Tigers eye 15-year-old in draft


The Hanshin Tigers said Tuesday they plan to select a 15-year-old right-hander in the amateur draft.

Team officials said they will choose Kento Tsujimoto, who is back in Japan taking time off from his high school in the United States, but did not specify which round the Hyogo native will be selected in Wednesday’s draft.

If all goes as planned, Tsujimoto will become the youngest player to be picked since the draft was established in 1965.

“I can’t tell you what order he will be selected but he will be selected,” said Masahiro Kuroda, in charge of Hanshin team acquisitions, adding that there have been no objections to his selection despite the boy’s young age. “I can’t imagine what he can do yet but we’re looking forward to seeing his talent. I think he will be somewhere near the bottom,” added Kuroda, suggesting that Tsujimoto will probably be selected after the fifth round.

Tsujimoto, who boasts a fastball that clocks over 140 kph, moved to the United States at the age of 12 and attended international schools while still living in Japan.

In other baseball news: Kintetsu Buffaloes veteran right-hander Shinichi Kato, who had received notice that he was not in the club’s future plans, said Tuesday he will retire from baseball.

The 39-year-old Kato appeared determined to continue next season after taking part in several team tryouts but decided to call it a career after he received no callbacks.

Also: Yakult Swallows outfielder Alex Ramirez will likely part company with the Central League club after he was unable to reach an agreement on a contract for next season.

The 30-year-old Venezuelan had reached a basic agreement to stay with the club at the end of the season but the deal fell through after the parties were unable to come to terms on the details.

Ramirez won both the home run and RBI titles in 2003 and batted .305 with 31 homers and 110 RBIs this past season.