Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On the new posting system and how it could affect potential prospects

So as many of you who are reading this post probably know, the NPB and MLB forged a new agreement on the posting system for Japanese players not eligible for International FA.

The main point that most of the NPB fans decry about is the fact that the posting fee has been capped at $20 million - supposedly under the guise of allowing small-market clubs the ability to go after the top NPB players.

Now, this would appear to be true.  With just a fee of $20 million, more ball clubs should be able to meet with the player and possibly get a contract done.

However, this is obviously a big hit to the NPB clubs themselves, who directly benefit from the posting fee.  It's also widely known that the Rakuten Eagles are not keen on posting Tanaka Masahiro if they can only get $20 million when just a couple of years ago, the Nippon Ham Fighters got $52 million for Darvish Yuu.

And therein lies the rub. NPB teams looking to post their superstars now will only get a pittance compared to the old system.  If that is the case, why would a NPB team be open to posting anyone - especially their better players knowing that they will only get $20 million?

They won't.  Which means that players might have to wait until getting their International FA to leave for the US.  But by that time they're past their supposed prime and might not get the big contract they would have if they left earlier.

Which then begs the question.  What's the chances now that a player from HS or college decides to forego the NPB draft and go directly to the MLB minors?

I've mentioned this before - we've had 2 HS players consider hard about going to the US.  Both wound up staying and becoming the #1 pick and max money - and will probably continue to do so as long as they perform much like Ma-kun.  But now, pending a change, they will probably have to wait 10 years before having a chance at the majors.  That being said, would they ever become comfortable enough to stake a claim in the low-cost minors?

Now look at college graduates who go to the draft, someone like Nomura Yuusuke who probably has a good career ahead of him, may not gain International FA until he passes age 30.

In other words, this new posting system could affect future drafts.

For college players, if they want to go to the US sooner, they may end up being more inclined to skip the NPB draft and sign with a US team.  For HS students, unless they decide that possibly waiting 10 years is worth it, they may also go to the US early.  Or, perhaps they go to college to polish their skills then head to the US.  If you are a top-level prospect, this may be the decision that they have to face - and it may be a decision that at perhaps one side foresaw coming.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Projected 86th Haru Koushien Field

Here is my projected field for the 86th Haru Koushien. The 21st century representatives are merely a guess given that the selection committee does not award based upon actual baseball merit.

Hokkaido (1)
  • Komadai Tomakomai
Tohoku (2)
  • Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Aomori)
  • Touryou (Miyagi)
There could theoretically be a case made for Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate), but after the questionable tactics used at Natsu Koushien, I do not expect the JHBF to pick them over the runner-up.

Kanto ex Tokyo (4 + floating bid shared w/Tokyo)
  • Hakuoudai Ashikaga (Tochigi)
  • Kiryuu Dai-ichi (Gunma
  • Yamanashi Gakuindai Fuzoku (Yamanashi)
  • Sano Nichidai (Tochigi)
The semifinal losers probably will get in considering Yamanashi Gakuindai defeated Kendai Takasaki and Sano Nichidai defeated Yokohama. If any of the quarterfinal losers want to get in at this point, probably the only chance is for Tokyo to win the Meiji Jingu tournament pushing the floating bid back to Kanto or for Hakuoudai Ashikaga to win it themselves.

Tokyo (1+ floating bid shared w/Kanto ex Tokyo)
  • Kanto Dai-ichi
  • Nisshougakushadai Fuzoku
Nisshougakushadai Fuzoku took Kanto Dai-ichi to 10 innings and made them put in ace Abe into the game to stop the bleeding.  They're not a fluke and they will be going on as the floating bid.

Hokushinetsu (2)
  • Nihon Bunri (Niigata)
  • Toukai Dai-san (Nagano)
Toukai Dai-san had quality games against both Niigata Meikun and Nihon Bunri, resume of semifinal losers not strong enough to warrant skipping Toukai Dai-san.

Tokai (2)
  • Mie (Mie)
  • Toyokawa (Aichi)
This is all but a certainty now that Toyokawa was 6 outs away from defeating Mie for the title.

Kinki (6)
  • Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)
  • Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama)
  • Riseisha (Osaka)
  • Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)
  • Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
  • Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto)
  • Sanda Shousei (Hyogo)
Ryuukokudai Heian claims the title after defeating Chiben Wakayama 6-4. The top 4 should get an invite regardless of how the games played out.

