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Scouting Report on Kosuke Fukudome

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  • Scouting Report on Kosuke Fukudome

    Kosuke Fukudome (KOH-skay foo-koo-DOUGH-may)
    6′1
    190lbs
    L/R
    April 26th, 1977

    Captain Ahab finally landed his White Whale as Jim Hendry pulled down his biggest free agent this offseason. The Cubs and Hendry finally landed a Japanese player after flirting with the notion for nearly ten years. It just turns out we needed a lefty bat that can play rightfield, and Fukudome is everything we could hope for out of a free agency pickup. If you missed the last Cubshub's scouting report, it was on Tony Thomas. For a full Scouting Report on Fukudome plus a new feature, Bob's Scouting Scale, read on…


    Kosuke has been the one of the largest stars in Japan the past few years with the departures of Ichiro, Godzilla Matsui, and “Dice-K”. Not only has he become a fan favorite, he’s become one of the Japan Leagues’ best and well-rounded athletes. He missed nearly half the 2007 season due to elbow injury that ended up requiring surgery to remove bone fragments, yet still posted huge numbers in his limited action. Fukudome was hit by a pitch on his leading elbow (right) that fractured his olecronon process of his ulna. The pitch hit with enough velocity and angulation that it created fragmentations which hindered Kosuke’s elbow extension and thus his stroke. Still without Fukudome’s presence the rest of the 2007 season, the Chunichi Dragons, the Japanese League’s rendition of the Cubs, went on to win the Japan Series.

    With the lack of quality outfielders available in the 2007 offseason, Fukudome’s injury was brushed aside and teams went hogwild over his plate discipline and hitting abilities. The Cubs were outbid for Kosuke’s services yet as a free agent, unlike most Japanese players who are posted, Fukudome took less money to become a Cub. Reportedly his decision came down to many factors, it was not only money plus years as he wanted to play for a contender, he wanted to play for a city with a strong Japanese fan base, and he wanted to become the first Japanese player for a ballclub. Without question Kosuke will sell seats in Wrigley himself bringing fans to the Confines that elsewise wouldn’t come. Personally, I know of a handful of quasibaseball fans who are making trips to not only Chicago but to visiting cities (San Diego, LA, San Fran) just to see Fukudome play. With the way he plays, it’s money well spent on tickets.


    Hitting: Fukudome has a beautiful stroke with quick wrists that allow him to turn quickly on pitches inside. Kosuke also has the knack for working deep into counts and making the pitcher really work. Those results are seen in his high number of walks, strikeouts, and pitches seen per at bat. Fukudome has a natural loft to his swing and the uncanny ability to sit back on pitches. He’s batting style is very balanced, as he doesn’t put extra weight on either foot. When including that with his stroke, Kosuke is a double’s machine that doesn’t hit towering flyouts. The man is a bizzaro American player, as he’d rather make the pitcher work and hit a single or gap double than flyout deep or swing for a homerun. Bob's Scouting scale (20-80): 60.


    Power: Kosuke’s stroke has a natural loft but he isn’t exactly built for homeruns. The stroke, eye, and plate discipline are made exclusively for contact and doubles. Despite playing in the hitter friendly parks of the NL Central, don’t expect more than 20 homeruns. Instead look for a ton of walks (65-85) and a double expectation of anywhere from 30-50. With that in mind, a slugging percentage of over .500 is very unlikely for the Japanese import. Bob's Scouting scale (20-80): 50


    Speed: In the past Kosuke has stolen a few bases here and there but it’s not due to blazing speed. He’s a smart baserunner and gets good jumps when he reads the pitcher. Still don’t expect more than 5-10 stolen bases in the MLB. In the Japan League, stolen bases are often the result of botched hit and runs, and Fukudome is a prime example of that. In the MLB, those risks will be substancially lessened but if the right occasion occurs Lou will give him the green light. Bob's Scouting scale (20-80): 60

