Another player who retired last fall was pitcher Yuya Kubo, most recently a member of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Kubo was the top draft pick of the Yomiuri Giants in the 2002 draft out of Tokai University. I guess technically he wasn't actually a draft pick - he signed with the Giants as their "free acquisition" pick which meant that he and the team came to terms before the draft and no other team had a shot at drafting him.
He made his NPB debut early in 2003 and split his first couple seasons split between starting and relieving before settling into a middle relief role in 2005 and 2006. He spent a lot of time with the farm team from 2007 to 2009 (although he did make an appearance in the 2008 Nippon Series) but that all changed in 2010. He pitched in 79 games in middle relief and went 8-1 with a 2.77 ERA and made the All Star team for the first time. He had an even better season in 2011, posting an ERA of 1.17 in 67 games. I'm not positive but I think he was the closer for part of the season as he had 20 saves.
He had hip surgery after the 2011 season and that appears to have been the beginning of injury issues that plagued him for the remainder of his career. He suffered an elbow injury at the beginning of the 2012 season and needed Tommy John surgery which cost him the rest of the season and most of 2013. He pitched ok in 2014, going 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 48 games but he spent the entire 2015 season on the farm and was released at the end of the year.
The Yokohama DeNA Baystars signed him for the 2016 season. He spent most of the season with their farm team, going 3-0 with an ERA of 3.64 in 22 games. He didn't pitch as well with the ichi-gun squad, posting an ERA of 5.25 in nine games and the Baystars released him after the season ended.
Kubo took part in the 12-team tryout in November of 2016 and ended up getting signed by the Eagles. He pitched pretty well in 2017, going 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 games but he developed a circulation problem with his fingers late in the season. The Eagles released him after the season ended but immediately resigned him to an ikuesei contract.
He pitched well enough for the farm team in 2018 for the Eagles to re-sign him to the 70 man roster in May. He went 1-0 with an ERA of 1.71 in 25 games that year and followed that up with a 2-1 record with a 2.82 ERA in 22 games in 2019. He spent the first month of 2020 on the farm team before getting called up at the end of July. He got the win in his first appearance on July 30th although he did so by only facing a single hitter in a game where the starting pitcher failed to go five innings. He only appeared in four other games and they didn't go as well as he posted a 13.50 ERA for the season.
Kubo is one of the rare Japanese players to have a pre-rookie card as he appeared in the 2002 BBM set for the Japanese National Team from the 2001 IBAF Baseball World Cup. His BBM rookie cards from 2003 are #1 from the Rookie Edition set, #25 from the 1st Version set and #434 from the 2nd Version set. His first Calbee card was also from 2003, #88 from the Series Two set. Here's a bunch of his cards:
|2002 BBM Japanese National Team #9|
|2003 BBM Rookie Edition #1|
|2003 BBM 1st Version #25|
|2007 Konami Baseball Heroes 3 White Edition #B07W136|
|2008 BBM Nippon Series #S30|
|2010 Giants Winning Game Card #41|
|2011 BBM All Stars #A46|
|2014 BBM 2nd Version #553|
|2016 Baystars Team Set #00|
|2020 BBM Fusion #29|