Saturday, July 2, 2016

Whatever Happened To The Class Of 2015?

The Shikoku Island All Stars tour of the CanAm League ends tonight with a game against the Cuban National Team (which has been doing their own similar tour of the league).  The team has gone 8-11 coming into tonight's game which is somewhat better than the 6-10 record they earned last year.  It will be interesting to see if the two leagues continue this tour next season.

I spoke briefly with Shikoku Island League All Star (and Kagawa Olive Guyner) Drew Naylor last year when I saw the All Stars take on the New Jersey Jackals.  Naylor said he was hoping to use both being in the Shikoku Island league and taking part in the tour as an opportunity to audition for a job with an NPB team.  His former Australian National teammate Mitch Dening had just moved from the Niigata Albirex of the Baseball Challenge (BC) League to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.  Naylor himself was signed by Chunichi shortly after returning to Japan and went 4-3 with an ERA of 3.81 in 8 starts with the Dragons in the last two months of the season.  Naylor started this year with the Dragons but he's been hurt the last two months.  (Dening was released by the Swallows over the winter and is playing with the Ehmine Mandarin Pirates of the Shikoku Island League.  He was not a part of the CanAm League tour.)

Naylor was not alone in using the league as an opportunity to move into NPB.  Six of his teammates on last year's All Star team roster were taken in the NPB draft last October.  In fact the only players from the Shikoku Island League who were drafted last fall were from the All Star team.  The players are Kosuke Akamatsu from Kagawa (Buffaloes, ikusei round 2), Daiki Masuda from the Tokushima Indigo Socks (Giants, ikusei round 1), Naoki Matsumoto from Kagawa (Lions, round 10), Yusuke Matsuzawa from Kagawa (Giants, ikusei round 3), Takamasa Ohki from Kagawa (Marines, ikusei round 1) and Shu Yoshida of Tokushima (Dragons, ikusei round 2.  Matsuzawa did not sign and returned to Kagawa (and was on this year's tour roster).

Kosuke Akamatsu has appeared in 19 games with the farm team for Orix so far this season.  He's batting .281.  Since all of his hits are singles, his slugging percentage is also .281.  Since this year's BBM Rookie Edition included all of the players taken in the ikusei draft, he has a card in that set.

2016 BBM Rookie Edition #050

Daiki Masuda is batting .167 in 16 games with the Giants farm team.

2016 BBM Rookie Edition #074

Naoki Matsumoto of the Lions is the only one of the draftees who was not signed as an ikusei player.  He's made 15 appearances with the Lions farm team, going 2-2 with an ERA of 4.44.  He's only pitched in around 24 innings, striking out 10 and walking 16.  Because he's not ikusei, he actually had a card in this year's BBM 1st Version set as well as a card in the Rookie Edition set (#038):

2016 BBM 1st Version #108
Takamasa Oki is hitting .220 in 60 games with the Marines farm team.

2016 BBM 1st Version #027
As far as I can tell Shu Yoshida has not appeared in any games with the Dragons ni-gun team this year (or the ichi-gun team for that matter).  He's still listed on the Dragons' roster so I don't think he's been released.

2016 BBM Rookie Edition #101

It will be interesting to see if any members of the current team get drafted next fall.

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