Friday, May 18, 2012
He's 23 years old, and was drafted in the third round as a catching prospect in 2006. He attended Yokohama High School and had 49 HR's during his career there. He was also the clean-up hitter for Yokohama HS when they won the 2006 Spring Koshien Championship.
Fukuda started his ni-gun career as a catcher, but Hiromitsu Ochiai was impressed by his offensive skill and had him switch to the infield, hoping this would provide him with more opportunities to play. Since then he has played mainly corner infield and been a consistantly solid performer at ni-gun. He is the current record holder for most doubles in a game in the Western league with 4 in one game. Fukuda was also an alternate on last year's fresh all-star team, but didn't play because of injury.
This year Fukuda has been asked to return to catching in order to take the place of Keiji Oyama who was traded to Rakuten. He's now the third-string catcher behind Tanishige and Oda, but has also seen some innings at 1B, 2B and 3B so far this year. Fukuda has hit .300 with a HR this year in 20 ichi-gun at-bats. Hopefully he can keep it up, Chunichi could use a useful catcher under the age of 35 and a potential successor to Tanishige at some point.
Fun fact: Fukuda became the 49th player to hit a home run in his first pro NPB at-bat against the Swallows on July 8, 2009.