2022 Asian Leagues: NPB, KBO, CPBL

Awesome Fossum

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Also checking in on Carter Stewart, the MLB 8th overall pick in 2018 from Florida who decided to go to Japan rather than MiLB or college. Looks like he had a pretty solid 2021 in the Western League and a rough Pacific League debut for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Although 36 strikeouts in 23.2 innings. Hoping he can put in a full season in the big league this year

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=stewar004car
 

jon abbey

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(That account was a Japanese scout for the Yankees for a while.)
 

Tokyo Sox

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I was coming to post these. He just threw the first perfect game in Japan since 1994. 19 K's in the end, tying the Japanese record. 13 in a row at one point as noted, which is a new record. Fastball was sitting 99, dialing up to 101.5+. Splitter was also working great.

Here are the 13 in a row:
View: https://twitter.com/lovelovemarines/status/1513041693372989440?s=20&t=RpG--pbrlBEK3Hpe94leWw
 

Tokyo Sox

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Also checking in on Carter Stewart, the MLB 8th overall pick in 2018 from Florida who decided to go to Japan rather than MiLB or college. Looks like he had a pretty solid 2021 in the Western League and a rough Pacific League debut for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Although 36 strikeouts in 23.2 innings. Hoping he can put in a full season in the big league this year

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=stewar004car
Thanks for starting the thread btw. I didn't do a thread last year, and my Tokyo Yakult Swallows won the Japan Series for the first time in 20 years! Here is the 2020 thread in which I said I was paying attention to four youngsters in particular:
A few young players I'll be following this year:
Carter Stewart - the pitcher who bypassed the US minors to go straight to the SoftBank Hawks. He spent last year on the AA-equivalent team (san-gun) but is starting in AAA-equiv (ni-gun) this year, and is expected to see some time with the big club if all goes well.

Rohki Sasaki - this kid was throwing 102mph as a 16-yo and attracted MLB scouts, one of whom told me at the time that if you needed him to get 6 outs in the bigs right now, he could do it. He's 18 now and with the first team of the Chiba Lotte Marines, though he hasn't appeared yet this season.

And a couple of my local Tokyo Yakult Swallows youngsters, 20yo 3B/1B Munetaka Murakami who hit 36 HR last year as a 19-year old and who I think will be Stateside in 4-5 years, and 19yo RHP Yasunobu Okugawa who was a Koshien star. He struck out 23 in a 14 inning CG in Koshien, and also notably K'd 18 Canadians in 7 IP in last year's U18 World Cup.
Apart from Stewart, they have all shined. Murakami won the Central League MVP last year, slashing .278/.408/.566 and tying for the league lead in HR with 39, as a 21-yo. He became the youngest player ever to 100 career HR.

Okugawa won the CLCS MVP in November by throwing a Maddux in the opener.

Roki Sasaki had a pretty good year last year after getting the call up, starting 11 games and posting a 2.27 ERA/1.06 WHIP with 68 K in 63.1 IP. And then of course there was today, with what yakyuu Twitter is calling possibly the single best game ever pitched in Japan. I switched it on when I saw tweets about 10 K's in a row after 4 IP. It was edge of your seat stuff the rest of the way. Here are all 27 outs:

View: https://twitter.com/chibalotte/status/1513073144885837829?s=20&t=kcqtcB0TduoqMKZfNdI7Ew
 

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After throwing NPB's first perfect game in 28 years last Sunday, Roki Sasaki took the mound today and picked up right where he left off. He threw 8 perfect innings, with 14 K's, and then...didn't come out for the 9th. He was on 102 pitches, and it was 0-0. Chiba manager Tadahito Iguchi will have a lot of questions to answer. I think everyone understands why he was pulled, but hates it anyway. The kid was three outs (and a run) away from back to back perfect games.

He has now retired 52 straight batters, striking out 34 of them.
 

Awesome Fossum

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That's unbelievable (both that he did it and that he was pulled). He was just pulled for pitch count? I don't know how you can deny someone a chance at that kind of history.
 

