Monday, December 17, 2012

Handicapping the field (Part 3)

This will highlight the last part of my projected field in the Chuugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu regions.  Again this is merely a projection and not the official list:

関西 - Kanzei (Chuugoku, Okayama, Okayama-shi) - 12th appearance, 3rd consecutive - B+
Kanzei two summers ago went all the way to the semifinals.  They spent a year rebuilding, but are back at Koushien for Senbatsu.

Interestingly, they got stronger as they went deeper into the Fall taikais.  In their 4 prefectural games, they won by a combined 14-9.  They then went on a 50-9 run in 6 games (including wins over both Jyosuikan and Kouryou) before losing 12-4 to Sendai Ikuei n the Meiji Jingu final.

Leading the way for Kanzei is ace Koyama Yuuto (児山 祐人), though I can't find any real information on him.  In fact, there is little information about Kanzei out there, despite being the fall runner-up.

If there is a weakness for Kanzei, it appears they live on the big inning.  In fact, if not for a 5-run 7th, they would have lost to Kouryou in the final.  They should be considered as one of the favorites, but if they win it will in all likelihood be a team effort.

広陵 - Kouryou (Chuugoku, Hiroshima, Hiroshima-shi) - 23rd appearance, 1st in 3 years - C+
Kouryou finds themselves at Koushien after several years off.  They finish 2nd overall, despite finishing 3rd in the prefectural taikai to Soutoku and Jyosuikan.

But the body of work is rather unimpressive - though it's not really their fault.  They only had the "quality loss" to Jyosuikan in the prefecturals, and wound up playing Soutoku and 2 Yamaguchi-ken schools in the Super-Regionals.  So despite finishing 2nd overall, the impression is that they won't advance far at Senbatsu.

Shimoishi Ryouta (下石 涼太) is their ace, with a low 140 fastball, and a change in the low 120s.  Oota Hajime (太田 創) is the other pitcher they use though he's their SS as well.  He throws in the high 130s with a curve, slider and fork.

岩国商 - Iwakuni Shougyou (Chuugoku, Yamaguchi, Iwakuni-shi) - 1st appearance - C+
Well, when you send 4 teams into the Super-Regional as the home team you hope one of them will advance to Senbatsu - especially since this year Chuugoku sends 3 teams.

Yamaguchi champion Iwakuni Shougyou becomes that team.  Once again though, their resume is rather weak.  They defeated Iwakuni and Hayatomo by a run apiece in the semis and finals, only to see Hayatomo lose 10-0 to Iwakuni then see them lose to Kanzei 11-1.  In other worse, those wins cannot be considered quality wins.

Futhermore, in the Super Regionals they played unknown Tamashima Shougyou (Okayama) and the other Yamaguchi school, Ube Kougyou before being shutout by Kouryou in the semis 2-0.  It wasn't just a shutout, they were 3-hit and RF Yokota was responsible for 2 of those 3 hits.

Takahashi Yuuta (高橋 由弥) is the ace of the staff, carries a mid 130s fastball and an identified slider.

高知 - Kochi (Shikoku, Kochi, Kochi-shi) - 17th appearance, 2nd consecutive -C+
Kochi once again will go to Senbatsu by way of winning the Shikoku Super-Regional.  They pretty much steamrolled the competition right up until the Super-Regional semifinal.

There they had to rally twice to defeat Tokushima Shougyou 11-7,  then has to scramble after giving up a 3-run lead to defeat Naruto in the final 8-6.

Sakamoto Yuuta (坂本 優太) at Meiji Jingu appears to throw in the low-mid 130s with a slider, and a curve and change in the 110s.  He generally does not pitch the entire game though, passing the ball off to rookie Sakai Yuuya (酒井 祐弥) who already throws in the 140s with the same repertoire, or captain and 3B Wada Ren (和田 恋) who can throw in the low 140s teams may be more concerned with with his bat and not his arm.

Despite all that though, and the narrow loss to Urawa Gakuin, they still need to prove something considering the drought they've had since the turn of the century having gone just 2-8.

鳴門 - Naruto (Shikoku, Tokushima, Naruto-shi) - 8th appearance, 2nd consecutive - C
For finishing 2nd in the Shikoku taikai, Naruto getting a C grade seems rather harsh.  Yes, they scored at least 5 runs in each of their games, but they also gave up at least 3 runs in each of those games too.  There were several blowouts along the way, but at the same time if they have to continuously outscore their opponents and in doing so barely beat Saibi and lose to Naruto that this type of game is not sustainable in a single-elimination format.

Bandou Yuugo (板東 湧梧) is the de facto ace tasked with minimizing the damage done to their team.

In effect, this makes Naruto a poor man's Osaka Touin.  No pitching, and a worse offense.  And that is not a good combination at all.

