Ken Kadokura (門倉 健)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 198 lb.
Ken Kadokura pitched for 14 seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball (through 2008). His career has been a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs.
After college, Kadokura was picked by the Chunichi Dragons. He debuted in NPB in 1996, going 7-3 with a 3.11 ERA. He had the lowest ERA on a good Chunichi staff, beating out the likes of Shigeki Noguchi and Masahiro Yamamoto. In 1997, he was 10-12 with a 4.72 ERA; he fanned 143 in 160 innings but walked 96. He was third in the Central League in strikeouts behind Yamamoto and Takeo Kawamura but led in walks. He improved to 10-9, 3.40 in 1998, cutting his walk total to 66 in 153 2/3 IP. He was only third on Chunichi in ERA behind Noguchi and Kenshin Kawakami. Kadokura fell to 2-4, 5.69 in 15 games in 1999 with 61 hits allowed in 49 innings.
He was then traded with Kotaro Azuse and Takuichi Furuike to the Kintetsu Buffaloes in exchange for Hideo Koike, Shigeki Sano and Kazuhito Yoshimura. In 2000, Kadokura was 7-9 with a 3.91 ERA for Kintetsu to post the best ERA of the club's starters. He struck out 122 in 123 1/3 IP in 2001 but faded to 8-5, 6.49. His 27 homers allowed tied for the Pacific League lead. During the 2002 season, Kadokura had a 0-2, 3.68 record, presumably limited by injury. In 2003, the right-hander had a 6-4, 4.21 record despite 103 strikeouts in 98 1/3 IP.
Kintetsu traded Kadokura along with Shinji Udaka to the Yokohama BayStars for Kazuo Fukumori and Eiji Yano. He went 4-8 with 10 saves and a 4.60 ERA in 2004 though he had struck out 86 in 76 1/3 IP. He surrendered 16 gopher balls. In 2005, Kadokura's record was 11-8, 3.37 for a career year. He struck out 177 and walked 76 in 197 2/3 IP while allowing 175 hits. He was 4th in the Central League in ERA behind Daisuke Miura, Hiroki Kuroda and Koji Uehara. He was third in innings (behind Miura and Kuroda), tied for 5th in wins (with Yuya Ando, Kimiyasu Kudoh and Kenshin Kawakami), tied for 4th in complete games (4), was 5th in hits allowed, tied Miura for the most strikeouts and was second to Kan Otake in walks. In 2006, the veteran went 10-9 with a 4.84 ERA. He was 4th in the CL in hits allowed (187), tied for 5th in homers allowed (19), 5th in walks (51), third in runs allowed (90, behind Miura and Otake) and tied with Miura for 2nd in earned runs allowed (83, trailing Otake) as he reversed fortunes once more; he was among the leaders in all those negative counting stats despite not making the top 10 in innings (154).
A free agent, Kadokura signed with the Yomiuri Giants (who lost Kudoh to Yokohama as compensation). He was unimpressive, going 1-5 with a 5.97 ERA in 2007 and only making 11 appearances (all in relief) in 2008, when he was 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA.
Overall, Kadokura had gone 76-82 with a 4.36 ERA in NPB.
Cubs and Wyverns
In January 2009, Kadokura signed a minor league deal as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs. They cut him three months later. The SK Wyverns then signed him to replace the released Mike Johnson. He debuted on April 18 against the Hanwha Eagles, allowing only two unearned runs in 7 innings. He gave up four hits but walked five. He finished the 2009 KBO season 8-4 with a 5.00 ERA. Despite being SK's worst starter, he got the call in game one of the 2009 Korean Series. He pitched very well, with one hit, one run and seven strikeouts in five innings to outduel Aquilino Lopez; unfortunately, his bullpen blew it. Matched against Lopez in game 5, he got outpitched in taking the loss. SK dropped the Series in seven games.