Thursday, November 23, 2017

Daisuke Fujimura

Giants infielder Daisuke Fujimura is another player who retired at the end of the season.  Fujimura was the Giants' first pick in the 2007 high school draft out of Kumamoto Industrial High School.  He spent his first three seasons exclusively with their farm team.  He made his debut with the ichi-gun Giants on May 10, 2011 and he made the most of his rookie season - he got into 119 games and lead the Central League with 28 steals despite only hitting .222.   That was probably the highlight of his career - he never got into that many games in a season again.  After hitting .252 in 109 games in 2012 (and appearing in that year's Nippon Series), his playing time dropped to 40 games in 2013 and 21 games in 2014.  He only got into 5 games at the ichi-gun level in the past three seasons (all in 2016).  He's taking an unspecified role in the Giants organization.

His BBM rookie cards are from the 2008 Rookie Edition (#1) and 1st Version (#031) sets.  He only had two Calbee cards ever, both from 2012 (#194 and #T-18 from the "Title Holders" subset).

2008 BBM Rookie Edition #1

2008 BBM 1st Version #031

2011 BBM 2nd Version #444

2012 BBM 1st Version #336

2012 Calbee #194

2012 BBM Nippon Series #S18

2017 BBM Giants #G52

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Award Winners

The MVP and Rookie of the Year awards were announced earlier this week.  The MVPs were Dennis Sarfate of the Hawks and Yoshihiro Maru of the Carp.

2017 BBM 1st Version #039

2017 BBM 1st Version #181
The Rookies of the Year were Sosuke Genda of the Lions and Yota Kyoda of the Dragons.

2017 BBM 1st Version #105

2017 BBM 1st Version #320
Tomoyuki Sugano of the Giants won the Sawamura Award a few weeks ago.

2017 BBM 1st Version #193
The Best 9 teams were announced last week.  Normally I try to show the Best 9 teams with Calbee cards but I ran into some issues since the Calbee set is only about two thirds the size it is normally.  As a result six of the players did not have "regular" cards in the set so I had to either use cards from the "Title Holder" subset or from BBM's 2nd Version set.

2017 Calbee #022

2017 BBM 2nd Version #402

2017 Calbee #028

2017 Calbee #020

2017 Calbee #030

2017 Calbee #007

2017 Calbee #T-11

2017 Calbee #094

2017 Calbee #073

2017 Calbee #084

2017 Calbee #T-15

2017 BBM 2nd Version #489

2017 Calbee #049

2017 Calbee #T-20

2017 Calbee #126

2017 Calbee #037

2017 Calbee #110

2017 Calbee #113

2017 Calbee #T-21

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Card Of The Week November 19

Out of town over the weekend so I'm a couple days late on this...

The first Asia Professional Baseball Championship tournament wrapped up on Sunday with Japan defeating Korea 7-0.  Shuta Tonosaki from the Saitama Seibu Lions was named MVP of the tournament after going 6 for 13 with a home run and four RBI.  Here's a card of Tonosaki from the 2015 Lions team-issued set:

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Topps Now WBC Japan Team Set

With the year almost over it's pretty obvious now that Topps is not going to do anything more in the way of a World Baseball Classic set than what they issued back in March via Topps Now.  They ultimately issued 64 Topps Now WBC cards.  In addition, they issued four ten card team sets, one for each one of the teams that made the finals - Japan, USA, Puerto Rico and the Kingdom Of The Netherlands.  Each of these team sets cost $35 and were basically only available during the week of the semifinals and finals.

I had made the mistake of not ordering the Japan team set at the time because I mistakenly thought that Topps would issue a half way decent WBC set later in the season.  This has turned out not to be the case and so I've been trying to get one of these sets for the last few months. 

It has not been easy - there were only 143 sets issued.  I've only seen two complete sets up on Ebay - one is listed at $150 and the other is listed at $200.  I had picked up half the cards in the set from a seller in China but I way overpaid for them and I haven't seen the other five cards anywhere.  I had kind of resigned myself to not ever completing the set when I happened to search for WBC card on Yahoo! Japan Auctions and discovered someone selling the set for 6000 yen or roughly $55.  I was all set to grab the set via Noppin when I realized that the seller was an outfit called Good Eye Sports who is located in the New York City area.  It seemed kind of crazy to me to pay to ship the set from New York to Japan and then back from Japan to Maryland so I'd kind of decided not try to get the set when it occurred to me that the solution was to get Ryan to buy it and have them ship it directly to me.  Luckily for me Ryan was willing to do it and Good Eye Sports not only was willing to ship it directly to me but they didn't charge for the shipping!

The players in the set are essentially the main lineup for the team plus pitcher Shintaro Fujinami.  Fujinami is an odd selection since he only pitched two innings in the WBC but I'm sure Topps was selecting who they thought the most likely future MLB player was on the pitching staff.  The position players were all the players who got the most at bats during the tournament with the exception of Seiya Suzuki - Shogo Akiyama was included instead.

The set itself is beautiful.  Here's all ten cards:










My only gripe about the cards is that the backs are almost all identical.  There's no biographical information for the player.  All there is is pretty much the same text on each card: "[Player Name] helped Team Japan to a 6-0 record and a semifinal berth as [description of position].  Team Japan was defeated by Team USA in the semifinals, ending its quest to capture its third World Baseball Classic tournament title since its inception in 2006". 

