Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Seibu Lions 2017 Spring Camp Outlook: Catcher


The catcher position for the Saitama Seibu Lions becomes a small question mark. There was plenty of offense and depth to go around, but how will it be utilized in 2017?

Locks: 

Ginjiro Sumitani: Sumitani provides good defense, but can't hit like usual. Last year was a rather "down season" for him defensively as he took several ill-advised throws which backfired.

Tomoya Mori: Mori is starting camp at the ni-gun level in Kochi due to a minor shoulder injury. He is still registered as a catcher, but is there room for him in the field if the DH spot is taken? His defense at catcher got better as the season went along, but he might not be built for it at the NPB level.

Reserves: 

Masatoshi Okada: If Mori is not being a catcher, Okada is the main backup behind Sumitani. He had solid defense and can lay down a bunt if manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji wants someone to move a runner over by 90 feet.

Tatsuyuki Uemoto: Uemoto was the best pinch hitting option for the Lions under Norio Tanabe. He could have the same role in 2017 if Tsuji likes what he sees. Uemoto can also play 1B if necessary.

The Farm:

Komei Fujisawa: Fujisawa was a former ikusei draft pick in 2011. He was promoted to the 70-man roster and has stayed at the ni-gun level ever since.

Shota Nakata: Nakata would be the emergency catcher in the event someone at the ichi-gun level gets hurt. He has been with the Lions since 2008, but has only received ichi-gun playing time in 2012 and 2015.

Hitoto Komazuki: Komazuki is entering a new stage in his career after converting from being an outfielder. He had several reps at catcher for practice games with the Melboune Aces throughout the offseason and also worked out of the bullpen.

Outlook:

The catcher position is all but settled, but it will be a question mark if Tsuji wants to have four catchers or three on the ichi-gun roster at once. Last year saw four catchers on top with Uemoto being a pinch hitter and Mori mostly off the bench, at designated hitter or right field under the second half.

Does Mori remain a catcher or is he going to get time in RF and DH? Time will tell.

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Other positions: 

Rotation

Infield

Bullpen

Outfield

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