Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sho Aranami

Former Yokohama DeNA Baysters Sho Aranami announced his retirement back at the end of August.  Aranami was born and raised in Yokohama and attended Yokohama High School, alma mater of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh among countless other professional baseball players - including his high school and Baystars teammate Takehiro Ishikawa.  He attended Tokai University and played for the Collegiate National Team in both 2006 and 2007.  He joined Toyota of the industrial leagues after graduating college and spent two seasons (I think) playing for them.  He was taken by the Baystars in the third round of the 2010 draft.

He made his debut with the ichi-gun Baystars late in the 2011 season and was the team's starting center fielder on Opening Day of 2012.  That would end up being probably his best season, as he played in 141 games, hit .268, stole 24 bases and lead the Central League in triples with 7.  He also won a Golden Glove that season.  He missed some time with a broken nose and/or cheekbone the next season but still got in 126 games, hitting .258 and winning a second Golden Glove award.

His playing time with the top team dropped off considerably after the 2013 season and I'm not entirely sure why.  I think some of it was due to injury - he broke a finger in training camp in 2014 - but some of it appears to be that he became less effective and the Baystars had better options.  He only got into 63 games in 2014, 70 in 2015, 36 in 2016, 47 in 2017 and 11 in 2018.  Following the 2018 season the Baystars released him.  He was hoping to get a contract with another NPB team but none was forthcoming.  He ended up signing with the Monterrey Sultans of the Mexican League, joining former NPB players Yadir Drake, Yamaico Navarro and Wirfin Obispo.  He hit .293 for the Sultans but he was released at the end of June.

Aranami is one of those rare Japanese players who have a pre-rookie card.  As an insert to the 2008 USA Baseball National Teams Box Set, Upper Deck created a set of memorabilia (and autographed) cards for the 2007 Japanese Collegiate National Team.  Aranami's first cards are in this set.  His first BBM cards are from the 2011 Rookie Edition (#091) and 1st Version (#319) sets.  He had his first Bandai and Konami in 2012 as well as a "Star" insert card from Calbee but his first regular Calbee card wasn't until their 2013 set (#032).  Here's a bunch of his cards:

2008 Upper Deck USA Baseball National Teams Box Set #JN-1

2011 BBM Rookie Edition #091

2011 BBM 1st Version #319

2012 BBM 2nd Version #655

2013 BBM 1st Version #388

2013 Front Runner Baystars Rookies & Young Stars #06

2014 BBM Speed & Smart #14

2016 Calbee #139

2017 BBM Baystars #DB59

2018 Baystars Team Issued Set #4

Card Of The Week October 20

The Nippon Series kicked off this weekend in Fukuoka.  The Hawks won both games against the Giants and are halfway to winning their third straight championship.  Kodai Senga got the start for the Hawks in Game One.  He also started Game One for the Hawks in the 2017 and 2018 Nippon Series.  He's the third pitcher in NPB history to start Game One of the Nippon Series three consecutive years.  The previous two players to do it were Tsuneo Horiuchi of the Giants from 1969-71 and Hisashi Yamada of the Hankyu Braves from 1976-78.  Here's a card of each of them:

1978 Takara #18

1982 Calbee #35
H/T NPB Reddit.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Card Shops In Japan: Mint Fukuoka

Please check my "Card Shops in Japan" page before planning a trip to this store to verify that it's still where it was when I visited.

Mint Fukuoka is yet another example of one of the Mint chain's "mall" stores.  It's located on the sixth floor of the Tenjin Vivre shopping mall smack in the middle of what I believe is downtown Fukuoka.  It's similar in many respects to the Mint stores I previously visited in Shinjuku, Sendai, Umeda and Hiroshima - most of what they had was recent products from BBM, Calbee and Epoch.  They had boxes and packs for sale and some singles but only from the last few years.  They appeared to be more focused on "hits" as well as gaming cards (there are tables here for customers to use for gameplay).  I did see some complete teams sets for sale as well as a case containing rookie cards going back to the mid-1990's.  There were a lot of Hawks and former Hawks represented in those rookie cards - I remember seeing the BBM rookie cards for Kenji Johjima (1995), Tadahito Iguchi (1997) and Munenori Kawasaki (2000) in the case.  I considered buying the 2011 Calbee Tetsuto Yamada that was in the case but I ultimately decided against it.  The store also appeared to carry a lot of Idol cards although not as many as Mint Ponyland.

Here's a couple photos of the store - for some reason I didn't get a shot of the outside of the mall.

The store was featured in Sports Card Magazine #110.

My feeling towards this store was basically "meh".  It struck me as kind of a generic Mint mall store with nothing really to distinguish it other than a bit of a specialization on the Hawks.  I've wondered since I was there if I had looked harder if I would have found some Hawks team issued sets but I really didn't see anything there I hadn't seen at other stores.  This was the first store I visited on my trip that I didn't buy anything at.

Here's a map showing the shop's location:

Friday, October 18, 2019

2019 Premier 12 Korean Roster

Thought I'd do a quick post featuring the Korean roster for the upcoming Premier 12.  Well, maybe "quick" isn't the right word as the lack of English on most of my Korean cards makes any post that has a lot of them a bit more work than usual.

Like my post for the Samurai Japan team the other day I used National team cards of the players when possible.  One note - I'm listing the players in the order that they are listed in the roster on the Premier 12's website and how the names are romanized which may not be the way the names are romanized on the cards themselves or the order that you'd expect to see them.