So once again I need to thank Ryan for helping me out!  Thanks!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Asian Players in the 2017/18 Australian Baseball League

The 2017/18 Australian Baseball League kicked off today with the defending champion Brisbane Bandits defeating the Canberra Cavalry 8-5.  As has been the case in previous seasons, there are a number of players on the rosters of the six teams that come from the professional leagues in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

There are only three players from NPB in the league this year but they are a pretty significant trio.  For the seventh straight season (all of the seasons since the league restarted in 2010-11 other than the first) the Saitama Seibu Lions are sending players to the Melbourne Aces.  This year the players are Tomoya Mori, Kona Takahashi and Shunta Nakatsuka.  Mori was the first pick of the Lions in the 2013 draft and was an All Star in 2015.  He's one of the most promising young players in NPB.  Takahashi was the Lions first pick in the 2014 draft and is one of the Lions top pitching prospects.  Natatsuka was the Lions second round pick in the 2016 draft but since he was drafted out of college he's actually the oldest of the three players.  Graveyard Baseball has some more details on the trio's background.

2014 BBM Rookie Edition #010

2015 BBM Rookie Edition #039

2017 BBM Rookie Edition #029

There is one former or current KBO player in the league.  Former Doosan Bear and NC Dino pitcher Chang-Sung Ko is with the Sydney Blue Sox.  Ko was with Doosan from 2008-12 and NC from 2013-15 but I'm not sure where he's been the past two seasons - I think he was still with the Dinos but just in the minors but I don't know that for sure.

2014 Super Star Baseball Season Two #SBC02-094
There are five Taiwanese players in the league although only four of them are veterans of the CPBL.  Jin-De Jhang of the Sydney Blue Sox has played in the Pirates organization the past six seasons after signing with them out of high school.  His Blue Sox teammate Chih-Hsien Chiang is another player with US minor league experience - he spent the 2006-14 seasons in the Red Sox, Mariners, Rangers and Oriole organizations.  He's been with the Chinatrust Brothers for the past three seasons. He was also on the Chinese Taipei WBC team in 2009 and 2017.

2009 Konami Baseball Heroes WBC Edition #W09R046
Brisbane has two Taiwanese players - pitcher Pin-Jui Chiu and shortstop Chih-Sheng Lin.  I haven't been able to find out much about Chiu other than he pitches for the Chinatrust Brothers but Lin is a big star in the CPBL.  He played for the La New Bears/Lamigo Monkeys from 2004 to 2015 and then became the first player in CPBL history to change teams as a free agent when he signed with the Chinatrust Brothers in 2016.  He was also the CPBL's first 30/30 player in 2010.  He was a member of the Chinese Taipei national team for the  2006, 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics, the 2008 Olympic and the 2012 Premier 12.  In the 2012 Premier 12 he helped beat Cuba in a nail biter of a game by hitting a three run homer in the bottom of the eighth to break a 1-1 tie:

The final Taiwanese player in the ABL this season is 40 year old Tai-San Chang of the Adelaide Bite.  Chang is the career hit and home run leader for the CPBL.  He played for the Wei Chuan Dragons from 1996-1999, the Sinon Bulls from 2000-10 and the Uni-President 7-11 Lions from 2010-15.  He spent 2016 with the Tokushima Indigo Socks of the independent Shikoku Island League in Japan but I'm not sure he played anywhere during 2017.  He was a member of the Chinese Taipei national team for the Olympic in 2004 and 2008 and the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Kentaro Takasaki

Kentaro Takasaki, a pitcher with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars, also announced his retirement at the end of the season.  Takasaki signed with the Baystars in the "preferred entry frame" of the fall 2007 college/industrial league draft - I'm not positive but I think this was a way for a team to come to an agreement with a player before the actual draft.  It looks like because they signed him they didn't get to pick until the third round of the draft.  Which would be a big disadvantage except that it looks like all the teams except the Eagles did the same thing. 

Anyway Takasaki (who had been playing for Nissan Motors in the industrial leagues when he signed with the Baystars) spent most of 2007 with the Baystars' farm team where he went 10-5 to lead the Eastern League in wins.  He got into a handful of games with the ichi-gun team that year and the next before becoming a workhorse out of the bullpen in 2009, getting into 56 games in middle relief.  He spent most of 2010 with the ni-gun team again but moved into the Baystars' starting rotation in 2011.  He was the team's Opening Day starter in 2012 and was scheduled to be again in 2013 but an injury forced the Baystars to give the start to Shugo Fujii instead.  His playing time with the top team started to diminish after that due to both injuries and ineffectiveness.  He spent all of 2016 with the farm team and only made it into one game this past year.

His BBM rookie cards are #85 from the Rookie Edition set and #429 from the 1st Version set.  His first Calbee card was #073 from the 2012 set.

2007 BBM Rookie Edition #85

2007 BBM 1st Version #429

2012 Calbee #OP-12

2013 BBM Genesis Jersey Card

2014 Front Runner Baystars Rookies & Young Stars #20

2017 BBM Baystars #DB12