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Thursday, October 25, 2018

NPB Draft 2018: GET HYPE!!

Draft day. My favourite day of the year and the time seemed to crawl along in the lead-up. The Dragons had been mentioned to be in for Osaka Toin HS' Akira Neo. Shigekazu Mori, a notable absentee from the draft, had gone on record saying that the Dragons would be selecting Neo. Similarly, 5 other teams were predicted to select Neo in the first round.

Tsuyoshi Yoda's first job as manager was to be the one to pull out the ticket to claim Neo's signature. He, along with representatives from the Swallows, Fighters and Giants all had their hands on a ticket, and it was the former closer that closed the deal, pulling out the winning ticket. This is the first time in a long time the Dragons have gone after the tastiest pick at the draft, let alone with so much competition for the signature and it was to be the perfect start to Yoda's tenure.
Neo himself kept a demure posture after being selected. Neo was a Dragons fan when he was in primary school and being a native of Gifu prefecture falls well into the Dragons catchment. Neo is a short-stop but can pitch. It is possible he could be targetted to be a 2-way player with Yoda suggesting he would listen to what Neo wanted to do and go from there. He feels he has a superstar on his hands and wants to ensure he can be a productive member of the team in whatever way possible.

Neo himself has said that it's a team that he has a familiarity with as it was the team that was on TV when he turned it on as a child and he has said he has an image of the Dragons as as strong team. He feels that there is a connection between him and the team saying he wants to do his best as a member of the Dragons.

Akira Neo is "the one" for the Dragons

Apart from Neo, the Dragons has a wonderful draft with most players being taken being one's on the scouting team's shortlist for quite some time.

1Akira Neo根尾 昂SS18Osaka Toin HSGifu
2Kodai Umetsu梅津 晃大RHP22Toyo UniversityMiyagi
3Akiyoshi Katsuno勝野 昌慶RHP21Mitsubishi Heavy Industry NagoyaGifu
4Kota Ishibashi石橋 康太C18Kanto Daiichi HSChiba
5Kenshin Kakikoshi垣越 建伸LHP18Yamanashi Gakuin HSGifu
6Kaname Takino滝野 要OF22Osaka Commercial UniversityMie

Kodai Umetsu looks good in blue.
For the second year running the Dragons have pulled of a bit of a coup with their #2 pick Kodai Umetsu who was mentioned in the lead-up to be a back-up pick to Neo much like how Sho Ishikawa was mentioned as  a possible back-up 1st round pick last year. Somehow, all other teams took a pass on Umetsu and it was the Dragons that picked him up. Umetsu could work out the bullpen but scout reports say he could be a very good starter but is still a bit raw.
Katsuno is another that could be quite close to contributing.

Ishibashi is a hard-hitting slugger-catcher that I'm sure the Dragons will be over the moon to have on the books. He'll be the youngest catcher in the team by some way and it might also mean a goodbye to one of our existing catchers. Ishibashi was regarded as the top high school catching prospect at the draft this year.

Kota Ishibashi knows how to bashi
a baseball.
Kakikoshi is a lefty who actually played with Neo in Gifu as part of the same boys team. He'll boost the numbers in the LHP department as we're pretty bare bones there. Takino looks like good pick-up at 6th as he'll give us depth in the outfield that we so sorely need.

Overall 10/10 draft for me. The Dragons addressed a lot of areas here that they wanted to address and captured some great players along the way.

I will be sure to provide more detailed profiles by the weekend. For the time being, a great day for the Dragons. Doraho~!

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