CHA Woochan 2018 SCC KBO Collection #125

CHO Sangwoo 2019 SCC KBO Collection #062

CHOI Jeong 2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R129

GO Woosuk 2019 SCC Premium #158

HA Jaehoon 2019 SCC Premium #001
HAM Deokju 2014 Superstar Baseball #SBC03-093

HAN Hyunhee 2014 Superstar Baseball Season Three #SBC03-061-AS

HUR Kyoungmin 2015 Superstar Baseball SBC1502-108-N

HWANG Jaegyun 2018 SCC KBO Collection #233

KANG Baekho 2018 SCC KBO Collection #239

KIM Kwanghyun 2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R123

KIM Jaehwan 2017 Vittum Home Run Kings #3

KIM Ha Seong 2019 SCC KOB Collection #073

KIM Sangsu 2015 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC1501-113-N

KIM Hyunsoo 2009 Konami WBC Heroes All Tournament Team #W09A012

KOO Changmo 2017 SCC #SCC-01-NC09

LEE Youngha 2018 SCC KBO Collection 2 Black #030

LEE Jung-Hoo 2019 SCC Premium #088

MIN Byunghun 2018 SCC KBO Collection 2 Red #018

MOON Kyeongchan 2018 SCC KBO Collection #004

PARK Jonghun 2016 Forever Ace #PA03-SK009

PARK Seihyok 2017 SCC #SCC-01-DS12

PARK Kunwoo 2014 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC01-019

PARK Byungho 2015 Superstar Baseball Season Two Sticker

PARK Min Woo 2018 SCC KBO Collection #085

WON Jonghyan 2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-074-N

YANG Hyeonjong 2017 Bowman "Paper Prospects" #BP141

YANG Euiji 2019 SCC Premium #210

Thursday, October 17, 2019

2019 NPB Draft

Today was draft day for NPB.  In the past I've always mislabelled the draft by using the following year in identifying it (for instance calling the draft that happened in October of 2015 the "2016 Draft") but since I haven't done a post for the draft in two years I figure it's time to correct this.  You can see the results (as always) over at Marinerds as well as this post over at NPB Reddit.

I didn't think I'd be doing another draft post since BBM hasn't done a collegiate card set in over six years now but luckily Panini put out a bunch of autograph/memorabilia cards (as well as what are basically some non-autograph/non-memorabilia insert cards) for the 2018 Japanese Collegiate All Star team with their USA Baseball Stars & Stripes set last spring.  A couple of those players were taken in today's draft:

Shoki Katsumata, Kokusai Budo University (Buffaloes #5)

#JCS-SK (Samurai Japan Patch)

Masato Morishita, Meiji University (Carp #1)

#JC-MM (All Star Signatures)

Toshiya Sato, Toyo University (Marines #2)


Takashi Umino, Tokai Univ (Hawks #2)

Eight other players in the set were taken in last year's draft so with the addition of these four players half of the 24 players are now in NPB (assuming all four of these players sign).  I had been particularly interested in where Morishita got drafted as I saw him pitch last May.  I was a little disappointed that another Tokyo Big Six pitcher that I saw (Rikkio's Seiya Tanaka) did not declare for the draft.  Deanna Rubin told me that he's "got a job with Osaka Gas" (i.e. will be playing for Osaka Gas's industrial league team) for the next two years and will see how things go after that. She thinks he's concerned he's too short to be a professional pitcher.  Tanaka is also in the Panini set.

One other note about the draft - two members of last summer's Shikoku Island League All Star team that played in the Can-Am League were drafted - Junichiro Kishi was taken in the eighth round by Seibu while Hayato Hirama was taken in the first round of the ikusei draft.  Both had played for the Tokushima Indigo Socks (oh, wait, that's the 2019 Shikoku Island League Champion AND 2019 Grand Champion Tokushima Indigo Socks).  I don't know if there are any cards available for them.  There were two other players drafted from the SIL but neither of them played on the Can-Am League team last summer.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

2019 Premier 12 Samurai Japan Roster

The 2019 Premier 12 is kicking off in just over two weeks on November 2nd although Japan doesn't play their first game until the 5th.  Two teams out of the tournament will qualify for the 2020 Olympics.  Japan actually doesn't have anything other than bragging rights at stake since they automatically qualify for the Olympics since they are the host country.

The Premier 12 kicks off a great 18 month period if you're a fan of international baseball tournaments like I am.  The three biggest tournaments will happen in that time frame - the Premier 12 next month, the Olympic in August of 2020 and the World Baseball Classic in March of 2021.  In between the big tournaments will be smaller tournaments for teams to qualify for both the Olympics and the WBC.

The Samurai Japan roster was announced a few weeks ago.  Here's a card of each player - if the player was on a card from a National team set, I used it:

2016 BBM Carp Autographed Edition #13

2017 Topps Now WBC Team Japan #JPN-7

2019 Epoch NPB #197

2018 Epoch Lions Rookies & Stars #48

2019 Baystars Team Set #21

2018 BBM Hawks 80th Anniversary Celebration #08

2017 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-25

2018 Epoch NPB #75 
2017 Topps Now WBC Team Japan #JPN-3

2013 BBM Young Fighters #YF14

2013 Topps Tribute WBC #91

2017 Topps Museum Collection #WBCPR-YM

2017 BBM Eagles #E24

2016 BBM Giants #G27

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-10

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-25

2017 Topps Now WBC #W-62

2019 BBM Hawks #H52

2017 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-34

2017 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-18

2019 Calbee #155

2015 Lions Fan Club #44

2017 Bowman "Paper Prospects" #BP56

2018 Epoch One #422/YG-064

2019 BBM Icons - Teenage Memories #10

2017 Epoch Pacific League #54

2017 Calbee Samuri Japan #JS-10

2018 BBM Icons - Fanfare #11