base. He would get a grounder from Takahiro Araki and the Lions escaped with a draw after blowing what was initially a six run lead.

Lions 8, Swallows 8

Game note:

-Koishi would be the corresponding deactivation move in order to make room for Wolfe.

===

It was an interesting week to say the least. Unlike how last year where the Lions went a combined 1-5 against the Carp and Swallows, they pulled out just enough plays to have a winning week. If anything, the draw hopefully cancels out how demoralizing it was to blow a 6-run lead.

Wolfe is back earlier than we expected and that's a good sign for the rotation to have stability, but how do guys like Sano hold up? The bats were mostly dead until the back end of the week against some questionable Swallows pitching. Despite the Giants being cold as they enter MetLife Dome, it won't be easy as Tomoyuki Sugano will be playing in one of the games.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered, but in perspective, we'll take a winning week rather than a losing one.

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Monday, May 29, 2017

Graveyard Baseball Podcast: Lions ŌenDEN Episode 18


Christian and Wes return with the 18th episode of the Seibu Lions ŌenDEN podcast. They discuss the latest developments on the team, including Sosuke Genda and Shogo Akiyama. There are plenty of question marks also discuss with the team.

Other topics include previewing Interleague Play, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Chiba Lotte Marines and more!



Click here if the embed doesn't work.  Click here to download.

Podcast episode was recorded on 5/23.  We apologize for any errors or bloopers that were unintentional.  

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Akiyama powers team on special grounds


===

The Saitama Seibu Lions would have another winning week as they took two games from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Maebashi, Gunma and Omiya, Saitama. They would go 3-2 combined as they lost a series in Sendai against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Despite the losing at the end of the week, the team holds a seven-game cushion on both the Orix Buffaloes and Fighters as they are still in A-class as interleague play begins soon. Here is how the team got here:

===

The first game against the Fighters from Maebashi, Gunma would have Takayuki Kato up against Ryoma Nogami. Shogo Akiyama would leadoff the bottom of the 1st inning with a "Rickey Henderson" solo home run.

This would be a classic pitcher's duel as Nogami had six shutout innings with five walks and only had one chance in the top of the 5th. Nogami overcame a leadoff double in the first by throwing the runner out at third on a bunt attempt. He would also Houdini his way in the second, as he faced runners on second and third with one out. Kazunari Ishii struck out while Yushi Shimizu would flyout to RF as Fumikazu Kimura caught a ball off balance, saving two runs.

Kato would have seven innings with seven strikeouts on the night. Kazuhisa Makita took the 7th inning and struck out two batters and the Lions added a run in the bottom of the frame. With Takumi Kuriyama reaching base, Daichi Mizuguchi would pinch run and be on third. Ginjiro Sumitani successfully got a bunt down for a squeeze play and made it 2-0.

Brian Schlitter had two runners on base for the 8th with no outs initially, but got Sho Nakata to flyout and forced a double play from Brandon Laird. Tatsushi Masuda make quick work in the 9th and the Lions won their third straight game.

Lions 2, Fighters 0

Game note:

-Brian Wolfe was taken off the roster due to an injury from Sunday. Katsunori Hirai was called up in his place. He is the third player from the 2016 Lions draft class to be added to the ichi-gun.

-This was the third Lions shutout of the season.

===

Game 2 from Omiya would have Ken Togame up against Masaru Nakamura, who was making his first appearance of 2017. It would be a slow start for the Lions as Brandon Laird hit a solo Hr in the top of the 2nd. Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura would respond with an RBI single in the bottom of the third.

Unfortunately for Togame the top of the 4th is where things would fall off. A string of consecutive timely hits from Taishi Ota, Hiromi Oka and Kazunari Ishii would give the Fighters a 4-1 lead. After Takumi Kuriyama responded with an RBI hit in the bottom of the 5th, Togame would continue pitching in the 6th.

A throwing error from Okawari-kun created a chance for the Fighters and it would be Ishii again who would plate another RBI for the Fighters, making it 5-2. Frank Garces would strike out Haruki Nishikawa on three pitches to limit the damage and keep the game within range.

M. Nakamura would go five innings with five walks and two earned runs. Manager Hideki Kuriyama would pass the torch to Keisuke Tanimoto and he would walk the first two batters, giving a big chance. After Ginjiro Sumitani would move both runners over 90 feet with a bunt, Shogo Akiyama took the first pitch to the Fighters Oendan, tying the game with one swing.

The party didn't end there, as Sosuke Genda reached base with an error from Ishii, forcing a tough play. Tanimoto would be called for a balk after what looked like a flyout from Asamura, giving another chance. Asamura would make Tanimoto pay, with a ball in the gap as Genda scored easily from second.

Edwin Escobar struggled with control in the 7th and the Lions made him suffer. He would walk Kuriyama, have a passed ball and then hit Shuta Tonosaki to put runners on base. Fumikazu Kimura would bunt both runners over and Shogo Akiyama delivered with a two-RBI single.

The back end of the bullpen in Kazuhisa Makita, Brian Schlitter and Tatsushi Masuda would make quick work in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, respectively and the Lions would win their fourth straight game.

Lions 8, Fighters 5

Game note:

-With three pitches, Garces would earn the win and have a hero interview.

