Tomohiro Anraku

Date: 10/05/16
Position: RHP
Age: 25
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
B/T: R/R
Acquisition Period: 1st Rd., 2014 NPB Draft (Tohoku Rakuten Screaming Eagles)
School: Saab H.S.

NPB Prospect Profile

The last time I saw Anraku was in 2013 at the 18U Nationals in Korea where he sat 90-to-93 mph with the fastball and showed an above-average slider and average curveball. Shortly thereafter he was taken in the first round of the 2014 NPB draft by the Eagles, and after tossing just six innings in his debut 2015 season, finished 2016 with 15 appearances (12 of them starts) and a very serviceable 3.42 ERA over 84.1 innings pitched.

He is still just 19 years old, and he’s a ways off from being a consideration for MLB teams, but he is an interesting case due to his impressive, albeit extremely inconsistent, mix of a big fastball and plus breaking ball. He was very much a max-effort guy in high school, where his fastball would sit 90-to-96 mph, but he’s battled various shoulder injuries as an amateur (772 pitches over nine days in the 2013 Spring Koshien; 320 pitches over four days in the 2013 Summer Koshien could not have helped) and he’s still not believed to be 100% healthy.

Shoulder issues aside, Anraku has an idea on the mound and will work the fastball to both sides before going to the slider for put-away. He will change eye level, but part of that is due to him not consistently getting good extension and leaving the fastball up in the zone. He can get away with that due to the lesser power of NPB lineups, but a flat 88 mph fastball that misses up usually won’t make it to the catcher in the big leagues.

Based on his October 1 start vs. the ORIX Buffaloes, it looks like he has calmed down some of the effort in his high-maintenance delivery and is comfortable throttling up and back, but was not really tested in this outing vs. a very limited ORIX lineup. It is not uncommon to see Japanese pitchers cruise at about 80% at various points in a start, and then reach back when they get into a jam; Hisashi Iwakuma (RHP, Mariners) was an extreme example of this during his time in Japan—often pitching at 80-to-83 mph in one outing only to show 90-to-94 mph later on in a tougher matchup. Anraku is a strike thrower, but his command in the zone is below average and he has some drop-and-drive in the delivery. Like I mention above, he will rush at times causing him to work uphill, where the fastball will really flatten out and get hittable. When he stays a little taller and drives down in the zone he shows significantly more late life on the pitch. He does like to pound the fastball in on lefties, but is primarily FB/Sld/Crv and does not have any real weapon going away from the left-handed bat. This, coupled with his inconsistent execution and injury history, should lead to him make a move the bullpen eventually—where he can really lean on that FB/Sld combo in shorter looks.

The high-maintenance mechanics keep him from getting to average command in the zone and I don’t see Anraku being able to cruise in the middle 80’s multiple times through a lineup in the US. So for me, Anraku is a kid that is going to be best served going max effort for one to two innings and getting the most out of the power stuff he has shown in the past.