Most major league starting pitchers won’t throw more than 500 pitches in a month. Tomohiro Anraku, a 16-year-old Japanese righthander, has done it in one week.
After throwing 232 pitches in a 13-inning complete game on Tuesday in Japan’s major spring high school invitational tournament known as “Spring Koshien,” Anraku returned on three days’ rest to throw a 159-pitch complete game on Saturday.
Today, with only one day of rest, Anraku threw 138 pitches in a 6-3 complete-game victory, hit 94 mph in the ninth inning, struck out seven and walked two batters in front of 24,000 fans at Koshien Stadium. Anraku, who threw 88-94 mph early in his first game on Tuesday, mostly sat around 83-90 mph today, but he still showed his top-end velocity late in today’s outing.
A second-year student at Saibi High in Ehime Prefecture, Anraku worked himself into a jam in the ninth by putting runners on second and third with two outs and the tying run at the plate. With a full count, Anraku ended the game by getting a groundout to shortstop on his 529th pitch of the week—a 93-mph fastball.
Heavy workloads by modern major league standards are common in Japanese high school baseball, especially among the top pitchers in the Spring Koshien and Summer Koshien tournaments, where upwards of 40,000 fans often pack Koshien Stadium for what is a major event in the country. Yet the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Anraku’s workload has been even more severe, especially considering that he’s a year or two younger than most Japanese prep pitchers who are asked to carry their teams through Koshien.
The victory earned Saibi High a spot in the Spring Koshien semifinals tomorrow. Given that Anraku is the only pitcher that Saibi High has used in the tournament, it would not be a surprise if he pitched the semifinal game, or in the finals the next day if Saibi High wins tomorrow.