-Akiyama would have five RBIs.

===

The week would shift to Sendai as the Lions had Yusei Kikuchi on the mound against Yudai Mori for the Eagles. Chances would be minimal for both teams, though the Lions looked like they were knocking on the door against Mori.

In the bottom of the fourth, it would be Kazuo Matsui with a timely hit for the first run of the game. Mori would pitch six scoreless innings with two strikeouts and one walk before it would be in the bullpen's hands.

Frank Herrmann would have a scoreless 7th while Kohei Morihara would take the 8th. With Kikuchi needing run support, the top of the 8th would start with Kimura walking. Ginjiro Sumitani would bunt Kimura over and Akiyama moved him again with an infield single. With runners on the corners, Genda would pick up the luckiest hit of the night. While attempting a safety squeeze bunt, the ball would be in the air, but land on the ground as Ginji Akaminai and Morihara couldn't catch it to tie the game.

Hideto Asamura would make the Eagles pay with a gapper to right field and plate both runners. Takumi Kuriyama, pinch hitting for Naoto Watanabe, would add two more runs and make it 5-1.

Kikuchi would pitch the 8th inning with a total of 9 strikeouts and Masuda closed the game in the 9th to secure the Lions 5th straight win.

Lions 5, Eagles 1

Game notes:

-Asamura would have a modasho on the night.

-It wasn't a clean outing for Masuda in the 9th with two base runners, but once again, he left unscathed in a non-save situation.

===

Game 2 from Sendai would have Minabu Mima against Yasuo Sano, making this third start of the year. The Lions struck first on a home run by Okawari-kun in the second inning, but the team failed to capitalize on a chance in the third.

The wheels would begin to fall off in the bottom of the 4th inning. Sano struggled with control and loaded the bases, giving Takero Okajima a 2-RBI single to give the Eagles the lead. He would load the bases again and manager Hatsuhiki Tsuji was forced to go to the bullpen early, this time with Garces. Carlos Peguero would launch a no doubt grand slam to put an end to the game early as the Eagles ended the Lions 5-game winning streak.

Mima would go six innings with seven strikeouts and limiting the team to five hits. Chances came in the late innings for the Lions, but it was too late.

Eagles 6, Lions 1

Game notes:

-Masatoshi Okada started at catcher. He would go 0-3 with two strikeouts.

-Katsunori Hirai made his ichi-gun debut in the 8th inning. He gave up two hits and a walk, but didn't allow a run.

===

The rubber match would have Makoto Aiuchi spot starting in place of the injured Brian Wolfe against former Lion Takayuki Kishi. This mismatch on paper over from the start as Peguero hit a solo HR in the first inning to set the tone. Aiuchi would allow another set of consecutive hits on the second inning and timely RBIs came from Okajima and Motohiro Shima. Eigoro Mogi put the game out of doubt with a two-run blast.

Aiuchi couldn't even get an out in the third inning as he was credited with even more runs. Hirotaka Koishi would be called up before the game and ate up some innings, but allowed plenty of hits.

Kishi wouldn't need to do much as he went seven innings with only two runs allowed. His only blemish was a solo HR to Akiyama in the 4th, but he already had a 10-1 lead by then. The Lions would lose their first series since May 7.

Eagles 13, Lions 2

Game notes:

-Ryohei Fujiwara would be sent down to make room for Koishi.

-Katsunori Hirai gave up his first runs in his career as he took the 6th and 7th innings.

===

Despite the losses in Sendai, this has been another successful week of Lions baseball. The bullpen will be well-rested as interleague play begins on Tuesday. Obviously there are plenty of concerns with the back end of the rotation, but the team has weathered the storm so far while missing some players.

Akiyama has been playing like an MVP, Kikuchi is rock solid while the bats are still a threat. Can the back end of the rotation hold up? Will the bats stay strong against Central League pitchers that aren't normally seen? We'll find out.

===

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

Sunday, May 21, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions weekly Digest: Kuriyama's sayonara defeats the Hawks


===

The Saitama Seibu Lions had another successful week going 5-1 against the Chiba Lotte Marines and Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. As a result, they've won nine of their last 11 games and have a five game cushion over the Orix Buffaloes and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the hunt for A-class. Here is how things went....

===

Game 1 from Zozotown Marine Stadium saw Kuan-Yu Chen against Ryoma Nogami. Both sides were scoreless through four innings, but the Lions continued to knock on the door facing Chen with multiple chances.

The Lions would draw first blood in the top of the 5th as Hideto Asamura would sneak a ground ball past the infield and Jimmy Paredes' throw to home plate was off target, advancing runners to second and third. Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura would hit a clean single, plating both runners for a 3-0 lead.

Chiba would get a run back in the bottom of the 5th from an RBI hit by Ikuhiro Kiyota, but Nogami would do a good job of limiting the damage. Nogami would go six innings with only one earned run and four strikeouts, scattering five hits.

Kazuhisa Makita had a jam in the 7th inning allowing the first two base runners, but a bunt by Kiyota would have the pitcher make a play. Makita would throw to 3B to get Tadahito Iguchi out and retired both Kohei Shibata and Kazuya Fukuura quickly to end the threat.

