NPB Tracker 18 January 2009
It’s not often you see a switch-pitcher come along, but we have two such ambidextrous prospects to watch in Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB). Both pitchers were selected in the 2008 draft and will make their debuts this season. Natural lefty Kazuki Miyata was selected in the 4th round by the Seibu Lions. Miyata started throwing right handed in high school as an exercise in balance, and kept it up in junior college as it helped him alleviate back pain. He hasn’t thrown right handed in an official game, but is still working on his right handed pitching and has learned to throw a curve.
Yakult instructional draftee Rafael Fernandez is also a natural lefty, but throws right handed all the time. Sponichi explains that when Fernandez started playing baseball in Brazil when he was 10, he thought that the ball must be thrown with the right hand. Fernandez threw lefty in Yakult’s autumn camp when he was having some arm pain, and hit about 75 mph on the gun.
There’s been one switch-pitcher in recent NPB memory, Toyotoshi Chikada, who made one appearance as a lefty for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks back in 1988. He retired in 1991, but in 2001 he threw both righty and lefty to a couple of Hawks farm players in an exhibition game.
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