Monday, March 1, 2021

Kazuki Yoshimi

Kazuki Yoshimi of the Chunichi Dragons announced his retirement at the end of last season.  Yoshimi spent a couple years playing for Toyota in the industrial leagues before he declared for the 2005 draft.  He and the Dragons entered into an agreement known as "reverse nomination" where a player could select the team he wanted to sign with and not actually be subject to the draft.  

He made his debut with the ichi-gun team in September of 2006 and pitched out of the bullpen in the Nippon Series that year.  He moved into the starting rotation in 2008 and rolled off a couple impressive seasons after that, culminating in perhaps his best season in 2011, when he went 18-3 with a 1.65 ERA.  He started to have elbow issues in 2012 and missed the second half of 2013 and most of 2014 after having Tommy John surgery.  Injuries and ineffectiveness would plague him over the rest of his career.

He was a four time All Star (2008-11 although he declined to participate in the 2008 games due to injury).  He led the Central League in Wins twice (2009, 2011), ERA once (2011) and shutouts four times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012).  He won the Best 9 and "Pitcher Of The Year" awards in 2011.  He pitched for the Dragons in three Nippon Series - 2006, 2010 and 2011, although he didn't play in 2007, the only Series they won.  He won the "Fighting Spirit" Award for the 2011 Series.  

His first baseball card was in the 2006 BBM Rookie Edition set (#62) and he also appeared in that year's 1st Version set (#279).  His first Calbee cards were in the 2008 Series Three set - #205 and #LL-6 (the LL card was a "League Leader" subset card - he was included for leading the Central League in ERA as of the end of June, 2008).  Here's a selection of his cards:

2006 BBM Rookie Edition #62

2006 BBM 1st Version #279

2009 BBM All Stars #A41

2011 BBM Nippon Series #S59

2012 Calbee #T-06

2015 BBM Classic #055

2016 BBM Dragons Dash #07

2018 Epoch NPB #368

2020 BBM 2nd Version #367

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