High-schooler Anraku 1st in Japan baseball draft

Japan's high school pitching star Tomohiro Anraku smiles next to a photo of his baseball team head coach Masanori Joko who died in September during a news conference at Saibi High School in Matsuyama, western Japan, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, after he was c
Kyodo News

TOKYO (AP) High school pitching star Tomohiro Anraku was chosen first overall in Nippon Professional Baseball's amateur draft on Thursday and was headed to the former team of New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yakult Swallows and Rakuten Eagles selected Anraku with the first and second picks respectively, and the Eagles won a lottery for the highly touted 17-year-old right-hander.

''One of my dreams was to be taken first in the draft,'' Anraku said. ''When Tanaka was with the team they won the championship so they are a proven winner, and I will do everything I can to help them win again.''

The 6-foot-2, 187-pound (1.88-meter, 85-kilogram) Anraku, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 97 mph (156 kph), has generated interest on both sides of the Pacific.

In 2013, Anraku threw 183 pitches in one game at the Koshien high school tournament after a 137-pitch complete game the previous day.

The Eagles won the Japan Series in 2013 but finished last this season after 24-game winner Tanaka signed with the Yankees.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.