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Olney: Evaluators say Nishioka looks "lost" this spring

buster olney tsuyoshi nishioka
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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 10:18 AM

ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted today that talent evaluators that he spoke with has said that Twins middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka has looked "lost" both offensively and defensively so far this spring:

Multiple talent evaluators saying that the Twins' Tsuyoshi Nishioka just looks really lost this spring, in his hitting and in his defense.


And here I thought last year's performance was rock-bottom for Nishi...

#2 Nicholas Mueller

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 10:52 AM

That is obviously a bit disappointing for him, but it wasn't a major surprise considering last years performance.

#3 dave_dw

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 10:59 AM

it wasn't a major surprise


I'm hoping for a MINOR surprise instead of a MAJOR one this year, as in minor leagues.

#4 Highabove

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:05 AM

I still would like to know which Scouts made the recommendation. Are they going to be involved with the upcoming Draft?

#5 gunnarthor

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:17 AM

I still would like to know which Scouts made the recommendation. Are they going to be involved with the upcoming Draft?


I think there was a split in the organization about Nishi but I don't remember enough to know who wanted what. As for the draft, my understanding is that scouts do write ups but the cross checkers and regional coordinators (whatever they're called) have more pull. And the draft itself is conducted by Deron Johnson with input from those regional guys and, of course, the other front office guys. So whether or not one or two scouts thought Nishi was good probably won't have much impact on the draft board.

#6 FirstBaseman

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:34 AM

I've seen Nishi really swing at some absolute junk pitches this year that were in the dirt. It's hard to believe a guy who was a batting champ just a couple of year ago now has to compete to make the team as a utility infielder. It tells you how far the Japan League has fallen behind, I guess.

#7 Jim H

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:34 AM

I dislike reports like this. What does "talent evaluators" mean? Are they scouts, front office people, the manager, reporters, or maybe bloggers who like to watch spring training? It maybe that the Twins are looking are alternatives to Nishioka for the utility position. It is likely they would be doing that no matter how good Nishioka looked. There are have been some suggestions like this from the reporters following the Twins. I notice that they are kind of careful not to quote actual Twins sources.

#8 Fanatic Jack

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:58 AM

This can't really be a huge surprise to anyone...There are only two people who have defended Nishioka and that was Smith and then Ryan. They both said Nishioka deserved a "Mulligan" for last year. Ryan only said it to defend his friend Smith for making a huge mistake by signing him.

#9 puck34

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:28 PM

No way this guy could have won a batting title in any league. He is terrible from both sides of the plate, can't bunt and has average speed at best. That Japanese league must be similar to town ball.

#10 twinsfiend

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:53 PM

Clearly Nishi belongs in AA or A ball.. I'm not sure he is good enough to play AAA!
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#11 Neinstein

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:14 PM

Wow, a lot of Japanese Ball trash talk... hey, that's cool, whatever. Maybe they outta invite his hitting coach to Spring Training and have him stay with Nishi during his Rochester year. It would be nice if he could just get comfortable in MLB, get a rhythm going, start hitting .275 and build at least a hint of trade value before this is completely over with.
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#12 The Greatest Poster Alive

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:25 PM

I think there was a split in the organization about Nishi but I don't remember enough to know who wanted what. As for the draft, my understanding is that scouts do write ups but the cross checkers and regional coordinators (whatever they're called) have more pull. And the draft itself is conducted by Deron Johnson with input from those regional guys and, of course, the other front office guys. So whether or not one or two scouts thought Nishi was good probably won't have much impact on the draft board.


Nishi wasn't drafted. This was a failure in international scouting. We paid a hefty price tag just to negotiate a contract with Nishioka. While it didn't work out, I'm glad the Twins have made a bigger push into the international leagues. They made inroads into Japan (Nishioka), Germany (Kepler), and the Dominican (Sano) all at about the same time. I often wondered why the Twins didn't pay too much attention to the international leagues in the past. I think the extra target field revenue has helped the Twins make more of a splash in those markets. I'm glad the Twins are taking shots at these type of players, and I don't fault the Twins for making a mistake. I just hope Nishioka doesn't discourage the Twins from dealing with Japan in the future.

