Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Yudai Kawai

This Yudai (not Ohno) autograph was the one player autograph I picked up that had the largest print run.

A whopping 110 copies.

Yudai Kawai had a pretty solid career as an amateur in high school and college but because his schools never made it to any of the big country wide tournaments he largely went unnoticed. It wasn't until he played in the industrial league for the Nihon Tsu-Un (a shipping company) that he started getting the attention of scouts. The Chunichi Dragons caught wind of his potential and drafted the southpaw in the fourth round of the 2004 NPB Player Draft.

Armed with a fastball, a slider, a curveball and a curveball, Kawai had a pretty solid career where he spent all thirteen seasons with the Dragons.

The O-blood type lefty made it to the ichigun (Japanese big leagues) in 2005 but he was sent down for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. After toiling away in the minors and showing that he nothing more to prove, he was called up in 2008 again and this time up for good. That said his career went through a lot of ups and downs.

In 2009 he won 11 straight starts at the beginning of the season and cruised his way to a 11-5 record in 20 games. Recording career highs in wins and games pitched. However the year afterwards, he found himself on the shelf due to injuries, and the few games he did appear in were pretty bad. In 2011 he rebounded nicely but in 2012 he couldn't found the strikezone and pitched his way back down to the minors for pretty much all of 2013. In 2014 he had one more season with the big league Dragons where he appeared in over a dozen games and found himself in the rotation by the end of the season (again). I'm not entirely sure where he was in 2015 but he was apparently no where to be found. He was probably hurt. In 2016 he gave being a professional baller one last shot before he hung up the spikes for good. Now he works as a scout for the Dragons.

One of the more notable things about Yudai Kawai is that he shortened his name from Kawai Yudai (in Japan we write the last name first), then was just Yudai, then went back to Kawai Yudai when he retired. Okay maybe not notable but either way his name would've allowed American sports writers to have a field day if he ever came stateside. Both of the Dragons' Yudai's should've come to the bigs IMHO. Yudai Kawai and Yudai Ohno on the same team. The puns!

So there was the first Dragons post I've done in far too long, hope you all enjoyed it. There is a lot more to come trust me.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. Cool card. I like the full player shot while still leaving plenty of room for the signature.

    1. I do as well. Maybe Topps should borrow some BBM designs.