Shintaro Fujinami's early life, childhood and career in Japan

shintaro's pitching in high school shintaro's pitching in NPB

Shintaro has been tall since he was a child.

Shintaro Fujinami(藤浪晋太郎 in kanji) was born on April 12, 1994 in Osaka, Japan. When he was born, he weighed 7.9 lb and was 1 feet 8 inches tall, a little larger than those around him. However, he was clearly larger than average at his one-month checkup, and from then on he was always the bigger one among children of the same age.

He was already 4 feet 6inches when he entered elementary school. After entering elementary school, he continued to grow by about 2.7 inches a year, and by the time he graduated from elementary school, he was 5 feet 10 inches.

shintaro in childhood and elementary school

Shintaro started playing baseball in the first grade of elementary school when he joined a youth baseball team. He started pitching in the third grade, but although the ball was fast, he could not get strikes as often as he wanted. As a junior high school student, he joined the "Osaka Senboku Boys" team. His fastest pitch was 88 MPH, and he was selected to join the Japanese national team for the AA World Baseball Championships in his third year of junior high school. His height was 6 feet 4.3 inches when he graduated from junior high school.

In this lifestyle, Shintaro concentrated on baseball practice and became an ace from the spring of his second year in high school. He won the national tournament in the spring of his junior year of high school, becoming the first player in history to reach 93 MPH or higher in all five games. In the national tournament in the summer of the same year, he threw his fastest pitch at 95 MPH, allowing no runs on two hits in nine innings in both the semifinals and the final. His high school became the seventh school in history to win back-to-back national tournament championships in spring and summer.

In the fall, Shintaro was selected to represent Japan in the 25th AAA World Baseball Championships. He pitched 24 1/3 innings in a total of four games, posting a 1.11 ERA(earned-run average), and was named to the "All-Star Team," the equivalent of the best nine. He was a first-round pick by four teams in the 2012 Professional Baseball Draft, and was signed by the Hanshin Tigers as a result of the lottery.

shintaro in high school

Shintaro started his rookie year, 2013, in the starting rotation. He picked up three wins in April and eventually compiled a 10-6 record with a 2.75 ERA. He became the first player since Daisuke Matsuzaka(former MLB player) to win the MVP award in his first year out of high school and the first player since Masahiro Tanaka(former MLB player) to win 10 games in his first year out of high school. In his second year, 2014, he initially had poor results due in part to a change in form. However, he recovered during the season and eventually posted an 11-8 record and a 3.53 ERA. He was able to stabilize his form in the 2015 season by strengthening his core and won the title of Central League strikeout king with a 14-7 record and 221 strikeouts in 28 starts. He became the first player since Yu Darvish(MLB player) to reach 200 strikeouts in his third year after graduating from high school.

Shintaro had right shoulder inflammation in spring training in 2016, but in his first start of the season, he was the winning pitcher, allowing two runs in nine innings. However, he was lackluster in the summer, pitching six games without a win, as he continued to pitch in the first inning, giving up a run on a walk and a hit and collapsing. He pitched similarly in a game on July 8, prompting the manager to have him throw 161 pitches, which caused public controversy. He showed signs of bouncing back in the final part of the season, but ended up winning only seven games, half of what he had won the previous year. His streak of double-digit wins since joining the team was snapped after three years.

shintaro threw 161 pitches

Shintaro made his first start of the 2017 season in a game on April 4, but was the losing pitcher, giving up two runs in five innings. Earlier in the season, he pitched in seven games as a starter, going 3-3 with a 2.66 ERA. These were not bad numbers, but his average pitch count was less than 6 innings and he gave up 36 walks. He fell to the farm on May 27 due to this control difficulty. He made his first start of the season in the second game of the 2018 season and gave up four runs in five innings. He picked up his first win of the season in a game on June 15, striking out nine and allowing no runs in six innings, but his pitching continued to be erratic with many walks due to his control issues. He was repeatedly promoted and demoted from the first team to the farm.

Shintaro has been a pitcher with control issues and a tendency to throw many walks since he started his professional career. He began to get more hit by pitches around 2018, especially to right-handed hitters, and his pitching opportunities dropped off dramatically. His control difficulties got even worse in 2019 and beyond, and opponents lined up all left-handed hitters when he pitched, for the safety of their players. He ended up pitching in only one official game in 2019, his first professional career without a win.

Shintaro stayed on the farm longer in 2020, but when COVID-19 reduced the number of players available for games in September, he made an emergency pitching appearance in a reliever role. Perhaps because he was able to pitch short innings as best he could as a reliever, he gradually regained his form. His control was better than in the past, and he threw his fastest straightball ever at 100 MPH. He eventually pitched 12 games as a reliever, allowing 7 hits, 3 runs, 0 walks, and a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings. He returned to the starting lineup towards the end of the season, allowing just one run in three appearances. Fans were very much looking forward to his resurgence.

Shintaro was the winning pitcher for the first time in a long time.

Shintaro was the opening day pitcher for the first time in 2021. In the opening game, he had four walks, but pitched five innings and allowed only two runs. As a starter, he made up some ground and continued the pitching he had made in the second half of last year. Although he was unlucky in two consecutive games after the season opener, he finally broke out of a long slump by winning his third game in a row as a starter with a consistent performance. His record for the season was 3 wins and 3 losses in 21 starts, with a 5.21 ERA.

Shintaro was the opening day pitcher for the second year in a row in 2022. In the opening game, he gave up three runs in seven innings and made a game of it, but again did not get the win. He later suffered from a COVID-19 and was dropped to the farm, but at that time he changed his form to swinging his arm down vertically, which further improved his pitch control problems. He showed remarkable consistency, allowing three or fewer walks in all of his starts. He eventually pitched in 16 games, going 3-5 with a 3.38 ERA.

Shintaro was the opening day pitcher

Shintaro announced on October 17, during the off-season of 2022, that he would challenge MLB through the posting system. He said of his MLB challenge, "Major League Baseball is the pinnacle of baseball. I'm excited, a little anxious, and a lot of other things to be able to challenge there." He added, "In the past few years, my desire to play in MLB has become stronger. I am now in my late twenties in terms of age. I've always wanted to give it a shot while I was young."