Brian Schlitter took the 8th inning and allowed a run through an RBI single by Matt Duffy, but there were two outs and there was little drama. Iguchi would foul out shortly after the Marines took two outs to advance Takashi Ogino to third. Tatsushi Masuda had a clean 9th inning to secure the Lions 4th consecutive win.

Lions 3, Marines 2

Game notes:

-Naoto Watanabe would be the DH while Takumi Kuriyama would PH later in the game.

-Makita would reach 15 consecutive scoreless innings to begin 2017.

===

Game 2 would have Jason Standridge against Kona Takahashi, where both pitchers are 19 years apart in age. It would be a slow start for Takahashi, as he would give up three runs in the first inning from timely hits by Tadahito Iguchi and Paredes.

The Lions responded in the third inning, where a fluke triple by Masatoshi Okada would get things going. Paredes would misplay a ball on what should have been a single and it would bounce to the wall. Akiyama would ground out and the Lions picked up a free run. They would eventually load the bases and give Takumi Kuriyama a chance to do some damage. With two outs, Kuriyama would hit a timely single to plate two more runs and tie the game.

Standridge's day was done after three innings as Yuta Omine came in for the 4th. The Lions nearly squandered another bases loaded opportunity, but Asamura's hustle brought in a run as he would head slide to first, beating out a double play and giving the team a 4-3 lead.

Takahashi would settle in and not allow a run after the first. He would go five innings in total with four strikeouts, including one to end the 5th.

Former Marines closer Naoya Masuda would take the 6th inning and gave up a double to Okada, as the latter secured a modasho. Shogo Akiyama would score him in with a base hit. Akiyama added a two-run home run in the top of the 7th to put the game away for good. Kuriyama also added an RBI hit in the 8th inning.

Shota Takekuma and Kazuhisa Makita had clean innings for the 6th and 7th while Frank Garces got to take the 8th. Ichiro Tamura gave up a solo home run to Jimmy Paredes in the 9th, but the Lions were comfortably ahead and secured their fifth straight win.

Lions 8, Marines 4

Game notes:

-Every starting Lions player had at least one hit.  Okada and Akiyama both had a modasho with the former being a home run short of the cycle.

===

The third game in Chiba would have Ken Togame up against Chihaya Sasaki, where the latter was the Marines' first round pick last October. Seibu had first blood in the top of the third with a timely single from Mejia.

In the top of the 5th, Akiyama would walk and Sosuke Genda would put him on third with a single. Genda's smart base running would have him on second with a steal. Asamura, the team's captain would then single both of them home with Chiba's infield playing in to make it 3-0. Okawari-kun would get a "timely hit" thanks to a blooper by Ikuhiro Kiyota as it scored a running Genda from first to make it 4-0.

Togame would have his best start of the season, going eight innings and giving the bullpen complete rest heading into the next series. He would have six strikeouts and not allow a run on the day.

Ginjiro Sumitani and Paredes traded home runs in the 9th inning to end the game, preventing a Lions shutout.

Lions 5, Marines 1

Game notes:

-The Lions had only five hits, but eight walks as a team on the day. Akiyama walked three times.

===

The week would shift back to MetLife Dome as Game 1 would have the Softbank Hawks bringing Rick van den Hurk against Yusei Kikuchi. An early defensive relay from Shuta Tonosaki and Sosuke Genda would save a run as Yuki Yanagita was tagged out at home plate in the first inning.

Nobuhiro Matsuda would hit a solo HR in the top of the 2nd for the first run of the game. The Lions responded as Shuta Tonosaki would have an infield single, scoring Ernesto Mejia from third base. This would be a classic pitcher's duel with minimal scoring chances throughout the game and this being scattered.

It would be Seiji Uebayashi who would break the tie with an RBI double in the top of the 7th. The Lions had a chance to respond in the bottom of the frame, but Genda would flyout.

There was one last gasp opportunity against Dennis Sarfate in the bottom of the 9th. The tying run was on second base, but Tonosaki would strikeout while Okada hit a comebacker to end the game and snap the winning streak.

Hawks 2, Lions 1

Game note:

-Kona Takahashi was deactivated for Makoto Aiuchi. With next week being a five-game week, the Lions chose to not have Takahashi be a starter. He will be ineligible to play the game in Gunma prefecture next week.

-Okawari-kun would DH while Naoto Watanabe started at 3B.

===

Game 2 against the Hawks had Yasuo Sano up against Kenichi Nakata. The Hawks scored first from an RBI single by Alfredo Despagine in the first, but the Lions would answer quickly in the bottom of the second.

Fumikazu Kimura would hit two-run HR to give the Lions the lead while Asamura would hit a three-run shot for a five run inning. It would be Asamura's 100th career home run in NPB. The Lions added two more runs in the bottom of the third off Nakata with a timely single by Kimura and a bloop hit by Daichi Mizuguchi to make it 7-1.

Sano would allow the one run in the first to score, but allowed three more runs through the next four innings. Two would be unearned thanks to an error from Kimura. Sano finished the day with five innings and one strikeout, scattering six hits.

