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Aces ink five players, coaches from Japan
10/20/2014 9:22 AM ET
 

In renewing their longstanding relationship with the Nippon Baseball League in Japan, the Jet Courier Melbourne Aces finalized the contracts with five players from the Seibu Lions this past weekend.

Switching between two separate portions of the seasons, two catchers, two right-handed pitchers and a left-handed pitcher will travel from Japan to Melbourne to wear an Aces uniform this year.

Headlining the first group is catcher Komei Fujisawa, who is returning for his second consecutive ABL season in Melbourne. Last year, the 24-year-old catcher played nine games with the Aces, starting eight of them. In those nine games, Fujusawa hit .200 (4-for-20) with three runs batted in. His best game was on December 7 at Melbourne Ballpark, where he totaled two hits and drove in all three of his runs on the season against Adelaide. Fujisawa will likely be sharing time behind the dish during the first half of the season with a catching staff that features MLB farmhands Chace Numata (Phillies) and Kellin Deglan (Rangers).

Along with Fujisawa, lefty hurler Kazuki Miayta and hard-throwing righty Makoto Aiuchi round out the first group of Lions players in Melbourne.

Like his aforementioned battering mate, Aiuchi is also returning for his second consecutive season with the Aces. In two appearances last season, Aiuchi gave up one run in three innings pitched, while striking out two batters in the process. The 20-year-old righty made one appearance as a reliever while starting his other contest. He will be the only Lions player to stay with the Aces all season.

Miayta, making his first appearance in the ABL this year, is 25-year-old hurler who hails from Osaka. The 6'0 southpaw can both start and pitch out of the bullpen.

To replace Fujisawa and Miayta, the second group of Lions players to come to Melbourne features catcher Taichi Yoshimi and right-handed pitcher Kentaro Fukukura.

At 34 years old, Yoshimi will be among one of the oldest players on the Aces roster. In his playing career, the versatile veteran has logged time at catcher and first base, most notably with the Lions in 2009. In six games with Seibu, Yoshimi made four appearances behind the plate and two at first base.

Fukukura has been on the Lions roster since he was drafted in the 2013 Nippon Baseball league draft. The 23-year-old hurler was selected in the seventh round out of Daiichi Kogyo University.

Rounding out the contingent from the Lions, Kazuyoshi Uno will join the Aces as a coach with the first group while Koji Hiroke will replace Uno and come to Melbourne with the second group. Hiroto Kawaguchi will also be with the Aces for the whole season as a translator.

As an overall team, the Aces will take the next two weeks to finalize their roster before opening up the home slate of baseball in Melbourne on November 7 against the Brisbane Bandits. First pitch is at 7:35 PM.

For more information, contact Windsor Knox at (03) 8360 9371 or check us out at www.melbourneaces.com.au.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.