Two days before they contest their first Japan Series, the Pacific League champion Rakuten Eagles got a head start on the 2014 season, when they won the negotiating rights to highly rated lefty Yuki Matsui.
At Nippon Professional Baseball's annual amateur draft, teams commit to their first-round picks, and the negotiating rights to each player who is selected by more than one team is then decided by lottery. Matsui, who struck out a record 22 batters in one game at last year's summer national high school championships at Koshien Stadium, was nominated by five teams in the first round.
The second most popular player in the first round was Kyushu Kyoritsu University right-hander Daichi Osera. The Hiroshima Carp won the rights to the 1.87-meter 22-year-old in a three-way lottery. Osera has twice been selected to represent Japan in its annual collegiate series against the United States.