Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nagisa Arakaki

Pitcher Nagisa Arakaki who was released by Yakult at the end of the season announced his retirement a few weeks ago after failing to get any offers after the "12 team tryout" session in late November.  Arakaki was drafted by both the Hawks and Orix in the first round of the 1998 draft out of high school and Orix won the lottery for him.  Arakaki really wanted to go to the Hawks, however, so he refused to sign with the Blue Wave and attended Kyushu Kyoritsu University instead.  The Orix scout who had been responsible for the team drafting him, Katsutoshi Miwata, subsequently committed suicide.

Arakaki was drafted out of college by the Hawks in the fall 2002 draft.  Actually to be completely accurate, he signed with the Hawks using something that translates as the "freedom acquisition frame" which I think means that Arakaki was able to choose the Hawks directly.  The Hawks signed both him and Tsuyoshi Wada via this route in the 2002 draft but I believe it cost them their first three picks in the draft.  He almost immediately moved into the starting rotation his rookie season, going 8-7 with a 3.34 ERA before being shutdown late in the season with an ankle injury.  He returned in time to make a couple appearances out of the bullpen against the Tigers in the Nippon Series that year.  He would go 34-19 over the next three seasons, combining with Wada and Kazumi Saitoh to form one of the strongest starting rotations in NPB.  He lead the Pacific League in strikeouts with 177 in 2004 and his 13-5, 3.01 ERA year in 2006 was probably the best season of his career.

His control started to abandon him in 2007 when he sent a new NPB record with 25 wild pitches on the season.  He still made 21 starts however and his overall numbers weren't too bad (3.60 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings).  It would be the last time he would make more than 15 starts or have an ERA less than 4 in a season.  He would fight injuries and ineffectiveness over the next four seasons, making only 19 starts with the ichi-gun team in 2008 & 2009 and spending all of 2010 and 2011 with the farm team.  The departures of Wada, Toshiya Sugiuchi and DJ Houlton forced the Hawks to put him back in the starting rotation in 2012 where he went 6-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 15 starts.  He pitched poorly again in 2013 and spent most of 2014 with the farm team until he was traded to the Swallows on July 22 with Hirofumi Yamanaka in exchange for Keizo Kawashima and Ryo Hidaka.  He went 4-14 over the past 2+ seasons with Yakult and the Swallows released him at the end of the season.

Surprisingly he only made one All Star team (2004) during his career (and was not included in the card set for some reason) and only pitched in one Nippon Series (2003).

His first BBM cards are #64 in the 2003 Rookie Edition set (which I don't have) and #274 in the 2003 1st Version set.  His first Calbee card (which I also don't have) is #144 from the 2003 set.  He also had a rookie card in Konami's Prime Nine set (#PN03B1097).  He continued to have cards over the years in the various BBM, Calbee, Konami and Bandai issues.

2003 BBM 1st Version #274

2003 BBM Nippon Series #03

2005 BBM 1st Version #516

2005 Calbee #009

2006 BBM 2nd Version "I Am Ace" insert #IA02

2008 BBM Hawks #H81

2012 BBM Hawks #H07

2015 BBM 2nd Version #371

2016 BBM Swallows #S32

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