Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Asian Players In The 2018/19 Australian Baseball League And Other Winter Leagues

The 2018/19 season for the Australian Baseball League kicks off in less than six hours and I wanted to do a quick round up of some of the Asian players in the league this season, especially of course the NPB players.  There are at least nine NPB players down under this winter.

As usual the Saitama Seibu Lions are sending players to the Melbourne Aces - this will be the eighth straight season they've done so.  This year they are sending only two players - pitchers Hiromasa Saitoh and Hayato Takagi.  Saitoh was the Lions first round pick in the 2017 draft out of Meiji University.  Takagi was a third round pick of the Giants in the 2014 draft and was acquired by the Lions as compensation last winter when the Giants signed Ryoma Nogami as a free agent.  Graveyard Baseball has more details on these two players.

2018 Epoch NPB #67

2018 BBM 1st Version #033
The Canberra Cavalry and the Yokohama DeNA Baystars entered into a working agreement this fall and as a result the Baystars are sending four players to Canberra for the winter.  The players are Koki Aoyagi, Shota Imanaga, Yuki Kuniyoshi and Tomoya Mikami  Imanaga is the big name of this quartet - he was the Baystars first round pick in the 2015 draft .out of Komozawa University and went 11-7 in 2017 and helped the Baystars follow an unlikely path to the Nippon Series from a third place finish.  Aoyagi was the sixth round pick of the Baystars in 2015 out of Osaka Kinoshige High School and has yet to play for the ichi-gun team.  Kuniyoshi was the first pick of the Baystars in the ikusei portion of the 2009 draft.  He was registered to the 70-man roster in the middle of the 2011 season.  Mikami was a fourth round pick of the Baystars in the 2013 draft from JX-ENEOS of the corporate leagues and is a two time All Star (2014, 2016).

2016 BBM Baystars #DB66

2017 Calbee #053

2012 BBM 2nd Version #440

2015 BBM Baystars "Blue Diamond" insert #BD05
The ABL is featuring two new teams this season.  The Auckland Tuatara (who play in New Zealand) have three members of the Chiba Lotte Marines on their roster - Taiga Hirasawa, Tomohito Sakai and Atsuki Taneichi.  Hirasawa was the first pick of the 2015 draft by Lotte out of his high school in Sendai.  Sakai and Taneich were taken in the second and sixth round of the 2016 draft respectively.  In addition to the NPB players, the Tuatara are also getting three players from the Uni-Lions of the CPBL - Yu-Hsuan Chen, Chun-Wei Kuo and Yi-Hsuan Tsai.

2016 BBM Classic #018

2018 BBM 2nd Version #467

2017 BBM Marines #M33
The other new ABL team is the Geelong-Korea team that has been stocked with all Korean players.  As you might expect there are no NPB players on the roster.  The team is not affiliated with the KBO so there are no active KBO players on the roster but there are three players with KBO experience - Jin-Woo Kim (formerly of Kia), Jae-Gon Lee (Lotte) and Jin-Yong Jang (LG).  Of these three only Kim appears to have had any baseball cards in the SMG/Duael/Ntreev/SCC sets of the past few years.

2014 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC01-108
The only other Asian players I'm aware of in the ABL this season are two members of the Fubon Guardians of the CPBL who have joined the Sydney Blue Sox - Hao-Wei Shen and Chia-Jen Lo.

There are a couple additional NPB players who are playing in the Western Hemisphere this winter.  Tomo Otsaka of the Baystars has rejoined Yaquis de la Ciudad Obregon of the Mexican Pacific League - he spent the first half of last season there.  The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks are sending three players to the Puerto Rico Winter League (although I don't know which team) - Yusuke Masago, Ukyo Shuto and Junpei Takahashi.

2017 BBM Baystars #DB75

2017 BBM Hawks #H68

2018 BBM Rookie Edition #007

2017 Epoch Hawks #13
I'm sure that there will be additional players that I missed that are playing in various winter leagues around the world.  I will make additional posts as I discover players.

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