Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Yasutomo Kubo of the Sugar Land Skeeters

I had somehow missed this story a few months back but former Marines, Tigers and Baystars pitcher Yasutomo Kubo came to the US a few months back.  He had originally signed with the Gary SouthShore Railcats of the American Association back in April.  The team released him in mid-May but resigned him in late June just before they traded him to the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League for future considerations.  His manager with the Skeeters is former Chiba Lotte Marine Pete Incavilgia. 

Kubo was drafted in the "free frame" by Lotte in the 2004 draft from Matsushita Electric of the corporate leagues (who he had joined after graduating from Kansaidai Number One High School).  He won his first seven decisions that year and ended up going 10-3 for the eventual Nippon Series champions.  He didn't get into the Series though (the Marines swept the Tigers in four games so I'm guessing he would have started Game Five if it had gone that far) but he did win the Pacific League MVP award.  He was Lotte's Opening Day starter in 2006 but had a poor season, going 7-13.  He missed some time the following year due to a broken finger and his numbers suffered. 

Following the 2008 season Lotte traded him to the Hanshin Tigers for Kentaro Hashimoto.  He went 14-5 in 2010, leading the Central League in Winning Percentage and making the All Star team for the only time in his career.  After being a starter for most of his career the Tigers moved him into a relief role after Kyuji Fujikawa went to the US in 2013.  He left the Tigers for the Baystars as a free agent after that year and he went back to starting role, going 12-6 in 2014.  His playing time decreased over the next three years - last year he only started seven games with the ichi-gun Baystars, going 4-2 with an ERA of 5.35.  The Baystars released him in early October.

His BBM rookie cards are #20 from the 2005 Rookie Edition set and #159 from the 2005 1st Version set.  He's had cards in every 1st Version set from 2005 until 2016.  His first Calbee card was in the Title Holders subset (#T-03) from the 2006 set.  His first "regular" Calbee card was not until 2009 (card #171).  Check out his card list at TradingCardDB.com for a more comprehensive list.

Here's a bunch of his cards:

2005 BBM Rookie Edition #20

2005 BBM 1st Version #159

2006 BBM 1st Version #435

2008 BBM Lotte 40th Anniversary #84

2009 BBM 2nd Version #781

2010 BBM All Stars #A14

2014 Calbee #159

2017 BBM Baystars #DB15
The Skeeters were playing the Lancaster Barnstormers this past weekend.  Since Lancaster, Pennsylvania is only about an hour from my home I went up last Friday night to see if I could get an autograph from him.  Kubo never made an appearance before the game - one of the pitchers in the bullpen told me he usually is stretching under the stands before the game but I might be able to catch him after the game - he said they'd tell him that someone was looking for him.  Unfortunately just after I finished this conversation the skies opened up.  After I waited for about an hour for them to be able to start the game I decided there wasn't much chance of them getting the game in and I wanted to beat the rush to leave.  Sure enough on my way home I discovered that the game had been rained out.  I wasn't able to get back up there on either Saturday or Sunday but the Skeeters are coming back to Lancaster next weekend (the 17th to the 19th) and hopefully I'll be able to try again then.

No comments: