Get Dr. James Andrews on line one.
The surgeon who's performed almost every famous ligament surgery over the past decade might have a future client in Tomohiro Anraku, a 16-year-old Japanese pitching sensation who just threw 232 pitches in a single game, according to a Baseball America report.
The Saibi (Ehime Prefecture, Japan) High sophomore right-hander reached that total over 13 innings in a 4-3 win in a national prep tournament in Japan on Tuesday, Baseball America reported. He struck out 13, allowed 10 hits and walked five in the victory.
Given the limitations on prep pitch counts Stateside and in Latin America, 232 pitches over a few hours may seem like mismanagement by Anraku's high school coach at best and perhaps even abuse, but high pitch totals aren't exactly out of the ordinary in Japan.
“Pretty impressive,” a scout told Baseball America, “but they kill those kids there.”
Just ask former Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who as a 17-year-old Japanase high school prospect threw 250 pitches in a single game during a tournament in which he pitched 36 innings over four days, according to Baseball America. Or ask Ryota Shimoishi, who threw 219 pitches opposite Anraku in the 4-3 loss to Saibi on Tuesday.
But Anraku is the real prize, if he doesn't require Tommy John surgery before his high school career is over. According to Baseball America, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound righty's 94 MPH fastball stayed in the high 80s over the course of his 232-pitch game, and he relied on his off-speed repertoire -- including a curveball in the mid-70s -- as the game wore on.
Japanese pitchers generally finish their prep careers and sign a deal with their home country's Nippon Professional Baseball league, but at 16 years old Anraku could sign a deal in the millions with a Major League Baseball organization right now.
If MLB clubs had their way, they'd rather get their hands on Anraku now before he throws another few thousand pitches and might need to consult with Dr. Andrews.
After all, Andrews had this to say last spring after a pair of Louisiana prep hurlers combined for almost 350 pitches: “It’s ludicrous and it’s not safe judgment. That is just way too many pitches. That shouldn’t happen anywhere in any league.”
Anraku and Shimoishi combined for more than 450 pitches, and the proof is on YouTube.
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