With the game within three runs, the Lions went to the bullpen in the 6th with Shota Takekuma having a scoreless frame. Kazuhisa Makita gave up his first earned run of the season with a solo HR by Yuki Yanagita. Brian Schlitter had a clean 8th while Tatsushi Masuda struck out the side in the 9th.

Lions 7, Hawks 5

Game notes:

-Mizuguchi would start at 2B as Mejia was the DH. Asamura played 1B for the day.

-Masatoshi Okada would be the catcher.

===

Game 3 against the Hawks featured Brian Wolfe against Hayato Terahara in the rubber game of the series. The Lions would strike first in the bottom of the first thanks to an RBI-groundout for Okawari-kun after a walk, an infield hit and a sac bunt put Shogo Akiyama in scoring position.

Hideto Asamura would open up the Lions lead with a solo home run in the third that hit the top of the wall in left-center and bounce over the wall into the Lions Oendan. The Lions would continue the scoring in the 3rd with two on for Shuta Tonosaki who would line a two-run double off the wall and give the Lions a 4-0 lead. Things would get worse for the Hawks two batters later as Terahara would plunk Ginjiro Sumitani in the earhole of his batting helmet thus resulting in an automatic ejection for Softbank's starting pitcher after 2.2 IP.

With a 4-0 lead, Brian Wolfe would cruise to five shutout innings thanks to the help of three double plays. This would all change in the top of the 6th where the Hawks would bat around and put together a five-run inning and Wolfe would come out of the game due to an apparent torso injury. The first big hit would come from Kenta Imamiya who would hit a double passed Okawari-kun at third that would easily score two and cut the Lions lead in half. Then Seiichi Uchikawa would push a single to the opposite field which would score Imamiya to make it 4-3 and Wolfe would surrender the mound for Shota Takekuma. The Hawks would then take the lead thanks to a two-run single from Nobuhiro Matsuda giving the Hawks a 5-4 lead.

The lead would be shortlived with Sosuke Genda leading off the bottom of the 6th with a leadoff triple that would be converted into a run with a Hideto Asamura sacrifice fly that would draw the two teams level at 5-5 after 6. The seventh inning would go scoreless but then in the bottom of the 8th, the tie would be broken by an unlikely source in Ginjiro Sumitani who would hit a solo home run to give the Lions a 6-5 lead heading to the top of the 9th.

With the closer Tatsushi Masuda in the game, after a strikeout to start the inning things looked good, but then Nobuhiro Matsuda would hit a solo home run to left-center to draw the game level and give Masuda his first blown save of the season and the "ATSUO!" chant rang through the MetLife Dome. Just when the Lions thought they had lost the game, Takumi Kuriyama would send the Lions home happy as he hit a walk-off home run that just cleared the right-centerfield fence. The Lions had won the game 7-6 with the Lions taking their record in one-run ballgames to 5-7 this season.

Lions 7, Hawks 6

===

The Lions finish with a 5-1 week and more impressively, they have won 9 of the last 11 to retain a solid position in A-class with a 5 game lead over the Fighters and Buffaloes for the third spot in the Pacific League.

The Lions have continued to score a lot of runs in their victories but more questions will now be asked about the rotation after Wolfe's apparent injury. If he's out for the considerable future, it's anyone's guess about whether the Lions can replace his starts with ni-gun players.

===

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Believe it: Sosuke Genda Is Dominating As A Hitter


Yes, we knew he was going to be a defensive wizard, but in the batter's box, Genda is showing that he's more than that. The Lions' 2016 third round pick out of Toyota Motors has been turning heads for his defense as the shortstop, but what's starting to come into view is just how good he has been with the bat in his hands. Just a couple weeks ago, I didn't put much stock into it, but thanks to our friends at 1.02 Essence of Baseball, we get a closer look at what has been the key to his early success.

If you're a fan of advanced metrics, please do check out this website it will enhance your Japanese Baseball viewing and just make you a smarter baseball fan. There are three things to take away from Sosuke Genda's statistics through May 12 and here they are.

1. Genda's Batted Ball Statistics Are A Good Early Sign, Despite High BABIP

Whenever a hard hit ball is hit right at an outfielder or a soft ground ball finds the outfield grass, the term BABIP can sometimes be heard by nearby fans. Quite simply, it measures the luck that a batter has when it comes to balls that a player hits in play. Right now, Sosuke Genda's BABIP is at .355. For our MLB fans out there, we generally like to think of .300 as the median for where a hitter should be, but from what I've seen that's not entirely accurate in Japan since players in NPB put the ball in play a lot more than their MLB counterparts. We really won't know what Genda's general average BABIP is probably until his third year in NPB, but looking at his contact percentages there are good signs that his early success isn't just beginner's luck.

It may be a shock to some, but among the Lions' everyday players, Sosuke Genda has the highest line drive % on the team with 15.6%, which means he's hitting the sweet spot more than anyone. And when you add to the fact that his strikeout % is at only 11% as a rookie (compared to Fumikazu Kimura who has a 25.8%), it's clear that not only is Genda holding his own against top flight pitchers in Japan, but he's succeeding at a tremendous rate. Things look even better when you look at how hard he's hitting the ball, as Genda's batted balls are hit at medium-high contact 85.4% of the time which is also the best among Seibu's regular position players. That might be the most startling realization of all when looking at Genda's deeper numbers.

