Thursday, December 24, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Osaka Touin (Osaka)

Osaka Touin... do I really have to?

I may be objective in reviews and cannot deny the talent they have (see Nakata Shou), but I dislike the school with a passion especially after the perceived tactics against Mie in the finals not too long ago. And no, I won't let it go because I'm frankly getting tired of aspects of 高校野球 like this and I'm not going to filter it anymore in my posts.

In the prefecturals, they breezed through their first 5 rounds before barely getting by Riseisha in the semifinals, and blowing a 4-run lead against Osaka Shoudai Sakai losing in 13. Momentum was restored against Oumi Kyoudaisha in the super-regionals, and they managed to make it last, narrowly defeated Akashi Shougyou and Shiga Gakuen for the title. The loss to Takamatsu Shougyou in the Meiji Jingu taikai can be taken with a grain of salt because perhaps they didn't want to introduce another strong school.

The team regularly put up double digit hits every game - as expected from Osaka Touin. Two batters that stand out are natch in the middle of the order, 3B Yoshizawa Kazuto (吉澤 一翔) and 1B Furutera Hiroki (古寺 宏輝). Their 9-4 drubbing of Chiben Gakuen I found here. The offense is never a question, and if it is, they wouldn't be here.

What I don't know is if the pitching will make them an unstoppable force. Their ace by far is Takayama Yuuki (高山 優希), a fireballer by all definitions who Deanna might like because his hat flies off every throw. He supposedly reaches 150, though normally sits in the upper 140s and appears infatuated with throwing hard. Which is a problem, given his 29/20 K/BB ratio in the super-regionals and Meiji Jingu tournament. Anyone who cares so much about throwing hard is generally destined to fail. You didn't see Fujinami or Ootani looking at the gun after each pitch. When he does throw an offspeed pitch, it's either the standard slider/curve combo with a forkball thrown in.

The depth behind him is a bit questionable with the immediate option being Iwamoto Yuusei (岩本 悠生) (apparently the hat flying off is a thing now). He doesn't strike out many batters, but could be serviceable if needed to give his ace a rest. The other options (all freshman) - Kagawa Akira (香川麗爾), Tokuyama Souma (徳山 壮磨) and Inoue Daisuke (井上 大輔), saw some action, but in cases where it may have been low-leverage and therefore may not be counted upon.

As long as Takayama can focus on pitching and not the JUGS gun, then Osaka Touin (as usual) is a title contender.

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