    Defense:
    Kosuke might not display blistering speed on the basepaths but he gets excellent reads on flyballs while running precision routes. Ideally, Fukudome is a rightfielder, which is what the organization plans on using him as. But if the chips are pressed Kosuke could pass as an average centerfielder especially playing the majority of his games at Wrigley. Besides running excellent routes, Fukudome possesses a very strong and accurate arm. When he knows he doesn’t have a chance at nailing the lead runner, he hits the cutoff man to prevent extrabases. Fukudome is expected to be an above average rightfielder in the National League, covering the Sheffield corner well. There have been a few scouts expressing concern over the brick wall, as Fukudome goes all out on flyballs. Sometimes overextending his coverage thus allowing extrabases or putting himself in harms way. Bob's Scouting scale (20-80): arm= 60 , glove=70


    MLB Comparsion:
    Paul O’neill
    The two compare quite favorably as O’neill was known for his ability to make pitchers work, getting on base, and hitting gapping doubles. Paul was a very well rounded rightfielder, he played his position well, made great contact, and displayed power when need be. Fukudome probably doesn’t have O’neill’s power potential yet looks to take a similar approach at the plate. Always going with the what the pitcher gives’m and never tries to do too much. Look for Fukudome to post a decent average supported by a strong OBP-AVG differiental, something at least .065 if not as high as .100. O’neill was a very solid middle of the order bat, an aspect Fukudome can only hope to provide for the Cubs. Paul was known for his unselfish ways and doing whatever was best for the ballclub to win. When a clutch situation came up, the balanced O’neill was one that you wanted at the plate. For fans not too acquainted with former Red and Yankee O’neill, then Cub favorite Mark Grace is a decent judge of what to expect of Fukudome.

    Bob’s Take:
    Usually, I’m never a fan of giving a player who has never played against high level competition multiple millions of dollars, let alone committing to them for four years while on their physical decline. Yet our scouting department headed up by Tim Wilken gave Hendry two thumbs up on acquiring one of the great Japanese players in the league. Jim has put alot of faith into his scouting crew and special assistants, hopefully the belief is well founded and the Wrigley faithful give the OBP guru a break. Fukudome will likely go through a few prolonged slumps this season and how he responds to them will be key. Will he bounce back quickly? Will he cave to the Wrigley pressure? Will he keep trotting away and adjusting? Or will he start playing out of his element?

    At times, Kosuke will be overmatched on high velocity fastballs and heavy breaking balls. In the past he’s shown to quickly fix his flaws, yet still look for the Japanese import to strikeout well over a 100 times during his freshman season, if not a 120ish. What I think almost all analysts agree on is that Kosuke’s slugging will drop substancially. His homerun total will not likely break 20 yet he will be aided by the hitter friendly conditions of most NL Central ballparks where he’ll hopefully take advantage of the wide gaps. Ideally Uncle Lou will bat Fukudome behind Ramirez to give him some protection. But don’t be surprised if teams start putting ARam on just to get to Kosuke. Personally, I won’t be shocked to see Fukudome sandwiched at times between Soriano and Lee stacking the top portion of our lineup. Kosuke’s unselfish ways, double tendencies, and excellent eye make him a great fit as a table setter for Lee and Ramirez. All in all, Hendry made the best possible move he could but is placing the 2008 season in the hands of very inexperienced players in Kosuke Fukudome, Felix Pie, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot.

    Next up AFL star, Sam Fuld.
    Last edited by Bob Sacamento; 12-19-2007, 03:38 AM.
    What a Batted Ball is Worth (in terms of a run):
    Line Drive: .356
    HBP: .342
    Non-Intentional Walk: .315
    Intentional Walk: .176
    Outfield Fly: .035
    Groundball: -.101
    Bunts: -.103
    Infield Fly: -.243
    Strikeout: -.287
    It's now officially Doctor Bob Sacamento, D.C., C.S.C.S., and working on my D.A.B.C.O. (Diplomate American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics)

  • #2
    Bob, excellent report on Fukudome. One question I have, is what do his splits look like vs. LH pitching?

    O'Neill, for example, had an OPS almost 200 points lower vs. LH than RH, and was frequently platooned in his career.

    I don't see the Cubs doing that, but would like to know his splits. I suppose we have Murton, who I'm sure will sub for K-Fuk when he gets his day of rest vs. a tough lefty.

    Looking forward to Fuld, though I think alot hinges on how well Soto does; I could see Soto turning in a .280/.335/.480 kind of line, or tanking, I can't figure out what he will do.