#13 Highabove

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:32 PM

Nishioka does not have the basic fundamentals which are required to play Major League Baseball. How was that missed??

#14 gunnarthor

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:34 PM

Nishi wasn't drafted. This was a failure in international scouting. We paid a hefty price tag just to negotiate a contract with Nishioka. While it didn't work out, I'm glad the Twins have made a bigger push into the international leagues. They made inroads into Japan (Nishioka), Germany (Kepler), and the Dominican (Sano) all at about the same time. I often wondered why the Twins didn't pay too much attention to the international leagues in the past. I think the extra target field revenue has helped the Twins make more of a splash in those markets. I'm glad the Twins are taking shots at these type of players, and I don't fault the Twins for making a mistake. I just hope Nishioka doesn't discourage the Twins from dealing with Japan in the future.


Agree 100%. In a chat last year, Klaw said he thought the Twins were the most active team in the international markets, which is something former GM Bill Smith should be proud of .

I think what Highabove was concerned about was whether those people who scouted Nishi prior to us signing him would have a great impact on this years draft.

#15 JB_Iowa

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:38 PM

"Nishi wasn't drafted. This was a failure in international scouting. "

I would still like to know how much can be attributed to a failure in international scouting and how much should be attributed to the front office's desire for a toehold in Japan. Were the scouts really this far off (I hope not) or did marketing decisions overcome scouting reservations?

#16 TwinsMusings

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 05:28 PM

"Nishi wasn't drafted. This was a failure in international scouting. "

I would still like to know how much can be attributed to a failure in international scouting and how much should be attributed to the front office's desire for a toehold in Japan. Were the scouts really this far off (I hope not) or did marketing decisions overcome scouting reservations?


Good point, JB. I suspect marketing was a big part of the decision.

#17 John Bonnes

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:56 AM

I'm pretty sure the scouting report was accurate, or so I've heard from people that have seen it. This was a mixture of maybe too much optimism and a desire to expand into Japan. It isn't all (or even the majority of it) on scouting.

#18 Nick Nelson

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:42 AM

I dislike reports like this. What does "talent evaluators" mean? Are they scouts, front office people, the manager, reporters, or maybe bloggers who like to watch spring training?

Most likely scouts or front office people. Buster Olney is a veteran national reporter, I doubt he uses "bloggers who like to watch spring training" as sources.

There are have been some suggestions like this from the reporters following the Twins. I notice that they are kind of careful not to quote actual Twins sources.

Or Twins sources just aren't saying anything about the situation publicly, which would make sense.

#19 JB (the Original)

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:57 AM

If I remember correctly, no one on the Twins' staff actually saw him play in person. It was all on 'word of mouth' and the video presentations..... (I'll dig around and see if I can find the reference that said that)

#20 Highabove

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:21 PM

If the Twins would have used a few of the Bloggers, they might have saved their money.

Edited by Highabove, 17 March 2012 - 01:15 PM.


#21 Parker Hageman

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:58 PM

If I remember correctly, no one on the Twins' staff actually saw him play in person. It was all on 'word of mouth' and the video presentations..... (I'll dig around and see if I can find the reference that said that)


One of the Twins scouts, Cary Broder, was actively involved in scouting Nishioka during his NPB days:

And of course, the Twins recently added middle infielder Nishioka Tsuyoshi [SP] to the big club, and I’m proud to have been actively involved with that process. He was the MVP of the Japanese league last year and It’s exciting to be a part of bringing our first Japanese pro player to the Twins.


#22 ashburyjohn

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 02:08 PM

I seem to recall early in 2011 that Gardy commented, on trying to get Nishi going, that they had film of him doing well in Japan but no film of when he did poorly, making it hard to offer advice. I definitely chose to read frustration with the scouting, on that one.