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That's unbelievable (both that he did it and that he was pulled). He was just pulled for pitch count? I don't know how you can deny someone a chance at that kind of history.
Pitch count and situation apparently as he threw 105 last week and was on 102 yesterday, but also it was 0-0 and there was no guarantee he'd get the perfecto even if he did throw a clean 9th. But yes, I think you have to give him the chance and then hope they can walk it off in the bottom half.

How would someone in the United States who wanted to watch his next start go about it?
There are probably ways to stream it for free but Pacific League TV might be your safest bet if you don't mind spending a couple bucks. They do daily or monthly subs. Jim Allen has a PLTV sign up explainer on his blog: https://jballallen.com/japanese-baseball-guide/pacific-league-tv/ or you can let me know if you have any questions. Again I'm sure there are streams (of varying legitimacy) but I don't know what they are, sorry.
 

BigSoxFan

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Pitch count and situation apparently as he threw 105 last week and was on 102 yesterday, but also it was 0-0 and there was no guarantee he'd get the perfecto even if he did throw a clean 9th. But yes, I think you have to give him the chance and then hope they can walk it off in the bottom half.


There are probably ways to stream it for free but Pacific League TV might be your safest bet if you don't mind spending a couple bucks. They do daily or monthly subs. Jim Allen has a PLTV sign up explainer on his blog: https://jballallen.com/japanese-baseball-guide/pacific-league-tv/ or you can let me know if you have any questions. Again I'm sure there are streams (of varying legitimacy) but I don't know what they are, sorry.
Didn’t Dice-K throw tons of pitches while in Japan? My memory is hazy but perhaps that was in HS? Do Japanese teams focus on pitch counts as much as we do here? I’ve been to a few Yomiuri Giants games and but the ones I went to didn’t have someone going deep.
 

finnVT

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Trying to parse the current rules, and curious if I've got this right (or close)-- he's not likely to be eligible to come to MLB freely until he has 9 years of pro experience there; he can be posted before that, but given the international bonus pool restrictions, that seems unlikely to be an appealing proposition for his NPB team. So seems like the earliest he'd likely to be available is once he's 25yo and the bonus pool rules no longer apply?
 

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Didn’t Dice-K throw tons of pitches while in Japan? My memory is hazy but perhaps that was in HS? Do Japanese teams focus on pitch counts as much as we do here? I’ve been to a few Yomiuri Giants games and but the ones I went to didn’t have someone going deep.
Dice-K threw...a lot of pitches, yes. Both in high school and in NPB. In the Koshien HS tournament he famously threw a 250-pitch 17-inning CG in the quarter-finals, the day after he threw 140-something in a CGSO. Then he pitched the 9th inning and got a W the next day. Then he threw a no-hitter in the final the day after that. Four days, over 500 pitches.

Generally speaking letting (or making) a starter go as deep as possible is still definitely a thing here, and the answer to the bolded is no. I don't think that's necessarily changing with the times, but Sasaki has had several coaches be careful with his development over the years. His high school team's coach famously didn't throw him in a Koshien qualifier because of usage concerns, the team lost, and the manager took a ton of heat. This is Sasaki's third pro season, but they didn't have him make his debut until May last year. It is actually nice to see, but I still think you gotta keep him out there for the 9th yesterday.
 

BigSoxFan

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Dice-K threw...a lot of pitches, yes. Both in high school and in NPB. In the Koshien HS tournament he famously threw a 250-pitch 17-inning CG in the quarter-finals, the day after he threw 140-something in a CGSO. Then he pitched the 9th inning and got a W the next day. Then he threw a no-hitter in the final the day after that. Four days, over 500 pitches.

Generally speaking letting (or making) a starter go as deep as possible is still definitely a thing here, and the answer to the bolded is no. I don't think that's necessarily changing with the times, but Sasaki has had several coaches be careful with his development over the years. His high school team's coach famously didn't throw him in a Koshien qualifier because of usage concerns, the team lost, and the manager took a ton of heat. This is Sasaki's third pro season, but they didn't have him make his debut until May last year. It is actually nice to see, but I still think you gotta keep him out there for the 9th yesterday.
Wow, thanks. I didn’t know the specifics of Dice-K’s usage but that is absolutely nuts and malpractice. I know that tournament is a huge deal in Japan but, man, 500 pitches in 4 days is just insane.
 

