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CPBL/KBO/NPB Update: July 12 to July 18

We check in on our adopted teams in Asia, the Uni-President Lions (CPBL), the LG Twins (KBO), and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows (NPB).

Japan v Mexico - Game 1
Munetaka Murakami (Yakult Swallows)
Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

CPBL

Why the Uni-President Lions?

  • Tainan City, home of the Lions, is one of the oldest and largest cities in Taiwan
  • Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium is directly under the flight path of airplanes flying in and out of the nearby Tainan Airport.
  • The team has talent and looks good on paper but has been thwarted time and time again in the last few years by poor on-the-field field management and front office executive decisions.
  • Employed in their organization at one time or another former player and SNY analyst Nelson Figueroa, Columbia Fireflies pitching coach Jerome Williams, former manager Mickey Callaway, and Generation K member Bill Pulsipher.

July 12 (26-33)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

July 13 (26-33)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

July 14 (26-34)

Fubon Guardians 6, Uni-President Lions 2 (BOX)

  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 1-4, RBI, SB (8)
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 0-4, 3 K
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 1-3, BB, SB (5)
  • LHP Chen-Yen Chiang (#16): 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, HR, L (4-6)

July 15 (26-34)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

July 16 (26-34)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

July 17 (26-34)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

July 18 (26-34)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

KBO

Why the LG Twins?

  • Represent a major metropolitan area.
  • Share Seoul (and Jamsil Baseball Stadium) with a rival team and compete for fans.
  • Have been a team that, on paper, should compete but just have not been able to put things together over the last few years
  • Have a strong pitching staff in 2020.
  • Staff ace, Casey Kelly, has been denied numerous wins over the years due to anemic hitting or a leaky bullpen despite quality starts.
  • LG Corporation spends money on the team but does not always allocate that money wisely.
  • Retired the number 41, worn by one of the best right-handed pitchers in team history.

July 12 (30-27-1)

POSTPONED (RAIN)

July 13 (30-27-1)

POSTPONED (RAIN)

July 14 (30-28-1)

Lotte Giants 5, LG Twins 0 (BOX)

  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 0-4
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 0-3, K
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 1-3, K
  • RHP Casey Kelly: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, L (4-4)

July 15 (31-28-1)

LG Twins 9, Lotte Giants 3 (BOX)

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 2-5, R, 2 RBI, K
  • DH Hyun-soo Kim: 1-4, 2 R, HR (11), 3 RBI, BB
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 1-5, R
  • RF Chang-gi Hong: 2-4, R, RBI, BB
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 2-4, R, RBI, K
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 3-5, RBI
  • RHP Tyler Wilson: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, W (4-5)

July 16 (30-29-1)

Lotte Giants 15, LG Twins 10 (BOX)

  • DH Chun-woong Lee: 0-2, 2 R, BB, K, HBP
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 2-5, 2 R, RBI, 2 K, E
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 3-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 0-3, R, RBI, BB, K
  • RF Hyung-jong Lee: 3-5, R, HR (1), 2 RBI
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 4-5, 2 RBI
  • 3B Ho-young Son: 2-4, 2 R, SB (3), E
  • RHP Chan-heon Jung: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, HBP, HR

July 17 (32-29-1)

LG Twins 8, Hanwha Eagles 0 (BOX)

  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR (6, 7), 3 RBI, 2 K
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 2-4, RBI, K
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 1-4, 2 R, BB, 2 K
  • CF Hyung-jong Lee: 1-3, 2 R, HR (2), 2 RBI, K, HBP
  • C Sung-woo Lee: 1-3, BB
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 2-4, R, 2 RBI, K
  • RHP Chan-gyu Lim: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (4-4)

July 18 (33-29-1)

LG Twins 3, Hanwha Eagles 1 (BOX)

  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 1-4, K
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 1-2, R, 2 BB
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 0-2, 2 K
  • DH Ho-eun Kim: 2-3, R, HR (2)
  • LHP Woo-chan Cha: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, W (5-5)

NPB

Why the Yakult Swallows?

  • The Swallows play in Tokyo, the largest city in Japan.
  • The Swallows are overshadowed by the other team that plays in Tokyo, which has had much more success over the years, the Yomiuri Giants.
  • For the first decade of their existence, the Swallows did not end a single season with a winning record.
  • Meiji Jingu Stadium opened in 1964, the same year as Shea Stadium.
  • The best player in team history was a pitcher.

