Kazuki Fukuchi (福地 寿樹) (known as Kazuhiro Fukuchi until 1999) (Go)
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 187 lb.
- High School Kishima Shogyo High School
Kazuki Fukuchi did not become a regular in Nippon Pro Baseball until he was past 30 years of age.
Fukuchi was a 4th-round pick of the Hiroshima Carp in 1993. He led the minor Western League in steals four straight seasons, from 1995-1998. He also became the first player in WL history to steal 50 bases in a season. In 1997, he made his NPB debut, going 0 for 5. In 1999, he was 6 for 25 with a triple and a walk; his first hit was an infield single off of Koji Uehara.
Fukuchi played 51 games in 2000, primarily as a pinch-runner. He was 1 for 17 with 4 walks, 18 runs and 11 steals in 18 tries. In 2001, he was 4 for 7 with a double and walk, scored 12 runs and was 10-for-14 in steals in 52 games. During 2002, he appeared in 53 games and hit .258/.280/.309 in 97 AB. He stole 16 bases in 21 tries. He backed up Eddy Diaz and Takuya Kimura at second base and also played some outfield. He led the Carp in steals.
Fukuchi continued to see increased playing time in 2003, backing up Kimura and Akihiro Higashide at second base and being used as Hiroshima's #4 outfielder. In 91 games and 159 AB, he hit .258/.285/.321 and stole 20 bases in 28 tries. He tied Takuro Ishii for 2nd in the Central League in steals, trailing only Norihiro Akahoshi.
Kazuki injured a leg ligament in 2004 and went just 1 for 17 with 3 runs; he was 0-for-2 in steal attempts. His only hit came on October 14 and was a dramatic one. With two outs in the 9th inning, he broke up a no-hitter by Yuji Yoshimi. In 2005, the veteran was 2 for 11 with 9 runs in 30 games, going 8-for-9 in steals. Hiroshima then traded him to the Seibu Lions for Hayato Aoki.
Fukuchi hit .289/.341/.401 in 91 games for the Lions in 2006, stealing 25 bases in 34 tries. He played all 3 outfield slots and was Seibu's most-used right fielder, getting more time than Takumi Kuriyama, G.G. Sato, Hisashi Takayama and Tomoaki Sato. He was third in the Pacific League in steals behind Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Yasuyuki Kataoka.
Fukuchi batted .273/.321/.335 in 117 games for Seibu during the 2007 season. He stole 28 bases in 35 tries and was 4th in the PL in swipes behind Kataoka, Yuichi Honda and Hichori Morimoto. He was Seibu's primary leadoff hitter and center fielder. After the season, Fukuchi went to the Yakult Swallows as compensation for Seibu's signing of Yakult free agent Kazuhisa Ishii.
In 2008, Fukuchi hit .320/.366/.449 with 7 triplea and 42 steals in 55 tries. He stole home on July 17. The 32-year-old veteran was 6th in the Central League in average, 10th in runs (74), tied Yasushi Iihara for the most triples, led in steals (one ahead of Akahoshi) and led in times caught stealing.
Fukuchi was a late addition to Japan's provisional roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Primary Source: Japan Baseball Daily