Softbank Hawks win the right to negotiate with Higashihama

Softbank Hawks win the right to negotiate with Higashihama

On October 25, at Asia University in Tokyo, teammates tossed Nao Higashihama into the air, when he was picked by Softbank in the first-round draft. (Taken by Taichi Hirayasu)

October 26, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 25, in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) draft, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks have won the right to negotiate with Nao Higashihama, who is now a player at Asia University but is originally from Okinawa Shogaku High School. Higashihama is a right-handed pitcher currently in the spotlight because of his shutout record and for achieving the most strikeouts in the Toto League. Three teams chose him in the first-round draft, and by drawing lots Softbank won the right to negotiate with him.

Okinawan players selected this year’s draft of the NPB included left-handed pitcher Hiroya Kawamitsu of Kyushu Kyoritsu University, who is originally from Miyako Sogo Jitsugyo High School, and was picked in the second-round draft by the Chiba Lotte Marines, outfielder Hirohito Shimai of the Golden Laax Kumamoto, and a former player of Big Kaihatsu, from Nishihara Senior High School, who was picked in the fifth round by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and right-handed pitcher Shogo Yagi of JX-ENEOS, from Kokushikan University and Okinawa Chubu Commercial High School, who was picked in the sixth-round by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Three teams, including Softbank, the Yokohama DeNA BayStars and the Saitama Seibu Lions, have indicated their interest in Higashihama in the first-round draft. Sadaharu Oh, the president of the Softbank team and himself a famous former baseball player, drew the lucky ticket to secure the right to negotiate with the number one ranked candidate. At the news conference held at Asia University,
Higashihama commented, “Softbank is a good team with excellent pitchers. I am glad to be nominated by the team such as Softbank. As a professional baseball player, I want to do my best to meet the expectations of the people of Okinawa.”

In the first-round draft, four teams have picked Shintaro Fujinami, a talented pitcher from the Osaka Toin High School team that won the spring and summer Koshien titles this year and Hanshin Tigers drew the ticket for the right to negotiate with him. The Nippon-Ham Fighters was the only team to specify Shohei Otani, a pitcher from Hanamaki Higashi High School.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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