The independent league fireballer with the highest speed of 159 km/h has entered the professional stage. But it’s not just one person.도메인
The Hanshin Tigers selected Tsuyoshi Shiiba (21), who plays for the Tokushima Indigo Sox of the Shikoku Island League, a Japanese independent league, in the second round at the Japanese Professional Baseball Rookie Draft meeting held on the 26th.
According to the Japanese media ‘Sponichi Annex’, Shiiba boasts strong arms that have recorded an incredible maximum velocity. The media said, “Although his name is not known in social baseball, Shiiba boasts the highest velocity of 159 km/h,” and “He is a unique pitcher who played as a catcher at Shimabara Central High School.”
Shiiba transitioned to a pitcher while playing at Mickey House. However, he had little experience as a pitcher and was not physically perfect, so he had few opportunities to play. He eventually moved to Tokushima and took on a new challenge. The choice ended up being a good one and he took on a new challenge.
‘Sponich Annex’ reported, “Thanks to Shiiva’s physical perfection and practical experience, he appeared in 22 games this season and recorded 51 strikeouts in 29 innings. His strikeout rate was high at 11.77.”
Tokushima is a team well known for having two Korean players. The main characters are Ha Jae-hoon (SSG Landers) and Lee Hak-ju (Lotte Giants). Ha Jae-hoon played in the minor team of the Chicago Cubs until 2015 and then wore a Tokushima uniform in the 2016 season. In the same year, he successfully joined the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese professional baseball team, but returned to Tokushima the following season and played for two years before being selected by the SK Wyverns (now SSG) in the 2019 KBO rookie draft.
Ha Jae-hoon played as SK’s closing pitcher in the 2019 season, recording 36 saves and winning the relief king title. Afterwards, he switched to a hitter last season due to injury problems, and despite having two bad injuries this season, he recorded 61 hits, 7 home runs, 35 RBIs, 25 runs, a batting average of 0.303, an OPS of 0.842, and 11 stolen bases in 77 games.
Lee Hak-ju also has experience wearing the Tokushima uniform. He played in the Major League’s minor team from the 2009 season to the 2016 season, played for the Seongnam Blue Panthers in 2016, and moved to Tokushima the following year, where he played for one season. Afterwards, he was selected by the Samsung Lions as the second overall pick in the second first round of the 2019 season rookie draft. After playing for three years, he moved to Lotte through a trade ahead of the 2022 season.
Meanwhile, another independent league fireballer also made new history by being selected in the second round. This is Hikaru Otani of the Toyama Thunderbirds. Otani wore the Chiba Lotte Marines uniform. Japanese media outlet ‘Full Count’ said, “This is the first time in history that two independent league players were selected in the second round.”
He continued, “Ohtani recorded a maximum speed of 159 km/h in the Independent League Grand Championship match against Tokushima held on September 29, and Shiiba also recorded 159 km/h on the same day.”