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Trying to parse the current rules, and curious if I've got this right (or close)-- he's not likely to be eligible to come to MLB freely until he has 9 years of pro experience there; he can be posted before that, but given the international bonus pool restrictions, that seems unlikely to be an appealing proposition for his NPB team. So seems like the earliest he'd likely to be available is once he's 25yo and the bonus pool rules no longer apply?
I think that's broadly correct. The posting system has changed several times over the last 15-20 years, but under the current version, this sounds right to me. From this MLB link:
The caveat of the posting system is that foreign-born players are subject to international bonus pool money restrictions unless they are at least 25 years of age and have played as a professional in a foreign league recognized by Major League Baseball for a minimum of six seasons. Under the 2017-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement, each Major League club has a cap between $4.75 million and $5.75 million to spend on the non-exempt foreign-born player pool. Clubs will be able to acquire up to 75 percent of their initial international bonus pool money in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 signing periods and up to 60 percent of their initial pools in subsequent signing periods. This means that a club with an initial pool of $5.75 million can increase its pool total via trade to approximately $10.1 million during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 signing periods.

Under the terms of the 2022-26 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the international amateur talent system will continue under the rules of the 2017-21 CBA for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 signing periods. MLB and the MLB Players Association have until July 25, 2022 to agree to the implementation of an annual International Draft, which would be held for the first time in 2024. If the International Draft is not agreed to, the remaining international signing periods of the 2022-26 Collective Bargaining Agreement would continue to operate under the existing system established in the 2017-21 CBA.
Sasaki will turn 21 at the end of this season, so if the rules don't change it's possible you won't see him in MLB until the 2027 season. That said the 2017-21 rules cited above were just going into effect as Ohtani was heading Stateside as a 23yo, and he/the Fighters didn't care about the money. If the Marines get 2-3 spectacular seasons from Sasaki, and especially if they win a Japan Series, they may agree to post him early, if he wants it.
 

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Roki Sasaki gave up a hit to the first guy he faced today, so the perfect streak is over. He actually gave up three hits in the 1st, but Orix' Fukuda was gunned down at the plate so he's still got a scoreless streak going.
 

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Sorry I haven't updated this thread much. Just checking in now to say, my NPB defending champion Tokyo Yakult Swallows are crushing it, and have now won 13 straight series. That covers interleague play so they've become the first team ever to beat every other team in the country (other 5 in CL, all 6 in PL) in consecutive series.

They're getting contributions from all over but my main man Munetaka Murakami is the standout. The 22yo 3B, who I have mentioned many times here over the last couple years, is having an unreal month and is slashing .430/.526/.987 for the month of June. Yes that's a 1.513 OPS for the month. He's hit 14 HR this month & 29 now for the season.

View: https://twitter.com/baseballcosmo/status/1542287565406908416?s=20&t=wseA_PHZxSne_wdNYMMYfw

text: The gap in wRC+ between Munetaka Murakami (228), first in the Central League, and Yasutaka Shiomi (172), second in the Central League, is basically the same gap as between Shiomi and Gregory Polanco (113), sixteenth in the Central League among qualified hitters.

He appears to be well on his way to a second consecutive CL MVP award. To answer the obvious question, I don't think he'll be posted for next year. I would expect him to be here at least through 2023, and possibly try to make the move via posting for the 2024 season. Just my guess based on his age.

Checking in on other names while I'm here, Roki Sasaki got knocked around a bit by the Yomiuri Giants at the beginning of the month, but has thrown 15 IP of 1 run ball in his two starts since. Through 12 starts now, he's got a 1.56 ERA/0.73 WHIP and 114 K in 81 IP. Getting less hype but performing just as well is the defending PL MVP and Sawamura Award (Japan's CY equivalent) winner Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Yamamoto is 23 (turns 24 in August), and has thrown to a 1.95/0.95 line in 635.1 IP for his career. I think there's a chance he could go to the majors this offseason, but 2024 is more likely for him too, imho.