    Comment


    • #3
      PS, Bob, on your CubsHub comments you cited Mateo and Guzman as two of the fruits of Dusty's labor, or at least Dusty's rolling out alot of rookie pitchers in '06. I am curious what the status is on both of them, Guzman I thought was at risk of missing '08 entirely, and Mateo didn't put up a great year last year, though he is young. Are they still legitimate prospects?

      Truly a shame on Guzman, he looked like a front of the rotation starter before all his arm troubles.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jeff Pico View Post
        Bob, excellent report on Fukudome. One question I have, is what do his splits look like vs. LH pitching?
        not sure about his overall splits, but i saw that his BA was .341 in both 2005 and 2006 against lefties while it was .281 in 2007. doesnt tell the whole story of course, but its better than nothing at all.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jeff Pico View Post
          Bob, excellent report on Fukudome. One question I have, is what do his splits look like vs. LH pitching?

          O'Neill, for example, had an OPS almost 200 points lower vs. LH than RH, and was frequently platooned in his career.

          I don't see the Cubs doing that, but would like to know his splits. I suppose we have Murton, who I'm sure will sub for K-Fuk when he gets his day of rest vs. a tough lefty.

          Originally posted by rockin500 View Post
          not sure about his overall splits, but i saw that his BA was .341 in both 2005 and 2006 against lefties while it was .281 in 2007. doesnt tell the whole story of course, but its better than nothing at all.
          I've been exchanging emails with a Japanese baseball expert but even he can't 100% confirm Kosuke's 05/06 splits or basically anything before 07. But the very high average (above .330) I have heard/seen on secondary sites or hearsay. Naturally, most lefty hitters don't preform as well against lefty pitchers, as it forces the hitter to keep his front shoulder/elbow in. I don't know if Fukudome's right elbow injury (his leading elbow) had anything to do with his sudden drop in average or whether it was just a lack of sample size in 07 that lead to the drop. But for the most part look for Fukudome's lefty/right splits to be relatively close (+/- .020) in terms of his total average. Don't take the MLB comparasion too literally, they are just suppose to give you an idea of the overall type player to look for, usually on the high end for prospects. It was a section that I once cut out but had so much backlash over that I put it back in my reports.

          If our outfield stands as it is now, which I don't think will happen, then we will have Murton who hits lefties well, Fuld who can play all three positions defensively and pinchhitter extraordiniare Daryl Ward, as well as utilityable DeRosa. We have three starting outfielders in Soriano, Pie, and Fukudome that have the ability to play centerfield while having an arm to play right. Our defensive OF just got a whole lot better, maybe even one of the best in baseball. Our infield is another story.



          Originally posted by Jeff Pico View Post
          Looking forward to Fuld, though I think alot hinges on how well Soto does; I could see Soto turning in a .280/.335/.480 kind of line, or tanking, I can't figure out what he will do.
          Fuld is my next Scouting Report, that I plan on having done within the week. The team is banking alot on Soto, but more on his glove than his bat, which is a good thing for Geo. 2007 was a monster year offensively for Soto and that's what lead to his callup. In my opinion, don't expect those huge numbers over a whole season for Geo, look for something more along his 2005/06 seasons for Iowa .260/.340/.380/.720. Soto's backup is the player that has helped mold him into the catcher he is today in Henry Blanco. Henry has long been a defensive wizard but the herniated cervical discs that cost him most of 2007 will put a hamper on Blanco's ability to catch more than a few days in a row. Depending on his physical state, this is likely the last year of the soon to be 37 year old catcher's career.
          What a Batted Ball is Worth (in terms of a run):
          Line Drive: .356
          HBP: .342
          Non-Intentional Walk: .315
          Intentional Walk: .176
          Outfield Fly: .035
          Groundball: -.101
          Bunts: -.103
          Infield Fly: -.243
          Strikeout: -.287
          It's now officially Doctor Bob Sacamento, D.C., C.S.C.S., and working on my D.A.B.C.O. (Diplomate American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jeff Pico View Post
            PS, Bob, on your CubsHub comments you cited Mateo and Guzman as two of the fruits of Dusty's labor, or at least Dusty's rolling out alot of rookie pitchers in '06. I am curious what the status is on both of them, Guzman I thought was at risk of missing '08 entirely, and Mateo didn't put up a great year last year, though he is young. Are they still legitimate prospects?

