Neo-Tokyo: Top Picks Shine

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Updated: September 21, 2013

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12/15/2018- Tokyo, Japan: A few weeks ago, the Neo-Tokyo Akira released a statement awarding their 2018 Minor League players of the year.

27 year old Chris Cain was signed to a minor league contract in 2017. Cain’s line (.301/29/102) is impressive but he may never see substantial time with the big club due to his gaijin status. He appears to be an insurance policy should the Akira suffer a number of injuries. Masami Kondo, a 7th round draft pick in 2017, showed marked improvement from his rookie season after moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation (from a 7.20 ERA down to 2.75). Working with legendary pitching coach Ming-yu Yuan from Taiwan appears to be paying off, although some within the organization have questioned his committment and work ethic. Nevertheless, both prospects enjoyed a fine 2018 campaign.

What has the Neo-Tokyo organization most excited though is the production of two prospects who didn’t even qualify for those post season awards. Both were selected in the first round this years amateur draft. Despite missing the beginning of their team’s season both posted impressive statistics that left scouts drooling in expectation.

The Akira took Okakura Ishikawa with the 3rd overall pick. It was only the second time in team draft history they took a position player in the first round. They have no reason to regret that decision. Despite an early season injury that took him out of action for two weeks, Okakura proceeded to tear up Ruukii Kyuugi pitching once healthy. A 3 time Player of the Week and one time Batter of the Month award winner, he finished his first season of professional ball hitting .413 with 27 HR. He had 70 RBI in only 70 games played. His most impressive night was October 4th, when he went 7-7 with a HR and 5 runs scored, setting the league record for hits in a game. Receiving the RY 2018 Outstanding Hitter Award was well deserved. The question within the organization is whether he can make the jump to the LRS next season or whether the teams notorious policy of bringing prospects along slowly will apply in his case. Ishakawa has hinted that he wants to play with the big boys now.

Just as impressive was the showing of SP Kazuo Ishihara, who was selected #13 overall this year. Nicknamed ‘The Dominator’, as much for his aggressive personality as for his pitching style, Kazuo gave oppponents every reason to think the moniker was well deserved. In just 15 starts, he went 13-0, with a 0.91 WHIP. Opposing batters hot only .171 against him. He was unscored upon in his first 19 innings as a professional. The team feels he will need some maturity and experience before making the jump to the LRS but he seems to have earned a promotion to AAA next year.

The Neo-Tokyo Akira have the 2nd ranked minor league organization in the LRS. With recent draftees performing at such a high level, they have every reason to expect good things to come from within.