2. Genda's Base running Skills Are A Tremendous Asset

In our April podcast episode, I indicated that I wasn't a fan of having Sosuke Genda batting in the second spot in the order because I felt that Hideto Asamura was better suited for that position being the Lions' best contact hitter. At this point in time though, it looks like Hatsuhiko Tsuji is being bailed out because of not only his bat, but also his base running. Sure, we've seen Genda bunting for hits at a solid rate, but the advanced metrics confirm Genda's base path prowess goes beyond just that.

Right now, he has nine stolen bases on 11 steal attempts which hopefully will continue as the year goes on, but looking at his UBR rating which measures how much his base running helps his team, Genda has a 2.2 which is higher than any regular players with only the Carp's Yoshihiro Maru and the Hawks' Yuki Yanagita anywhere near him at 1.9 and 1.8 respectively.

That means that Genda is successfully advancing to the extra base at a rate more than anyone in all of NPB and this validates Genda as the Lions two-hole hitter because when he's on base (and right now he has a solid OBP of .354) it will be the Lions best hitters up to bat with him on base with Asamura, Okawari-kun, and Ernesto Mejia usually following him in the order. His impact base running will pay dividends when he's on first base and if any of that trio behind hits a ball in the gap, more times than not, Genda is scoring.

3. Don't Look Now But Genda's Second On The Team In WAR

You heard that right. Only Shogo Akiyama has a higher WAR than Genda at 2.3 while the latter is at 2.2. Why is this? Put simply, Genda's all-around skills in the early going of this season have propelled him to this level, while Ernesto Mejia and Okawari-kun maybe have negative defensive or base running value, Genda has positive value in those areas while also being slightly above average with the bat. You add that all together and you have a high WAR. And for those wondering, among all rookie position players, Sosuke Genda leads the pack in WAR.

Conclusion:

Hopefully, when you're watching the Lions, this piece will make you watch Genda's base running since it's often that we take it for granted since the television cameras usually just show where a ball goes rather than what's going on the basepaths unless someone's gets thrown out. It'll be interesting to see whether or not his hitting continues but the peripheral stats are good signs for continued success in the future. It's hard to see the Lions getting this much value out of lower round pick for the next several years, and I'm going to certainly enjoy watching Sosuke Genda's career path.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Sano earns first win as the Lions Sweep Orix



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The Saitama Seibu Lions would have a long road trip to both Hokkaido to face the Nippon-Ham Fighters and in Kansai against the Orix Buffaloes. Against Orix, the Lions were winless heading into the weekend. Could they rebound from their bad ways?

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The first game in Sapporo would feature Kona Takahashi against Hirotoshi Takanashi, the reigning Pacific League rookie of the year. It would be another slow start for Kona as he gave up a timely base hit to Sho Nakata for the first blood. Shota Ono would then hit a solo HR to make it 2-0 in the second.

It wouldn't be long before the Lions responded in the top of the third. Sosuke Genda would steal second base and with Shogo Akiyama on third, the tying run was in scoring position for Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura. Okawari-kun didn't disappoint with a timely single scoring both runners. Takumi Kuriyama would give the Lions the lead with a two-run blast right into the Seibu Oendan to make it 4-2.

Genda would add a timely two out hit with the Fighters outfield playing in to make it 5-2. Masatoshi Okada would score from second and barely beat out Haruki Nishikawa's throw. Kona Takahashi would settle in after a slow start, going five innings with seven strikeouts before being taken out.

Shota Takekuma and Kazuhisa Makita had clean 6th and 7th innings, but the Lions put the game away in the top of the latter inning. Okada and Fumikazu Kimura would deliver timely hits off the Fighters bullpen making it 7-2, ending a two game skid.

Lions 7, Fighters 2

Game notes:

-Ichiro Tamura made his ichi-gun debut in the 9th inning. He would give up a single to Kensuke Tanaka, but not allow a run.

-Every Lions player who started had a hit and even the substitutes got on base or hit later in the game after coming in as pinch runners.

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Game 2 would have Ken Togame up against Takayuki Kato. The Lions scored first with a bases loaded single by Okawari-kun, but they failed to capitalize afterwards. Brandon Laird responded with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame, but like the Lions, the Fighters couldn't take advantage of more runs.

Kensuke Kondo hit a simple single, but a bobble error by Shogo Akiyama helped him get to second base. It would be Laird again with a timely hit to make it 2-1 in the third inning.

Togame was rather fortunate, giving up seven hits but only one run through five innings on the night. He would have one strikeout and two walks included. Kato went six innings, but settled in after the first and had seven strikeouts.

The Lions would have the tying run on second base in the 7th, but Kensuke Tanimoto got Kimura to flyout and Naoki Miyanishi struck out Akiyama to end the threat. Chris Martin pitched a clean 8th while Hirotoshi Masui ended the game with a double play to Shuta Tonosaki.

Fighters 2, Lions 1

Game note:

-Kuriyama would continue to play DH.

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Game 1 against Orix would have Yusei Kikuchi against Yuki Nishi from Kobe. The Lions took advantage of a leadoff double by Akiyama and Asamura plated him on a sac fly after Sosuke Genda would bunt him to third.