            Truly a shame on Guzman, he looked like a front of the rotation starter before all his arm troubles.
            Guzman has long tantalized scouts and management heads with his stuff dating back to being a 16 year old. But the big red flags that were hung on him early, small stature and heavy arm action, have rung true time and time again throughout his career. This time the recently turned 27 year old had Tommy John surgery back in the second week of September. He's expected to miss most of the 2008 season, but could come back and be an option in September as a bullpen candidate. Detractors have long stated that Guzman would end up with no MLB career or as a pen arm. As much as I have been fighting them, now is the time to really start looking at Angel as a setup man, he has four MLB pitches and keeps his velocity for only 30-50 pitches. He has a real chance to be a dominating pen arm like former Cub Juan Cruz.

            As for Juan Mateo, he had suffered a shoulder impingement in spring training and rehabbed pitching again for Peoria in June where after one start had the same symptoms. Mateo came back and pitched in 14 games this season (13 as starts) and threw in the Dominican League to try and makeup for time missed. His velocity is almost back but his control over his secondary is still reestablishing itself. The organization will likely keep him as a starter in the minors but if need be he could be a piece down the stretch out of the pen, ala Marmol.
            What a Batted Ball is Worth (in terms of a run):
            Line Drive: .356
            HBP: .342
            Non-Intentional Walk: .315
            Intentional Walk: .176
            Outfield Fly: .035
            Groundball: -.101
            Bunts: -.103
            Infield Fly: -.243
            Strikeout: -.287
            It's now officially Doctor Bob Sacamento, D.C., C.S.C.S., and working on my D.A.B.C.O. (Diplomate American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics)

            Comment


            • #7
              Bob,

              Let's face it there is a chance... that Fukudome flops. What then?

              How long do you think we sit with him in right field if he is not performing up to our standards?

              When I say "our" I mean more of the expectations of the Cubs organization not the Cubs fan base. Because the Fans have already marked him as the missing link. So my main fear is he will not live up to the expectations. But being paid what he is, one would suspect the Cubs will leave him out there in right.

              Thoughts?
              BELIEVE

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RBi View Post
                Bob,

                Let's face it there is a chance... that Fukudome flops. What then?

                How long do you think we sit with him in right field if he is not performing up to our standards?

                When I say "our" I mean more of the expectations of the Cubs organization not the Cubs fan base. Because the Fans have already marked him as the missing link. So my main fear is he will not live up to the expectations. But being paid what he is, one would suspect the Cubs will leave him out there in right.

                Thoughts?
                Let's all think happy thoughts and hope that doesn't happen. Lou will probably give him a longer leash than he would most players especially a rookie. Yet if Kosuke goes into a deep slump, Lou will have no choice but to yank him and then the situation becomes one of musical chairs. If Fukudome can't play, look for DeRosa to shift to RF, with Patterson/Fontenot/?? at 2B, or moving Theriot over to 2B and playing Ronny at SS. In any situation, the lineup isn't as strong as it could be with a producing Fukudome.
                What a Batted Ball is Worth (in terms of a run):
                Line Drive: .356
                HBP: .342
                Non-Intentional Walk: .315
                Intentional Walk: .176
                Outfield Fly: .035
                Groundball: -.101
                Bunts: -.103
                Infield Fly: -.243
                Strikeout: -.287
                It's now officially Doctor Bob Sacamento, D.C., C.S.C.S., and working on my D.A.B.C.O. (Diplomate American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics)

                Comment


                • #9
                  The other thing is that Fukudome is considered a possible CF candidate by some, so that he would have to not only slump to get moved from the starting lineup, but he has to hit worse than Pie. If he is slumping but is hitting better than Pie, we might see him being moved to CF with DeRosa/Ward/Murton manning RF. Without Jones, we don't have another CF unless you consider Soriano a possible CF.
                  To offset some of the pain of being a diehard Cubs fan, I've learned to also be a moderate Yankees fan.

                  Comment

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