Katsuya Kakunaka (角中 勝也)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 176 lb.
Kakunaka signed with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League after high school. He hit .253 with four homers for the Fighting Dogs. The Chiba Lotte Marines took him in the seventh round of the 2006 draft. He went 4 for 17 in 2007 with the Marines, getting his first NPB hit off Michitaka Nishiyama. He also was second in the minor Eastern League in average. Kakunaka went 2 for 18 with a homer and four walks in 2008 (the homer, off Domingo Guzman, was the first ever in NPB by a player who had been in a Japanese independent league) and 3 for 18 with a triple and two walks in 2009.
In 2010, he was a woeful 0-for-18 with four walks. He became a regular bench player in 2011, hitting .266/.318/.312 in 51 games and registering a five-hit game. That was no precursor of what would happen in 2012, when he batted .312/.366/.415 with 30 doubles. He made the PL All-Star team, the first former Japanese independent leaguer to became a NPB All-Star. He was among the PL leaders in hits (149, 6th between Dae-ho Lee and Shunichi Nemoto), doubles (tied with Wily Mo Pena and Tadahito Iguchi for second, one behind Aarom Baldiris), triples (5, tied for 5th with Dai-Kang Yang), average (winning the batting title by .001 over Hiroyuki Nakajima), OBP (5th, between Dae-ho Lee and Yuya Hasegawa), slugging (7th, between Yoshio Itoi and Sho Nakata) and OPS (6th, between Takeya Nakamura and Atsunori Inaba). He joined Itoi and Seiichi Uchikawa in beating picked for the Best Nine in the PL outfield, and placed 10th in the 2012 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award voting. He also made the Japanese national team roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.