Tuesday, April 11, 2017

You again? Seibu Lions who were teammates prior to NPB

The Lions took three players from Fuji University for three consecutive years. Tawata, Yamakawa and Tonosaki were all teammates at one point at the University level.  Photo credit: Hotaka Yamakawa's Instagram
Sports can bring fun connections. Sometimes its through work, education or even the journalist level. At other times, it's where the players spent time prior to making it to where they are today.

Several Saitama Seibu Lions can say they were teammates with another player at some point before making it to NPB. It's common to be an opponent, but teammates? That's hard to come by at any level in North America with a handful of stories.

Here are the Lions who knew each other as teammates prior to being in NPB:

Note: We're only counting high school, university and industrial league level baseball.  We have no data/evidence on where players grew up prior to high school minus a handful of players. 

This list was constructed with timelines knowing how long time is at Japanese Universities, High schools and potentially Industrial League teams. The Japanese NPB roster site shows every team a player was with prior to NPB from HS, University and Industrial or an Independent Leagues. 

Osaka Toin High School (Osaka): 2B Hideto Asamura and C Mastoshi Okada: Most people know the Lions and their connection to Osaka Toin, but the four players were drafted at different points minus 2013, when Tomoya Mori and Okada were taken in the same class. Okada was teammates with Asamura from 2006-2007 and he would later go on to an industrial league team in Osaka Gas. Asamura would be a Koshien champion in 2008 before the Lions drafted him in the third round that fall.

Fun fact: Okada and Asamura can say they were teammates with Sho Nakata of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Nakata was a pitcher in high school and Okada was his battery partner. 


Tashiro and Akiyama were teammates at University. Photo from Tashiro's Instagram
Hachinohe University (Aomori): OF Shogo Akiyama and OF Shotaro Tashiro

Akiyama and Tashiro are not from Aomori prefecture, but they went to the same school in Hachinohe University. Tashiro is a Hokkaido native and the Lions drafted him in the 5th round of 2011. Akiyama was a third round draft pick in 2010.

Fun fact: Takahiro Shiomi of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles was the ace pitcher during the time Akiyama and Tashiro were at Hachinohe. Akiyama was the team's cleanup hitter.  


Yokohama Sogakukan High School (Kanagawa): OF Shogo Akiyama and OF Ryo Sakata

Akiyama and Sakata are two years apart, but they were teammates for one year in 2004. Sakata would go to a university in Hokkaido and was drafted in the fourth round of 2008.


Daichi Kogyo Gakuin University (Kagoshima): P Kentaro Fukukura, IF Nien Ting Wu and P Tsubasa Kokuba

The Lions took Fukukura in 2013 while Wu and Kokuba were drafted in 2015. Osaka Toin and Daichi Kogyo are the two most common schools among the Lions roster with four players each having a connection.

Fuji University has a display of alumni who made it to NPB. The Lions had three straight players taken. Photo via Yamakawa's Instagram. 

Fuji University (Iwate): IF Hotaka Yamakawa, IF Shuta Tonosaki and P Shinsaburo Tawata

The Lions took a player from Fuji University for three consecutive years from 2013-2015. It would be Yamakawa (2013), Tonosaki (2014) and Tawata (2015) going back-to-back-to-back. The Lions nearly had a fourth player added had they taken Taiki Ono, who was drafted by the Hanshin Tigers in the second round of 2016.


Nissan Motors (Kanagawa): P Ryoma Nogami and OF Masato Kumashiro

Kumashiro has a rather unique career with how he played for two different industrial league teams. His first was with Nissan Motors and he saw Nogami for one season in 2008. Nogami was the team's ace before he was drafted later that fall while Kumashiro was also a pitcher. Kumashiro converted to outfielder with his second Oji Paper Industries, his second industrial league team and was drafted by the Lions in 2010.


Chubo Shogyo High School (Okinawa): IF Hotaka Yamakawa and P Shinsaburo Tawata

Not only were Tawata and Yamakawa teammates at University, but also in high school as they are Okinawa natives. It was only in 2009 when they were together in high school. They're the only duo on the Lions who can say they were teammates at the HS, University and professional level.


Seino Unyu (Gifu): P Tomomi Takahashi and P Shogo Noda

Seino Unyu, known as Seino Transportation in English, held Noda and Takahashi together in 2012. Takahashi would be drafted by the Lions in 2012 when Noda spent his first year with the company. Noda, a Kagoshima native, spent several years with Seino Unyu until being drafted in 2015 by the Lions in the third round.


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