Sunday, January 27, 2019

Kenji Ohtonari

Hawks and Marines pitcher Kenji Ohtonari called it quits at the end of the 2018 season.  Ohtonari was the top pick of the Hawks in the College/Corporate League portion of the 2006 NPB draft out of Kinki University.  He was not their first round pick but something that by 2006 was called the "preferred entry frame" but I suspect was similar to the "freedom acquisition frame" used by the Lions to sign Taketoshi Gotoh four years earlier.  He made his debut with the top team in mid-season 2007 and was a mainstay of the rotation by the following year.  He missed most of the 2011 season due to illness but bounced back in 2012 with what was probably his best season of his career, going 12-8 with a 2.03 ERA.  His playing time was severely diminished after that, only appearing in 29 games with the ichi-gun Hawks over the next five seasons (including only single games in each of 2016 & 17).  Injuries were partly to blame - he developed lower back issues in 2013 and had an elbow injury in 2015.  Softbank released him following the 2017 season and after participating in the 12 team tryout that December he eventually signed with Lotte in mid-February of this year.  He really only made one start for the ichi-gun Marines and he got hammered in it - his former team the hawks lit him up for seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on seven hits including a pair of two run home runs by Yuki Yanagita and Alfredo Despaigne.  He had a second start on October 3rd against the Hawks again which was really just his retirement game - he only faced one batter, giving up a hit to Seiji Uebayashi.  Unfortunately due to Tomohito Sakai's pitching in relief, Ohtonari was ultimately charged with an unearned run and the loss in a game the Marines dropped 10-2.  So his numbers for the year ended up being 0-2 with a 37.80 ERA.  He will be one of the pitching coaches for the Marines farm team next season.

Ohtonari made the All Star team in 2012 and pitched for the Japanese National Team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.  Despite Softbank playing in (and winning) four Nippon Series during his time with them, he only appeared in one of them - he started and won Game 3 of the 2014 Series against the Hanshin Tigers.

Ohonari's BBM rookie cards are #20 from the 2007 Rookie Edition set and #104 from the 2007 1st Version set.  His Calbee rookie is #241 from the 2007 Series Three set.

2007 BBM Rookie Edition #20

2007 BBM 1st Version #104

2010 BBM 1st Version #296

2012 BBM All Stars #A09

2013 Topps Tribute WBC #32

2015 Calbee #005

2018 BBM Marines #M28

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