Will the Cinderella story, like a lie, be completed?
The rookie pitcher, who first pitched in the first team game in August of last year, will become a member of the Japanese national team, Samurai Japan, which is considered to be the strongest ever. Yu Darvish (37, San Diego Padres), Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25, Orix Buffaloes), and Rocky Sasaki (22, Chiba Lotte Marines) will join the pitching team.
Daily Sports, a Japanese sports magazine, reported that Orix Buffaloes right-hander Udagawa Yuki (25) was selected as the Japan representative for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). This is the most prominent name in the national team, where a generational change was made mainly for young pitchers in their 20s. Among the 15 pitchers in the Japanese national team, only two are in their 30s.
Born to a Japanese father and a Filipino mother, Udagawa was a training player with a three-digit uniform until just six months ago. After graduating from Sendai University, he joined Orix as a training player in 2021 and became a full-time player in July of last year. 안전놀이터
He appeared like a comet and burned like a flame. His first appearance as a first-team player was on August 3 of last year against the Seibu Lions. He came to the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning, trailing 1–3, and caught three batters on 12 balls with two strikeouts. He left a strong impression even before his first team debut.
On September 8, in Seibujeon, as the second pitcher, he won his first professional win with a good pitching of 2⅔ innings without a hit and no run. He struck out 5 of 8 out counts.
2 wins, 1 loss, 3 holds, average ERA of 0.81 in 19 games in the first year as a pro. Above all, his ability to strike out stands out. He struck out 32 in 22⅓ innings. A rookie pitcher who threw 22⅓ innings in first team games in the regular season will go to the Japan national team.
Udagawa, who has leaped into a top-class bullpen, is the main player in Orix’s Pacific League and Japan Series championships. In 10 games from August to September, he recorded an average ERA of ‘0’ with 2 wins and 3 holds. He gave up 5 hits in 14 innings pitched, with 21 strikeouts.
The amazing back-and-forth continued into the postseason. Softbank Hawks and Pacific League Climax Series Final Stage 2 games, 1 hit and 2 holds in 3 innings.
He then played 4 games with the Yakult Swallows in the Japan Series, posting 1 win and 2 holds with 2 hits, 2 hits and 10 strikeouts in 5⅔ innings. He completely overpowered the Yakult batting line and made a big success as the MVP of the Japan Series. Udagawa threw a fastball with a top speed of 159 km/h last year.
In a recent interview with the Japanese media, he said, “I want to play baseball with Ohtani and Darvish.” Udagawa’s dream, which started playing catch on January 1, has come true.
It is said that he increased his weight by 5-6 kg this offseason to improve his strength. His goal this season is to establish himself as Orix’ closer. Prior to this, the WBC is waiting. Udagawa signed a contract for an annual salary of 17 million yen this year.