Chiben Gakuen's spot is almost guaranteed now too considering they played Heian to a 1-0 loss. Fukuchiyama Seibi was the only other close quarterfinal game and they may just default into the last spot. Sanda Shousei would the the only team to challenge Fukuchiyama Seibi for the last spot, and that is because they played Riseisha fairly close despite the shutout, and Riseisha looked better in the semifinals. But that is a bit of a stretch.

Chuugoku (2 + floating bid w/Shikoku)
  • Iwakuni (Yamaguchi)
  • Hiroshima Shinjyou (Hiroshima)
Iwakuni claims just their 2nd super-regional title, and will take its place at Meiji Jingu and Koushien. Hiroshima Shinjyou put up a late rally and too should get a phone call.

The next team in line will be Takagawa Gakuen. However, their chance at being the floating bid has all but disappeared given that Kurashiki Shougyou was white-washed in the semifinals - thus highlighting the weak Okayama prefecture that they played against. Their only chance is if Imabari Nishi wins the Meiji Jingu tournament pushing the floating bid back to the Chuugoku region.

Shikoku (2 + floating bid w/Chuugoku)
  • Imabari Nishi (Ehime)
  • Ikeda (Tokushima)
  • Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) 
Despite the score in the final, Ikeda's solid performance up until the 7th inning of the final, plus the JHBF's chance to invite one of the strongest teams of the 1980s back to Koushien is too good to pass up. Meitoku's loss to the eventual champions, plus ace Kishi may prove to be too compelling to the JHBF to not invite them as the floating bid - and while Takagawa Gakuen is their 1st alternate, their resume I do not think will compare to Meitoku to challenge for the bid.

Kyushu (4)
  • Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa)
  • Misato Kougyou (Okinawa)
  • Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima)
  • Chinzei (Kumamoto)
Okinawa will have 2 teams represented at Haru Koushien this year. As Misato Kougyou almost pulled off the victory over Okinawa Shougaku. And Okishou 1-hit a strong Chinzei team. Kamimura Gakuen should get an invite, and now it is Chinzei's status that is a bit more shaky after the 1-hit shutout loss. I do not expect them to fall out, though if they do it might be to Souseikan - especially if Misato Kougyou wins the final.

Meiji Jingu (1) - Champion - Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa)
Sadly for Chikyuu Kankyou, Nihon Bunri ace Iidzuka could only pitch 6 of the needed 9 innings.  Actually he pitched all 8, but collapsed in 7th and 8th giving up an 8-0 lead losing 9-8.

This means that the representative will be:
  • Souseikan (Nagasaki)
Chinzei can breathe a sigh of relief now as the extra bid means that even if they struggled, they are pretty much secured of a phone call come the new year.

21st Century Team (3)
  • Western Representative - Ooshima (Kagoshima)
  • Eastern Representative - Kakunodate (Akita)
  • Wild-Card Representative - Ise (Mie) or Kainan (Wakayama)

21st Century Nominations

We now have the regional nominations for the 21st century teams. Note that there will be one selected from western japan (everything west of the Kinki Super-Region), one from the eastern region (everything Kinki and east), and one wild card. Nominees are for each prefecture, then for each super-region.

These are a bit harder to project until the final teams are selected for each super-region, and even then it's difficult.

Hokkaido - Teshio
Teshio made it out of Nayoro as the regional champion, but lost in the first round of the Super-Regional to Tomakomai Chuo in the final inning 6-4.
Tohoku - Kakunodate (Akita)
  • Aomori - Aomori
  • Akita - Kakunodate
  • Yamagata - Yamamoto Gakuen
  • Iwate - Ibonai
  • Miyagi - Matsushima
  • Fukushima - Sukagawa
This might be a mulligan for Kakunodate not being able to follow through back in the Akita natsu taikai when they lost to Akita Shougyou 4-3 in the bottom of the 15th inning.  This time around, they won Akita, then defeated fellow nominee Sukagawa before losing a barnburner 13-11 to Touryou.