With the bases loaded, Asamura would plate two more runs on a single in the top of the third.  The top of the order would produce again in the top of the 5th. with Akiyama and Genda reaching base on singles, Asamura would blast a three-run bomb off Nishi for a 6-0 lead to put the game away.

Kikuchi would go six innings with plenty of run support with six strikeouts and three hits allowed. Asamura would get a 7th RBI through a groundout in the top of the 8th inning. The Lions poured it on in the final three frames of the game with five more runs, included base hits by Okawari-kun, Genda and Naoto Watanabe. It would be the team's first win against Orix in 2017.

Lions 11, Buffaloes 0

Game notes:

-Three Lions would have Modashos in Genda, Asamura and Akiyama.

-Mejia was hit by a pitch, but stayed in the game.

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Game 2 from Kyocera Dome would have Yasuo Sano making his 2017 debut in a spot start against Phil Coke. Ernesto Mejia starting the scoring with a no-doubt HR in the top of the second. Coke would end up leaving the game in the third inning, as Genda would reach on an E1 with a surprise bunt. With Sachiya Yamasaki coming in, he would walk both Mejia and Naoto Watanabe as the bases were loaded with the latter up, scoring another run.

Kimura would add another run with a solo home run off Yamasaki in the top of the 4th. Sano wuold have one scare in the 4th inning, but only gave up one run from a hit by Hiroyuki Nakajima in the process. With the bases loaded, he would force one key ground out to Kenya Wakatsuki to limit the damage.  Sano would go five innings with five strikeouts on the day.

The Lions got two runs in the top of the 6th off Satoshi Oyama thanks to timely hits from Genda and Asamura. Shota Takekuma allowed a run in the 6th from an RBI single by Hikaru Ito, but avoided further damage escaping a small jam. Kimura put the game away with a 2-RBI double in the top of the 7th, securing a modasho for the day.

For the first time in 2017, the Lions took a series from Kansai.

Lions 8, Buffaloes 2

Game notes:

-Shogo Noda was sent down as the corresponding move to make room for Sano.

-Kuriyama was a pinch hitter and walked in the top of the 7th. He would be replaced by Shotaro Tashiro, who would score on Kimura's double.

-Daichi Mizuguchi came in as a defensive replacement for Ernesto Mejia and got an RBI single in the 8th.

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Game 3 from Kyocera Dome would see Brian Wolfe try to complete the Lions sweep with Orix rookie Taisuke Yamaoka on the hill for the home team. The table would be set early for the Lions with Hideto Asamura doubling creating a second and third opportunity for Okawari-kun. He would capitalize on the opportunity by following it up with another double of his own to give the Lions an early 2-0 lead. Ernesto Mejia would then line a single up the middle to bring home Okawari-kun and just like that, Brian Wolfe would take the mound with a 3-0 lead.

Wolfe would give one run right back to the Buffaloes thanks to some opportune base running from Kyohei Iwasaki. Iwasaki would slap a one-out single and then promptly steal second base, and after a Masahiro Nishino groundout would move him over to third, a wild pitch would allow him to score. That would be the only run that Orix would score on the day.

The Lions would then tack on another run in the 5th thanks to Sosuke Genda who would drive in Shogo Akiyama who got into scoring position thanks to his fifth stolen base of the season. Genda would line one into the outfield and put the Lions back up by three.

Brian Wolfe would be pulled after six innings, where he scattered six hits and allowed one run with two strikeouts,  good enough for another quality start for Wolfe to start the year. Kazuhisa Makita and Brian Schlitter would pitch the 7th and 8th innings respectively in clean fashion.

The Lions would then tag on two runs in the 9th with Sosuke Genda providing an RBI-single which also gave Genda a modasho and that brought in Fumikazu Kimura and then Hideto Asamura would hit a chopper up the middle to bring home Ginjiro Sumitani to officially make the game into a rout.

Tatsushi Masuda would be brought in for a non-save situation in the bottom of the 9th just to get some work in and the Lions closer would get three quick outs to deliver the Lions a clean sweep of the Orix Buffaloes.

Lions 6, Buffaloes 1

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The Lions are back in A-class for now and above .500 thanks to the sweep. Of course there is still plenty of work to be done. They look competitive again, but they saw a back end of Orix's rotation.

Can they continue to hit their ways? How does the back end hold up now that Nogami has been shifted to the front end of a week? Questions will still need to be answered.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions: How the roster was built


The Saitama Seibu Lions roster is already available in English, but the information is rather minimal. When scouring the Japanese site, you can see extra material, including where the player was drafted and / or where he played for previously. There are also several Japanese sites that show this information, including one chart that has the estimated salaries of each player.

Here is the entire Seibu Lions 70-man roster in English, where we've included when the player was taken, which round, what level he was drafted out of and the salary. We've also included the last team each player was part of, whether it was high school, university, the industrial league or another MLB organization/NPB team.