#23 Jim H

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 02:16 PM

"Most likely scouts or front office people. Buster Olney is a veteran national reporter, I doubt he uses "bloggers who like to watch spring training" as sources." Maybe you are right, Nick. Still, why use something rather vague like talent evaluator instead of saying where you got the information. This whole thing with Nishioka kind of seems like piling on. I am not so sure he is really playing all that badly this spring. We will see, but I rather expect he will make the team, get some chances and largely play OK. What seems sure, is that every time he makes an error, real or imagined, somebody will complain about what a huge mistake it was to sign him.

#24 Seth Stohs

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:18 PM

If I remember correctly, no one on the Twins' staff actually saw him play in person. It was all on 'word of mouth' and the video presentations..... (I'll dig around and see if I can find the reference that said that)


The Twins scouted him a lot. They have a couple of people in the Far East who likely saw him several times, and Howard Norsetter is the guy that likely has to sign off on this. Norsetter is very well respected around the world and in the game. He would have seen him as well. And, it's not like the Twins were the only team to bid on him. It's hard to believe that a guy who hit .360 in a league that is pretty good could fall that bad. I can't help but think he's a little better than what we're seeing. The frustating part is that he is making so many boneheaded plays. That's the "doesn't know the game" kind of stuff that's shocking.

#25 mike wants wins

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:52 PM

I still remember Gardy saying he had never seen him on video before he was in spring training last year. Mind blowing.
Lighten up Francis....

#26 gil4

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:31 PM

If the Twins would have used a few of the Bloggers, they might have saved their money.


And spent it on Hardy instead.

#27 Teflon

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:34 PM

I'm sure one reason the Twins didn't venture into signing Japanese stars until the revenue boon from Target Field was simply the expense. While Nishioka's 3 million per year salary doesn't seem exorbitant for a player envisioned to be an everyday starter, (especially considering the Twins had just paid Nick Punto $4 million per year) the Twins additionally paid a $5.3 million dollar posting fee to his Chiba Lotte team for the rights to sign him. That makes the Twins lack of effort in fully vetting Nishioka all the more mystifying.

Edited by Teflon, 17 March 2012 - 08:40 PM.


#28 Neinstein

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:22 AM

Seriously, he needs an entourage with him at all times in Rochester to simply get him back to where he was a couple years ago. This year needs to end well for him, otherwise the money was not well spent. Maybe he'll learn a thing or two from B.D. & co.
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#29 StormJH1

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:38 PM

The Twins scouted him a lot. They have a couple of people in the Far East who likely saw him several times, and Howard Norsetter is the guy that likely has to sign off on this. Norsetter is very well respected around the world and in the game. He would have seen him as well. And, it's not like the Twins were the only team to bid on him. It's hard to believe that a guy who hit .360 in a league that is pretty good could fall that bad. I can't help but think he's a little better than what we're seeing. The frustating part is that he is making so many boneheaded plays. That's the "doesn't know the game" kind of stuff that's shocking.

While Nishioka is obviously a failure of epic proportions, I really think that some aspects of it are so surprising that the Twins can't be blamed for the entirety of how bad it turned out. We've seen Japanese pitchers come over and be overmatched. We've seen hitters come over with promise big power numbers, only to find out that the larger ballparks and better talent actually does make it harder. I don't think anyone would've been stunned if Nishioka played a full season hitting .260 with 0 HR's and 35 RBI's.

What was stunning to me was the horrible defense and fundamentals, which were the LAST things anyone would have expected out of a Japanese player who had been extremely successful overseas. There is something fundamentally broken about this guy's psyche. The game looks like it's moving at 150% speed to this guy, but that can't be true. I heard people last April saying things like he needs to "adjust to the speed of the game", but is that really true? Japanese hitters probably put the ball on the ground MORE often on artificial turf surfaces, and the average hitter is probably FASTER down the the first base line than in the MLB (smaller players, different style). There was no way to know that routine groundballs would eat this guy up with regularity.

I think everyone knew there was a better than 50% chance this guy would be a bust or disappointment, but "bust" was defined as "Japanese version of Nick Punto". His defense is what has really run him out of the league so quickly, and I can't believe that even if they saw him play extensively in Japan that he was ever making mistakes there like he did here.