July 12 (11-7-1)

Yakult Swallows 3, Yomiuri 2 (BOX)

  • 2B Tetsuto Yamada: 0-3, BB, K
  • LF Norichika Aoki: 1-3, 2 R, HR (4), RBI, BB
  • 3B-1B Munetaka Murakami: 3-4, 2 RBI, K
  • SS Alcides Escobar: 0-3, K, HBP
  • P Hirotoshi Takanashi: 2-2, R
  • RHP Hirotoshi Takanashi: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, HR, W (1-1)
  • RHP Taichi Ishiyama: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, S (6)

July 13 (11-7-1)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

July 14 (11-8-1)

Hanshin Tigers 6, Yakult Swallows 3 (BOX)

  • 2B Tetsuto Yamada: 0-3, R, BB, 2 K
  • LF Norichika Aoki: 1-3, R, BB
  • 3B Munetaka Murakami: 2-4, RBI
  • C Akihisa Nishida: 1-3, R, HR (2), RBI, K
  • LHP Masanori Ishikawa: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, L (0-2)

July 15 (12-8-1)

Yakult Swallows 9, Hanshin Tigers 5 (BOX)

  • CF Tomotaka Sakaguchi: 2-3, R, BB
  • LF Norichika Aoki: 1-4, 2 K
  • 1B Munetaka Murakami: 2-5, 3 RBI, K
  • RF-CF Kotaro Yamasaki: 0-3, 2 R, 2 BB, K
  • SS Alcides Escobar: 4-5, 2 R, HR (1), 3 RBI
  • RHP Gabriel Ynoa: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, HR

July 16 (12-9-1)

Hanshin Tigers 6, Yakult Swallows 4 (BOX)

  • LF Norichika Aoki: 1-4, BB, 2 K
  • 3B Munetaka Murakami: 3-3, 2 R
  • SS Alcides Escobar: 2-4, R, RBI, BB, SB (2)
  • LHP Keiji Takahashi: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

July 17 (12-10-1)

Hiroshima Toyo Carp 9, Yakult Swallows 2 (BOX)

  • 2B Takeshi Miyamoto: 2-4, BB, K
  • LF Norichika Aoki: 1-3, K
  • 1B Munetaka Murakami: 1-3, R, BB, 2 K
  • RF-LF-CF Kotaro Yamasaki: 2-4, R, K
  • SS Alcides Escobar: 1-4, 2 RBI, K
  • RHP Daiki Yoshida: 2.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, HR, L (0-1)

July 18 (13-10-1)

Yakult Swallows 9, Hiroshima Toyo Carp 4 (BOX)

  • 2B Tetsuto Yamada: 3-5, 2 R, K
  • LF Norichika Aoki: 1-2, R, BB, HBP
  • 1B Munetaka Murakami: 2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, K
  • 3B Naomichi Nishiura: 2-3, RBI, BB
  • SS Alcides Escobar: 3-5, R, 3 RBI
  • RHP Yasuhiro Ogawa: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, HBP, W (4-0)

CPBL HITTER OF THE WEEK

N/A

May 3 to May 9: Fu-Lin Kuo (10-22, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 SB)
May 10 to May 16: An-Ko Lin (9-23, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB)
May 17 to May 23: Chih-Chieh Su (3-6, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1/1 SB)
May 24 to May 30: Chieh-Hsien Chen (10-17, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/0 SB)
May 31 to June 6: Chih-Chieh Su (11-18, 0 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 0/0 SB)
June 7 to June 13: Yung-Chi Chen (11-20, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, 1/1 SB)
June 14 to June 20: Chih-Chieh Su (10-17, 0 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 0/0 SB)
June 21 to June 27: An-Ko Lin (12-21, 3 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 1 BB, 8 K, 0/0 SB)
June 28 to July 04: An-Ko Lin (6-17, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K, 1/1 SB)
July 05 to July 11: Chih-Chieh Su (7-19, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 3/3 SB)

CPBL PITCHER OF THE WEEK

N/A

May 3 to May 9: Ryan Feierabend (5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, HR)
May 10 to May 16: Ryan Feierabend: (6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K)
May 17 to May 23: Wei-Chih Lin (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K)
May 24 to May 30: Ryan Fierabend (6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)
May 31 to June 6: Chen-Yen Chiang (7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR)
June 7 to June 13: Josh Roenicke (7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)
June 14 to June 20: Josh Roenicke (7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K)
June 21 to June 27: Logan Darnell (7.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, HR)
June 28 to July 04: Logan Darnell (6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, HR)
July 05 to July 11: Josh Roenicke (5.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K)

KBO HITTER OF THE WEEK

Ji-hwan Oh

7-21, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/0 SB

May 3 to May 9: Hyun-soo Kim (6-17, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/0 SB)
May 10 to May 16: Roberto Ramos (6-16, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K, 0/0 SB)
May 17 to May 22: Eun-sung Chae (8-25, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K, 0/0 SB)
May 24 to May 30: Roberto Ramos (9-23, 0 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB)
May 31 to June 6: Roberto Ramos (6-17, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K, 0/0 SB)
June 7 to June 13: Hyun-soo Kim (7-22, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 0/0 SB)
June 14 to June 20: Ji-hwan Oh (11-23, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, HBP, 1/1 SB)
June 21 to June 27: Keun-woo Jeong (8-14, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 BB, 2 K, HBP, 0/1 SB)
June 28 to July 04: Hyun-soo Kim (6-25, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K, 0/0 SB)
July 05 to July 11: Hyun-soo Kim (9-23, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K, 0/0 SB
July 12 to July 18: Ji-hwan Oh (7-21, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/0 SB)

