By Ryu Ishibashi
TOKYO.- The most popular baseball team in Japan is Yomiuri Giants, whether we like it or not. The team Christian Villanueva is now playing was once 9-years consecutive champion in Japan. However, they have been said that they have difficulty to make their prospects a top player. Nevertheless, it became different recently.
On 18th of February, the Samurai Japan roster which will face team Mexico at Osaka has been announced. There were no Tsutsugo, Nakata, nor Senga, who are already top players in Japan. Instead, there are many young prospects who would hopefully be top players of the country in the near future. From Giants, Kazuma Okamoto and Naoki Yoshikawa have been chosen.
Naoki Yoshikawa was born on 8th February 1995 in Gifu prefecture. He played for the Chukyo high school, where he played regularly from his freshman year. After graduating high school, he once made up his mind to play in Asia University’s baseball team which is famous to be strict, but he finally chose Chukyo Gakuin University.
Even though Chukyo Gakuin was beginning to be famous as the alma mater of Ryosuke Kikuchi, they have never joined the University tournament then. However, Naoki and his teammates have not only reached to the tournament, they became the champion with their first try, with defeating Asia University in the quarter final.
At this time he become one of the top amateur prospects. The team which have picked him in the 1st round was the famous Yomiuri Giants.
His rookie year was not brilliant as his story until Giants. He spent most of the season in the minors and he had to wait until the final game of the season to hit is first career hit.
The next year was much better. He joined 92 games and had 355 plate appearance. However, while we know him and review the stats, we thought that it is few from his potential. His play is not inferior than Kyoda, who is the 2017 ROY. It is one of the difficulty to play for Giants where all go hard or go home, but we believe that it will make him strong. All he could do is to show the result.