Starting Pitchers: 

Yusei Kikuchi (16) [1st round draft pick, 2009] HS; {Hanamaki Higashi}  ¥100 million
Ken Togame (21) [1st round draft pick, 2011] I; {JR East}  ¥60 million
Brian Wolfe (54) [Free agent, 2016]* {Fukuoka Softbank Hawks} ¥60 million
Ryoma Nogami (20) [2nd round draft pick, 2008] I; {Nissan Motors} ¥50 million
Stephen Fife (69) [Free agent, 2017]* {Miami Marlins AAA}; ¥34 million
Chun-Lin Kuo (12) [Free agent, 2014]*  {Taiwanese National Team U23} ¥30 million
Kona Takahashi (17) [1st round draft pick, 2014] HS; {Maebashi Ikuei} ¥23 million
Shinsaburo Tawata (18) [1st round draft pick, 2015] U; {Fuji} ¥23 million
Keisuke Honda (45) [6th round draft pick, 2015] U; {Tohoku Gakuin} ¥7 million
Makoto Aiuchi (41) [2nd round draft pick, 2012] HS; {Chiba Kokusai} ¥6 million 
Isamu Sato (63) [5th round draft pick, 2012] HS; {Konan, Fukushima prefecture}¥6 million

Relief Pitchers:  

Kazuhisa Makita (35) [2nd round draft pick, 2010] I; {Nippon Express} ¥100 million
Tatsushi Masuda (14) [1st round draft pick, 2012] I; {NTT West} ¥95 million
Brian Schlitter (47) [Free agent]* {Colorado Rockies AAA} ¥80 million
Frank Garces (59) [Free agent]* {San Diego Padres} ¥60 million
Shota Takekuma (48) [4th round high school draft pick, 2007] ^; {Asahikawa Kogyo} ¥50 million 
Tomomi Takahashi (43) [4th round draft pick, 2012] I; {Seino Unyu} ¥48 million 
Alexis Candelario (68) [Free Agent]* {Estrellas, Dominican Republic} ¥25 million
Yosuke Okamoto (30) [6th round draft pick, 2009] I; {Yamaha} ¥18 million 
Tatsuya Oishi (15) [1st round draft pick, 2010] U; {Waseda} ¥15 million
Hirotaka Koishi (29) [2nd round draft pick, 2011] I; {NTT East} ¥15 million
Yasuo Sano (34) [2nd round draft pick, 2014] U; {Heisei} ¥13 million
Shogo Noda (23) [3rd round draft pick ,2015] I; {Seino Unyu} ¥13 million
Seiji Kawagoe (26) [2nd round draft pick, 2015] U; {Hokkai Gakuen} ¥12 million
Tadasuke Minamikawa (36) [5th round draft pick, 2015] I; {JR Shikoku} ¥10 million
Takuya Toyoda (19) [3rd round draft pick, 2013] I; {TDK} ¥9.5 million 
Ryohei Fujiwara (28) [3rd round university draft pick, 2007] ^; {Daichi Kogyo} ¥9.5 million
Toshihiro Iwao (31) [3rd round draft pick, 2009] U; {Beppu} ¥8.5 million
Kentaro Fukukura (50) [7th round draft pick, 2013] U; {Daichi Kogyo} ¥6 million
Tsubasa Kokuba (57) [8th round draft pick, 2015] U; {Daichi Kogyo} ¥6 million
Yusuke Tamamura (38) [4th round drafft pick, 2014] HS {Tsuruga Kehi} ¥5.5 million
Koki Fujita (67) [9th round draft pick, 2015] HS; {Hirosaki Kogyo} ¥5 million
Naoaki Matsumoto (66) [10th round draft pick, 2015] I; {Kagawa Olive Guyners} ¥5 million


Rookie Pitchers: 

Tatsuya Imai (11) [1st round draft pick, 2016] HS; {Sakushin Gakuin} ¥13 million
Shunta Nakatsuka (22) [2nd round draft pick, 2016] U; {Hakuoh} ¥12 million
Katsunori Hirai (25) [5th round draft pick, 2016] I; {Honda Suzuka} ¥10 million
Ichiro Tamura (40) [6th round draft pick, 2016] U; {Rikkyo} ¥7 million


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Catchers:

Ginjiro Sumitani (27) [1st round high school pick, 2005] ^; {Heian} ¥100 million
Tomoya Mori (10) [1st round draft pick, 2013] HS; {Osaka Toin} ¥45 million
Masatoshi Okada (37) [6th round draft pick, 2013] I; {Osaka Gas} ¥16 million
Tatsuyuki Uemoto (49) [6th round draft pick, 2002] I; {Kyowa Hakko} ¥16 million
Shota Nakata (64) [6th round high school draft pick, 2007] ^; {Naruto} ¥5.8 million
Hitoto Komazuki (62) [3rd round draft pick, 2011] HS; {Kyoto Shiritsu Tonan} ¥5.1 million
Komei Fujisawa (78) [Ikusei pick, 2011] iU; {Matsumoto} ¥5 million

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Infielders:

Ernesto Mejia (99) [Free agent, May 2014]* {Atlanta Braves AAA}  ¥500 million
Takeya "Okawari-Kun" Nakamura (60) [2nd round draft pick, 2001] HS; {Osaka Toin} ¥410 million 
Hideto Asamura (32) [3rd round draft pick, 2008] HS; {Osaka Toin} ¥155 million
Naoto Watanabe (8) [Trade with DeNA Baystars for RP Shuichiro Osada, 2013] #; ¥50 million 
Yuji Kaneko (2) [3rd round draft pick, 2012] U; {Ritsumeikan} ¥48 million
Yuji Onizaki (5) [Trade with Yakult Swallows for RP Chikara Onodera, 2011] #; ¥23 million
Hotaka Yamakawa (33) [2nd round draft pick, 2013] U; {Fuji} ¥16 million
Shuta Tonosaki (44) [3rd round draft pick, 2014] U {Fuji} ¥13 million
Kyohei Nagae (32) [4th round draft pick, 2011] HS {Nagasaki Kaisei} ¥12.5 million
Nien Ting Wu (39) [7th round draft pick, 2015] U; {Daichi Kogyo} ¥8 million
Shogo Kimura (0) [Free Agent, 2016]%; ¥7.5 millionHaruka Yamada (52) [5th round draft pick, 2014] HS; {Saga Kogyo} ¥6 million
Kazuki Kaneko (56) [4th round draft pick, 2013] HS; {Fujisawa} ¥5.5 million
Daichi Mizuguchi (00) [Ikusei draft pick, 2012] iI; {Kagawa Olive Guyners} ¥5.5 million


Rookie Infielder:

Sosuke Genda (6) [3rd round draft pick, 2016] I; {Toyota Motors} ¥12 million

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Outfielders: 

Shogo Akiyama (55) [3rd round draft pick, 2010] U; {Hachinohe} ¥200 million
Takumi Kuriyama (1) [4th round draft pick, 2001] HS; {Ikuei} ¥190 million 
Yutaro Osaki (9) [6th round university draft pick, 2006] ^; {Aoyama Gakuin} ¥18.5 million
Ryo Sakata (88) [4th round draft pick, 2008] U; {Hakodate} ¥15 million
Shogo Saito (65) [7th round high school draft pick, 2007] ^; {Kasukabe Kyoei} ¥14 million
Fumikazu Kimura (51) [1st round high school draft pick, 2006]^; {Saitama Sakae} ¥14 million
Masato Kumashiro (58) [6th round draft pick, 2010] I; {Oji Paper} ¥13 million
Aito Otaki (53) [4th round draft pick, 2015] HS; {Hanasaki Tokuharu} ¥6 million
Shotaro Tashiro (61) [5th round draft pick, 2011] U; {Hachinohe} ¥6 million
Daisuke Togawa (71) [Ikusei pick, 2014] iHS; {Hokkai} ¥5 milllion


Rookie Outfielder: 

Shohei Suzuki (46) [4th round draft pick, 2016] HS {Shizuoka} ¥6 million

Ikusei:

(None)

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Legend: 

U - Drafted out of University/College

I - Drafted out of Industrial or Independent League

HS - Drafted out of High School

^ - Drafted in a year where High School and University drafts were separate. From 2005-2007, those taken in high school were separated from those taken out Universities or Industrial/Independent League teams.
  
* - Foreign import signing  

# - Traded domestically

% - Domestic free agent (Passed a tryout and earned a roster spot) 

i - Ikusei draft pick. It's similar to how an NFL practice squad works, except they're drafted in an ikusei round after the initial NPB Draft.  For more information, you can click here. The Lions currently have no one on their ikusei roster and have three former picks promoted to the 70-man roster.

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Lastly, here is the coaching staff of the Lions both at the ichi-gun and ni-gun level.  This is listed on the Lions website.  

Head Manager (Supervisor) 
85 Hatsuhiko Tsuji (田辺 徳雄)

Ichi-gun Coaches

73 Hideki Hashigami (橋上 秀樹) - Head Coach
80 Shigenobu Shima (嶋 重宣) – Batting
76 Masahiro Abe (阿部 真宏) - Batting
84 Kosaku Akimoto (秋元 宏作) – Battery^
72 Yoshihiro Doi (土肥 義弘) – Pitching
89 Shinji Mori (森 慎二) – Pitching
83 Toshifumi Baba (馬場 敏史) – Infield defense and Base-running (3B coach)*
70 Tomoaki Sato (佐藤 友亮) – Outfield defense and Base-running (1B coach)
92 Shinobu Sakamoto (坂本 忍) – Training
98 Takafumi Sato (里 隆文) – Training^

Ni-gun Coaches 
86 Tetsuya Shiozaki (潮崎 哲也) - Farm Manager   [v]
75 Hiroyuki Takagi (高木 浩之) – Farm Hitting and Head Coach
74 Fumiya Nishiguchi (西口 文也) – Farm Pitching*
91 Eiji Kiyokawa (清川 栄治) – Farm Pitching
82 Kosuke Noda (野田 浩輔) – Farm Battery*
87 Satoshi Kuroda (黒田 哲史) – Farm infield defense and Base-running
77 Shogo Akada (赤田 将吾) – Farm Outfield, base-running and defense
81 Takanori Hoshi (星 孝典) – Ikusei and development*
95 Haruki Kurokawa (黒川 春樹) – Farm Training
96 Kenta Kudo (工藤 建太) – Farm Training*

* New coach
^ Promoted to ichi-gun
[v] Sent down to ni-gun

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