Anyway, Go Go Swallows.
 

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Roki was cruising through his latest start on Friday, striking out 4 in the 1st and 10 through 4 IP, but was pulled early after a blister popped.

And here's a decent vid about Murakami's ridiculous June. I was at the game shown at 4:38 in the video. That's a 3-run shot to dead center that broke an 8-8 tie late.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AARqVgc4OCI&t=1s
 

BigSoxFan

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Roki was cruising through his latest start on Friday, striking out 4 in the 1st and 10 through 4 IP, but was pulled early after a blister popped.

And here's a decent vid about Murakami's ridiculous June. I was at the game shown at 4:38 in the video. That's a 3-run shot to dead center that broke an 8-8 tie late.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AARqVgc4OCI&t=1s
How would you compare him to Seiya? Any idea on his defense?
 

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How would you compare him to Seiya? Any idea on his defense?
Murakami is a much bigger dude. He's got about 3 inches and 30 lbs on Seiya, and accordingly has considerably more raw power. Murakami is the youngest player in NPB to 100 career HR, and generally is a bit ahead of where Suzuki was at the same age -- Suzuki being about 5.5 years older.

Defense, I don't know. He split time in his first couple years (age 19-20 seasons) between 1B & 3B, but has played exclusively 3B all of last year & this year. From my own eye test, I think he's probably good enough to play 3B at the MLB level, but won't win any gold gloves there. He's fine. If he had to play 1B for defensive reasons, hopefully he brings his power with him.

I'd be devastated if he went to MLB and became Tsutsugo.
 

BigSoxFan

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Murakami is a much bigger dude. He's got about 3 inches and 30 lbs on Seiya, and accordingly has considerably more raw power. Murakami is the youngest player in NPB to 100 career HR, and generally is a bit ahead of where Suzuki was at the same age -- Suzuki being about 5.5 years older.

Defense, I don't know. He split time in his first couple years (age 19-20 seasons) between 1B & 3B, but has played exclusively 3B all of last year & this year. From my own eye test, I think he's probably good enough to play 3B at the MLB level, but won't win any gold gloves there. He's fine. If he had to play 1B for defensive reasons, hopefully he brings his power with him.

I'd be devastated if he went to MLB and became Tsutsugo.
Thanks - any idea on when he’d be eligible to come over and if he’s indicated a potential interest in doing so? That highlight reel was impressive. The raw power is insane.
 

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Thanks - any idea on when he’d be eligible to come over and if he’s indicated a potential interest in doing so? That highlight reel was impressive. The raw power is insane.
"Eligible" is always the same answer - they become domestic FA's after 8 years, and unrestricted international FA's after 9 years, I believe. But that said, I'm not sure who the last guy would be that made the move to MLB as a free agent. Okajima did and I'm sure there are a few others, but all the big names tend to go via the posting system well before that, and the answer to when that happens is a nebulous combination of when they make the push and when their team allows them to go, based on their career contributions to date.

Allowing a player to be posted is not something the team is required to do but they usually grant the wish if the player has made a significant contribution over the course of 4-5 years or so, which of course is completely subjective. As I mentioned upthread, even though Murakami looks on track to win his second consecutive league MVP, and the Swallows appear to be the class of the CL and possibly all of NPB again, it seems unlikely he would go next year. He's just too young and hasn't paid enough dues here yet.

So my guess is 2023 is very unlikely, 2024 is a legit possibility, but 2025 as a 25yo is the most likely scenario.
 

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in Japanese high school baseball news, a team from Chiba is currently up 82-0 in the 5th. The mercy rule is 10 runs after 5, so their opponent Wasegaku just needs a cool 73 run bottom half here to stay alive.

https://baseball.yahoo.co.jp/hsb_local/game/C215822/inning

Chiba was...stealing bases while up 80. Basically the kids are expected to give it their all until the game is over. Just a totally different approach here sometimes.
 