Kanto - Oyamadai (Tokyo)
  • Tochigi - Mooka
  • Ibaraki - Shimodate Dai-ichi
  • Gunma - Numata
  • Saitama -  Shiritsu Kawagoe
  • Chiba - Kemigawa
  • Kanagawa - Nichidai
  • Yamanashi - Yoshida
  • Tokyo - Oyamadai
It looks like Kanto perhaps went for the best baseball representative.  Oyamadai defeated both Soujitsu and Nichidai Buzan before losing to Toukaidai Takanawadai.  I personally thought they would choose Nichidai, but instead went with Tokyo.

Hokushinetsu - Nagano Nishi (Nagano)
  • Niigata - Sanjyou
  • Nagano - Nagano Nishi
  • Toyama - Toyama
  • Fukui - Kanadzu
  • Ishikawa - Hakui
Nagano Nishi baseball-wise is a bit of a stretch.  While they finished 3rd in the Nagano prefecturals, they were routed early by Toyama Dai-ichi. Compared to the rest though, they have the strongest resume.

Tokai - Ise (Mie)
  • Shizuoka - Fuji
  • Aichi - Kouzouji
  • Gifu - Gifu Kougyou
  • Mie - Ise
I'm kind of glad they chose Ise. I remember seeing them back in 2006, and wanted to see if they could somehow break through. This year they did, finishing 2nd to Mie before losing to Seki Shoukou 7-6 in the first round of the super-regionals.

Kinki - Kainan (Wakayama)
  • Shiga - Youkaichi
  • Kyoto - Nishijyouyou
  • Nara - Kashiba
  • Wakayama - Kainan
  • Osaka - Teshima
  • Hyogo - Himeji Minami
Kainan's 2 losses were narrow defeats to Chiben Wakayama and Riseisha - 2 very respectable schools.

Chuugoku - Daitou (Shimane)
  • Tottori - Kurayoshi Higashi
  • Okayama - Higashi-Okayama Kougyou
  • Shimane - Daitou
  • Hiroshima - Kamo
  • Yamaguchi - Kumage Minami
Daitou's only notable game was their first round loss in the super-regional where they hanged with Kurashiki Shougyou early before faltering late.

Shikoku - Sakaide (Kagawa)
  • Tokushima - Ikeda
  • Kagawa - Sakaide
  • Ehime - Touon
  • Kochi - Kochi Higashi
Sakaide lost in their first round matchup against Imabari Nishi in the super-regionals, but won Kagawa defeating schools such as Eimei, Jinsei Gakuen and Marugame.

Kyushu - Ooshima (Kagoshima)
  • Fukuoka - Kokura
  • Saga - Waseda Saga
  • Nagasaki - Shimabara Nougyou
  • Miyazaki - Miyazaki Minami
  • Oita - Oita Oginodai
  • Kumamoto - Taragi
  • Kagoshima - Ooshima
  • Okinawa - Chinen
Kyushu interestingly goes with Ooshima, certainly the weakest representative out of the super-regional selections. They were eliminated in the semi-finals of the prefecturals losing 2-1 to Ibusuki Shougyou.

2 selections right now I find a bit questionable.  Tokushima nominated Ikeda despite the fact they made the final 2.  Unless for some reason they think the JHBF will pick Meitoku Gijyuku over Ikeda for the 2nd bid, I see no reason to do this.

The other is Waseda Saga.  Waseda Saga was established in 2010, so any history of something to be nominated for would be very recent.  They're already making waves in Saga, and could start dominating the prefecture sooner rather than later. Even if Waseda Saga is picked as the Kyushu nominee, I doubt the JHBF would choose them either.


With the 21st century finalists determined, I can make predictions - however, since nominations are not based upon baseball merit it's harder to predict who they will choose.

Kakunodate (Tohoku/Akita)
I believe much like Engaru, Kakunodate will be selected based upon their ability to follow-up their performance in the summer.  The only thing that would affect this would be the fact that it does seem that the JHBF seems to be a bit late in selecting teams based upon this merit (see Engaru and Tosa)

Ooshima (Kyushu/Kagoshima)
Ooshima I believe is the main reason why the JHBF perhaps made the 21st century bids in the first place. Ooshima did not do well baseball-wise, but probably has done something special in the community.  Considering they were the only school that made the final 9 that did not reach the super-regionals they may just be picked by the committee.

Ise (Tokai/Mie) / Kainan (Kinki/Wakayama)
Both would be selected for the same reason. Both are in prefectures where there are major schools that dominate the prefecture.  Both reached the finals and fared very well despite losing.