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Giants get luck of the draw in high school draft

The Yomiuri Giants acquired the rights to negotiate a contract with fastballer Takanobu Tsujiuchi in the amateur baseball draft for high school players on Monday.

Yomiuri picked Tsujiuchi via lottery after the Central League club and the Orix Buffaloes of the Pacific League selected the 17-year-old Osaka Toin left-hander in the first round of bids.

“I’ve been a big fan of the Giants since my childhood so I’m happy that my dream is about to become a reality,” said Tsujiuchi, who had grabbed baseball scouts’ attention with a 150-kph fastball.

Orix general manager Katsuhiro Nakamura first thought he had drawn the winning lottery ticket, leading baseball officials to announce a wrong result before the correction was made in what could prove to be a twist of fate for the future career of the teenage prospect.

The mixup occurred because of confusing stamps on the lottery papers, and it was repeated in another draw in the first round.

Monday’s draft was the first held exclusively for high school players under the new draft system in Japanese baseball. All 12 clubs will pick collegiate and corporate league players on Nov. 18.

On Monday, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Hiroshima Carp chose Hotoku Gakuen southpaw Hiroshi Katayama in the first round and the lottery result gave Rakuten the negotiating rights for the 191-cm tall 18-year-old.

“We believe he is currently the No. 1 high school pitcher and has the potential to become a Japanese version of Randy Johnson,” Rakuten acting general manager Isao Hirono said.

In other action, Taiwanese infielder Yang Chung-shou of Fukuoka Daiichi high school will sit at the negotiating table with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, who won the lottery against the Softbank Hawks.

The Chunichi Dragons picked Osaka Toin outfielder Ryosuke Hirata, who hit a record-tying three homers in a game at the national high school championship this summer, in the first round. The Yakult Swallows selected Tokaidai Kofu pitcher Kyohei Muranaka.

After their lottery misfortune, Orix turned to outfielder Takahiro Okada of Riseisha high school while Softbank drafted catcher Yuta Arakawa of Nichidai high school. Hiroshima named Yugakukan outfielder Masamitsu Suzuki.

The Central League champion Hanshin Tigers picked hard-throwing right-hander Naoto Tsuru of Kindai Fuzoku high school.

Giants infielder Motoki calls it quits

Yomiuri Giants utility infielder Daisuke Motoki said Monday he will retire at the end of the season.

Motoki made the announcement after the 33-year-old was told late last month that he is out of the Central League team’s future plans.

“I’ve always wanted to end my career with the Giants since I put on their uniform,” said Motoki, who turned down an offer from the Pacific League’s Orix Buffaloes.

Motoki, who joined Yomiuri in 1991 as a first-round draft pick, has a batting average of .263 with 66 homers and 378 RBIs in 1,204 games in his career.