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In other high school baseball news, this clip made the rounds on Twitter this weekend everywhere from domestic yakyuu twitter to Barstool -- kid switches sides of the plate between every pitch until he finally gets beaned on the 2-2 pitch (not that the beaning appeared intentional though). But I thought you were only allowed to switch sides until you had two strikes? Maybe the HS rules here are different or maybe my memory is bad.

View: https://twitter.com/tom_mussa_v2/status/1550808972843687937?s=20&t=MO1PC_IvkWZQ6m5VZPnHsA
 

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So I went to the Swallows game last night oblivious to the fact I might have a chance to see history. My main man Murakami homered in his final three ABs on Sunday, and in the bottom of the 1st last night he murdered this baseball to make it 4 straight plate appearances with a HR:

View: https://twitter.com/tom_mussa_v2/status/1554403813343346691?s=20&t=wC5-KRcckXvXZR6IqHYDkg


...making him the 14th player in league history to accomplish that. Then his next time up...

View: https://twitter.com/JCoskrey/status/1554412495489888256?s=20&t=wC5-KRcckXvXZR6IqHYDkg


5 PAs, 5 HR. He's the only player ever to do it in NPB -- has it ever been done in the Majors? Then he doubled his next time up so 6 PAs, 6 XBH. He's now slashing .321/.452/.721 on the season and at the moment seems like a lock for his 2nd straight Central League MVP award.

*****

Elsewhere in NPB, Roki Sasaki is back on the mound tonight for first time in over a month (except for an inning in the ASG); hopefully his blister issues are behind him.
 

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View: https://twitter.com/jonmorosi/status/1555390137005129728?s=20&t=9ehdIGR473d6wSFoS72ZkQ


Text from Morosi tweet:
Sources: RHP Kodai Senga of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks is expected to consider @MLB contract offers this winter. Senga, 29, starred at the ’17
@WBCBaseball and is 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA this year. He is eligible for international free agency and won’t need to be posted.

He's been on MLB scount radars for many years now but hasn't been able to stay healthy. He'll be 30 in January and I guess given the age & injury history would probably be looking for a 3-4 year deal.
 

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Murakami hit a solo shot tonight in a losing effort, but it was his 40th of the year, making him the youngest player in NPB history to have a 40HR season. Sadaharu Oh and one other guy both did it as 23 year olds.

The Swallows have lost 6 straight unfortunately and have seen their division lead shrink to 7 games.

EDIT: he hit it off Nik Turley, who google tells me was once briefly in the Sox minor league system. Here's the shot:

View: https://twitter.com/Ds_Swallows_out/status/1557696975893843968?s=20&t=oXboXSBi2bOeIqA20PtNJA

Also, for anyone interested in a language pun, at the 0:22 mark you can hear the announcer call him "Murakami-sama." Sama is an elevated, more polite version of the honorific -san name suffix. However players are not normally even called -san but rather -senshu (player). So typically they'd refer to him as Murakami-senshu, Ohtani as Ohtani-senshu etc. This was why I found the Angels broadcast call of, "Big fly Ohtani-san!" so grating at first. (Funnily though and as an aside, Japanese people have picked up on that and embraced the slight oddity of it, and now he is frequently referred to in Japanese media as Ohtani-san.) Anyway in Murakami's case why use -sama? Because the kami in his name 村上 is a homonym for the kami in kamisama (神様), which means god. And since he's basically in god mode right now, you get Murakami-sama. On twitter you can find hashtags of both #村上様 and #村神様. And here's a sports paper front page that used the latter in print a couple months ago:
AD0D50C8-2D2D-4A17-BDF5-1BFD83D0ADCC.jpeg
 
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StupendousMan

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Oh, man. That video reminds me that I still have a teeny tiny clear plastic Swallows umbrella packed up in a box in my closet. I ought to take it out and use it during Sox games.