Saturday, January 27, 2018
Seibu Lions 2018 Spring Camp Outlook: Catcher
All players will report to spring training camp on February 1. Some will go to Miyazaki prefecture for the ichi-gun while others are in Kochi prefecture for the ni-gun camp. That list can be seen here.
With baseball about to resume again, we will look at each position and write a statement or something about each player.
The catcher position is all but setup for 2018, but the long run has its share of uncertainty. Ginjiro Sumitani will likely have year by year contracts in the future as he is 30. The real question is how often do the others play behind him?
Ginjiro Sumitani: Sumitani returns and is also the president of the NPB player's association, as Motohiro Shima stepped down recently. He had a rare season where his bat was respectable, but he is mostly known for his defense. Gin-chan remains the top defensive catcher overall.
Masatoshi Okada: Okada cracked the lineup for 68 games and started a good portion of them at catcher, depending on who was pitching. His defense is slightly below Gin-chan's, but solid enough as a spell reserve. He's also the top pinch-hit candidate if the Lions want to bunt.
Tomoya Mori: Entering the era of Hatsuhiko Tsuji, it was uncertain what the Lions had in store for Mori in the long run. After playing in the outfield and DH, the team made it clear that he is a catcher and he saw quite a few games behind home plate in 2017. Depending on the opponent, he could be catching, but his bat remains valuable if they want him in the lineup. In the long term, the Lions hope he can be an everyday catcher as he saw time in the offseason with the Melbourne Aces.
Shota Nakata: Nakata is probably the emergency catcher if one of the top three get hurt. He would be next in line.
Komei Fujisawa: A former ikusei pick, Fujisawa mostly works with the farm pitchers down in ni-gun. He has yet to play an ichi-gun game in his career.
Hitoto Komazuki: Komazuki is a converted outfielder who remains as a project at catcher. At one point, the injuries in ni-gun piled up and he was forced into the OF for a handful of games at the farm level. Very minimal expectations long term.
Masato Saito: Saito was a Division II catcher in college and the Lions took a flyer on him during the ikusei draft. Like any ikusei, his goal will be to earn a promotion to the 70-man roster.
The catcher position is all but set. Competition is very minimal with the reserves trading games a the ni-gun level and the ichi-gun having their role. It's all about what Mori does for the future and long term as he hopes to continue developing both his bat and defense.
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Posted by Christian Gin at 1:51 PM