済美 - Saibi (Shikoku, Ehime, Matsuyama-shi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 9 years - B-
Realistically, Saibi should have been in the final.  They led Naruto 4-1 with just 3 outs to go.  But ace Anraku Tomohiro (安楽 智大) just flat collapsed.

Another super-rookie, he's already passed the 150 barrier, throwing a slider, curve and cutter.  He generates over 1.3 K/inning.  Despite this though, he's still rough around the edges.

That 4-run 9th he gave up against Naruto was not the only time he's given up runs late.  Games throughout the fall taikai were closer than they needed to be (their 4 last games were all 1-run affairs).

He's still young, and there's time to grow.  But for now they're in the same level as Yamato Kouryou, and thus earns their B- ranking.

沖縄尚学 - Okinawa Shougaku (Kyushu, Okinawa, Naha-shi) - 5th appearance, 1st in 5 years - B
They're baaaaaaack....

The last time Okishou was at Koushien, they had a pitcher by the name of Higashihama.

And we all know how that went.

#12 Ura Jyun (宇良 淳) who hits low 140s, and apparent ace Higa Kenichirou (比嘉 健一朗) are the tandem used in almost all games for Okishou. Score-wise, they didn't overwhelm the opposition.  However, the tandem severely limited the opponent offenses perhaps so that the score was not indicative of the actual play.

Offensively, Chinen Yuuya (知念 佑哉) was one of the few who had success in the only game at Meiji Jingu, going 4-5.  From that one video alone, he appears to be aware of taking the ball the other way, can get on top of a fairly high pitch, and can still get around an inside pitch.  Mind you it was against Oogushi who is not a hard thrower at all, so it has to come with some skepticism.

Also, cleanup batter Shibahiki Yuuma (柴引 佑真) was 2-4 in that same game.

The loss to Hokushou at Meiji Jingu does put a damper on their run as does the loss to Ginowan in the prefectural final.  I think they can be introduced in the discussion for contenders, but not necessarily at the top of the list.

済々黌 - Seiseikou (Kyushu, Kumamoto, Kumamoto-shi) - 4th appearance, 1st in 55 years!! - C+
I rooted for Seiseikou.  I mean, they hadn't been to Koushien in 18 years, and now here they are going to back to back Koushiens (calendar-wise).

And they really didn't disappoint.  They beat Naruto, then had a respectable 6-2 loss to eventual Haru-Natsu champs Osaka Touin.

They did manage to keep the most important part of a returning staff.  Their ace Ootake Koutarou (大竹 耕太郎) returns to lead the team.  As noted this summer, he has a fastball in the low 130's, maybe a cutter in the high 120s, and a change in the high 110s.

In their 8 victories, he gave up a grand total of 5 runs including 2 shutouts against Miyazaki Nichidai and Shoushikan.  In addition, in the loss to Okinawa Shougaku Ootake flat collapsed in the 9th inning, yielding all 5 runs in the loss.

The only real blemish is the 6-0 shutout loss to Kumamoto Kougyou.  

Still though, their margin of error is rather low.  They are not a high-scoring team, and that will limit their prospects.  They'll beat the teams they should beat, and probably lose to the teams they should.  But like the Osaka Touin game, it will be competitive.

尚志館- Shoushikan (Kyushu, Kagoshima, Shibushi-shi) - 1st appearance - C-
Shoushikan makes their debut appearance at Koushien this year thanks to a semifinal appearance in the Kyushu Super-Regional.  This run was rather impressive for a team making their first appearance.

There was the sound defeat of Kagoshima Jyousai, the 3-1 upset win over Kamimura Gakuen.  And while they lost in the prefectural final to Kagoshima Jyouhou in the final, they made up for it by defeating Saga Kita and Nagasaki Nichidai before being routed by Seiseikou.

From what I can discern, the ace of the staff is Yoshikuni Takuya (吉国 拓哉), who is reported to throw in the low 130s with a slider, but not sure what else.

It'll be nice to see them at Koushien, but they'll have to work to get out of the opening round probably.

創成館 - Souseikan (Kyushu, Nagasaki, Isahaya-shi) - 1st appearance - C-
I do not believe that Souseikan will be the Ichinoseki Gakuin of the west and get passed up again for someone like Miyzaki Nichidai, though I have been wrong many times before.

Souseikan got one benefit by not having to play the 3rd place game in the prefecturals after losing to Isahaya.  Nagasaki was hosting the Super-Regionals.  And though wins against Kagoshima Jyouhou and Kurume Shougyou are not impressive, I still think the benefit of the doubt.

Oono Takuma (大野 拓麻) is their ace, a pitcher who throws in the upper 130s with an apparent curve, slider and fork.

But their fate is probably similar to Shoushikan.  Their body of work is weaker, they are in more low-scoring games, and will probably exit in the 1st round.

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