KBO PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Woo-chan Cha

7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K

May 3 to May 9: Woo-chan Cha (6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR)
May 10 to May 16: Casey Kelly (6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)
May 17 to May 22: Tyler Wilson (7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, HR)
May 24 to May 30: Casey Kelly (6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K)
May 31 to June 6: Chan-heon Jung (7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K)
June 7 to June 13: Min-ho Lee (7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K)
June 14 to June 20: Chan-gyu Lim (6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HBP)
June 21 to June 27: Chan-heon Jung (9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K)
June 28 to July 04: Chan-gyu Lim (7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K)
July 05 to July 11: Chan-heon Jung (6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K)

NPB HITTER OF THE WEEK

Munetaka Murakami

13-23, 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB

Munetaka Murakami was born on February 2, 2000 in Kumamoto, the capital city of Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture. He attended Kyushu Gakuin High School, and while the school only made it to Koshien once, in Murakami’s first year, he had an impressive high school career. Splitting time between catcher and first base, he hit 52 home runs over the course of his career there, attracting the attention of numerous colleges and professional teams. In the 2017 NPB Draft in October 2017, the Yakult Swallows initially selected Kotaro Kiyomiya with their first-round selection, but changed their pick to Munetaka Murakami, allowing the Nippon Ham Fighters to select Kiyomiya. The Yomiuri Giants and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles also selected Murakami with their pick, but in the end, the Swallows won the lottery for the rights to sign him. The two sides agreed to a contract, and Munetaka Murakami became a Yakult Swallow. In the process, his position was changed from catcher/first baseman to third baseman/first baseman.

He spent the majority of the 2018 season on the Yakult Swallows’ ni-gun minor league team in the Eastern League, and after hitting .288/.389/.490 with 17 homers, was promoted to the Swallows at the end of the season. While the numbers as a whole were not particularly special, as he only logged one hit in his twelve at-bats, that lone hit was a home run. More important than any numbers that he put up in his cup of coffee, though was the experience he got and the relationship with fellow sluggers Wladimir Balentien and Tetsuto Yamada.

He broke camp and began the 2019 season as the Swallows’ starting third baseman, the youngest starting third baseman that began the season with the Swallows since the 21-year-old Kiyoshi Nishioka did so in 1959. The slugging third baseman began racking up home runs at an impressive rate, getting elected to the All-Star Game and getting invited to participate in the 2019 NPB Home Run Derby. Midway through the season, he began playing more first base due to Tomotaka Sakaguchi’s injury and subsequent slump. Though he changed positions, he continued punishing the ball. In early September, his 32nd long ball broke the NPB record for most home runs hit by a teenager. All in all, he hit .231/.332/.481 with 36 home runs in 143 games, winning the 2019 Central League Rookie of the Year Award. While his home run totals were impressive, leading the team and third in the Central League, and fourth in all of Japan, his batting average was among one the worst in the NPB. It might be an intentional strategy, it might be early-season small sample size, or it might be a combination of both, but for what it’s worth, through the first month of the 2020 season, he only has three home runs but is hitting a robust .393/.481/.607.

At the plate, Murakami stands slightly open, holding his bat high and away from his body, angling it towards the pitcher- mechanics vaguely reminiscent of Julio Franco. His driving tool is his power, which easily grades out as plus and may even be borderline plus-plus. Thanks to above-average-to-plus bat speed, the strength from his 6’2”, 215-pound frame, and an upper-cutty swing, Murakami is capable of hitting absolute moonshots not only to his pull side, but back up the middle, and to the opposite field as well. While his swing is long and he does strike out at a high rate thanks to the angle in it, the corner infielder did suffer from a bit of poor BABIP in 2019, leading to his abysmally low batting average. He made up for it with a high walk rate, partially inflated by pitchers being careful around him and fearing his power, but born from a strong eye for recognizing spin and a strong understanding of the strike zone. While far from a burner, Murakami does not have stone feet, either. He takes a while to reach higher gears, but runs the bases well and could become a low double-digit stolen base threat in the future with more experience.

Defensively, Murakami is decidedly less impressive. At third base, he lacks the reactions and quick-twitch muscle to really excel at the position, but his strong arm makes up for some of that. He is much better suited for first base, where he makes all of the routine plays and defends the position adequately.

June 14 to June 20: Tetsuto Yamada (3-8, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K, 1/1 SB)
June 21 to June 27: Tetsuto Yamada (6-24, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 8 K, 1/1 SB)
June 28 to July 04: Naomichi Nishiura (5-15, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB)
July 05 to July 11: Tomotaka Sakaguchi (7-21, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, 1/1 SB)

NPB PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Yasuhiro Ogawa

6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, HBP

June 14 to June 20: Yasuhiro Ogawa (6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K)
June 21 to June 27: Hirotoshi Takanashi (7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)
June 28 to July 04: Taichi Ishiyama (3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, HR)
July 05 to July 11: Yasuhiro Ogawa (6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)