Kenta Asakura (朝倉 健太)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 200 lb.
- High School Higashikuni High School
Kenta Asakura pitched his 10th season in 2009.
Asakura was timed at 92 mph in high school and was picked in the first round in 1999 by the Chunichi Dragons. He was 0-1 with a 14.02 ERA in 9 games in 2000, allowing a .424 average with 36 hits in 17 1/3 IP. He had nowhere to go but up and improved to a 5.44 ERA and .309 opponent average in 2001, going 0-5. He also walked 34 in 49 2/3 IP.
During the offseason, Kenta adjusted his delivery. He turned in a very good campaign that year, going 11-11 with a 2.61 ERA in 2002. On July 16, he threw his first career shutout, a 3-hitter against the Yakult Swallows. He was 5th in the Central League in ERA behind Masumi Kuwata, Kenshin Kawakami, Kei Igawa and Koji Uehara.
Asakura fractured his elbow in 2003 but didn't notify his team and struggled to a 1-4, 7.89 finish with a .364 opponent average. He then battled shoulder problems in 2004 and was 3-3 with a 4.80 ERA and .306 opponent average. He tossed two shutout innings in the 2004 Japan Series. In 2005, Asakura had a 5-7, 3.94 record but allowed a .316 average.
Back in form in 2006, the right-hander went 13-6 with a 2.79 ERA. He was 5th in the CL in ERA behind Hiroki Kuroda, Shinobu Fukuhara, Kenshin Kawakami and Tetsuya Utsumi. He tied Kuroda for 3rd in wins behind Kawakami and Igawa. He started and lost game three of the 2006 Japan Series, giving up four runs in 7 1/3 IP to the Nippon Ham Fighters.
He went 12-7 with a 3.36 ERA in 2007. He allowed only nine home runs in 171 2/3 IP, the fewest dingers off any CL starting pitcher. He was 6th in the loop in ERA, tied for 5th in wins, was 6th in innings and tied for fourth with three complete games. In the 2007 Japan Series, Kenta again got the call for game three. He was excellent, holding Nippon Ham to one run in 7 innings for the win as Chunichi went on to take its first Japan Series title in over 50 years. In his start, Asakura also got a footnote to history. Chunichi had hits in five straight at-bats against Masaru Takeda and Brian Sweeney in the first before Asakura came up. He had a sacrifice bunt to keep the streak steady; the next two batters then got hits to give Chunichi a record for hits in consecutive at-bats in a Japan Series game.
Asakura's career record through '09 was 58-56, 3.75 in 181 games.
Source: Japan Baseball Daily