Neo-Tokyo’s season fizzles…

Updated: September 21, 2013

altThe Akira’s 2017 Neo-Tokyo Cup victory surprised almost everyone, even some within the organization. The 2018 campaign was equally surprising, given the high hopes the front office had for the team. With most of the roster returning from their 2017 title run, there was an air of expectation that a repeat was possible.

Neo-Tokyo boasted the top rated minor league organization last season and many of those prospects seemed ready to contribute at the major league level. GM Ron Hiscock had enough confidence in his up and coming pitchers that he traded away one of their top starters, Koto Sekiguchi, who was signed as a free agent the previous offseason. Sekiguchi went on to have a stellar season with the Naha Shisa before succumbing to a back injury in October.

NeTo certainly could have used his services after sustaining significant injuries to key players on their pitching staff including Hiohisa Narita and closer Shinji Kichida, who was having the best season of his career to date before rupturing his ulnar collateral ligament. Last ditch efforts to shore up the bullpen by acquiring ‘Spitfire’ Shimida from Lupin were to no avail.

Several rookies were given prominent roles on this years squad, a somewhat risky     move for a team defending a title. Tadashi Fujimoto was handed a starting role from the get go, but his 3-8, 4.77 numbers showed he had some growing to do. Katsumi Hayashi also made the jump from AAA to starter at second base and turned in a respectable 18/64/.279 line. 2014 first round pick MR Kichibei Murata, also a newcomer, was largely a disappointment and finished the season on the DL.

Akira GM Ron Hiscock explained: “With so many young faces on our roster, we expected there would be some up and downs and some growing pains. I had hoped that we could have fought our way through those times and put together a good run by seasons end but the adversities proved too much for us. Knowing the makeup of our guys, I expect they will learn from this experirnce and be the better for it.”

A lukewarm 72-72 season was not much to be happy about, but the Akira have every reason to expect better things next season.