Derek Tatsuno

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Derek Shizuo Tatsuno

  • Born ~1958

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Biographical Information[edit]

Derek Tatsuno was one of the greatest pitchers in college baseball history.

The Cincinnati Reds took him in the 12th round of the 1976 amateur draft but he opted for college. In 1977, he led NCAA Division I with 146 strikeouts. The next year, he led Division I with 161 strikeouts. He whiffed 234 in 1979, the highest total since at least 1965, and became the first 20-game winner in Division I history (Larry Gura and Floyd Bannister had each fallen one shy). Tatsuno was named an All-American. He held the career strikeout record for Division I (541), until John Powell surpassed him in 1994.

Derek was picked by the San Diego Padres in the 2nd round of the 1979 amateur draft and offered him $100,000. He got a much better offer overseas, though - the Prince Hotels (a Seibu Lions subsidiary) offered him $750,000, perhaps hoping he would be as successful in Japan as a fellow Hawaiian of Japanese descent, Wally Yonamine. Tatsuno agreed to pitch in Japan's amateur leagues but never made it to Nippon Pro Baseball as he could not sign a deal as long as US teams kept drafting him and holding his rights.

In the meantime, Tatsuno was repeatedly drafted - in 1980 by the New York Mets (3rd round, secondary draft) and Chicago White Sox (2nd round, January draft). In January 1981, the Reds picked him in the third round. The 6th time he drafted finally stuck, when the Milwaukee Brewers chose him 25th overall in the January 1982 draft.

Tatsuno pitched in 1982 for the Stockton Ports (0-3, 4.15, 8 BB in 8 2/3 IP) and the El Paso Diablos (7-2, 3 Sv, 6.42, 44 BB in 54 2/3 IP). In 1983, he was 10-6 with a 3.24 ERA for Stockton, his best year in the minors. He just missed the top 10 in the California League in ERA.

Tatsuno did not pitch in 1984-1985. In 1986, he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was 2-2 with a 5.22 ERA for their Hawaii Islanders affiliate. He remained with Hawaii (now a ChiSox club) and was 1-3 with a 6.60 ERA in 1987 to end his career.

In 2007, Tatsuno was voted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.