By Ryu Ishibashi
TOKYO, JAPAN.- The biggest surprise in the spring training was Kenji Nishimaki. If any baseball fan in Mexico have already known him, he or she is absolutely a Japanese baseball mania.
Kenji Nishimaki, who was born in Miyagi in 1999 was playing in the Koshien stadium just a half years ago. The news that the Sendai Ikuei high school which he had belonged have defeated the Osaka Toin high school, which has been the spring champion, made the Kobo Park Miyagi excited more than any other play Eagles did in the lower half of August. Though Sendai Ikuei was eliminated in the quarter final the very next day of the show-stopping victory, it encouraged Eagles fans, when the team had a difficult time and dropped to the 3rd place from the top.
Two months later, the NPB draft was held in Tokyo. The draft pick of Eagles I have simulated was; 1st: Yudai Fujioka (semi-pro. Toyota, actually picked by Marines in the 2nd round), 2nd: Kohei Suzuki (s-p. Hitachi, a. p. by Buffaloes in the 2nd), 3rd: Hitomi Honda (Seisa International Shonan SHS, a.p. by Buffaloes in the 4th), and 4th: Nishimaki (a.p. by Eagles in the 6th). There were a few more, however, Nishimaki was the only player I have simulated and who Eagles really picked.
No matter how he has been popular in high school baseball, he is just an ordinary rookie in the professional baseball. As the fact that he has been picked in the sixth round, there is 65 players who has been more deserved than him. In addition, a rookie who just graduated high school being in the starting lineup in these 50 years are only Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, Ginjiroh Sumitani, Shunta, and Shohei Ohtani, and they were all picked in the 1st round. Therefore, he was supposed to start his first spring training of his professional career in the 2nd squad.
However, an accident happened. Kazuya Fujita, who has been the regular 2B of the team, hurt his left calf, and Nishimaki was called up instead of him. It will not be easy to get a regular position in this team. Eigoro Mogi is regularly playing as a shortstop and Takumi Miyoshi is backing him up very good. Naoto Watanabe came back to Eagles instead of Kaz Matsui. If Ryota Yoshimochi is fine there is no surprise if he could play as well as Mogi and Miyoshi.
Rookie Tsuyoshi Yamasaki and young Itsuki Murabayashi can be a good option and trainee Minami and Mukaitani can be registered on the official roster anytime. The team already have many infielders enough to release Testuroh Nishida and Luis “Cochito” Cruz. However, I am expecting him to become the 1st non-1st round 18-year-old rookie in the opening game starting lineup in the latest half century. Japanese baseball teams never ever release a rookie because of the result. All he has to do is to try. Even if his try would fail, it will definitely be a big advantage for his next challange.